I’ve discovered the wonderful world of single board computers.  More specifically, Raspberry Pi and the universe of different models and stuff that goes along with them.  I was first inspired to buy one for a garage door opener project, but I will get to that one a little bit later.  After I have enough time to put my thoughts into words, that is.

 

I’ve now gotten three different little Raspberry Pi computers in my house.  Two of which I have already put to work doing something useful and one that I’m still tinkering with.  I also picked up the Pine64 single board computer from their kickstarter campaign, but haven’t had much time to put it through its paces.  Frankly, it’s impressive, but not as mature as the Raspberry Pi.  I never thought I would be enjoying these little $35 boards so much, but darn it if they aren’t scratching some kind of latent nerdy itch that I have deep down inside.  

 

With that said, I’m going to have a few posts landing here in the (hopefully) near future, that document some of my projects / tinkering with this mini-powerhouses.  A sampling of what’s to come?  As mentioned before, the garage door opener project (my first), Raspberry Pi as an OpenVPN server, and more!  

 

As always, stay tuned.  

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Finally… I got around to researching a little issue that had been bothering me ever since I installed Ubuntu 12.04 back in April.  Watching videos, flash or otherwise would suffer from frequent skipping (or stuttering) of both the audio and video.  Previously I searched for a solution by searching for “video” stuttering, found some interesting articles that pointed to the nVidia graphics drivers.  But after a few hours of fiddling, nothing seemed to work.

Then, today, I finally got fed up enough to do another search.  This time I searched for stuttering “audio” and I found the holy grail, the fix!  As usual, the Ubuntu forums came to the rescue.

As it turns out, my Intel motherboard audio device may have been incorrectly recognized by Ubuntu and the audio driver may have been having issues.  So here’s how to fix it…

Open a terminal window and type:

sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

Scroll to the end of the file and then add the following:

options snd-hda-intel model=generic

Press “Ctrl-O” to write to the file then “Ctrl-X” to exit.

That’s about it.  I required a reboot to get it to work, but others mileage may vary.

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Welcome to the parmeter.net tech blog.  The site has actually been live for a couple of weeks now, but lacking any actual substance. I’ve since transferred my techy type posts from my personal blog and spiffed up the place a bit.  I hope you enjoy the new tech dedicated site.  We’ll see how this goes.

For a while now, I’ve been posting a variety of tech related blogs to my own personal pages.  Typically, I write these articles to document how I did certain things so that I can keep a record (for myself) and to help others who are like minded and are having difficulty finding the information elsewhere.   However, I decided that it would be best, to separate my tech stuff from my personal stuff in a more official fashion.

While I’ll still keep the content previously posted to my personal blog intact, I have cloned all of my hard-core tech related posts to this new site.  Going forward you’ll be able to find fresh new tech content here.  More ramblings on Ubuntu, setting up and managing a NAS, etc.

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It’s been a while, but I’ve finally come around to installing couch potato on my Ubuntu NAS box.  Thanks to my brother-in-law, who sent an e-mail to me that day regarding couch potato, I felt motivated to get it installed. However, what should have taken only maybe 30 minutes or so ended up stretching into two hours.

I had done a quick google search on installing couch potato on Ubuntu and come up with Ainer’s fine instructions and another page (on how-to-forge)on creating the ultimate NAS.  Both had great instructions, don’t get me wrong, but they were instructions for couch potato v1… which is unfortunately EOL’d.  As I happily attempted to install couch potato v1 using the instructions, I came across different instructions on the couch potato website which conflicted with what I was doing.  Needless to say I had burnt through an hour on this already.

Fortunately, I came across a wonderful site (linuxplained.com) that explained everything for me and got me up and running in no time.  (thank you very much Anand, this helped me greatly)

And for those of you with short attention spans and just want the steps in raw form, then here they are:

sudo apt-get install git-core python
cd ~
git clone git://github.com/RuudBurger/CouchPotatoServer.git .couchpotato
sudo cp ~/.couchpotato/init/ubuntu /etc/init.d/couchpotato

Then,

sudo nano /etc/init.d/couchpotato

Edit the following then save (CTRL-O) and exit (CTRL-X) (replace user with your username):

# path to app
APP_PATH=/home/user/.couchpotato/

# user
RUN_AS=user

Then back at the terminal prompt, set the script to executable and add to the boot script.

sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/couchpotato
sudo update-rc.d couchpotato defaults

Now, the next time you boot couch potato server will auto-run.  Optionally you can manually start and stop the service by the following commands:

sudo /etc/init.d/couchpotato start
sudo /etc/init.d/couchpotato stop

And there you have it.  Navigate on over to http://127.0.0.1:5050 (or whatever your NAS IP is with 5050 as the port) to start the configuration wizard.  Linuxplained.com has a great guide for that too.  Happy downloading!

 

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Previously on this blog, I’ve written about how you can access your files from anywhere using freenas and ajaxplorer or ssh.  Given that I’ve switched to Ubuntu server, I wanted to clarify that the ssh method still works great, and in fact can be easily accessed via Android apps as well! (I should have titled this post “Access your files from anywhere with Ubuntu Server”)

Regarding accessing your files from Android, I’m sure this would also work with iOS devices as well, however I’m personally an Android user.  All you really need is a file manager or FTP program that can talk to an SFTP server.  I personally love EStrongs File Explorer and recommend it for general Android file management.  It also supports SFTP, perfect for accessing your SSH FTP server and all of your files.

Simply poke a hole in your router (I would suggest not using port 22) and route to your Ubuntu server SSH port 22.  Easy as pie.


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Public service announcement folks.   Recently, after completing updates where the Linux kernel was being updated, my Ubuntu server hung on reboot.  This was rather unpleasant for me since it meant that I needed to climb up on a chair, attach a monitor and keyboard and try to debug the issue of why my system wasn’t booting.

Surprisingly, the system was booting just fine, it was just waiting happily in GRUB (the bootloader) for my input.  This is odd, since GRUB is supposed to auto-boot without any user input.  Somehow, with the update I had recently done, this had changed.

Luckily, I found this blog which told me exactly how to fix this issue.  Unfortunately this has happened twice now and I’ve had to edit the GRUB config each time.   Here’s what you need to do. (many thanks to Knowledge Republic’s blog for documenting this fix)

sudo chmod 644 /boot/grub/grub.cfg

sudo nano /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Find the following line and change from:

set timeout=-1

To:

set timeout=0

Drop me a comment if this helps you out.

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Thanks to a tip from one of my commenters, I’ve discovered that FreeNAS 7 (formally “legacy” FreeNAS) lives on as NAS4Free.  This is pretty exciting news, as I did indeed love FreeNAS and it’s super easy Web GUI.  While I’m happy to see that the project has been carried forward with an updated OS (FreeBSD 9), I’m not going to be doing any switching anytime soon.  I’m pretty committed to Ubuntu Server now, and quite frankly the amount of time required to re-setup all of my software would be too much (not to mention lack of Plex support too!).

I would love to see if someone could port the web admin UI to Ubuntu or Debian for general usage.  Anyone out there that’s handy with porting, please consider this my official request.

Over and out.


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To maximize my remote file management capabilities, I wanted to install a file manager giving me the same functionality I had before with my FreeNAS 7 server.  This was easy enough since I had previously setup Ajaxplorer on my FreeNAS server, and the steps to setup on Ubuntu are basically the same.  Ajaxplorer has come a long way since I first started playing around with it and it’s now a pretty darned amazing piece of software.  I personally love this because I can view pictures remotely, extremely easily with any web browser – and it looks great!

 

The challenges I had were ensuring I had the right security in place.  Since I installed the Apache2 webserver with Ubuntu Server initially, there wasn’t much to do there, except to setup SSL.  Your mileage may vary, but here’s what I did.

Configure SSL on Apache2

Ok, this is definitely not an quick & easy task so I’m going to redirect you to a couple of resources that I found extremely helpful in getting this all setup.  Everything you need to know for Ubuntu 12.04 SSL certificate generation and apache setup is here:

These other two sites were great also and filled in some of the gaps from the above instructions.

Creating the self-signed certificates:

Setting up Apache2 SSL on Ubuntu:

 

Install Ajaxplorer

  • Step 1: Go to the Ajaxplorer website and download the latest zip (http://ajaxplorer.info).  I’m personally using Ajaxplorer v4.2.0.  There is almost definitely a newer version out there now.
  • Step 2: Unpack the ajaxplorer-4.x.x.zip into a directory off of your webserver root directory.  For example “. www-sslajaxplorer”.  Confirm that all of the directories and files were created properly and that permissions were set properly (see this page for more details)
  • Step 3: Point your browser to your server IP and new webserver port (i.e. https://192.168.1.101:1234/ajaxplorer) to get started.   A diagnostic tool will be ran once to check that your configuration is ok.  You may get some warnings letting you know if you have any incompatibilities, but Ubuntu has most everything you need already setup.  Despite these warnings you should have a mostly functional web file manager installed.
  • Step 4: Click continue and you should see a warning telling you that the user « admin » has been created with the password « admin » : log in with this id/password, and go the the « Settings » panel to change the admin password.  (Note:  For greater security, it’s best to create a new admin account with a different name, then delete the automatically created ‘admin’ account.  This makes it slightly harder for evil robots to guess the login credentials.)
  • Step 5: Configure your users and repositories. (See this page for more details)

 

Poke a Hole in your Router

Because everyone has a different type of router at home, I won’t even attempt to begin to tell you how to do this.  However, you’ll want to make sure that you port-forward whatever port you defined in your Apache2 configuration above.  You can use a different outside port if you desire, but I like to keep it simple and use the same port number.

Now you can access your stuff anywhere you have an Internet connection.  If you have a Dynamic DNS service to help you remember your IP, even better!

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Yup, I jumped on the bandwagon recently and setup sickbeard and sabnzbd on my Ubuntu NAS box.  Sickbeard and sabnzbd and it’s direct integration with Plex are really the most awesome thing since Subsonic that could have happened to my server.  Really.  It’s amazing.  Trust me.

The whole thing took me a few hours (all told) to setup partly because it involves spending my hard-earned cash on certain services and partly because I was bouncing around different sites trying to compile the steps I needed to go through to get it setup properly.  I thought it might be helpful to send out a very quick, no-nonsense guide to getting it installed (but not configured – that’s the time consuming bit).

1. Install SabNZBd Plus

As of the writing of this article, it seems that sabnzbdplus is now part of the ubuntu 12.04 repositories.   If you’re on an older version of ubuntu, you may have to go do some research and add a third-party repository.  As for this guide, I’m going the easy route.  Login to your server and type the following on the command lines:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install sabnzbdplus

sudo apt-get install sabnzbdplus-theme-mobile

This is going to install a few packages and get SabNZBd Plus installed.  Easy, right?  Yup.  Now go edit the configuration file:

sudo nano /etc/default/sabnzbdplus

Now you’ll need to edit the following:

  • USER=putyourusernamehere

Don’t use ROOT.  Bad things may happen.  Save and exit.

That’s it.  Now go configure it at:

  • http://your.server.ip.here:8080/sabnzbd

I recommend following Ainer’s excellent instructions here:

http://www.ainer.org/sabnzbd-install-setup-configuration-guide-for-ubuntu-linux-mint

 

2. Install Sick Beard

Open up a terminal window and execute the following commands.  Make sure you navigate to your user directory of choice (i.e. /home/username) where you’d like to complete the install.  Same user directory as used above in the Sabnzbd instructions.

wget https://github.com/midgetspy/Sick-Beard/tarball/master -O sickbeard.tar.gz

tar xf sickbeard.tar.gz

This will grab the latest Sick Beard package from the internets.  Then it will unpack the contents of the package to a directory names something like “midgetspy-Sick-Beard-xxxxxxx”.

Now we need to move that into it’s install directory.

mv midgetspy-Sick-Beard-xxxxxxx .sickbeard

sudo mv .sickbeard/init.ubuntu /etc/init.d/sickbeard

sudo gedit /etc/init.d/sickbeard

From here on out you’ll want to configure Sick Beard to work with sabnzbd, setup TV shows to download, etc.  Once again, head over to Ainer’s site to get started:

http://www.ainer.org/sick-beard-install-setup-configuration-guide-for-ubuntu-linux-mint/3

 

Shout-Outs

Thanks to Ainer.org for their detailed instructions.  Without these I’d never have gotten this going… or it would have taken me twice as much time.   Of course, the developers of both Sickbeard and Sabnzbd – please consider donating to them – they make amazing software.  Plex, which I cannot praise enough, is also amazing.  I hope they keep providing Linux based server software for us folks using Plex + Roku.

Also when setting this up you may be considering which news servers to use and which search services.  I personally picked up an account with newshosting for news servers because it was a relatively cheap monthly cost (there are deals out there if you search).  For the search service, I went with NZB Matrix which is a onetime fee for life.  In retrospect, you probably don’t need to add a search service, but it definitely helps improve your likelihood of finding NZBs.  EDIT:  NZB Matrix is now defunct.  I have since been using the free services in Sick Beard and have been perfectly happy with the results.  No need to sign up for a pay NZB search engine really.  

 

Disclaimer

I’ve posted these instructions here for educational purposes only.  Of course downloading copyrighted content is a no-no in most countries so please don’t break the law.

Enjoy!

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In my last “great ubuntu NAS project” post, I explained how to get an ubuntu server OS up and running with the absolute basics.  Now let’s get this thing customized.  I personally wanted to add the following to my rig:

  • Web UI for Administration (Ajenti)
  • Subsonic
  • Transmission
  • Plex Media Server

Let’s dive into the details…

 

More »

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