In June 2013, I got my hands on Raspberry Pi computer. I got the latest model B. I've managed to configure it (more or less) for my needs. In fact, this website runs on my own Raspberry Pi web server! I've bought my second Pi in August 2013. I'm using it for prototyping, programming and testing (I've fried the RPi, but got a replacement); in October 2013, I've bought a bargain £19.99 third Pi that I'm currently using for Home Automation Project. The Pi-craze never ends.
What the Pi!?
Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer. Yes, it is very small. Buying one might be a shock for you. The box in which it is being delivered is much bigger than the contents. What you get is only the computer, a plate with connectors (USB, HDM headphones jack and RCA), processor and LEDs. But, in fact, the Pi is a powerful, Linux machine! There are countless things you can do with it, lots of user established blogs with their projects and, of course - forums. Pi is relatively cheap! For about £30 (the bare Raspberry Pi cost, in fact, it's a bit more expensive when counting additional hardware, such as SD card, power plug, cables, etc., but it's still under £100), you get almost endless possibilities. And if you don't have much free space in your flat/house/apartment for "yet-another-gadget-junk" as me, the miniature sized computer is right for you! But, before you buy one, be aware that it's a linux-based machine, so you might need some basic knowledge of the system to operate Raspberry.
I won't write much about under-the-hood stuff the Raspberry has, as it's been covered widely on many blogs and, most of all, the official website. What I'm interested in, is the size of the machine and it's possibilities.
What is my Pi?
My First Pi, used as a webserver, configuration consists of: 8GB Sandisk Micro SDHC card used only for boot purposes. Mounted with Adafruit Low-profile micro SD card adapter inside ShortCrust case; 320GB PQI H550 HDD USB drive that's been lying around, holding my root partition of PiBang Linux distribution based on Debian and optimized for the Raspberry Pi hardware; Ethernet cable connection; The Pi Hut's 7 Port USB Hub to connect the HDD, printer and extra peripherals.
My Second Pi is used for prototyping and testing:
- 4GB Sandisk SDHC card used only for boot purposes;
- 16GB Kingston DataTraveler SE9 USB drive, holding my root partition of Raspbian Linux distribution based on Debian and optimized for the Raspberry Pi hardware;
- 16GB Kingston DataTraveler SE9 USB drive for media and backup purposes.
- LedBorg from PiBorg to dazzle me;
- Lots of wires, connectors, breadboards, sensors and stuff;
- USB WiFi adapter (Ralink);
- sometimes uses Anker Astro E4 external battery as a power source.
My Third Pi to used for Home Automation Project, has: 4GB Sandisk SDHC card used only for boot purposes; 16GB Kingston DataTraveler SE9 USB drive, holding my root partition of ArchLinux; USB WiFi adapter (Ralink); PiFace Digital on PiRack (mounted/demounted); 7 Port USB Hub; Arduino Uno connected via USB port.
I've decided to move root partition to USB drive, as an SD cards have limited lifespan of their read/writes. If you intend to use the Pi intensely (in my case it's the web server along with my projects-to-come), it's a good idea to tune the disk a bit, by moving root partition onto a USB drive/external HDD/SSD. However, you'll still need the SD card for boot purposes. But the modification not only increases the lifespan of your system but speeds it up considerably.
The good thing is you don't need additional screen, keyboard, mouse, etc. to run your Pi. I've only used my TV (serving as screen) and a keyboard for first-time configuration of Internet connection and, from time to time, to make some changes to the file-system. All other work can be done via SSH, which is convenient. Less stuff - more space.
For server configuration I've chosen lighttpd - Open Source, lightweight webserver with php5 and mysql support. It runs smooth and, most of all, it's really fast and simple to configure. It's working with php and mysql.
I've secured my Pi with iptables and fail2ban services, working good and preventing any attacks. I have also configured watchdog service to bring my Pi to life after system failure without having to reboot it manually.
The Blog Theme
The Unwritten Words is now running a version 2 of a minimalist theme, hand crafted by Leo Babauta. The zh2 theme focuses on the site's content, and nothing else.
There's the content, a footer with some navigation links, and that's about it. It's meant to be a perfect reading experience for the reader. It's the theme running on the site you're reading right now.
This theme is characterized by what it does not have:
- A sidebar
- Second sidebar
- Dynamic sidebar
What Comes Next?
I've decided to move forward, and stop just playing with the Pi. I find it too slow and too backwards for normal usage. Indeed, it's a great tool to start your Linux adventure, but at some point there comes a time, you realise Pi is just not enough. I've stopped my electronics projects. Why bother, if there are already more professional and accurate tools available on the market? I'm still using the Pis. One as a web server, one as a media centre for my home. But most of the stuff I now do on a proper equipment. I've got myself an amazing Dell Latitude D820. An old(ish) machine, but great for Linux. It runs Debian wheezy with systemD and zsh instead of bash and ArchLinux. I want to learn Arch. It draws me into it because of it's simplicity and ease of use.