Raspberry Pi(rate) Box

So, a dear friend recently gifted me a Raspberry Pi after I mentioned how I’d been toying with the idea of setting up a Pirate Box, the idea being to use it for file sharing and messaging during tabletop RP sessions. It showed up about a week ago, and due to an annoying combination of lack of time and anxiety that I’d do something to break my new toy, I didn’t actually do anything with it until yesterday.

First step was easy, grab the install image for the Pi via BitTorrent — it was well seeded, so I had that in no time flat. Next step was writing the image to the SD card, which I am ashamed to say was probably harder than it should have been; considering that I’ve been using one flavor of Linux or another as my daily driver OS for 13 years now, I shouldn’t have had such trouble figuring out how to use dd in the terminal window to write the image to the SD card (GUI makes me weak). My first attempt to fit the Pi into the case that was included in the starter kit made me afraid I was going to break it, but after setting it aside a minute, I did eventually figure out how it fitted into place. From there, everything else went pretty smoothly: put the sd card in, powered it up, and connected via wifi from my laptop. Followed the last few steps of setup via ssh, and now I have a default set up working.

I need to do some customization now: need a way to power it off without ssh for those times I’m using it on the go without a devices that I can access it via the shell to tell it to halt, and need to decide if a physical switch added to the case or a hidden and protected webpage will be a better solution. Want to customize the pages it serves to connected users for chat and file sharing. Want to set up bluetooth to connect to a speaker to play back audio. Need to be able to get it on home wifi network, to allow me to be connected to it for shell access while still having access to the internets for irc and forums to access help and tips. Maybe add a QR code sticker to the case that’ll direct people to the landing page since it doesn’t always auto-redirect on my phone (though it does on my laptop),

Overall, I’m pleased that I was able to do a thing and it works. I may buy a larger USB drive and a higher capacity external battery pack, but for now the 16GB drive I already had, and wasn’t using, is enough space, and I don’t expect to run it mobile very much yet, so I can use the existing battery pack I use to charge my phone on the go (ingress eats all the batteries!). Eventually I may upgrade it to a cooler case, or get a second SD card to set up another project.

Penguins and Computers

So, as I mentioned in my last rambling, I bought a new computer. I went with System76, because I felt it was important to buy a machine that was sold as a Linux machine first and foremost. Partially because it meant I knew it wouldn’t take a lot of fussing to get working (and let’s face it, I’m a lazy Linux user, and have been for nearly 13 years now), and partially because I feel it’s very important to vote with my money, and buying a machine that comes with Windows preinstalled is basically a vote for Windows hegemony even if I immediately wipe it and replace it with a flavor of linux.

Now, of course, because I’m the crazy and masochistic sort of Linux user… after I ordered a nice shiny machine that came with a working distro installed on it, all shiny, new, and working perfectly… what do I do with it? I format and reinstall. Granted, part of that was because it didn’t come with /home as its own partition, and part of it was because I thought it would be good to start with an absolutely no bloat distro, instead of just installing the desktop environment I wanted in the default ubuntu install. I had so much fun that first weekend I had my new machine. >.< It took me forever to figure out why I didn't have a gui preference panel for keyboard stuff (wasn't installed, yay!), just so I could enable the compose key... because the non gui solution involved preference files that had a lot of other settings I didn't need to change, and ubuntu based things changed the files I needed to look in to verify that I was copying my current settings... but because ubuntu has a gui solution, it was hard to find command line and preferences based solutions for it when running a derivative without the gui panel. So much fun. And bluetooth still isn't working the way I want it to. Audio quality was all messed up, and for some reason it didn't want to pair with the mouse I bought... so I'm stuck usinng the usb dongle I didn't want to have to use. All that said, I am pretty pleased with the new machine. It's zippy, has lots of space. It's lighter than the old machine, bigger screen, number pad. Would have been better if I'd known to leave well enough alone... but what can I say, would I truly be a Linux user if I did? 😁