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Install a Raspbee II on a Raspberry Pi

A while ago I got a recommendation to look into a Raspbee (from dresden elektronik) as Zigbee gateway. That looked like fun, therefore I ordered one of the devices. The first step is the installation of the Pi itself and then the software for the Raspbee. 

For various reasons I decided to use a dedicated Pi for this, and don't install this on the openHAB Pi already running here:

  • The Raspbee needs software from a closed repository
  • During installation and configuration I don't have to reboot my openHAB system all the time
  • The headless install runs a webserver, this conflicts with the redirect I have on port 80 on the openHAB system
  • I still have a couple Raspberry Pi B+ here, which I don't need for other projects

 

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Raspberry Pi watchdog for openHAB

The openHAB display in the kitchen is still the problem child. Occasionally it just stops, other times it does not refresh the HABpanel, even though it has a connection to the openHAB server. Then there is the problem with the network card in the Pi. And - ok, that's a server-side problem - occasionally the weather stops updating. All in all that's a lot of trouble for a display which is just supposed to run standalone.

In the latest iteration I looked into activating the integrated hardware watchdog in the Raspberry Pi. Checking the temperature it never goes above ~55°C celcius, even though the display is in an almost closed frame and can't exchange much heat with the environment. But nevertheless occasionally the Pi just halts, and stops operating.

 

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Restic upgrade on Debian Buster

A while ago I switched backups from "Duplicity" to "Restic". About time: I was using Duplicity for many years (I think I started using it around 2010, long before "Restic" became available) and it served me well. But recently I ran into more and more issues, especially with archives getting larger and larger. There is an 11 years old open bug in the Duplicity bugtracker, which describes a showstopper for backing up larger archives. And it doesn't look like this will be solved anytime soon. Therefore it was time for something new.

Since I'm rolling out my backups with Ansible, it was relatively easy to create a set of scripts for Restic which use almost the same infrastructure as the old Duplicity backups. That works as expected on all our laptops. But the Raspberry Pi, which does the fileserver backups, seem to had a problem. Backups took way longer than before, jumped from 30-60 minutes (depending on the amount of changes) to constantly around 10 hours.

After some investigation (means: --verbose --verbose --verbose debugging), it turns out that Restic identifies most of the files as new, even though they did not change at all. Some background information: the Raspberry mounts the QNAP fileserver using the SMB3 protocol. The "mount -t cifs" uses the "serverino" option, but apparently that is not enough to provide a stable inode number. And if the inode for a file changes, Restic assumes it is a new file.

On the bright side, because the content of the files do not change, the deduplication still works, and no additional content is added to the backup. The size of the backup does not increase. Still, Restic fetches all the data from the server, and that takes a long time.

 

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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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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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Hide the mouse cursor on a Raspberry Pi

The openHAB HABpanel we have in the kitchen runs on a Raspberry Pi and uses a touchscreen display. The browser starts in fullscreen mode, and shows a specific HABpanel screen for this display. That's all nice, but by default the mouse cursor is in the way. Let's get rid of it.

 

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Dim the Raspberry Pi screen

The new Raspberry display works nice, but the screen is too bright. At night in the kitchen it enlightens the entire room - unnecessarily. Since I'm using the original Raspberry Pi 7" touch display, the brightness can be controlled in /sys/class/backlight/rpi_backlight/brightness. This "file" can hold a value from 0 (display off) to 255 (full bright).

 

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Automatically start a fullscreen browser on a Raspberry Pi - show openHAB HABpanel

The Raspberry Pi with the touch display for the home automation system is coming along nicely. One problem to solve: how to display the openHAB HABpanel, and which browser to use?

Firefox and Chrome don't run on Raspbian. However "Chromium" (the open source part of the Chrome browser) is. That's a good start. But how to start the browser automatically, and in full screen?

 

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Raspberry Pi: disable Wi-Fi powersave, and stay connected all the time

Recently I installed a Raspberry Pi with Raspbian, and attached a touchscreen to it. The device is supposed to work as a display for our openHAB home automation system. All nice and shiny, except the Pi occasionally disconnects from the Wi-Fi - apparently in order to safe power. Once the network device is needed, the Wi-Fi is reconnected. That is the default setting.

That is quite annoying, because the HABpanel will lose it's connection to the openHAB server, and no longer show widget updates. Some widgets like "time" will just continue to work, but other widgets like status of the washing machine, or the current outside temperature just show the last state, and never update.

 

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