Red Lines OS: How to guide

Red Lines is a peer-to-peer network containing over 14 hours of infrared video footage shot in the landscapes where internet submarine fiber optic cables first reach land. The work can be viewed in any internet browser at and is intended to be lived with over an extended period of time.

Red Lines OS is a custom operating system contained on a USB stick that can run on most PCs and some Macs. Once set up using the directions below, the computer will boot from the USB drive, connect to the internet and launch Red Lines in fullscreen without any additional action required. Red Lines OS is helpful for people interested in launching Red Lines without using a keyboard or mouse and for people with older computers that cannot boot or where the login information has been lost.

This instruction guide will show you how to set up Red Lines OS on a Zotac mini-computer, which is the cheapest option I could find available at the time of writing (February 2019). A lot of effort was put into trying to get Red Lines to run on Raspberry Pi III, but unfortunately it doesn't seem able to handle playing the videos and managing the p2p functionality in the browser while still maintaining a smooth playback speed.

If you already have a computer and just need to install Red Lines OS onto a USB stick, you can skip directly to that section here.


  • Zotac ZBOX-CI327NANO N3450 Intel (~169 euros)
  • 4GB (2x 2GB) 204 Pin SO DIMM DDR3 Memory (~41 euros)
  • 4GB (or larger) USB drive (can be USB 2 or 3)
  • Small phillips head screw driver
  • Keyboard (not pictured)
  • Mouse (not pictured)
  • Monitor (not pictured)

  • The first thing we need to do is install the RAM chips into the Zotac.

    Step 1) Using your fingers unscrew the four rubber coated screws on the bottom of the Zotac.

    Step 2) Remove the four screws in the image above. Then remove the square hardware bracing.

    Step 3) Slide the bottom RAM chip in at a slight angle. Once it is pressed firmly in place press the top down to lock it into place. Repeat for the top RAM chip.

    Step 4) Put the hardware bracing back in place (see photos in Step 2) and screw back in place. Then put the bottom back on the Zotac and screw back in the 4 rubber coated screws by hand.

    The next thing we need to do is to load Red Lines OS onto your USB stick.

    Step 1) Insert your USB drive into your computer (not the Zotac). Erase and format the USB drive to MS-DOS (FAT). On Mac this can be done with Applications->Utilities->Disk Utility.

    Step 2) Download and install Etcher (works on PC, MAC and Linux).

    Step 3) Download -> After it is downlnoaded unzip the file.

    Step 4) Launch Etcher. Select Then select your USB drive (be very careful here to select the USB drive and not your computer's hardrive or other external hard drive which you don't want erased). Then hit 'Flash!'. Wait for the file to be flashed and verified. Once this process is complete you can remove the USB drive.

    The last thing we need to do is tell the Zotac to boot from the USB drive. This will only need to be done once.

    Step 1) Plug in the USB stick, keyboard, mouse and power cable to the Zotac and connect your monitor. If you haven't done so already screw in the wifi antenna.

    Step 2) Power up the Zotac. When you see the "Zotac ZBOX" logo hit the 'DEL' key to enter the settings menu.

    Step 3) Use the arrow keys to navigate to the "Boot" tab in the menu. Match your settings to the image above. Then save and exit (F10).

    NOTE: On some systems you may have to enable an advanced option in the AMI BIOS called "CSM" for "Compatibility Support Module".

    Step 4) Power up the Zotac. If everything is working properly you should see the menu listed above. Wait for the timer to count down (or hit 'enter' if you're feeling impatient).

    Step 5) When you see the "Connect to the Internet" screen either plug in an ethernet cable or use the mouse to navigate to the wifi settings in the upper right hand corner. Select your wifi name and enter your password. Once Red Lines OS is connected to the Internet it should automatically launch Red Lines fullscreen.

    Step 6) When everything is running properly you should see an infrared video playing fullscreen at a fluid frame rate. Roughly every 18 minutes it will jump to a new location, and as it loads you will see white text in the upper left corner showing the name of the individual piece (a URL) and peers to whom you are connnected.

    Step 7) To power off the machine just hold down the power button for 3 seconds. The next time you power the machine back on it should boot straight to fullscreen and launch Red Lines.

    - On some systems the wifi password may not be saved between reboots. There should be a way to create a USB stick with persistent storage, but I haven't had time to figure this out yet (if anyone can help with this please be in touch at the email listed below). A work around is to connect to the internet via an ethernet cable.

    - On some systems the USB stick is not recognized upon reboot unless it is physically removed and plugged back in before boot up.

    - On some systems the screen saver and power settings come on if there is an interruption in Red Lines playback. This is an issue I plan on looking into (and hopefully fixing) soon.

    If you have any questions feel free to email and I will do my best to answer: