The Hardware Setup and Deciding on the OS

As I mentioned before I am a big fan of the B+ RaspberryPi as I feel it hits the sweet spot for price v functionality & capability especially as I use them on a wired network.  To the Pi I have added a PiDrive from Western Digital.  I spotted these a while back. They have been specifically designed for the Pi and they have a clever lead that splits a single power supply between the drive and the Pi.  Add in one of their 3A power supply units and we are ready to roll. The PiDrive has it’s own enclosure which the official Pi enclosure fits snugly on top of.  All in all it makes a very neat package.

Pi and PiDrive

A word of warning though.  The new batch of B+ have a new revision number (900032) that does not seem to have been added to what seems to be the official list of versions.  This can cause issues if using software that checks version number.

The next issue to solve is what base OS to run. A key requirement (obviously) is to have the OS on the PiDrive but sadly no one makes it really easy to do that. I did not want to move just the data part as it is the system logging etc that is a big culprit in high write cycles that eventually kill SD Cards.  On my old Pi that has an OS created by raspbian-ua-netinst, it has an old 256Mb micro SD card with just the boot files which is a great way to recycle these small cards (and one less thing to buy).

After some investigation, It came down to 3 main options:

  1. Use raspbian-na-netinst and build directly to the PiDrive.
  2. Use DietPi.
  3. Use Jessie Lite Raspbian image and move the OS to the PiDrive.

Option 1 was definitely tempting as it would build it directly onto the PiDrive, but it seemed the project was not being actively managed and I really did not want to get into the issues that might bring.  It had also previously taken quite a bit of time to get the OS setup as you even need to install sudo.  Personally I think it is a great way of setting up a RaspberryPi and the Foundation should really look to bring into a supported method. This time though, I decided to pass.

Option 2 was again tempting.  DietPi has lots of good things and features especially the optimised packages.  You can also set up things like a fixed IP address or your WiFi off a configuration file.  The RaspberryPi Foundation could learn a thing or two from that.  The 2 things against DietPi are that firstly, I am a bit of a control freak so I like to understand what the install has actually done.  DietPi makes that difficult.  The second is that I was concerned that moving it to an HDD could break some of the features. DietPi does allow data areas to be moved to an HDD, but I wanted a more robust solution.  However, I did decide to use DietPi on one of the OrangePi Zeros I had bought (more of that another time).

Option 3 would allow me to build off a well known base and should also allow updates and upgrades as they appear. It does come with some baggage that I would not use, but the setup is well understood.  In addition, one of the regular participants on the OpenEnergyMonitor (OEM) forums had written a script for moving everything over to an HDD, so I thought I’d give that a go.

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