The Raspberry Pi Home Server – Part 1

As mentioned in my post from Wednesday, I’ve been working on setting up my Raspberry Pi as a small energy-efficient home server. I’ve been working freely from the brilliant guide written by Mel Grubb found on his website, doing it in the steps that I wanted on my server.

As I currently lack an external hard-disk case which is not only powered by USB, I wanted to use all this as a test setup and then either do a completely new installation or just doing step 6. Adding a Hard Drive at a later point. So far I’ve done the following steps meticulously following the different guides:

  • 1. Meet the Raspberry Pi
  • 2. Installing the OS (I went the Raspbian way as I’m comfortable with Debian variants of Linux.)
  • 3. Configuring the OS
  • 4. Web Administration
  • 11. OpenVPN Server
  • 7. Sharing Files With Samba
  • That is how far I am at the moment and the order that I’ve been doing it, but I’ve run into some problems with setting up the Samba share correctly. As I haven’t added a hard disk to the Pi as of yet, I just made some folders to share in my home folder at unax/home/Data. Then I followed the guide to do the Samba setup through the Webmin interface, allowing guest access and for everybody to be able to write to said folders. I have no problems in finding the wonderfully named UnaXPi on the server or in seeing the shared folders.

    However, when I try to add files from my Windows 8.1 machine, I get rejected due to not having the correct permissions. I’m not an expert on Samba in any way, but I’m starting to think that the issues stem from me trying to copy to the home folder of my Raspbian user unax, instead of a folder not placed within the realms of a user. I’m trying to troubleshoot a bit more and I might try by adding a USB pen drive and see if I can get it to work on the /mnt/ folder instead.

    samba_error

    Apart from that, I also did some customization of the Webmin interface to make it look more interesting, by installing the Authentic Theme and it looks wonderful. The installation however was a bit confusing to me, as I tried installing it as a module instead of a theme and I feel the Webmin error message of the ‘File Not Found’ ilk, wasn’t very helpful. Finding the ‘Theme’ option in the configuration however, helped me a long way.

    webmin_authentic_theme

    At first the Webmin interface didn’t work with the Authentic Theme, it was just stuck on a loading screen and I simply couldn’t understand why. After refreshing a few times, restarting the Pi and such, I did the only sensible thing and actually went to the source to see if there was some help to get. At the Github site I found the Troubleshoot section and installed Perl by doing:

    $ sudo apt-get install perl-libwww perl

    This meant that it worked, but I’m not really sure that I needed both the perl-libwww and perl packages, so there might be some redundancy present on the server now.

    If I look away from the snags I got with the Samba share, I’m very happy with what I’ve achieved so far. I can connect to the UnaXPi through Webmin from my entire network, see the shares on the network, connect via OpenVPN and the Raspbian OS and Raspberry Pi firmware is updated. Now to try and get write access to the shares and try some DNLA media sharing.

    More updates to follow.

    Setting up my Raspberry Pi as a home server

    Today it’s almost precisely two years since I bought myself a Raspberry Pi thinking I was going to change the world and make something really cool. Nothing really came of it. Apparently I didn’t have the imagination to build anything out of the ordinary, so I ended up making it into an EmulationStation using RetroPie. It worked fine with my Logitech controller and I did have fun playing one old NES game, for around 3 minutes. After that, my poor Raspberry Pi ended up in the box, you know the one with all the old wires and now useless gadgets.

    There the hardware dwelled until today, but it was still in the back of my mind. I was sure I could use the hardware for something interesting that actually added value for me. Then it struck me that I really wanted a NAS, but after scouring the market for a really long time I had to conclude that I can’t afford buying one of the quality I’d like. A very quick Google search lead me to an instructable called the Ultimate Pi Home Server and I found it very interesting that the Pi might be able to fill my needs until I can go on to something more professional like a QNAP or Synology NAS.

    Reading the comments on the instructable however showed that there were issues since it seems to be outdated a bit. This meant that I had to go back and do some Google-Fu and in the end it led me to this guide by Mel Grubb that seemed to fit my needs a lot more. Reading through the different steps I could even see that he kept updating it. I had to dig out the Raspberry Pi from the depot and get back to it!

    Currently I’m just sitting around listening to some music and waiting patiently while OpenVPN works on security stuff in the setup. At least it looks nice:
    openvpn_raspberry_pi_builddh

    I really hope that this will be a great temporary solution and will most definitely update with a status as soon as I’ve gotten everything up and running.

    Rooting a Samsung Galaxy S3

    My trusty old work phone, the rather useless HTC Desire S, was no longer long for this world. It had developed a rather common problem with smartphones when they reach a certain age, the battery only held charge for around 2 hours. I wont deny that I was not the first owner of it here at work, so the former owner might have mishandled it.

    Any way, this meant that I got myself a new phone, the Samsung Galaxy S3. The phone itself is pretty nice, indeed compared to the old HTC phone. The size means that reading work mail on it actually is possible without squinting. It does have problems however and people who actually own a Samsung smartphone can probably sign to the abundant quantities of bloatware they fill their phones with.

    It was so bad, that I felt the need to disable most of them, as it was cluttering my menu, loads of useless game apps and for some reason a plethora of Korean only apps that I couldn’t use, update or even disable. This meant, that to get peace of mind, I had to root the phone. Remembering back in the days how annoyingly difficult it was back in the days, I was very pleasantly surprised that it was easy and painless with this phone. Simply following the guide on Androidxda and I was up and running in less than 5 minutes.

    So what did I do after rooting? Not too much really. I disabled loads of Samsung bloatware (since deleting it wouldn’t be the best idea as I don’t actually own the phone) and only kept their S Planner, which I really like as it gives a more Outlook like overview of the calendar as I’m used to.

    All in all, I’m pleased it was so painless and happy that I now can hold the home button to get open apps instead of some stupid Samsung talk agent.