Raspberry Pi at the Webrepublic

Veröffentlicht von + am Feb 13, 2013 in Engineering | Kein Kommentar

The Raspberry Pi and a SD memory card next to it

The Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized mini-computer developed by an UK based charity organization called the Raspberry Pi Foundation. At a price as low as $25, it was received enthusiastically by both hobbyists and education communities. The first batch of 10’000 boards was sold out within minutes and over 100’000 preorders were placed on the first day. As of January 2013, almost a million of them have been shipped to destinations all over the world.

What does all this have to do with Webrepublic? Well, the Pi is not only useful to teach children how to program, to build a real-time guitar effects box, to control 3D printers, to create awesome retro computers, to make your own internet radio player or to be used as a 35$ media center capable of playing 1080p HD movies, it can also be used as a cheap thin client to display a status dashboard in your company.

The Raspberry Pi

The “Pi” exists in two different editions, the Model A (25$) with only one USB port and no Ethernet and the Model B (35$) with two USB ports and a Fast Ethernet port. Both models feature an SD card slot, a Micro-USB socket for a 5V power supply, a HDMI port, a composite video port and an audio jack.

Raspberry Pi quickstart guide

The 700MHz ARM CPU and 512 MB RAM provided by both models provide more than enough power to run a stripped-down version of Linux. CPU intensive tasks are slow, but the Pi also features a strong GPU capable of playing 1080p Full HD movies without stuttering. There are two different Linux distributions officially supported by the Raspberry Pi Foundation: A derivative of Debian called Raspbian and Arch Linux ARM.

Our Setup

We’re using a Model B board to display an awesome looking status dashboard that presents statistics about the current and historic Adwords performance.

Picture of a screen displaying the status dashboard.

The backend runs on a separate server and uses Python, Flask and the Adwords API to aggregate and return the desired data. The frontend is written using the great D3 Javascript library.

The Pi runs on Arch Linux ARM. As window manager we’re using the lightweight Openbox which we configured to automatically launch the Midori Browser in fullscreen mode.

That’s already all there’s needed for the status dashboard to work. As an additional feature, we set up a VNC server on the Raspberry Pi, so that maintenance is a bit easier because we don’t have to plug in a keyboard each time we want to change the configuration of the system.

Result and Future Uses

So far, this setup seems to work great for our purposes. Although the Raspberry Pi was originally aimed at the education sector, the possibilities are far greater than that. With its very small form factor and low price it’s a great device to be used as a thin client for applications like our status screen, for demos, as a controller for other devices or just to tinker around and experiment with it.

Resources

If you want to know more, check out the following links:

How are you using the Raspberry Pi in your company?

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