1. Preparing a Raspberry Pi for Fermentrack

Prior to installing Fermentrack, you need to install Raspbian and set everything up. Click the link below to watch a video showing how to prepare the Raspberry Pi using a Mac, or read the linked instructions below for your operating system.

1.1. Prepare the Raspberry Pi - [Video]

  1. Download the latest version of Raspbian from here. I recommend the Lite version as I prefer headless installations, but the full version works as well.
  2. Burn Raspbian to your SD card using these instructions.
  3. Enable SSH on your Raspberry Pi by writing an empty file named “ssh” to the root of the SD card.
  4. Optional - Configure WiFi - See the note below if you want to configure WiFi now, thus preventing having to find an ethernet cable
  5. Plug the SD card into your Raspberry Pi, connect the Pi to ethernet (if you did not configure WiFi), and plug in power.
  6. Locate the IP address for your Raspberry Pi This can generally be done by executing arp -a | grep raspberry however you can also locate your Raspberry Pi by logging into your router and looking for the device.
  7. Update the Raspberry Pi software by running sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get upgrade.
  8. Run raspi-config and configure the Pi. At a minimum, expand the filesystem (option 1).
  9. Update the default password for the pi user using passwd
  10. Optional - Configure WiFi on your Raspberry Pi (if needed)

1.2. Additional Info about Install-Time WiFi Configuration

In early 2016 there was an update made to Raspbian which allows for install-time configuration of WiFi. Buried deep within a blog post, there was the following note:

“If a wpa_supplicant.conf file is placed into the /boot/ directory, this will be moved to the /etc/wpa_supplicant/ directory the next time the system is booted, overwriting the network settings; this allows a Wifi configuration to be preloaded onto a card from a Windows or other machine that can only see the boot partition.”

While not discussed in the official documentation, this greatly simplifies headless configuration (especially for Raspberry Pi zeros).

To utilize this, prior to the initial boot on a newly flashed Raspbian installation, create a wpa_supplicant.conf file in the /boot directory of the SD card with the following contents (adjusting to match your network configuration):

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev
country=US
network={
    ssid="YOUR_SSID"
    psk="YOUR_PASSWORD"
    key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
}

Note - In the above, ssid is the name of your wireless network, psk is the password for your wireless network (if applicable), and key_mgmt is the password management protocol (which, for most home networks these days is WPA-PSK) You will also need to select the appropriate 2 letter country code for where you plan on using the Raspberry Pi.

1.2.1. Raspberry Pi 3 B+ WiFi Note

There is a race condition on the Raspberry Pi B+ where the WiFi is disabled at first boot if the above wpa_supplicant.conf file does not exist with a valid country code. Unfortunately, this process also can run simultaneously with the process that actually copies the wpa_supplicant.conf file to where it needs to be. This can result in the file being copied after the WiFi is disabled, permanently preventing headless configuration. If your Raspberry Pi 3 B+ doesn’t appear on your network, reflash the SD card and try again.