Category Archives: Raspberry Pi

Poking my Raspberry Pi again

It’s been a while since I did much but periodically check my Raspberry Pi to see if it was still working. However, I recently updated all its software and decided to try a few more things. I’ve more or less decided that I’ll just stick with my forte, software, rather than try to solder stuff and leverage the GPIO pins. I appreciate the ability to interface to the physical world, but soldering is not in my wheelhouse 😉 . I’ve read recently about using the RPi to act as one’s internet presence rather than using a hosting company. That way you have complete control over your server. The RPi takes so little power and has no moving parts that letting it sit and run is not the same as turning your old clunker PC into a Linux box for the same purposes. I loaded up WordPress on top of the LAMP stack and was pleased with the ability to easily set up a blog. It’ll likely never see the light of day, but I could, if I wanted, port the contents of this blog back to the RPi pretty easily and open up the webserver/blog to the world. It’s mostly a MySQL database restore…

Fun stuff! I’m looking forward to brushing up on my tech skills soon when I have a bit more time to play with this stuff…

Playin’ with wikis…

I like wikis! I’ll confess that back in the dark ages about a zillion years ago, when I first heard about wikis back in the late 90’s (for the curious, here’s the history of the wiki), I said to myself, “why would anyone every want to create a website that lots of folks can edit?” My lack of imagination about things like this is why I’m not an entrepreneur, I guess 😉

I’ve used different wiki software, but mostly I’ve used PmWiki and MediaWiki. MediaWiki is more powerful and complex, but I like PmWiki for a “quick and easy” wiki that provides reasonable flexibility. They are both in PHP and will run most anywhere. I’m running a PmWiki instance on my Raspberry Pi now. I’ve used PmWiki to create exercises for the Systems Analysis class I teach at UNC-CH. We’ve got a family “notebook” running in PmWiki. I’ve got a family recipe archive in a MediaWiki instance, and some other things as well.

I’ve been sitting here on a rainy September Sunday doing some updates, and just reflecting on fun with wikis.

A Raspberry Pi…


I bought myself a Raspberry Pi, a small single board computer, about the size of a credit card. You can order one for $35, put it together with some parts you probably already have, and you’ve got a fully functional Linux computer. I haven’t really decided what to do with it yet, but it’s a good excuse to refresh my Linux skills. It supports a USB keyboard/mouse (I actually used one from an old 1st gen iMac that’s sitting in my closet (can’t bear to throw it out 😉 ) so it’ll use anything. Has HDMI output (with sound) to a TV, as well as composite video and 3.5mm audio. It’s got an Ethernet port, of course. Supposedly you can do WiFi by adding a USB WiFi adapter. Power comes from a micro-USB cellphone charger (1A or better). Storage is from an SD card (they recommend 4GB or larger; I used 4GB and it has ~2GB free after install). It boots from that, but you can supposedly add an external USB hard disk. You have to download the image (Debian-based) and write it to the SD card with something like “dd” depending on your environment (I did it from my current iMac). You could build multiple images, and just replace the SD card to boot to a different OS version.

I plugged it in (it has nice little activity lights that blink 😉 ) and it booted to its config program. I set the locale, timezone, enabled ssh connectivity it was ready to go. You’ve got your traditional command line, and can start an xserver for a GUI. I’ve not gotten remote windows working yet, still reading up on how the graphical display manager works. I did have one problem with sound drivers (no sound at first) but found a hit on the RPI forum and installed one program and sound worked to the HDMI-connected TV.

The standard distro is oriented to Python development. It also has Perl loaded on, but no PHP. It does have gcc. I’ve just started poking around.

I’ve got all the peripherals unplugged now, and the only thing connected is the Ethernet cable and the power. Have ssh to a bash shell (its default shell setting), and that terminal connection is just fine for the time being…it can sit there, and run, drawing just a tiny bit of power, while I figure out what I want to do with it. Pretty cool!