Archive for March, 2016

LeapPad 2 on Ubuntu/Virtualbox

13 March 2016 1 comment

The developers over at LeapFrog have not supported Linux in the least – which sucks.  I found various articles on using VirtualBox, but none of them seemed to work.  At first, I hoped to get by without installing the software and connecting to a computer at all, but at some point the device got screwed up and would not boot without “a tuneup”.  I assume this repairs OS files that the kiddos somehow damaged by pulling the batteries during a filesystem write, or accidentally accomplished a boot-up key sequence that triggered the tuneup.

So here’s what I did to get it working on Ubuntu 14.04.

Rant first: I’m a little shocked at the technologies selected for the LeapPad – the hardware is actually pretty amazing for the price, but then they screwed everything over by selecting LAN over USB, Adobe Flash, and some other really bizarre software choices that practically guarantee a difficult time for most users, instead of a nice clean install and user experience.

This post partly borrows from some (IMO incomplete) UbuntuForums posts that talk about the same thing.

The instructions:

  • Install VirtualBox from Oracle’s website.
    • Download VirtualBox
    • Install using: sudo dpkg -i <filename>.deb
    • Download VirtualBox Extension Pack from the same page.
    • Install by clicking from the OS, or by running from the terminal: virtualbox Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-<VERSION>.vbox-extpack
    • Make sure users have access to the machine:
      • Some claim adding your user to the “vboxusers” group solves permissions issues – I simply run it as sudo.  Bad idea, I know, but when children’s hopes and dreams are on the line…
      • To be able to run as your own user instead of using sudo:
        sudo adduser USERNAME vboxusers
  • Download, import, and configure a free IE test virtual machine.
    • Download from
      • I used Win7 with IE10 – ymmv.  If you have a license of Windows, that would also be a good option.
    • Run VirtualBox (again, either as sudo or you must have added yourself to the vboxusers group).
    • Go to “File -> Import Appliance…”.  Navigate to the downloaded IE test virtual machine *.ova file and import it.  Run it through the normal settings.
    • Before running the virtual machine, we need to enable USB 2.0.
      • Right click on the virtual machine, and select “Settings -> USB”, and then click on USB 2.0.
      • Plug in your LeapPad and wait a few seconds for it to enumerate.
      • On the right hand side of the screen, click on the USB icon with the green “+” sign on it.  Find the LeapPad, and click on it to add a filter that forces it to pass through to the virtual machine.
  • Start the virtual machine, install the LeapFrog Connect software.
    • Open up IE once you’re in the machine and go to the LeapFrog Connect download page.  Select your device (I’m working on a LeapPad 2, so that’s download option I selected).
    • Install the software.  Pick the default settings.
      • When installing the Adobe Flash update, I HAD to install McAfee antivirus to get it to work – without it, the LeapFrog Connect software would not kick-start the Adobe Flash install, and would hang.
  • Remove McAfee and disable the firewall.
    • Go to “Control Panel -> Programs -> Uninstall Programs”, and select McAfee from the list.
    • Go to “Control Panel -> System and Security -> Windows Firewall”.  On the left, there’s a link that says “Turn Windows Firewall on or off”.  Turn OFF Windows Firewall for all locations, then press “OK”.
  • Run the LeapFrog connect software.
    • Once it’s all the way up, plug your LeapPad into the USB port and turn it on.
    • If your device doesn’t appear, right click on the USB icon at the bottom right of your VirtualBox window and select your LeapPad from the list:virtualbox_usb
    • IMPORTANT FOR TUNEUP: Watch this icon closely.  If the LeapPad appears to not be talking, right click on this icon and re-capture the USB device.  During the tuneup, it disconnected several times (5%, 35%, and 80%, IIRC) and as long as the USB device was reconnected before the process timed out, the progress bar would continue.
    • During normal operation, it seemed to just work fine – only during odd operations did it crap out on me and I’d have to watch it closely and reconnect.
  • We’re done – Take a snapshot so you can come back to it after the 90 day trial expires on the IE virtual machine.


Hope this saves someone else hours of time figuring it out while their child is bawling on their shoulder!


Categories: General