How to Watch and Record Live TV with a Raspberry Pi

This procedure explains how to turn a Raspberry Pi into a DVR, or “digital video recorder”. A DVR is a box that sits under your television, allowing you to watch digital television and record it to a hard disk. TV and recordings can also be “streamed” to other devices on your network, such as phones, tablets and PCs.

Commercial examples of DVRs are available from manufacturers like Humax and Panasonic, providing access to free digital TV services, which in the UK are called Freeview and Freesat. Other brand names are used in other countries, but the underlying technology is the same. By following the article, you will be able to view, record and stream free digital TV. (You won’t be able to watch encrypted services, like those broadcast by Sky and BT).

Why turn a Pi into a DVR? You might be just curious about the possibilities. You might be looking to move from a paid-for service (eg. BT or Sky) to a free one. You might want to replace older equipment or just get access to more modern services, such as HDTV (high definition TV). I was looking to replace my old Topfield DVR, and the procedure below worked for me.

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Raspberry Pi 4 Real World Tests

The Raspberry Pi 4 was launched on 24th June and has been well received, to say the least. The spec is a big step up on previous models. It has 4 CPU cores like the Pi 2, a gigabit port like the Pi 3, plus USB 3, a better SoC, a separated bus architecture, faster memory and more of it.

Over the years, many “home” devices have been launched with Gigabit Ethernet, promising lightning fast network speeds, only to disappoint due to their lack of overall grunt. The Linkstation Live, the Sheevaplug and, to a lesser extent the Pi 3 are all on that category, unable to push their gigabit ports to more than about 14, 8 and 12 megabytes/sec respectively, due to the limitations of the CPU and the board. Is the Pi 4 the same, or can it operate as a serious NAS ?

Short answer: Yes. The Pi 4 is a *serious* NAS contender. Sustained write speeds of over 68 MB/s were obtained, and over 105 MB/s for reading, including saturation of the Gigabit network. Yes, the Pi 4 can push even a 1000 MB/s network to 100%.

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Set Up Your Own Link Shortening Service with a Raspberry Pi

“Link shortening” happens when a short URL, such as, points to the same web page as a longer link, such as  Short links are often used where there are a limited number of characters available, such as an SMS text or a Twitter post.  Short links are also quicker to type and neater than the associated full length links.

Two of the main providers of short links are Bitly and Google (  For example, I used Bitly to create the short link in the above paragraph.  However, if you have a Raspberry Pi (or any kind of Linux server), you don’t need to use a provider.  You can create your own short links.  This article explains how. Continue reading

Using a Domain Name with a Raspberry Pi Web Server

The Raspberry Pi’s low power consumption makes it well suited to the role of always-on web server. This post describes how to use a domain name with your Pi-based web site. Setting up a web site on the Pi is very easy and was explained in an earlier post of mine, just here.

This article explains how to set up a domain name with your web site, so that you can surf to instead of http://your.ip.address. It assumes that you have already have an Apache web site running. If not, please read the above post, before coming back here. Continue reading

Simple Nextcloud Installation on Raspberry Pi

This article explains how to install Nextcloud on the Raspberry Pi. It has been tested with the latest version of Nextcloud (17.0.1 at the time of writing), but should work for future versions too.  It has also been successfully tested on the latest Pi hardware, the Raspberry Pi 4, and on earlier Pi versions, and on the latest Pi OS, Raspbian 10 “Buster”.  Article last updated 14/1/2020.

Nextcloud is an open source software package providing remote file sharing services, similar to Dropbox. But with Nextcloud, you retain ownership, security and control of the shared data. Nextcloud works well on a Pi 2, Pi 3 and especially a Pi 4 but will run very slowly on a Pi 1.

Note: This is a manual, step-by-step procedure. If you would rather do the installation automatically, please see my recent article Automatic Nextcloud Installation on Raspberry Pi, which explains how to install Nextcloud with 3 commands. It is the quickest and easiest way to get Nextcloud running. Both procedures achieve the same overall result, however.
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How to Rename the Default Raspberry Pi User

The Raspberry Pi comes with a default user called “pi”, whose initial password is also set to a well known default. While this makes it easy to use the system, it is not very secure. Anyone with physical access to your Pi could login with these widely known credentials. Furthermore, if you have enabled the SSH server, users on the local network could do the same.

Even if you have changed the “pi” user password, just having a user name that is universally known is still a security risk. The following article explains how to safely rename the “pi” user to something more secure.  This article was last updated on 31st May 2020 and tested with Raspbian (Raspios) Buster release 27/5/2020. Continue reading

Some Raspberry Pi 2 Benchmarks

This article presents a few informal benchmarks comparing the Raspberry Pi to the Raspberry Pi 2. The original Pi has a single core ARM v6 processor. The Pi 2 is quad core, ARM v7, and clocked faster than the Pi 1. But is it really six times as fast, as the makers claim ? Short answer: yes it is. And then some. Continue reading

Simple Owncloud Installation on Raspberry Pi 2

The Raspberry Pi’s low power consumption makes it well suited to the role of always-on server. This post describes how to install Owncloud onto the Pi. Owncloud is an open source software package providing remote file sharing services, similar to Dropbox. But with Owncloud, you retain ownership, security and control of the shared data. Owncloud works well on a Pi 2 and Pi 3 but will run very slowly on a Pi 1.

Update 20th November 2016 – There is a newer version of this article. Please see Simple Nextcloud Installation on Raspberry Pi. Nextcloud was forked from ownCloud in June 2016. It now seems to have become the natural successor to Owncloud. I recommend using Nextcloud rather than Owncloud. This article remains on line because it might be helpful to existing Owncloud users, particularly the parts about upgrading and using external USB media.

UPDATE 16th July 2016 – Nextcloud was forked from Owncloud in June 2016. The procedure below can be used both for Owncloud and the initial release of Nextcloud (version 9.0.52). Thanks to Dan for this information.

My Raspberry Pi 2 was purchased from RS Components in the UK. It was installed with Raspbian “Jessie” (Debian 8) by applying the image “2016-02-09-raspbian-jessie.img” downloaded from the downloads page. The following procedure was then performed without any further pre-work (other than enabling ssh in the basic setup). Continue reading

Enable Outgoing Mail on Raspberry Pi

This article explains how to send email from the Raspberry Pi. It is a generic procedure and also works on other Debian distributions. This is not for receiving mail, only for sending it. (Receiving email on the Pi is a much more involved process, requiring your Pi to perform the role of a full mail server).

The ability to send mail across the Internet is useful. It enables scripts and applications to send you email about system events or the sending data such as pictures from a webcam.

This article was updated in December 2019 and has been successfully tested on Raspbian Stretch, Jessie and Buster/Debian 10.

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