Running Balsa

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This page is part of the Quick Start for Balsa.

It tells you how to start and stop a Balsa system, and introduces you to a few of the things that you can do with Balsa.

What You Will Need

If you have been following the instructions in order, you will already have:


Starting up and Logging In

  • Plug the Balsa Card into the computer when it is turned off.
  • Start the machine. It will display a menu asking which system you want to run, Balsa or the host system(s).
  • On a Windows machine you can choose Windows or Balsa, choose Balsa. On a Linux system, choose the Balsa on SD entry.
  • The Balsa system will temporarily display a couple of screens and then will display a log-in screen with two log-ins.
    • The Balsa User log-in is the main user account.
    • The Advisor account is used for controlling the Balsa system.
  • Click on one of the accounts and it will ask you for a password.
  • The Passwords for the accounts are:
    • Balsa User: balsabalsa
    • Advisor: admin123456
  • Type the password for the account you want. If you have the CapsLock on, Balsa will display a warning icon in the password box.
  • The first time you start Balsa on a machine, it will be a little slower in starting. Some machines hang on the first log-in. Wait two or three minutes. If the computer still hanging, turn off the power and restart it. The second time, it should start properly.

Logging Out

At the far right, on the Status Line at the bottom, is the icon for Logging out of Balsa. It is an open door with a red arrow pointing at it. When you click on it a window will appear giving you the three options

  • Log Out - Takes you to the Balsa Log-in Screen
  • Restart - Will restart the machine
  • Shut Down - Turns off the machine

Do not check the box labeled Save Session for Future Log-ins. It won't work.

A Few Useful Programs and Notes

The controls for changing the position and size of a window are different in Balsa. To close a window, click on the red X on the top right hand side. The green + maximizes the window. The blue V on the top left opens up a window control menu.

Balsa uses tabbed screens. You can select a tab at the top of the screen to view a different set of program icons. Here are the screens available:

Work Screen

This tab contains icons for programs that will likely be used the most frequently. Some of these programs also appear under other tabs.

  • Bibletime - Various Scripture helps can be downloaded from the Internet.
  • Bibledit - is a Scripture editor. There is a brief tutorial at
  • Adaptit - is useful for adapting scripture from one language to another. The Adaptit Back Translation icon sets up Adaptit to handle back-translations.
  • WeSay - A dictionary / lexical file handling program. Run the WeSay Configuration program under the Settings tab first.
  • Thunderbird - a program for handling email
  • AbiWord - a word processor similar to Microsoft Word
  • - an alternate word processor similar to Microsoft Word
  • gedit - is a simple text editor, similar to Notepad in Windows.
  • Documents Folder - opens a file browser to the Balsa User's Documents folder

Write & Draw Screen

This tab contains icons for programs that you will want to use for graphics and text processing.

Learning & Fun Screen

A few games, a calculator, and a program to teach typing.

Record & Play Screen

A program for recording Audio (Audacity); using the Webcam (Cheese); taking a picture of the current screen or window (Screenshot).

Internet Screen

A web browser and an email program.

Settings Screen

Programs for adjusting the way Balsa works.

More Information

More information on on these programs is available here: Configure Balsa programs and applications

The Advisor Account

The Advisor account should be used only for controlling and configuring the Balsa system. Don't use it for doing work like editing files, emails, etc.

When you make changes, you will have to enter the Advisor's password, admin123456

Changing the Password(s)

From the Applications Menu at the bottom, select System | Users and Groups. The Users Settings window will appear allowing you to change the passwords. Don't change the Account types.

Changing the Balsa Screens

You can change the Balsa screens. The program for this is Edit Tabbed Desktop. Select the Balsa User in the first window displayed. The Balsa screens are are listed on the left. You turn on/off with the check boxes on the right.You can drag items from one menu item to another.