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Set Up a Raspberry Pi as a Personal Web Server (lifehacker.com)
32 points by celticbadboy 1641 days ago | hide | past | web | 23 comments | favorite

I'm really beginning to dislike all these "Set up the Raspberry Pi as a X" tutorials. I think they contribute to the idea that there's something weird and peculiar about the Pi, and give the impression that if you want a tutorial to do something on the Pi you need a "For the Pi" tutorial.

Couldn't we instead have a "Install Raspbian" (or whatever) tutorial and then try to push the idea that at the end of that you have basically a low-powered Debian machine and can follow any "Do X on Debian" tutorial? It seems that one of the wonderful benefits of Debian as a "universal OS" is that it doesn't matter whether it's on a Pi or a ten-year-old 386 laptop, it's another computer and almost everything is just an apt-get away.

Hm. Now that the link's finally loaded I can see that this is exactly the same link I posted a similar comment on on Reddit a few days ago, to which the author didn't take kindly. Hopefully I've made my case slightly better this time! :)

It's not that I didn't take it kindly, it's just that I'm tired of the negativity on Reddit and I'm not afraid to say it. Too many times on there I see great content being downvoted and shat upon by a bunch of people looking their hardest to bury something just because it makes them happy in some sick way. If you post something for a beginner, many people there are quick to show off and act cool and fill it with negative comments and downvote it.

It's not just my content, in fact I hardly submit much there but I see it with a lot of good links in /new. I just think if your whole mission on Reddit is to find new posts and insult the OP and downvote everything that isn't posted by someone in the clique, you need to get outside more.

I'm the original author of this article, and this is the most common feedback I've received for this. But the fact is, this article wasn't written for you, it was written for newbies.

If you have hung out in the RPi forums for any length of time you'll quickly see that there are a LOT of customers who who nothing about this device, or Linux for that matter. It was cool, so they bought it. There's nothing wrong with that, because they're willing to learn and that is the intended use of the product.

So yes, you and I both know that there are just a couple differences here and there but mostly it's just installing a webserver on a Debian machine. The ARM processor vs x86 is the biggest difference between this and the most common install and it doesn't factor in to the process anyway. You know this, and I know this but how about someone who knows little to nothing but wanted to get a pi to learn it?

My intention for this article was to help those people who are very new to this device and Linux, and it's been received well in that regard. They're very likely going to be looking for "how to _____ on a Raspberry Pi" and so that's what I'm going to give them. It's simply building a bridge to help get more people into this geeky little cult we live in and I don't see any harm in it.

But it does matter if you're using a Pi or an old laptop. I mean, those two are just radically different, but even for fairly comparable platforms you often end up having to do adjust procedures, you can't just blindly follow a how-to.

For a newbie, those subtle adjustments are often the difference between wifi working and not working. An experienced user will figure it out, but it can take forever.

The RPi isn't the cheapest or the fastest or the smallest or the most featurific board in its niche. But it's got great value as a standard platform, which means if you've got a problem, chances are someone else had it before and maybe wrote up a solution.

Of course it all breaks down once you start using external hardware, which I found out when I tried to get my USB wifi stick running (unsuccessfully). But at least you can google "raspberry pi <manufacturer> <model>" and get advice specific to you.

I'm not sure it matters more that you're using a Pi than it would matter which old laptop you're using.

And, when it's as low-level as simply making something work, rather than particularly optimising it (when the fact that it's a Pi or a 2003 T61 or a whatever do matter), I think that treating it as a slow Debian machine and finding a generic howto (or, better, a few generic howtos) is much more appropriate than insisting that you find a "How to install postfix and courier on as raspberry pi".

Obviously for troubleshooting problems the hardware's much more important, too, but so far I've just treated my Pi as just another Debian box and everything's just working.

You didn't really add any arguments -- why doesn't it matter, why is it not imortant? I think specific how-tos are useful, regardless of whether it's about making things work or making them fast, because there are often countless things that could conceivably go wrong, and a specific how-to can be as succinct as possible for a given set of circumstances.

If I just want to mess around with a platform, I might not care about that, and I might prefer to read a dozen more abstract how-tos and guides to get in-depth knowledge about a topic. But usually, I don't want to be troubleshooting (or optimising) Wifi USB hardware, and it absolutely does matter whether you're using a RPi or an old laptop, in fact it matters whether you're using a Rev. A or a Rev B RPi. A generic guide to installing node.js on the RPi would have been much less straightforward than the specific one I had available.

And the difference is way more pronounced when you're trying to get intrepid newbies interested in your platform.

The newbies are the reason. They need to know what the word is they need to search for, or they may not realize the full power they have for them, which is putatively the point of the RPis.

Personally I am also perturbed in that it contributes to the growing culture of seeing devices as something other than general-purpose computing machines, and I really fear the political implications of a growing misconception about the nature of these computers. What bothers me even more than these RPi tutorials are "Pedestrian Computer Application X Run On A Mobile Phone! Wowzers!" stories, some of which even make it onto HN (though not so much lately). Yes, you got your general purpose computer to run a program. This shouldn't be surprising, this should be the expected outcome, the news should be that you find yourself unable to run whatever program you like on these general-purpose computing devices.

RPis are computers. Cell phones are computers. The cheapest, crappiest feature phone currently being sold has specs that blow every computer I owned before 1990 out of the water. This is important for as many people as possible to understand, lest we blunder into walled gardens for no good reason.

Well, it's not important because the difference, generally, between the Pi and a random computer is similar to that which can be expected between any other two random computers.

The thing with the newbies I get - they want to google "web server raspberry pi" and get a really quick and easy step-by-step, but I'd really like them to at some point get the idea that this is a general purpose programmable computer like their laptop, PC, phone, whatever, and that they should expect it to be able to do basically anything.

I get the benefit of the specific howto, but I've not yet found enough pi-specific problems to make me think that's more important than getting the idea that it's a proper computer and not just some cut-down thing that can only do a good enough impression of one to run a web server and python or whatever.

can you suggest some alternatives to the pi?

The new Cubieboard recently hit HN: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4696965

Here's a list of other alternatives (caveat emptor): http://www.redferret.net/?p=33596

I personally think you are missing the point.

This is not about setting up a big old large laptop a server or using a big old desktop as a server.

This is about using something that costs a few dollars to be and is the size of a cigarette packet to do it all.

This isn't even a link to an article. It's a link to a category on Lifehacker, which then links through to an article, which then links through to another article at: http://www.jeremymorgan.com/tutorials/raspberry-pi/how-to-ra...

You would be better off with Nginx rather than Apache with such limited hardware.

Exactly. Also GWan and Monkey[1] claim that their webserver perform faster while remain lightweight. Anyone interested to put RPi on actual datacenter can do so with EDIS for free[2]

[1]http://gwan.ch/benchmark http://monkey-project.com/benchmarks/raspberry_pi_monkey_ngi...


I like hiawatha for low-spec boxes. I run it on a couple of tiny VPSs I have.


I live in the US. Is there any way to get my hands on one (or more) of these in a reasonable amount of time. The site seems to indicate that after you place your order you will have to wait months before you actually get it :(

I finally got mine in the mail yesterday. I ordered it 9 months ago from RS Electronics. I've heard from other hackers here that they ordered theirs from other companies and had much faster turnaround time.

By the time I got mine, my interest had significantly waned.

I ordered mine from Element14 and got it after almost a month. If you are willing to pay a little more you can also find them on Amazon and Ebay.

What I think would be nice was to setup RPi as a open Wireless network with a captive portal that you could carry with you.

Has anyone experimented with using it as a media server ?

Xbmc is reported to work tolerably well & you can pay a £1 or so to get mpeg2 hardware decoding in the GPU along with the mpeg4 that you get by default. (I know, I know: software should be free. Sometimes you get to deal the cards you've got & if you want mpeg2 decoding on the pi GPU, you have to pay for the key to unlock it to cover the licensing costs for the codec.)

I'll have to try it out myself.

openelec and raspbmc work reasonably well on it.

there are still some kinks, random crashes, and menu lag that haven't been fully ironed out.

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