Aug 232013

After making an Access Point out of a Raspberry Pi, I decided to see what else I could do with it.

One of the things I had noticed on the forums was a captive portal function. When someone connects to the Access Point, no matter where they point their web browser it will always direct them to the page hosted on the Pi.

In order to do that, we’ll need to install a web server on the Pi to host the page.
I’ve used lighttpd for this setup, so it’s a simple apt-get install lighttpd

The default directory for lighttpd is /var/www, so you can place your splash page in there.

Once lighttpd is installed, we need to make a slight change to the dnsmasq configuration.
Add the extra line below into /etc/dnsmasq.conf, replace with the IP address of the AP if you have not followed the guide above.


Once the file has been updated, restart dnsmasq

/etc/init.d/dnsmasq restart

Now, whenever someone connects to the access point and points their web browser to anything, it will be directed to the splash page that you have created !


Aug 032013

A few people have asked for the scripts that I use to generate Raspbian Server Edition.

So here they are !

The package list is just a dump from dpkg of all the packages that have been removed.
The script is a very rough script, so there’s no error checking.
The syntax is pkgs.txt


Jul 192013

Hey Everyone.
This version of Raspbian Server Edition is just 2.4 but it’s been upgraded to Jessie rather than Wheezy.
Not much has changed apart from that, but it’ll save you an update :)

5431be436a23fd05e779f3a14e8fe05d5a9dc581 RSE2.5.img
4cbb92b1b7700dff3eab95581c3b043a1ccaee1f 1GB-RSE2.5.img

The images can be grabbed from here –
RSE 2.5
RSE 2.5 1GB


Jun 142013

Not sure if this will be of use to anyone but I’ve decided to release it anyway…

I’ve split RSE2.4 into a directory and an image file.
The directory contains all the boot files that RSE needs to boot up, and the image file is meant to be dd’ed onto a USB stick or Hard drive.
As the image file is a partition, it should be dded onto a partition

dd if=RSE2.4.HD.img of=/dev/sda1 bs=1M

The distro itself is the same as RSE 2.4 with the exception that it’s split over 2 devices.

You can download the zip file from here

I updated RSE 2.4, so this is the new SHA1 sum
461d595a5eb646da97bd2d751f05d9dcfdf96204 RSE2.4.HD.img


Jun 132013

**Updated version out here**

Hey everyone

I finally got around to getting Raspbian Server Edition updated.
This new version is based on Raspbian 2013-05-25
The end size was around 650MB, and I’ve stripped 295 packages from the default Raspbian install.

Download it from here

b316b803df9f690c62c82c311460460f3dc0c7da RSE2.4.img
After I updated RSE2.4, this is the new SHA1 sum.
85a4d24055f6166b679dce5b3ccff70ddb67d559 RSE2.4.img

Please support the continued development of Raspbian Server Edition by donating !


May 212013

I recently had an email from one of my readers enquiring about making timelapse videos with the Raspberry Pi.

Since I already had a webcam connected to one of my Pis, I set about making it take timelapse shots.
There are a myriad of ways to accomplish this, but I decided to use motion as it took the least configuration to get it to do what I wanted it to do.

Getting motion was as easy as apt-get install motion on my Raspbian powered Pi.
I also needed mencoder to encode the resulting images into a video. Mencoder is also found in the repositories, so a quick apt-get later and I also had mencoder installed.

In order to get timelapse shots, I had to setup motion to take pictures at intervals.
On line 295 in the default motion.conf, there is this following line

snapshot_interval 0

Change that to the number of seconds between each snapshot.

snapshot_interval 5

I’m also allowing remote access to the webcam so that I can check in on it.
On lines 413 and 429, change the webcam_localhost and control_localhost to off.

After changing those, I restarted the motion daemon for the changes to take effect.
Once motion is started, you will start seeing files in /tmp/motion (or wherever you decided to save the files)
The ones ending in -snapshot.jpg are the ones that we will be using for the timelapse movie.
If you have motion detection activated, you will see other files in the directory but we can ignore those.

To create the movie, we are going to use mencoder. This part could also be done with ffmpeg, which I may cover in a later post.
I wrote up a small script to run the mencoder command –

mencoder mf:///tmp/motion/*-snapshot.jpg -mf w=320:h=240:fps=25:type=jpg -ovc copy -oac copy -o output.avi

The resolution (-mf w=320:h=240) should match the resolution setup in motion.
When the script is run, it will take all files in /tmp/motion/ that end in -snapshot.jpg and make a movie out of them. The output file is set by the -o switch, in this case I’ve used output.avi.
Setting this script to run once a minute for example, will keep the timelapse video up-to-date to the last minute.

Once the file has been created, you’ll be able to view the file on another computer very easily.
The only issue with this timelapse movie, is that it will keep getting longer and longer and longer, as there is nothing cleaning up the old files.

So what we’ll do, is add an extra line into the script to remove any files older than a certain time, and that way we can control the length of the timelapse movie.
If we wanted to make the timelapse movie 10 minutes only, we’d add the following line before the mencoder line

find /tmp/motion -name "*.jpg" -type f -mmin +10 -delete

Resulting in this

find /tmp/motion -name "*.jpg" -type f -mmin +10 -delete
mencoder mf:///tmp/motion/*-snapshot.jpg -mf w=320:h=240:fps=25:type=jpg -ovc copy -oac copy -o output.avi

That way, whenever the script is run, we’ll have a 10 minute long timelapse video !


May 162013

So lately, I’ve been trying to use one of my Raspberry Pis as a WiFi bridge.
That is connecting the Pi to a WiFi network, and sharing it out via the ethernet port.
I was trying to do that with the RT5370 USB sticks that I was also using to broadcast hotspots.

With the default drivers in Raspbian however, trying to add wlan0 to a bridge results in this message

can't add wlan0 to bridge br0: Operation not supported

According the the drivers, wlan0 can’t do it.
The only way to add the RT5370 NIC to a bridge is to activate 4addr (4 address frame) mode.

iw wlan0 set 4addr on

However, once 4addr mode is on, traffic between the WiFi device and the AP seemed to stop altogether.

The solution to this issue, is to use the RALink drivers. The vendor drivers does not seem to use the Linux WiFi stack however, which means that those drivers can not be used to broadcast a hotspot using hostapd. So if you’re using a Pi as a WiFi repeater, you may have issues there, though that will be something I’m going to experiment with later as well.


Before we can actually compile the drivers, we’re going to need to grab the kernel sources.
I’m using Raspbian Server Edition, which uses the 3.6.11+ kernel. We’ll need the matching source from github.
We’ll change to the /usr/src directory first, then wget the sources from github, and then untarball it with these commands.

*Note* I’m doing it as root, so you can either prepend sudo to these commands, or run sudo bash before running these commands.

cd /usr/src
tar -xvzf rpi-3.6.y.tar.gz

Once the source is extracted, we’ll need to copy the current kernel configuration into the source directory.

cd linux-rpi-3.6.y
gzip -dc /proc/config.gz > .config

And then we need to create the files and symlinks neccesary for compiling external modules

make modules_prepare
ln -s /usr/src/rpi-3.6.y /lib/modules/3.6.11+/build

Compiling the Vendor drivers

In order to use the Vendor drivers, first we’ll need to get them.
The drivers can be found here.
Download the ones for the RT5370 and transfer it to the Pi as we’ll need to compile the drivers ourselves.

Once we have the drivers on the Pi, we’ll move them to /usr/src and untar them to keep things nice and neat. Assuming the drivers are in /home/pi
*Note* Again I’m doing everything as root.

mv /home/pi/2011_0719_RT3070_RT3370_RT5370_RT5372_Linux_STA_V2.5.0.3_DP0.bz2 /usr/src
cd /usr/src
tar -xvjf 2011_0719_RT3070_RT3370_RT5370_RT5372_Linux_STA_V2.5.0.3_DP0.bz2
cd 2011_0719_RT3070_RT3370_RT5370_RT5372_Linux_STA_V2.5.0.3_DP0

Once it’s untarred, we’ll need to edit the file ‘os/linux/’ to enable WPA support and to allow network managers to control the device.
So find these lines, and change the n to y, then save and close the file.


Now, we should still be in the /usr/src/2011_0719_RT3070_RT3370_RT5370_RT5372_Linux_STA_V2.5.0.3_DP0/ directory.
Time to compile the drivers !
To compile them, we just need to run the ‘make’ command in the drivers directory as root.
It took me just shy of 12 minutes to compile the drivers on a Class 4 SD Card on a non-overclocked pi.
Once they are compiled, running ‘sudo make install’ will install the drivers into the right spot

To make sure the drivers are installed properly, we’ll load the module to make sure no errors come up.
*Note* Run this as root again

modprobe rt5370a

If no errors come up, then that’s a good sign. Check that it’s been loaded by running lsmod and checking the output.

root@raspberrypi:/home/pi# lsmod
Module Size Used by

rt5370sta 786186 0

You should see the module rt5370sta in the list there.
Lastly we’ll disable the rt2800 usb module and enable autoloading of the new rt5370sta module.
We’ll need to edit /etc/modprobe.d/raspi-blacklist.conf and add the following line to the end

blacklist rt2800usb

And then we’ll need to edit the /etc/modules file to add the new module we’ve just compiled. Just need to add the module name to the end of the file


After the file has been modified, reboot the Pi and when it comes back up, run ifconfig -a and you should see something similar to the following –

eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr b8:27:eb:xx:xx:xx
RX packets:354 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:181 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:30609 (29.8 KiB) TX bytes:25948 (25.3 KiB)

lo Link encap:Local Loopback
inet addr: Mask:
RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
RX bytes:0 (0.0 B) TX bytes:0 (0.0 B)

ra0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:0f:54:xx:xx:xx
RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:854641 (834.6 KiB) TX bytes:44800 (43.7 KiB)

Notice the ra0 rather than wlan0. This shows that the Pi is using the new rt5370sta module rather than the old rt2800usb one. You can still use the ra0 interface to connect to wireless networks like normal.


Apr 242013

Another update to PiParted

Fixed up non-appearing SD Cards
Also added a backup option, at the moment it can only backup ~4GB SD Cards as it reads it to ram for now. Your computer will also need at least 4 GB of ram to backup the SD Card.

Grab it here !

SHA1 Hash – 2fa25e4f9e9260a3612129a1b0291fca3e3fd628 PiParted-0.04.iso

Comments / feedback would be very welcome !


Apr 192013

Just finished up with PiParted v0.03

Changes –
No longer needs 4 gigs of ram as it will uncompress and image on the fly.
Tested it on a laptop with 1.5 gigs of ram and it worked ok.

Installing from SD Card –
Works with both zip and .gz file, haven’t tested properly with .tar.gz but should still work

Also checks SHA1 hash when downloaded from the Pi site.

Incremental update really.
Download it from here
SHA1 Hash –
f91e53df56aec6cc7d1b27041e0750b0f4763bfd PiParted-0.03.iso