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.
A recovery USB stick is a bootable USB drive that can be used to rescue a system or perform critical maintenance. It’s a useful tool to have around. Typically, a system of interest is booted from the USB stick, maintenance is performed, then the repaired system is rebooted from its own disk. Below is a simple guide to creating a number of rescue USB sticks.
A Rescue stick can help fix many system problems, such as a system that won’t boot, a broken GRUB configuration, a disk or other hardware problem. By allowing the whole operating system to be taken offline, a rescue USB allows maintenance of a kind that cannot be performed any other way.
It is easy to create a bootable USB stick in Linux. In these examples, I used a Raspberry Pi, but any Linux PC would do equally well.
An http website is not encrypted. That is to say, the data comprising the site is not encrypted as it flows from the web server to the device (pc, phone, tablet) on which the user is viewing the page. Anyone able to “listen in” on the network could read that data, which is a security risk. An https web site is different. Data is encrypted. The web server encrypts each web page before transmission, and the user’s browser decrypts it, providing end-to-end protection from eavesdropping.
This article explains how to convert an existing basic website to https by obtaining a free digital certificate from Let’s Encrypt. It is based on a Raspberry Pi running the “Apache” web server, but will also work on other Linux systems. It is intended for home users and people running small-scale web sites, and as a learning aid. Continue reading →
Nextcloud is an open source software package providing remote file sharing services. It is similar to Dropbox. But with Nextcloud, you retain ownership, security and control of the shared data. This procedure describes how to build a working Nextcloud service using just 3 commands. It has been tested on Raspbian Stretch and on the Raspberry Pi 4 / Raspbian Buster (this article last updated 14/1/2020)
Note: If you would rather do the installation manually, step-by-step, without the help of a script, please see my previous article “Simple Nextcloud Installation on Raspberry Pi“. It explains how to do the installation in detail, and provides more background information on Nextcloud. Both procedures achieve the same overall result, however.
Note: If you are running Raspbian Buster, then Nextcloud 17 will be installed. For Stretch, it’s Nextcloud 15.
“Link shortening” happens when a short URL, such as http://bit.ly/2bo3XYY, points to the same web page as a longer link, such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC. 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 (Goo.gl). 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 →
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. Continue reading →
UPDATED August 2019 for Raspbian 9.9 “Stretch” and Raspbian 10 “Buster”. 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. Continue reading →
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 fromownCloud 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 raspberrypi.org downloads page. The following procedure was then performed without any further pre-work (other than enabling ssh in the basic setup). Continue reading →
Here is a tip for speeding up WordPress, especially if you are running it on a low power server. I made the change to WordPress running on a small ARM server, resulting in an immediate and dramatic speed up. It works because it prevents bots on the Internet from wasting your server resources. Continue reading →