Raspberry Pi Lab

Tag: Occidentalis

Setting Up WiFi From the Command Line

by on Dec.29, 2013, under Installation

RTL8188CUS-with-Rpi-transparentI have my RPi up and running.  It is patched into the network via the built-in RJ-45 ethernet port.  However, I have a motto in my lab… “One less wire is a good thing.”

My RPi package I received fro Christmas includes a USB WiFi adapter, so I’m proceeding to set it up and have “one less wire.”

Here are my steps to set up the USB WiFi adapter on my RPi running Occitdentalis.  Given that Occidentalis is a Debian variant, I am fairly confident is saying this should work with Debian, Raspbian, and Occidentalis.  It would, probably also work with x86 Debian and x86 Debian varients such as Ubuntu.  However, take care on systems running Gnome, KDE, etc…  Those systems may (probably are) running network managers within X that would conflict with the command line configurations I am about to describe.

My Wifi adapter is a Realtek RTL8188CUS purchased from AdaFruit.  This particular WiFi adapter is supported by Occidentalis so we won’t have to worry about drivers.

  • Run ‘iwconfig‘ to make sure your adapter is attached and functional.
  • Run ‘iwlist scan | grep ESSID‘ to get a list of WiFi SSIDs in range.
  • Make a backup of your interfaces file by running ‘sudo cp /etc/network/interfaces /etc/network/interfaces.original
  • Now edit /etc/network/interfaces to include your SSID and password
  • Make sure wpa_supplicant is installed and updated by running the command ‘sudo apt-get install wpasupplicant
  • Now delete a file. Run ‘sudo rm /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules
  • Reboot.  Run ‘sudo reboot

The WiFi should, now, automatically connect to the network and receive an address via DHCP.


Here is my /etc/network/interfaces

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback
iface eth0 inet dhcp
auto wlan0
allow-hotplug wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
wpa-ssid “my-network-ssid”
wpa-psk “my-wifi-password”


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Installing Occidentalis

by on Dec.26, 2013, under Installation

First step is to download the latest version of Occidentalis here.

The download page states that an SD Card of at least 4Gb will be necessary to install the Occidentalis image.  No problem.  I have a couple of 8gb SD cards and a 4Gb card.  Since this is my first install and I don’t know how much additional space I’ll need.  I’m going to go ahead a chose the smaller, 4Gb card.

tux-transparentNext, I’ll follow the install instructions found here.  These are  instructions for Raspbian Wheezy, but they should work to get my Occidentalis up and running.

Ok, so the “instructions” on that page are a bit, shall we say, wordy.  Here is what I did to get the SD card imaged.  I’ve already downloaded Occidentalis and extracted the archive to the HDD on my laptop.

1.  Mount the SD card on my laptop.

2. Determine the disk. NOT the partition.  Using the ‘sudo fdisk -l’ command I was able to determine that my 4Gb SD card is ‘/dev/mmcblk0’.  This will be different on your computer.

3. Next I’ll write the image to the disk using the ‘dd’ command.  Like this…’sudo dd bs=1M if=<your image file>.img of=/dev/<disk# from step 2>’.

Note… You will see that my dd command had a capital M in the ‘bs-1M’ parameter. There is no lower case m as a byte multiplier in dd.  See ‘man dd’ for more details.

Also note… The dd command gives absolutely no indication of it’s progress and can appear frozen.  Be patient.  This process could take several minutes.  Fortunately, my SD card reader has an activity LED, so I knew it was working.  Like I said… patience.

4.  Run the command ‘sudo sync’.  This will flush the write cache and unmount the SD card.  It is now safe to remove the card.

5.  I re-inserted the SD card.  Two partitions were mounted and appeared healthy  Of course, I issued the ‘sudo sync’ again before removeing the card.

6.  Put the card in the Rpi and it should work.  That is according to all the instructions.  It didn’t work for me and that will be the topic of my next article.






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Which Linux Distro?

by on Dec.25, 2013, under Operating Systems

Well, with Linux, there is not one right answer.  The only that that is for certain is that the Linux distro chosen must be for an ARM processor.  That means my personal favorite desktop and server distro, Ubuntu, is out of the running.

But there are good options.

The absolute best option would be Gentoo.  Start from the absolute bare bottom and custom compile the entire operating system specifically for the piece of hardware on which it is running.  While that would be the best option, I don’t have the time or desire to spend hours (perhaps days) tweaking, compiling, and re-compiling absolutely everything, so Gentoo isn’t an option for me.  At least not right now.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation recommends a customized variant of Debian Linux they call Raspbian Linux.  It is a distro specifically optimized for the Raspberry Pi.  Sounds like a good option.

However, Ada Fruit recommends a Raspbian variant she calls Occidentalis Linux.  It is a Raspbian base that has been further optimized and tweaked for building and controlling your own DIY circuits.

So, If you are going to build something that doesn’t require controlling an external circuit, then go with Raspbian.  But I want to build stuff, so I am going to start with Occidentalis Linux.

Tell me about the distro you use and why you chose it.


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