Hackviking He killed Chuck Norris, he ruled dancing so he took up a new hobby…

12Mar/164

Banana Pi: First run

Banana Pi was created to fill the need for more powerful hardware than the Raspberry Pi supplied. There are a lot of single board computers spinning of the Raspberry Pi success. Even though Raspberry Pi got the throne much thanks to it's simplicity and relatively ease of use, compared to for example the Odroid, it has been lacking hardware vice for some applications. Raspberry has maintained it's position thanks to it's growing community and further development. With the release of the Raspberry Pi 3 they have at least done a good catch up in terms of performance but are still lacking in other hardware areas.

The Banana Pi I used for the first time today is the very first Banana Pi. This particular one is a bit of a globe-trotter!  I ordered it from Chine over a year ago, while I was still living in Sweden. Un-boxed it, put it in it's case and put it away in a drawer. When a moved to California last year it got stuffed in one of the moving boxes and I finally had time to use it. Even though it's first generation and old it still leaves the Raspberry Pi behind in some ways. Back in the day the dual core 1Ghz processor was a step up from the Raspberry Pi so was the 1Gb memory that was twice the size of what the Raspberry offered at the time.

Putting the Banana Pi along side the Raspberry Pi 3 we see that Raspberry is back on the throne when it comes to performance. It has also added on board wifi and bluetooth which makes wonders for my bedroom Kodi install but the Banana Pi isn't beaten yet if you ask me. It still have a 1Gbit ethernet port while the Raspberry still only supplies you with 100Mbit. Why would this matter? When I started testing BitTorrent Syncing for my geo-location backup I ended up not using a Raspberry Pi for just that reason. Since my data was on a NAS the indexing of files over a 100Mbit connection was just to slow. In the end the 1Gbit ethernet connection on a Odroid-C1 performed so much better then the Raspberry Pi.

Another feature that I really like with the Banana Pi is the SATA port and SATA power connector included on the board. The ability to connect a SATA hard drive directly to the board without using USB opens up for some interesting implementations. In the end I really like Raspberry Pi and Odroid and Banana Pi.... They all share a great base to stand on and are good for different applications. The Raspberry Pi is my first choice for "mainstream" applications like Kodi, OpenVpn servers or Transmission bittorrent servers. But when it comes to building the little more specialized stuff there are other, and some times better, options out there.

When I did the first run of the Odroid (also over a year after I bought it!) I realized it was a bit more complicated then the Raspberry Pi. No sleek easy config tools already on the image. Not as much safety nets to prevent you from messing up your kernel etcetera. So taking out my Banana Pi I expected the same! First I realized that Raspbian is available for the Banana Pi as well! And the sleek easy, step by step setup and configuration was available as well!

bananian-config

If you have ever used the CLI config tool on the Raspberry Pi you will feel right at home! One addition that I really liked is that it forces you to change the root password, in my opinion that should be implemented on the Raspberry Pi as well! You would be amazed how many unsecure Raspberry Pi's there are connected to the internet with SSH ports available. When I first started looking into that I was actually surprised since this isn't something that the regular consumer buys and plugs in to there network.

The tool will also let you configure the following:

  • set your timezone
  • set your locale
  • set your hostname
  • set which hardware your on, Banana Pi - Banana Pro etc...
  • expand your root file system

Then just reboot the system and make sure that everything is up to date!

bananian-update
apt-get update
apt-get upgrade

From what I have read so far, and tested my self, you can more or less run anything on the Banana as you can do on the Raspberry. I'm really looking forward to setting up some implementation utilizing the SATA port. What are your thoughts on this feel free to comment either here or on Google+.

11Mar/160

BtSync: Let my NAS sleep

BitTorrent Sync (btsync) will re-index all files every 10 minutes to look for new files to sync. After installing btsync on Raspberry Pi initially and then ending up running it on an Odroid-C1 my WD NAS never sleeps. The first 48 hours it was expected since it took all that time to index all the files. But now my NAS never sleeps. Since this is a backup solution I don't have the need for it to actually re-index every 10 minutes. If the Western Digital LiveBook Duo is left alone for 20 minutes it will spin down it's hard drives. So here is a quick guide on how to configure the re-index interval for btsync installed on an arm system. This is done on the system initially installed with the Raspberry Pi: BitTorrent Sync guide.

Continue reading...

9Mar/160

Odroid: Swap on USB-stick

Swap is used when the kernel runs out of memory and need to swap less used information to the disc to make space for information currently in use. In a good setup the swap will never be used but if it's needed and not existing it will make processes crash.

I have just started out testing BitTorrent Sync (btsync) on my Odroid-C1 and noticed that all the memory was allocated more or less straight away after starting the btsync service. So just to be safe during my test, to avoid crashes, I added a 8Gb USB stick to use for swap space. You can of course use the SD-card but that will take up space needed for the system as well as shorten the life of your SD-card.

Continue reading...

7Mar/160

Odroid: First setup

If you have installed Raspberry Pi in the past the Odroid will not be a problem. It a little more hands on and require a little more effort then the Raspberry Pi. Here is a quick guide how to get you Odroid up and running. In this example I use an old Odroid-C1 that I found in one of my drawers.

Download image

First you need to download an image for your SD-card (or eMMC module, which is supported by Odroid). The Hardkernal download page have all the available images. Then make use of SD-formatter and Win32DiskImager to get the image onto the SD-card. When you first boot you Odroid you will notice that it doesn't give HDMI output as appose to the Raspberry Pi. You will need to connect it to your network and make sure you have a router or similar running a DHCP server. Once you see the IP in the DHCP list you can go ahead and use putty to SSH into it. Default username is root and default password is odroid.

Initial config

First thing you want to do is to change the default root password by running passwd. Now you have a much more secure box then before. The Raspberry Pi ships with a config script that you can use to make your basic config, the Odroid doesn't. I did however find a great script called odroid-utility written by Mauro Ribeiro, which seems to be an employee of Hardkernal actually. The script is open sourced on Github and gives you more or less the same capabilities as the Raspberry Pi config script. Since it's not shipped we need to download it, make sure that your Odroid have an internet connection and run the following:

sudo -s
wget -O /usr/local/bin/odroid-utility.sh https://raw.githubusercontent.com/mdrjr/odroid-utility/master/odroid-utility.sh
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/odroid-utility.sh
odroid-utility.sh

odroid-utility

It gives you the ability two do basic configuration like HDMI, resize root partion and change the hostname. You can also update the kernel with this tool. Each time you run the script it updates it self so once you download it you can be sure you have the latest release.

Update your system

After all this just do a basic package upgrade and your Odroid is ready for use.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Timezone

This one is really important for some implementations since correct date and time can break some setups.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata