"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New toy on the desk: Raspberry Pi


During a recent Electronics and Surplus fair just before Christmas I decided to buy myself what I consider has been the computer of this soon-to-end year: the Raspberry Pi.
I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do with it, apart from experimenting of course. Probably I'll use it as headless server thanks its low power consumption it would be able to stay on-line 24 hours a day.


Before to start

The Raspberry board (a B+ model) I bought was a bare-bone one so, before to start, I had to procure a 2A USB power supply and a 8 GB Micro-SD memory card. Some cell-phone charger can power the Raspberry (mine didn't) and on the 'net you can find Raspberry disk images as small as 2GB but, for a stable use, a dedicated power supply and a big enough memory card are needed.


Installing Raspian

Among the available operating system choices I decided to try first Raspian, the Raspberry-Pi Debian version, mostly because I already comfortable with Debian-derived Linux distributions. I so downloaded the disk image and copied it on the micro-SD card using the “dd” command like this:
sudo dd if=2014-09-09-wheezy-raspbian.img of=/dev/sdd
Raspian comes with Open SSH server already configured to start at boot so it's not needed to connect the Raspberry to a monitor and a keyboard in order to configure it, installation can be done in a complete headless way. I inserted the memory card in the Raspberry slot, I connected the Ethernet port to the network and I powered the card. As soon I noticed the Raspberry was on-line (I use a handy utility on my cell-phone to do it) I've been able to connect to my Raspberry-Pi.
here is the first login screen-shot:

as first things to do I changed he default password of the “pi” (sudoer) user with the “passwd” command and executed the “raspi-config” command from where I expanded the file system in order to use to all available free space.


Now what?

I'm still undecided but the low power consumption of the Raspberry-Pi makes it ideal to run a “home server” mostly with media-server and download-server like it has been for the long-dismissed, but never forgot, PIII550 I used until some years ago. Of course I'll have to look for a USB disk and proper case too.