Thank you for your interest in F123 (pronounced F 1 2 3). This document is organized in sections so that you may easily jump to specific topics that interest you. Screen reader users can quickly find section titles and subtitles using the various header levels from 1 to 6.

1 Latest Release

1.1 Download

This release is still Alpha code, which means that it is under development and it has important problems and limitations.

We have a single installation file for all available languages, but not all translations are equally complete. Much work remains to be done and any help is most welcome.

You can find the compressed image file here: https://public.f123.org/F123Light-19.02.25.img.xz

We are also including the sha1sum signature for the image file, so you can verify file integrity after download. Please note that the image is compressed with the xz format, which is more efficient than the zip format. You may find information on how to uncompress xz files here.

1.1.1 The First Time You Turn-On the Computer

During the first time you start or boot the computer, the software will auto-expand the partition and file system to match the size of the Micro-SD card, so it can take a minute and a half or more for the Raspberry Pi 3B+ computer to be ready. Subsequent boots will be faster, i.e. around 30 seconds.

1.1.2 Default Username and Passwords

the default username is: f123

The default user and admin password is lowercase: f123

The hostname is (lowercase): f123light

Advanced users can easily build images with WiFi and other passwords already set to personalized values. Information on custom images can be found here.

1.2 Burning/Flashing the F123Light Image File to the Micro-SD Card

Once you download and verify the integrity of the compressed version of the image file, you must uncompress this file and flash or burn it to the micro-SD card which you will use on the Raspberry Pi computer. We recommend that you use a micro-SD card of at least 16Gb in size, but an 8Gb card should also work, even though little disk space will be available for your own files.

The expressions “flash” or “burn the image” is used because this is not the same as a copy and paste file transfer. While there are many ways to “flash” the image to the card, we have heard good things about both Etcher and Rufus software. Etcher apparently works well in Windows, Mac, and Linux, whereas Rufus works well on Windows.

It is also worth mentioning that burning an image will not prevent you from reformatting or burning other images on the SD card in the future. In other words, even though people use the word “burn”, the process is not permanent. It is just another method for temporarily saving a file.

1.3 Updating the F123Light Operating System

In the “Main Menu” there is a sub-menu called “Settings”, which has an option that makes it easy to update the system, called: “Check for system updates”

Thanks to this option, it is usually not necessary to flash a new image or use complicated commands whenever a new version of F123Light is available. However, we do recommend that you stay in touch with our team, as at this stage in the project, new versions are sometimes experimental, and are not recommended for all users.

If you are a technically-oriented or advanced computer user, you might want to explore the more advanced options described in our technical guide.

2 Developers and Other Advanced Users

2.1 Updating F123Light on the Command Line

Advanced users can perform an update from the command line with the command: “update-f123light”

If such a user is helping us test recent changes to the code, he or she can use a special parameter to update from the development branch. To specify the development branch, the correct command would be: “update-f123light -b dev

2.2 Building Your Own F123Light Image

Experienced users also have the option of generating or building their own image. Every copy of F123Light includes the command “build-f123light”, which automatically generates the image file, which can then be burned or flashed to a MicroSD card for use. Please make sure your working SD card has at least 8Gb of free space to perform this procedure. You may lern more about building your own image in our resources for advanced users page.

2.3 Acknowledgements

Our work is only possible thanks to a wide variety of persons and organizations, from volunteers and our own users, to developers, translators, journalists, teachers, funders, and many more. Thank you all!

2.4 Initial Operating System Configuration

The very first time you start-up your computer with the MicroSD card containing F123Light, the start-up or boot process will take longer than usual, as the system is uncompressing and preparing the file system for use. The larger the capacity in your MicroSD card (i.e. the more memory it has), the longer this process will take. In any case, it will generally be two or three minutes at the most.

2.4.1 Basic Commands for the Fenrir Screen Reader

Most users will be very happy to know that for maybe the first time in history, using a new screen reader will not necessarily require you to learn new keyboard commands. This is because, if you already use the NVDA screen reader, you will probably feel right at home with the key combinations used by Fenrir, the main screen reader of F123Light.

2.4.1.1 Controls for Speech Volume, Rate, and Pitch

Just like in NVDA, you can use Insert, Control, and the arrow keys to modify speech parameters like volume, rate, and pitch. Insert, also called the Fenrir key or the NVDA key, depending on which manual you are reading, can also be the CapsLock key, if you are using the screen reader in laptop mode.

To change speech volume, rate, or pitch, hold down the Fenrir key and the Control key, and use the left and right arrow keys to select if you want to change volume, rate, or pitch. Once you are on the parameter you wish to change, use the up and down arrow keys to increase or decrease that parameter.

Once the speech volume, rate, or pitch is at the level you desire, simply release the Fenrir and the Control keys, and continue using your computer normally.

2.4.1.2 Using Tutorial, Help, or Learn Mode

Pressing the Fenrir and F1 keys, your screen reader will activate its “Tutorial Mode”, which allows you to press just about any key, and hear its name and function, if it has a special screen reader function. When you are in “Tutorial Mode”, you can press keys and, other than telling you what they normally do, the system will not do anything else. It is an excellent way to learn your way around Fenrir and your keyboard.

To deactivate “Tutorial Mode”, simply press Fenrir and F1 again, or press the ‘Escape’ key, also often labeled as ‘ESC’. The ‘Escape’ key is found usually at the top left of most keyboards.

2.4.1.3 Reviewing the Screen

Just like with most screen readers, Fenrir uses the numeric keypad on the full desktop keyboard for many of its commands. This is especially true for those which involve movement, such as reading previous or next line, word, or character.

Assuming that you are using a full-size desktop keyboard, which has a numeric keypad to its right, you can use: numbers 7, 8, and 9, to read previous, current, and next line; numbers 4, 5, and 6, to read previous, current, and next word; and numbers 1, 2, and 3, to read previous, current, and next character.

If you are using Fenrir in laptop mode, in other words, assuming you do not have a numeric keypad on your keyboard, then you must hold down the CapsLock key, which becomes the new Fenrir key, and press letters U, I, and O, for previous, current, and next line; letters J, K, and L, for previous, current, and next word; and N, M, and the comma symbol, for previous, current, and next character.

Of course, if you used our fast language switching command to change language, the keyboard layout as well as the instant spell checker, will also change. However, the location remains the same. You will still use your right hand in its standard positioning on the keyboard, to read around the screen when holding down the CapsLock key.

2.4.2 Selecting the Operating System Language

The very first version of F123Light is available in English, but shortly will also be available in Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, and Arabic. Please join the e-mail list corresponding to the language you are interested in, and you will be notified when it becomes available.

The very first time F123Light loads, it gives you a chance to select the language you will use the system in. Press ‘Enter’ for English, or use the up and down arrow keys to select another option and press ‘Enter’. Once you do this, the system will make a sound and restart in the language you selected.

If you selected a language which is still not officially supported, the interface might still not be entirely translated.

2.4.3 Change System Passwords

Another question that comes-up when you boot your computer for the first time, relates to changing system passwords. If you are just testing the system and have no plans to use it for more than a few minutes, then there is no nee for you to change system passwords. However, if you will use the system for more than just a few minutes, we recommend that you change the default passwords.

If you press “Enter” for “Yes”, you will have a chance to change both the password for the normal user, and the administrator’s password. Here is some information which might come-in handy:

The name of the default user in F123Light is: f123

Please note that this name is with a lowercase “f”.

The default password for the normal user is exactly the same: f123

The default name of the root or administrator, is: root

Here also, the name is entirely in lowercase.

The default password for the administrator or root user is exactly the same, also in lowercase: root

2.4.4 Configuring WiFi

The quickest way to get internet access is usually to just plug-in an Ethernet cable connected to a router providing that access. However, most often people end-up using wireless access through WiFi.

The configuration process which helps you setup your system when you turn it on for the first time, will also help you configure WiFi, since this access will be required when it is time to select the region where you live.

Setting-up WiFi is easy, just use the up and down arrow keys to select the name of your WiFi network from the provided list and press ‘Enter’.

Next, enter the password for that WiFi network or access point ### Selecting Your Region

The F123Light operating system sometimes needs to know where in the world you are located. This is helpful so it can find out what day and time it is, and it can then figure-out if, for example, a new update to the software is actually new.

First you must use the up and down arrow keys to select the region where you are and then press ‘Enter’.

Then you need to select the city where you live from a list and again press ‘Enter’. Since the list only contains the largest cities, your own city might not be on the list. If this happens, please select another city which is near-by, or at least in the same timezone.

3 Introduction to the Basics

In this section we will describe the commands and shortcuts you can use for routine operations with F123Light. Since the system is undergoing rapid development, there may be times in which the documentation does not perfectly match the latest version of the software. If you encounter difficulties, please let us know through one of our e-mail lists.

4 Bluetooth in F123Light

Connecting bluetooth devices such as headsets and keyboards is fairly straightforward in F123Light.

4.1 Common Steps to Get Started

4.2 Pairing Headsets and Speakers

4.3 Pairing a keyboard

4.4 All Devices Are Paired and Connected

4.5 An Introduction to the Text Editor

The default text editor in the F123Light system is called Nano. This editor is small in size, fast, easy to use, and feature rich.

The keyboard shortcuts or key bindings used in the F123Light version of Nano are modified so that anybody who has used an editor under Windows or other graphical user interfaces (GUIS), will have a very easy time using it.

You will also notice that for some functions, more than one shortcut is available. This is because depending on what editor you use the most, you might for example, close a document with Ctrl+W or maybe with Ctrl+Q. Since both combinations work on F123Light’s version of Nano, you will probably be able to just keep using what you are used-to.

Here is a list of shortcuts. Remember, you can also use Fenrir’s virtual menu system (Insert+F10), if you get stuck or can’t remember something:

Please note that the Nano text editor sometimes calls files “buffers”. You can consider buffers the exact same thing as a file. The only reason this term is used, is because it refers to information that resides on memory and might not be already saved to disk.

If you forget any of these commands, you can always find this text inside the Virtual Menu (Insert+F10), under the “Help” menu, under “About Nano”.

4.6 Fast Language Switching

If you know more than one language, you can quickly switch between them with Fenrir. Press the Fenrir script key. The Script key is the Super key located between the left control and alt keys. Your Super key may have the Windows logo on it.

To add a new language, or remove one, open “Configure fast language switching” located under the “Settings” menu.

4.7 Getting Remote Assistance

If you are ever stuck, or have broken something and cannot figure out how to fix it, one of our team members may be able to help you. If you go to the help menu and select “Request remote assistance with my computer”, a request for help will be issued to the F123 team.

To get help simply write a brief description of the problem you have. To send the request, type . on a line by itself.

Please note that this service is experimental at this point and is not yet available 24 hours a day, and for now, it is only available in English. In the near future we will share more details on time and language options in our lists and blog.

4.7.1 Important Notice on Remote Assistance

Requesting remote assistance allows a team member full access to your computer. Anything the root user can do is available to the support staff who answers your request for assistance. You can request a log of everything done in the help session.

5 Finding or Offering Help

5.1 Contributing Time, Talent, Contacts, Etc

If you value the work we do, please help us out. You can help in many ways. here are some ideas:

5.2 Our E-mail Lists

To join any of the following e-mail lists, you can send a blank e-mail message to the indicated address. You will then receive an e-mail message from the list, requesting confirmation. Just responding to that confirmation e-mail, i.e. pressing “reply” on your e-mail software, and sending the message without writing anything wil confirm and subscribe you to the list.

If all you want is to get an occasional e-mail from us, sharing the latest news, join our announcement list. The plan is to send just one message per month, maybe even less.

Those who want to keep in touch with the project through social networks, should know that we rarely respond to posts on social networks. Ideally, please get in touch with us via the above lists or via direct e-mail.

5.3 Contacting Our Team Directly

Some messages are best sent directly to our team. E-mail messages in English can be sent to this address, in Spanish to this address, and in Portuguese to this address.


This document is version number: 19.04.04


This work by F123 Consulting is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. We also have another way for you to freely use our content, if this license does not meet your needs. Contact us for alternative licensing options.