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raspi-config automated

While I installed the Raspberry Pi with the Raspbee board on it, I had to modify the settings for the serial device. That's done using the raspi-config tool on Raspbian.

However since I'm into automation, I don't want to start "raspi-config" manually, but had to figure out how to do that in an automated way.

 

 

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Local cachíng of Ansible Facts

Every time Ansible runs a Playbook, the first step (by default) is gathering facts about the target system:

PLAY [all-systems]

TASK [Gathering Facts]
ok: [host1]
ok: [host2]

This step is implicit, and it is not necessary (but possible) to add the gather facts step to every Playbook. The module which retrieves all the information is "setup", and by default it tries to gather as much information about the target system as possible. When the "setup" task is added as an extra step in the Playbook, the information about the destination system is refreshed and updated:

  tasks:
    - name: Refresh destination information
      setup:

That might be necessary when a Playbook changed vital system settings.

Gathering the facts is a time-consuming process, and for a short Playbook it is quite possible that this is the longest-running task. And it's repeated every time the Playbook runs.

Ansible provides Cache plugins which can store the gathered facts. If the system facts don't change between Playbook runs, this will greatly speed up the runtime of Playbooks. The facts cache can be stored in JSON files, in a Redis DB, in a Memcache, and a few other options. The simplest way, without additional tools required, is the "jsonfile" cache. Central implementations like Redis or Memcache allow multiple Ansible controller hosts to use the same facts cache, whereas local caches like "JSON" are only available on a single host, and every Ansible controller must build and maintain it's own cache.

 

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Disable screensaver for Raspberry Pi

The 7" Raspberry display in the kitchen is nice, but unfortunately by default the installation comes with a screensaver enabled. After a while, the display goes dark. No one wants to stare at a blank display, and touch the screen in order to see crucial information.

 

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Remove Trashcan Icon from Raspberry Pi Desktop

Our home automation got a nice 7" Raspberry display in the kitchen, showing the most relevant information (like temperature, weather, washing machine, dryer ect) on a dedicated screen. Quite handy, especially the temperature, and the one-click stop to the weather forecast.

While installing the Pi and setting everything up, I stumbled over the Icons which LXDE by default shows on the desktop. Not necessary, I want them removed. All I want on the desktop is the browser icon which directly goes to the HABpanel.

The reason is simple: if the Pi starts up, but the browser for unknown reasons doesn't come up, I don't want anyone to be confused by additional icons on the desktop. After all, usually the LXDE desktop is not seen by default.
 

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_ansible_item_label changes in Ansible 2.8

The Ansible 2.8 upgrade brought a few failing Playbooks. I ran into the following error:

TASK [Demo Task] ************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
fatal: [localhost]: FAILED! => {"msg": "The task includes an option with an undefined variable. The error was: 'dict object' has no attribute '_ansible_item_label'\n\nThe error appears to be in '/path/to/ansible/playbook.yml': line 76, column 5, but may\nbe elsewhere in the file depending on the exact syntax problem.\n\nThe offending line appears to be:\n\n\n  - name: Demo Task\n    ^ here\n"}

Well, seems like another upgrade with another major change. Don't you like that?

 

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Raspberry Pi: take a screenshot from a display with no keyboard and mouse

The Raspberry Pi in the kitchen runs relatively stable, but recently the browser (which is showing the openHAB HABpanel) popped up a warning in the upper right corner. That's annoying, because this area in HABpanel shows the outside temperature.

Before investigating what's going on, I had to figure out a way to get a screenshot of the display - without running into the kitchen with my mobile phone. And without attaching a keyboard all the time (to press the "Print" button).

 

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