Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Raspberry Pi for beginner - Part 3a: Wifi firmware issue

We don't live in a perfect world.
The steps in Part 3 didn't work for me because of my WiFi dongle (Buffalo WLI-UC-GNM2). If it worked for you, then fine, you can skip this part.

What was the problem?

After completing Part 3, I inserted the micro SD card in the Pi and turned it on. After few seconds, I could see this message:
Wait 8 seconds for Network Interface to come up
And after that a message saying it was impossible to reach the server.

For some person, the solution was to change the power supply (USB cable) for a better one.
But in my case, the problem was the WiFi dongle!

How to solve it?

Here you have 2 cases, please choose:
1) You can't connect the Pi to your router with a cable
2) You can connect the Pi to your router with a cable

1) You can't connect the Pi to your router with a cable 
You can't use the installer. Instead, you have to download the Standalone image.
You also need to download usbit.

  • extract the files somewhere on your machine
  • insert your memory card in your computer
  • open usbit 
  • select your memory card
  • click on restore
  • select the image sd.img

Wait a little bit and that's it! You have a working copy of Raspbmc! But it's not end of our journey!

2) You can connect the Pi to your router with a cable
Same thing as in Part 3, except in the network management popup, don't select Wireless and set the correct values to connect to your router.

Either you chose 1 or 2, here is what you should do now.
Insert your micro SD card in the PI (be careful in which direction!) and plug your Pi!

After a while, you will see XBMC. First, we will disable CEC Adapter, otherwise we won't be able to run the terminal. CEC adapter controls your TV. If you keep it enable, when you exit Raspbmc, it will turn off your TV. And when you turn on your TV, it will restart your Pi. You can re-enable it later.
  • go to Settings 
  • go to System 
  • go to Input Devices 
  • go to Peripherals
  • open CEC Adapter 
  • uncheck the box Enabled 
  • click OK 
  • go back to the home screen (press Esc key)
  • click the standby icon at the bottom-left
  • select Exit 
  • at the blue splash screen which says Press ESC for command line, press the Esc key
Nice job! You are now ready to access the terminal! Let's continue. At the login prompt:
  • enter username pi
  • enter password raspberry
Only for the first time you use the command line you have to setup the locales and the timezone. Select the appropriate values. Then you should see:
All Set up now! Thanks for using Raspbmc

WiFi dongle setup

Now let's find out why we can't use our WiFi dongle.
Let's check which chipset the Buffalo WLI-UC-GNM2 is using. Type the command:

And the result is:
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 0411:01ee BUFFALO INC. (formerly MelCo., Inc.) WLI-UC-GNM2 Wireless LAN Adapter [Ralink RT3070]  

Now open this page: WiFi
You can see a list of chipsets and if they are directly compatible with Raspbmc or not.

If you look at the WiFi page, you can see RT3070 is not compatible by default. You have to update the firmware. Fortunately there is a help page rt2800usb.

Here again there are 2 cases:
1) You can't connect the Pi to your router with a cable
2) You can connect the Pi to your router with a cable

1) You can't connect the Pi to your router with a cable
I think the best solution is to download on a USB stick the required package(s) using another computer.
Plug the stick in the Pi and install the packages.
I think it requires some time to achieve that. Please check on Google how to do that.

2) You can connect the Pi to your router with a cable
In case you haven't setup Internet yet. If you are familiar with Debian, you will think that you have to edit the file /etc/network/interfaces, but Raspbmc doesn't use this file!
Instead it is using this file:
So edit this file depending of your network. Also edit the value for your Wifi network (this will avoid you to have to modify this file a second time).
Restart your Pi (sudo reboot). Now you should be connected to Internet. It's the first time your Pi has access to Internet, so it will update some files!! So wait a little bit before continuing.

Exit XBMC to go to the terminal and execute the following command to update the firmware:
sudo apt-get install firmware-ralink
Installation is successful, good! Unplug the Ethernet cable and restart your Pi!

Finally the end! Now you should be connected using the WiFi dongle!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Raspberry Pi for beginner - Part 3: Installation

In this post, I'll show you how to prepare the memory card.

Warning: the steps described in this post don't work for the Wifi dongle (Buffalo WLI-UC-GNM2) that I bought. Here is what I had to do.

Which OS to install ?

The RaspberryPi is not limited to one OS. You can install different distributions of Linux.

The most popular one is Raspbian based on debian.

Raspbian is a free operating system based on Debian optimized for the Raspberry Pi hardware. An operating system is the set of basic programs and utilities that make your Raspberry Pi run. However, Raspbian provides more than a pure OS: it comes with over 35,000 packages, pre-compiled software bundled in a nice format for easy installation on your Raspberry Pi. 

Another popular OS is OpenElec.
Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center (OpenELEC) is a small Linux distribution built from scratch as a platform to turn your computer into an XBMC media center. OpenELEC is designed to make your system boot fast, and the install is so easy that anyone can turn a blank PC into a media machine in less than 15 minutes.

The one I will use is Raspbmc (old name for OSMC)
Raspbmc is a minimal Linux distribution based on Debian that brings XBMC to your Raspberry Pi. This device has an excellent form factor and enough power to handle media playback, making it an ideal component in a low HTPC setup, yet delivering the same XBMC experience that can be enjoyed on much more costly platforms.

Why I choose Raspbmc?

  • I like the fact that it is based on Debian, that means a lot of packages are available.
  • it's the first one I heard about
  • looks like many people are using it, so you can find help on Internet more easily
  • based on the list of features (here), I think it can do many things
 It's really easy to install the OS, so in case I don't feel comfortable using Raspbmc, it will be easy to switch to another one.

How do I install Raspbmc ?

Prepare your micro SD card. Make sure there is no data in it, because it will be deleted. Just plug it in your computer.

Download the installer from the official Website. There is an installer for Windows and for Mac/Linux. In this post, I will use the installer for Windows. My machine is Windows 8.

  • extract the files (README.txt, setup.exe) somewhere on your Windows
  • double click on setup.exe
  • UAC (User Account Control) opens, click on YES
  • a small popup opens and click on Accept

  • on the main window, make sure in the list of device to select the micro SD card !
  • check I accept the license agreement
  • check Manually configure networking

  • a small window will appear, select Wireless
  • check Obtain an IP address automatically
  • enter your SSID (the name of your Wifi network)
  • choose the encryption (for me it's WPA/WPA2)
  • enter your wifi password

  • click on Save
  • back on the main window, click on Install
Wait 1 minute and then you will see this window

Donate money if you think it was easy and you feel happy :)

Next step, I will plug everything and start the Pi! I will explain how to setup the Pi.

Note: XBMC will change name soon! It will be called Kodi! And Raspbmc will also change name for OSMC! So don't get confused!