XBian – Raspberry Pi-based distro for running XBMC

Here just some upaid advertising for a nice armhf-based XBMC distro, I discovered some time ago. If you just want to use your RPI for watching movies and TV-shows, this is definitely for you. It auto-starts XBMC, mounts USB-drives and lets you connect to NFS and SMB as well. They only thing you might want to do is keep your XMBC-user folder on a different drive, so you can easily switch versions and always have a backup.

Link: http://xbian.org/

Raspberry Pi for CCTV using motion

I wrote about doing CCTV with zoneminder before, but realized that this might be overkill for many people. If you use less than 4 cameras, you can use the motion package. It works nicely with the Logitech webcam, I connected to my Raspberry.

Raspberry Pi running motion over a web browser
Figure 1: Raspberry Pi running motion over a web browser.

The camera worked out of the box except that saturation, brightness, etc was way off. You can configure it with the v4l2-utils package. Once you have verified that the picture is OK by using uvccapture, you should be ready to install motion. For my USB webcam, motion worked out of the box. No settings needed at all. For finetuning, I changed the framerate in /etc/motion/motion.conf to 25. Even at that rate, load stayed at 0.00 with abotu 20% CPU usage. Maybe the GPU is doing the bulk of the image processing work.

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Using Raspberry Pi for CCTV with Zoneminder

Note: zoneminder might be overkill for many people. If you have less than 4 cameras, also read my article about doing CCTV with the motion package.

One of the first uses, for the Raspberry Pi, I thought of was qick-and-dirty CCTV. This could be useful for scenarios, like remote construction sites, senior citizens, holiday homes, etc.

The only gear needed is a Raspberry Pi, a USB webcam and internet access through a router. The webcam could also be a network camera or a network digitizer. That way you have more flexibility with your location. The router could be substituted for a 3G data stick. If you have a spare TV, you could also use it for viewing those cameras. Continue reading

Access your Raspberry-Pi through any Browser with VNC

The other day I set up Ubuntu in a virtual Machine to do some preparation work before deploying a similar setup in Amazon's EC2. This basically included programming some Java in Eclipse. When I had to show some stuff to a colleage, I found a quick trick to share a screen remotely on Lifehacker.

This also works well, if you don't have a screen for your Raspberry or want to access some work files, while on the road. First you need to install the necessary packages Continue reading

Use Raspberry Pi to Print From Your iPad or iPhone

Yesterday, I described how you can use your Raspberry Pi to download and access torrents. Today my parents asked me to help them set up printing via their iPads. They have a rather old HP Deskjet 5940 printer with a simple USB interface.

Raspberry Pi print server

First you need to install CUPS (common unix printing system) for printer access. In my case the required printer drivers were installed automatically (hplip). If you are using a different printer you might have to check which packages you need.

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Raspberry Pi as Budget BitTorrent Server

The raspberry pi is a surprisingly powerful and cost-efficient computing device. Yesterday I put together this simple setup script to turn your new raspberry into a mean green downloading machine. The only requirement is an existing internet router and a working raspberry with SD-card.

Update July 2013: Here is another image for headless installations, only 220 MB big.

The guys on the official raspberry site have some nice images for downloading, but since we won't be using the graphical UI, we can use a the slim image put together by darkbasic on his site linuxsystems.it. Just follow his instructions to download, extract and install the image to a compatible SD-card. A list of tested and compatible SD-cards is available from the official site.

While installing make sure to enable SSH-access by renaming the boot-enable-ssh.rc boot.rc

Once your raspberry has booted, you need to find out its IP by looking at the router's DHCP table. Just look for a device name raspberry-pi.

Next just create a new text file by typing vi setup.sh in your terminal window while logged into the RP. Then just copy the script provided with this blog post to your clipboard. Press "i" to go into editing mode and paste the script with Ctrl/Cmd+v. Then save it with ESC, : x. Execute the script by issuing sh setup.sh. As opposed to the default Debian image, the darkbasic image gives you root access by default. When using another image, execute the script with sudo sh setup.sh.

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Easily Resize PDF on Mac OSX and Linux

On many occasions, you might want to resize a PDF to send it by Email or put it on the web. There are many useless Share- and Bloatware-tools (like Adobe Acrobat) that might or might not help you with that.

If you happen to work on a Linux, BSD or Mac OSX machine, you can simply use ghostscript for the task. It's much faster and gets better filesizes than the Optimize-function of Adobe Acrobat.

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