Di­etPi server...........................

In his quest for more Pi, Les Pounder is told to go on a diet. We think he may have mis­un­der­stood the re­quest...

Linux Format - - CON­TENTS -

Les Pounder loves his pies too much, but didn’t re­alise this was made to make his Pi lose weight.

When some­one says Rasp­berry Pi, then of course you think Rasp­bian, the de­fault dis­tri­bu­tion for the Pi. How­ever, Rasp­bian is a big dis­tri­bu­tion that re­quires at least an 8GB mi­croSD card for all its great soft­ware. What if you want to build your own Pi server? Do you re­ally need all that bloat? Sounds like we need to go on a diet!

Di­etPi is a lightweigh­t dis­tri­bu­tion that uses the base Rasp­bian (De­bian) dis­tri­bu­tion, Di­etPi ker­nel 4.9.52 from 2 Oc­to­ber 2017, and puts it on the cab­bage soup diet. Gone is the desk­top, Sonic Pi and other pop­u­lar ap­pli­ca­tions and in their place we find a bare bones server dis­tri­bu­tion of­fer­ing sta­bil­ity and low-power con­sump­tion.

But Di­etPi has a neat trick up its sleeve: its ease of use. Typ­i­cally, set­ting up a server takes time and skill, but what Di­etPi pro­vides is an easy-to-use work­flow for those wish­ing to set up a sim­ple server in their home or de­vel­op­ment en­vi­ron­ment.

Di­etPi is best en­joyed on a 4GB or larger mi­croSD card and it’s com­pat­i­ble with ev­ery model of Rasp­berry Pi, even the very first model of Pi back in 2012! In­stalling Di­etPi on an SD is iden­ti­cal to Rasp­bian, re­quir­ing the im­age to be writ­ten to a blank card. On boot Di­etPi doesn’t have a flash boot se­quence; rather, it gets to work straight away. Via an in­ter­ac­tive in­staller that up­dates the dis­tri­bu­tion to the lat­est soft­ware, very handy as this en­sures the sys­tem is up to date and ready to be used.

Once in­stalled, Di­etPi uses a whip­tail menu sys­tem, which can be called at any time from the com­mand line, en­abling any­one to ad­min­is­trate their sys­tem. We used the Eth­er­net con­fig­u­ra­tion tool to copy our in­ter­face set­tings (from DHCP) and set them as a static IP, all by press­ing one key!

Sim­ple stuff

In­stalling soft­ware is also ridicu­lously easy. Di­etPi has its own soft­ware menu that in­cludes soft­ware which has been op­ti­mised for use with the dis­tri­bu­tion. To test in­stalling soft­ware with Di­etPi we went to the Soft­ware Op­ti­mised menu and found our­selves in won­der­land!

The list of op­ti­mised soft­ware isn’t ex­haus­tive, but it cov­ers many pop­u­lar ap­pli­ca­tions for a Rasp­berry Pi. NFS, Samba and Cloud­print servers can be eas­ily in­stalled, and we even found an en­try to in­stall Oc­toPrint, a web in­ter­face for 3D print­ers. We chose to in­stall PiHole, an ad-block­ing DNS server that sits on your home net­work and stops ads from be­ing served to de­vices us­ing the DNS server. The in­stall for PiHole took around ten min­utes, largely due to a num­ber of pack­age in­stalls. But once in­stalled all we needed to do was point our de­vices to the Di­etPi/ PiHole DNS server and ev­ery­thing worked.

The sim­plic­ity is the beauty of Di­etPi. From the menu we can set up our Eth­er­net/WiFi to use static IP ad­dresses. We can con­fig­ure Blue­tooth and I2C for de­vices and sen­sors. We can stress-test the RAM, CPU and file sys­tem to en­sure that our plat­form is fit for pur­pose. Di­etPi can also be used in the same man­ner as a nor­mal Rasp­bian or De­bian server.

We’re im­pressed with Di­etPi. It’s a lightweigh­t, prac­ti­cal dis­tri­bu­tion for those that just want to quickly de­ploy a server. It may not be for hard­core sysad­mins, as servers typ­i­cally re­quire “tweak­ing” for the best re­sults (and there’s noth­ing stop­ping a sysad­min from do­ing that), but for the Pi user wish­ing to try some­thing new, Di­etPi is an ideal choice. It may even bring new life to older mod­els of Rasp­berry Pi.

Di­etPi may not look pretty, but un­der the hood we have a pow­er­ful yet easy-touse server that’s suit­able for all lev­els of user.

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