Friday, 27 October 2017

Sugar on Pi - headless Raspberry Pi 3 B

SoaS or Sugar on a Stick was a popular interface to boot a Windows or any non-XO machine into the Sugar GUI.

With Raspbian (Stretch), there are different variants that range from Pidora to Fedora but this approach using a Sugar based Linux image created by Sugar labs, thankfully worked although with a few glitches when working with the Journal. Not sure if it is less memory or connecting through XMing.

I guess it is early days to make any confident observation on the maturity of using Sugar Activities on the RasPi3 but I am thrilled with the prospect of offering a less than $100 educational laptop based on the Raspberry Pi 3 B or Raspberry Pi Zero W hardware.

The reason for the thrill is the My Neighborhood interface that works with the WiFi connectivity.

The interface I used to connect graphically with the Pi is the ssh+x11 using Xming as the display output. 

Extensively testing the Sugar interface on a 512 M or 1 G motherboard would be the first task that I must accomplish to enable the bundling of the fabulous Sugar activities on the Pi.

A video of the Sugar interface on the Raspberry Pi and the Sugar activities on Sugarizer server.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Headless boot of RasPi 3 B

First things first, the micro sd card can be removed/inserted without having to disassemble the Raspberry Pi official enclosure box unlike what is maintained in many online posts!

It is so important that I thought it best to mention it ahead of any technical steps because so winding are the many forum documentation on how to start up your Raspberry Pi, without a monitor/screen/keyboard via wifi/lan.

I used Windows 7 laptop so all instructions are based on Windows.

Other Assumptions - DHCP client service running, ethernet enabled.

Early footnote - There is a 'w' version (wireless and bluetooth) of Raspberry Pi Zero that is lesser to the Pi 3 B in RAM, some processing power and about Rs. 2k less in cost.

To get on with the Pi 3 B, first,

the Dont's

1. Don't use Noobs!

2. Don't buy the pre-installed SD Card from CrazyPI (Not being mean here (anyway, CrazyPI is getting free reach here!) but the sheer waste of a day because of the SD card is simply a no-no) that says you would get a Pidora, too. It does not even boot!

3. I bought the one, a 16 GB card, and after a day of tussle with online forums and the SD card, I finally went and bought a Micro SD Card adapter, deleted all the files (made a copy of the files, of course, just for good measure!), downloaded/installed Etcher, ran it and selected the Rasbian Stretch image that I had downloaded from the official RasPi website and flashed it onto the SD Card. 

4. It took 4 hours to burn the image (and an additional hour or so to validate the burned image)! Probably, a 8 GB micro SD card (Class 10) should burn faster. Size matters, in this context!

the Do's

1. Open Notepad and simply save the open (empty) file as is, naming the file as "ssh" to the root of the sd card that you just created. This is to enable ssh in the RasPi.

2. Safely remove the SD card and insert the SD Card into the RasPi slot, power it on and plug in the LAN cable.

3. Open your Wireless connection from the Network and sharing center 

4. Click Properties and switch to the Sharing tab. Check the two values as in the below screenshot:

5. A prompt to associate a private connection to share will appear. Select "Local area connection" from the Select Private connection drop-down menu. Click Ok.

6. Open the LAN connection properties. It should show something like this:

7. Download Putty and RealVNC and install them.

8. Open Putty and type "" in the hostname field under the Session menu item to the left pane in Putty. Note: Once you change the name, however, use the ip address of the pi to connect (applicable only with DHCP usage because upon reboot, the IP, to which the name points, may not remain the same).

Click Open.

9. Enter login as "pi" and password as "raspberry"

10. Type "sudo raspi-config". The below screen will help in starting the VNC server. Scroll to the "Interfacing options" with the help of the down arrow key as below:

 Press Enter.

11. Scroll down to "VNC" as below, press Enter and select Enable in the subsequent dialog box. Navigate to finish using the arrow keys and press Enter to return to the shell.

12. Start RealVNC from your Windows laptop and enter the hostname as before and you will have the VNC viewer displaying your RasPi desktop.

13. Most likely, a warning to change password will appear and the text may overflow beyond the screen.

14. You can set the Raspi configuration now using the GUI, as below!

15. Select Raspberry configuration and modify the screen resolution. A prompt to reboot the Pi may appear. Click Ok. The VNC server would shut down so close the VNC viewer in your Windows laptop and reopen it.

16. The new resolution may enable you to view the wifi information

17. Start the "node-red" server from the programs. Note the IP address with the port number. Type the address with the port number from your Windows browser and the speed with which node-red connects will surely make you straight away buy a led and fiddle with the GPIOs to set up your first IoT thing!

Happy IoT-ing!