May 2013 Issue of Linux Journal: Raspberry Pi

A Pint-Size Powerhouse with a Tasty-Sounding Name

It's hard not to love the Raspberry Pi. For less money that it takes to stop at a drive-through, it's possible to buy the top-end RPi model. (Granted, I have three teenagers, so the drive-through is expensive.) The Raspberry Pi is as open as the manufacturer can make it, has huge community support, and its software isn't backed by a huge corporation with mysterious motivations (cough, Android, cough). It's just a cool little ARM device that runs Linux. This month, we focus on the Raspberry Pi. The drive-through is optional.

Dave Taylor doesn't work directly with a Raspberry Pi this month, but his continuing series on scripting a Cribbage game certainly will work on an RPi. Even if you're not a Cribbage fan, Dave's scripting lessons are infinitely useful for learning. Reuven M. Lerner teaches a thing or two this month as well—specifically in regard to running background tasks in your Web applications. Running things in the background can make a monstrous Web application perform much more quickly from the end user's perspective. Reuven shows how with Sidekiq.

Kyle Rankin, who first interested me in Raspberry Pi devices, talks about redundancy this month. What's better than a Raspberry Pi? Redundant pies—or Pis, rather. If you want to bolster your RPi reliability or just want an inexpensive platform to learn clustering, Kyle walks through the process. I've been writing about my Raspberry Pi adventures off and on for the past six months, so this month, I decided to focus on an issue that is near and dear to my heart: RSS. If the Google Reader shutdown in July has you worried about how you'll browse the Web, perhaps my column will help. I'm past panic mode, and I've been able to wean myself off Google Reader altogether.

I'm probably not the only Linux Journal reader who has a full virtualization system with iSCSI SAN/NAS storage in my basement. Unfortunately, along with that nerdy power comes a big electricity bill. Brian Trapp describes the other end of that spectrum with his article on creating the perfect home server—with a Raspberry Pi. There are plenty of reasons powering your Linux server infrastructure with a cell-phone charger is awesome, and Brian explains how. If you want to add IPv6 to the mix, Igor Partola follows up with an article on creating an IPv6 router on your network, even if your ISP doesn't support it!

I realize all my "servers in the basement" stuff is almost cliché when talking about Linux users. To be fair, I didn't say it was my mom's basement. Still, Jonathan Brogdon's article on controlling stage lighting with a Raspberry Pi is a great way to avoid our basement-dwelling stereotype. Jonathan literally puts RPi in the spotlight with his hardware/software combination for controlling external lighting. It's a real-world solution and really cool to read about.

The coming shutdown of Google Reader has made all of us think a little harder about the dangers of cloud computing. At the very least, it's forced us to think about trusting cloud-based services we don't directly control. Diana Marina Cooper talks about the other end of the cloud—specifically as it relates to open-source compliance. How does the GPL relate to a world of "Software as a Service"? If the cloud obfuscates the software and the code, what does that mean with regards to FOSS? Diana takes a serious look at a problem not many of us consider.

Do you have a Raspberry Pi, and are you looking for something to do with it? Do you already have a rack of clustered-RPi devices in your basement, and are you looking for tips on optimization? Regardless of your immersion level into the Pi, this issue should prove useful and entertaining. Even if you have no interest in the Raspberry Pi, this issue is full of the same tech tips and Linux news you're used to seeing. This issue was incredibly fun to put together, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Available to Subscribers: May 1


Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter


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I haven't quite got as far as

Pyplate's picture

I haven't quite got as far as building a cluster, but I've built a server with my Pi. It's on line at I've figured out how to build a load balancer, so hopefully I'll have a Pi cluster running soon.

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siblek31's picture

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I love Linux and I use

siblek31's picture

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A tip for installing the boot image for the Raspberry Pi

Nathan Stenzel's picture

It is important to note that when you install the boot image on your SD card that you install the image to the drive and not a partition. If it would be /dev/sdb or whatever. Don't try to install it to /dev/sdb1 or /dev/sdb2 or whatever. It will make the partition table on the SD card which was probably using a DOS format partition table before you started. I figured I would mention that because I installed it to the wrong place on my first try and so did my friend who just recently got one.

Raspberry Pi: the Perfect Home Server

Nathan Stenzel's picture

On page 69 under the heading "Arranging the Hardware", you mention "It's possible to use a USB thumbdrive for booting, but that would use up one of the two precious USB slots" but last time I checked, they can only boot from the SD card which must be a standard SD card (not an adapter for a micro SD card). Your magazine has a poll (which I found on pages 22 and 23) asking which features to add and one of the features is the idea of adding USB booting options to it.

Booting from USB

Jez's picture

It is indeed possible to boot from a thumb drive, but the process has to be started from an SD card.

You can use a microSD in an adapter, but you have to be careful which card you try, not all work. There is a list of hardware at that are known to work. (I use an 8gb SanDisk microSD)

Either way, the SD card needs to contain at least the syslinux partion that loads the main system. The thumb drive would contain everything else, and both would be needed to boot the system. Certain brands of thumbdrives up to 64Gb are known to work and would support this kind of boot.

It is highly unlikely that RPi would ever boot directly from USB. This is because the graphics processor is used to bootstrap the core, and the core contains code for the ARM processor to drive the USB. The graphics processor has no need to ever talk to the USB, and therefore cannot boot from it without modification...
Booting syslinux from a small SD and then switching to a large fast thumbdrive containing everything else is a reasonable compromise.

Hope this helps.

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PuTTy's picture

Many thanks to Shawn Powers and his article about the comparison between RSS clients. So far I was using Feedly but was pissed off from the icon that always staying on my right bottom part of the screen and after reading the news on your magazine that feedly is going to offer and paid service that made me to switch on Leafrea, but before that few weeks ago I deployed an TinyRSS server on Debian 6 cli with SSL encryption even uploaded that video on my Youtube channel - from creation of the server to adding ssl encryption , but sadly tinyrss doesn't update the rss news so often as Leafrea. Thanks for mentioning that program and saving me resources from using a seperate server for just reading my rss feeds.


PuTTy's picture

Many thanks to Shawn Powers and his article about the comparison between RSS clients. So far I was using Feedly but was pissed off from the icon that always staying on my right bottom part of the screen and after reading the news on your magazine that feedly is going to offer and paid service that made me to switch on Leafrea, but before that few weeks ago I deployed an TinyRSS server on Debian 6 cli with SSL encryption even uploaded that video on my Youtube channel - from creation of the server to adding ssl encryption , but sadly tinyrss doesn't update the rss news so often as Leafrea. Thanks for mentioning that program and saving me resources from using a seperate server for just reading my rss feeds.

Download links don't work - again this month.

Bob Gustafson's picture

Yet again, another month.

And again, the links in your reminder email don't work. I get 403 errors on button clicks.

One would think that a Geek magazine like Linux Journal would get its download system sorted out by now.

For me, the "here" link in

Nathan Stenzel's picture

For me, the "here" link in the email about the new issues works. I am not sure if that is the one you are talking about or not. (the Issue Download Login page) gives the following error though:

"You don't have permission to access /pdf/dljdownload.php on this server.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request."

I must agree that it is surprising that a geek mag would have such errors.

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