Set-up and Equipment

Started out by setting my Raspberry Pi’s up. If you haven’t got your hands on one yet, I highly suggest you do, and if you’ve never heard of them, I suggest press “NEXT TURN” until you’ve fully researched “The Internet”. It’s part of the essential gear I’ve listed here.

Today I’ll be flashing my Pi’s, setting up SSH and NTP, and basically get them working like they would on the mainland. Turns out, it’s not that easy… Readers beware, this article is kinda long, and it’s pretty much how I set the Raspberry Pi’s up, assigned static IP’s, hostnames, SSH and did apt-get update. Took about 6 hours.

One thing you should really use if you’re in Antarctica, or any other isolated location on Earth with agonizingly slow internet (which is monitored and generally used for more important stuff than my shenanigans) is to get a download manager or a torrent client. I personally use µTorrent – mainly because it’s minimal and its size (1.6 Mb). Some of you may think this is illegal, but P2P (peer-to-peer) downloading is actually perfectly legal, as long as you don’t use it to download illegal stuff. I use µTorrent to trickle download a lot of software and limit my bandwidth. Since my “office” is the node in between all the computers and the rest of the world, I have unlimited bandwidth. However, with great bandwidth comes great responsibility, if I soak it all up, everything else is sloOoOow. Out of the 256 kbps, I’ve limited my torrent client to 10 kbps during the day, and 20 during the night (which is 11pm to 5am). Now I can trickle-download anything! This way I can download several things at once, and not have to worry about it dropping or interrupting. I can also just pause if I want to.

Fun Fact! Keeping in mind we currently have roughly 3 hours of sunlight, we need regular sleeping patterns and shifts otherwise we’d sleep all the time. Since I’m a night owl, I’m happy! 🙂

After having downloaded a more recent image of Raspbian Jessie, I flashed it on all my Raspberry Pi’s. I set them all up with SSH and synced them with our NTP.

Fun Fact! We’re currently on so called DDUT (Dumont D’Urville Time) but it’s the same as UTC+10. I’ve playfully renamed it to PST – Penguin Standard Time! (Thank you Club Penguin) So if you’d like to tune in to PST+0, set your clocks to UTC+10!

I decided to go with 7 Pi Servers (why not, what else am I going to use the other two for?) Luckily, the Raspbian Jessie image comes with a bunch of pre-installed daemons and services. However, here’s a quick tip to setup a bunch of Pi’s at once. I didn’t feel like hooking up each individual RPi to my monitors and keyboards, and manually setting up the hostnames and enable SSH (once maybe, twice for a price, 7 time nuh-huh), especially since Pixel has SSH off by default. Enable it by creating an empty file called ssh in /mnt/sdc1/ folder of the BOOT disk. (i.e. /mnt/sdc1/ssh). SSH should be enabled now. Slapped the SD back in the Pi, and hooked them all up to my small switch. We do have a rack-mounted 200 port managed network switch, but I’d like to keep this contained for now. Here’s a simplified breakdown of our network:

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I set the Pi’s on a different sub-net and leased them on 192.168.10.xxx and changed their hostnames to pi1 through pi7 (intially was pingu1-7, but pi is shorter) each from 192.168.10.0 to 10.6 on a static IP. I set their IP’s serverside via DHCP allocated to their MAC address; I’ve found setting a static IP on the Pi itself messes with the network interfaces. Also disabled the wireless adapter since I prefer wired networks.

This is where I ran into my first bump on the road (albeit unsurprising) when I typed in:

sudo apt-get update

I’ll let you imagine the errors I got. So the next hour was spent to figure out how to circumvent the issue, and when I finally managed to sync up with our VPN, the update began. I’m not sure when it ended since I went for dinner, but it was way too long for my taste (and I sure as hell wasn’t going to do that 6 more times). So I ended up cloning that card and re-flashed the other 6 Pi’s. There we go, this only took 6 hours (it would’ve taken 10 minutes anywhere else).

Pinged all 7 of them and they’re ponging back. This is where I came up with my first moment of genuine brilliance; the first server I’ll set up will be the Software repo, which I’ll then set as a source for apt-get for all of my Pi’s. Thus, when I install something via apt-get, it will fetch it from that server instead of painstakingly downloading through so many network nodes my head would spin…

That’s my task for tomorrow. For now, I’ll finish some seismology measurements and reports (turns out I’m not only here to keep the computers running!)

Until then, stay fresh!

~Evie

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