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Setting up eMMC on an Orange Pi

The main reason I ended up getting the orange pi (3B, to be exact) was because it has an eMMC connector. This means you don’t have to use an SD card for your boot drive, which I’ve had issues with in the past (they aren’t built for the read/write patterns that OS systems require, so they fail fairly often). I also assumed the device would be quite a bit snappier with an SSD (which turned out to be true). However, it ended up being trickier than I thought to get the OS on the eMMC card. tl;dr: you want to use dd to copy the .img file to the emmc after bootstrapping the system with a SD card with the OS image…

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Pi Hole, TailScale, and Docker on an Orange Pi

I’ve always been fascinated by this super cheap and relatively fast hardware you can buy now. A while back I bought a Raspberry Pi and a friend recently told me about the Orange Pi. I decided to give it a shot primarily because it supports an eMMC chip which allows super fast ssd IO (170mb+ writes in my case). I was nervous about compatibility issues, but I was pleasantly surprised that it worked out of the box without any real issues. The hardest part was actually getting the eMMC working (which I’ll detail in another post). Here’s a walkthrough of what I did to get the orange pi up and running…

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Raspberry Pi Configuration Tips & Tricks

Through an unfortunate turn of events, my SD card of my raspberry pi got corrupted. Apparently this happens quite often: SD cards are not designed for constant activity like a standard SSD drive (this was news to me!). This time around, I decided to run many of the applications I put on the pi in docker containers (here they are), so it’s all self-documented. Below are notes on what I learned while setting up the pi again, and some misc devops-style tips & tricks that would be useful in any linux server environment. The nice thing about a pi is it gives you the excuse to learn about interesting linux internals. (I’ve written about my raspberry pi setup process in the past, if you want to read the precursor to this post)…

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Blocking Websites on a Schedule With Pi-Hole

I’ve written about blocking adds and distracting websites before as part of my digital minimalism crusade. I’m a big fan of thinking through your lifestyle design and automating decisions as much as possible. For instance, after 9pm at night and before 7am there’s a set of distracting websites that I do not want myself, or anyone in my family, to be able to access. This introduces just enough friction to bad behavior (like scrolling Twitter at 9pm) that it prevents me from doing the wrong thing. Below I’ve described how I block (and then subsequently allow) websites on a schedule, and some other misc related trick with the Raspberry Pi & Pi-Hole. Block Sites on a Schedule I wanted to block my Roku TV based on my cron schedule…

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Building a Docker image for a Python Django application

After building a crypto index fund bot I wanted to host the application so the purchase routines would run automatically. In addition to this bot, there were a couple of other smaller applications I’ve been wanting to see if I could self-host (Monica, Storj, Duplicati). In addition to what I’ve already been doing with my Raspberry Pi, I wanted to see if I could host a couple small utilities/applications on it, and wanted to explore docker more. A perfect learning project! Open Source Docker Files As with any learning project, I find it incredibly helpful to clone a bunch of repos with working code into a ~/Projects/docker so I can easily ripgrep my way through them. https://github.com/schickling/dockerfiles/ Older, but simple Dockerfiles…

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Blocking Ads & Monitoring External Drives with Raspberry Pi

I’ve written about how I setup my raspberry pi to host time machine backups. I took my pi a bit further and set it up as a local DNS server to block ad tracking systems and, as part of my digital minimalism kick/obsession, to block distracting websites network-wide on a schedule. Pi-hole: block ads and trackers on your network Pi-hole is a neat project: it hosts a local DNS server on your Pi which automatically pulls in a blacklist of domains used by advertisers. The interesting side effect is you can control the blacklist programmatically, enabling you to block distracting websites on a schedule. This is perfect for my digital minimalism toolkit. Pi-hole has an active Discourse forum…

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Time Machine Backups with a Raspberry Pi and External Drives

As I was reviewing my backup strategy, I realized I hadn’t completed a Time Machine backup on my machines in a long time. Plugging in the drive was just enough friction to forget doing it completely. The Airport Express has a USB port to plug hard drives, printers, etc into. These devices would be magically broadcasted to the network. It was awesome, and then Apple killed the device. The Eero I upgraded to is great, but the USB port is useless. But, there’s silver lining! I’ve been looking for a good excuse to buy a Raspberry Pi and mounting external hard drives on the network fit the bill! $35 for a tiny computer more powerful that anything I had growing up and more powerful than a $5 DigitalOcean or AWS VPS. What’s not to like?..

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