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Goodbye from pi

After a few weeks, the time has come to take my raspberry pi offline. If you missed it, I had it set up as a web server running nginx and php, all being served from my local connection. The setup worked quite well and was even able to run a forum before I took it down today. This post is just going to be a quick summary of the experiment. 

Set Up

I did not know what to expect when setting it up, how difficult it would be or if it would even work. The main problem is that the pi has an armv6 chip, which while quite impressive,is not very well supported in the linux repositories. It is however better supported than I thought, and php5-fpm along with other important packages were available in one of the non stable debian repositories. I was able to install everything using apt. I made a quick test page, forwarded port 80 to the pi from the router and gave it the static internal ip Along with the test page I installed linfo, a nice (but cpu intensive, more on this later) php script which shows different system statistics. Later on a flat file forum was added as well, just to see how it would perform. 

Performance / Reception

The pi did well. Pages generally loaded very quickly and uptime was fantastic. I had it offline to take it up to my student house, where I get what turned out to be a very stable internet connection. Anyone from Belfast (who doesnt live in the Holy Lands) serously consider getting Virgin internet. I was able to point the subdomain pi.babyb... to the dynamic ip given by virgin and not have to change it for over 2 weeks, which compared to my home internet is brilliant. There was a 1-3mbs up connection with a ow enough ping to serve pages at a decent rate. The slowest part of the page was actually the social buttons not hosted on the pi. 
One problem was that linfo, the statistics page ran very sowly, taking up 100% of the cpu for 2 or 3 seconds a time. Someone took adantage of this and repeatadly loaded the page to do a bit of stress testing. After rate limiting was enabled and the page saved every 2 minutes and the static saved version served peformance was actually good.

I posted the pi on facebook and to the relatively small raspberry_pi subreddit. Over the 2 and a bit weeks facebook sent around 30 visitors to the site and reddit just under 2000. The twitter button sent another 300 people there. One interesting thing that I noticed was that of the first thousand or so reddit users, there was only about 8 internet explorer users. There was some questioning on weather php was a "good" language to be running on such an underpowered device. 


My exams are over (well untill the repeats as I always say) so I came home to the much poorer internet connection. Interest had died off and I wanted to try some other things. So today i started by making a lego box for it, which I then quickly dismanteled. I plugged a memory stick in, which I was planning to make a file upload script save pictures to, but there was permission problems with NTFS vs linux user permissions. In the end I filled up the 2GB sd card that I was using and decided it was time to move on. The SD card was wiped and raspbmc installed. I never quite believed the claimed video capabilities of the device and wanted to test it for myself. I was not dissapointed. Within minutes it was playing 720p vidoes with sound without any problems. Of course it didn't even attempt to play the 1 non x264 video I had on my memory stick (one of by baby vidoes actually) but did play the x264 version of that file. Very impressive but not as fun!



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