How to install NodeJS on a Raspberry Pi

Installing NodeJS on a Raspberry Pi can be a bit tricky.  Over the years, the ARM based processor has gone through several versions (ARMv6, ARMv7, and ARMv8), in which there are different flavors of NodeJS to each of these architectures.

Depending on the version you have, you will need to manually install NodeJS vs grabbing the packages via a traditional apt-get install nodejs.

Step 1: Validate what version of the ARM chipset you have

First let’s find out what ARM version you have for your Raspberry Pi.  To do that, execute the following command:

uname -m

You should receive something like: armv61

Step 2: Find the latest package to download from nodeJS’s website

Navigate to https://nodejs.org/en/download/ and scroll down to the latest Linux Binaries for ARM that match your instance.  Right click and copy the address to the instance that matches your processor’s architecture.  For example, if you saw armv61, you’d copy the download for ARMv6

Step 3: Download and install nodeJS

Within your SSH/console session on the Raspberry Pi, change to your local home directory and execute the following command (substituting in the URL you copied in the previous step in what’s outlined in red below).  For example:

cd ~
wget https://nodejs.org/dist/v8.11.3/node-v8.11.3-linux-armv6l.tar.xz

Next, extract the tarball (substituting in the name of the tarball you downloaded in the previous step) and change the directory to the extracted files

tar -xvf node-v8.11.3-linux-armv6l.tar.xz
cd node-v8.11.3-linux-armv6l

Next, remove a few files that aren’t used and copy the files to /usr/local

rm CHANGELOG.md LICENSE README.md
cp -R * /usr/local/

Step 4: Validate the installation

You can validate that you have successfully installed NodeJS by running the following commands to return the version numbers for NodeJS and npm

node -v
npm -v

That’s it!  Have fun!

 

How to build a LEMP stack

Growing up it was always common to spin up a “LAMP” box to host a website.  The typical setup was:
Linux
Apache
MySQL
PHP

Over the past few years, this model has slightly changed due to new open source technologies bringing new ideas to solve performance and licensing issues at massive scale.  In this tutorial, we are going to look at setting up a LEMP box on Debian Stretch (9.1).
Linux
nginx [engine x]
MariaDB
PHP

Please note, MariaDB could easily be swapped out with MySQL in this tutorial, however many have opted to jump over to MariaDB as an open source alternative (actually designed by the original developers of MySQL) over fear Oracle may close source MySQL.

Installing Linux

This tutorial assumes you already have either a copy of Ubuntu 14+ or Debian 7+.  This probably works on earlier versions as well, but I haven’t tested them.  On a side note, I typically don’t install Linux builds with an interactive desktop environment, so grab yourself a copy of Putty and ssh in or open up Terminal if you have interactive access to the Desktop Environment.  Before continuing, go ahead and update apt-get repos and upgrade any packages currently installed:

apt-get update && apt-get upgrade

Installing nginx

Grab a copy of nginx

apt-get install nginx

Installing MariaDB

Grab a copy of MariaDB

apt-get install mariadb-server

Installing PHP

In this case, I want to roll with PHP7.  You can specify php5 or php7 depending on your application, but PHP7 has some great performance enhancements, so for new apps, I’d leverage it.  The biggest thing here is to make sure you use the FastCGI Process Manager package.  If you specify just php or php7, package manager will pull down apache2 as a dependency.  That is not what we want in our LEMP stack.

apt-get install php7.0-fpm

Once installed, fire up your favorite text editor (it’s ok if it’s vi :)) and edit the default site for nginx

vi /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default

Search for the comment # Add index.php to the list if you are using PHP and add index.php to the line below it.  For example:

index index.html index.htm index.php index.nginx-debian.html;

Next, find the comment # pass PHP scripts to FastCGI server and change the block of code to the following to tell nginx to process .PHP files with FastCGI-PHP:

# pass PHP scripts to FastCGI server
#
location ~ \.php$ {
include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
#
# # With php-fpm (or other unix sockets):
fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock;
# # With php-cgi (or other tcp sockets):
# fastcgi_pass 127.0.0.1:9000;
}

Save the file.  If using vi, you can do that by executing :wq

Next, reload the nginx service to pickup the new changes to our configuration:

service nginx reload

Test

At this point, we can create a php file to validate things are working well. Go ahead and create a new file /var/www/html/info.php and add the following line:

<?php
phpinfo();

If you see a page listing the PHP version and the corresponding environment configuration, congratulations, you have finished setting up your new LEMP stack! 🙂

Setting up WeeWX with a Raspberry PI

This is a quick setup guide on how to configure the open source software WeeWX for a Personal Weather Station (PWS).  I highly recommend you check out the WeeWX User Guide as this information is very well documented.  Here is a reflection of how I was able to get WeeWX installed on a Raspberry PI with a brand new weather station.

  1. Setup your Raspberry PI
    1. How to setup your Raspberry PI: http://jackstromberg.com/2018/03/setting-up-a-new-raspberry-pi-via-ssh/
      1. Note: Raspbian is a distribution based upon Debian.  In this case, we will follow the Debian instructions for setting up WeeWX.
        1. http://weewx.com/docs/debian.htm
  2. (Optional) Configure the Raspberry PI to be localized to your environment
    1. sudo raspi-config
      1. Here you can arrow down to Localization Options and configure the timezone to match that of your console/weather sensor.  Keeping time is critical, so if possible, try to keep the date/time between your weather station and the Raspberry PI as close as possible.
  3. Configure Apt-Get to look for the WeeWX packages
    wget -qO - http://weewx.com/keys.html | sudo apt-key add -
    sudo wget -qO - http://weewx.com/apt/weewx.list | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/weewx.list
  4. Update your Raspberry-PI to use the latest packages
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get upgrade
  5. Before installation, ensure you have your console or device setup and connected to your Raspberry PI for WeeWX to pull the data
  6. Determine the interface the console is connected to (if using a directly attached data loggerm skip if using an IP based source)
    1. Execute the command dmesg and look for what interface the data logger is connected to
      1. In my example, you can see the data logger is connected to ttyUSB0
  7. Launch the installation wizard for weewx
    1. sudo apt-get install weewx
      1. Note: You will likely be prompted to install a few dependencies, type Y for yes to install them
  8. Installation
    1. Enter the location of your weather station: Santa’s Workshop, North Pole
    2. Enter in the latitude, longitude of your weather station
      1. Note: If you don’t have GPS, you can easily find this by using Bing Maps or Google Maps, navigating to your location, and right clicking.
        1. For Bing, it will just show you the lat/long values when you right click
        2. For Google, click on “What’s Here” and it will list these values
      2. Note: You can be more specific than 3 digits behind the decimal, so if you want to use a more specific set of coordinates like 40.689167, -74.044444, that is acceptable.
    3. Enter in your Altitude of where the weather station is
      1. You can use Google Earth to find the altitude or this tool here: https://www.freemaptools.com/elevation-finder.htm
    4. Set your preferred unit of measurement
      1. US (Imperial) or Metric
    5. Select your weather station type
      1. I.e. AcuRite, Vantage (if using Davis), etc.
    6. Select the interface the device is listening on
    7. For those using serial port, select the interface that the data logger is connected to.  You should have found this in step 4 above; if using ethernet, go ahead and type in the IP, Port, etc. of the data logger.
  9. At this point WeeWX is technically installed, however many individuals will want to present the WeeWX reports via webpage.  In this case, we’ll install nginx, which is a lightweight webserver
    1. sudo apt-get install nginx
      1. More details on this can be found here: http://www.weewx.com/docs/usersguide.htm#integrating_with_webserver

At this point, go ahead and browse out to http://youripaddress/weewx/ to see your weather.

Notes:

WeeWX updates the webpage every 30 minutes (1800 seconds) out of the box.  You can force a report update by executing wee_reports weewx.conf or you can modify the /etc/weewx/weewx.conf file by changing the archive_interval variable (in seconds) under the [StdArchive] section.

You can modify the Weewx configuration by editing: /etc/weewx/weewx.conf

You can validate if WeeWX is running by executing: service weewx status

You can look at diagnostics logs by following the guide here: http://www.weewx.com/docs/usersguide.htm#monitoring

Best practices guide on using WeeMX + Raspberry PI: https://github.com/weewx/weewx/wiki/Raspberry%20Pi

How to upgrade your Windows Server Evaluation/Trial

Scenario: You downloaded the evaluation copy of Windows Server and you have 180 days to test out whatever you are working on.  Fast forward a few months and you only have a few days left and you are so happy with how it works, you go out and buy the whole license key.  When you go to apply the license key under System, you get a big ol’ error that says: “This edition cannot be upgraded.”

Solution:

You can use the DISM tool to figure out what versions of Windows Server you can upgrade to, and also use the tool to help change the product key of the version installed.

Easy enough, let’s go ahead and open up command prompt as an administrator (right click on windows flag/start icon, Command Prompt (Admin):

Execute the following command to find out what versions you can upgrade to:

Dism /Online /Get-TargetEditions

In this case, you can see I can upgrade to ServerStandard or ServerDatacenter

Next, let’s go ahead and actually upgrade the edition and inject my license key:

Dism /Online /Set-Edition:TheEditionListedYouWantToGoTo /AcceptEula /ProductKey:XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX

Viola!  At this point, I simply need to reboot and my instance will be upgraded accordingly.

[Tutorial] Integrate Visual Studio Code with Visual Studio Team Services

Here’s a quick way to integrate Visual Studio Code with Visual Studio Team Services.

  1. Create a new Team Project
    1. Instructions on how to create a new Team Project are outlined here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/vsts/accounts/create-account-msa-or-work-student
  2. Create a Personal Access Token
    1. Instructions on how to generate a personal access token are outlined here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/vsts/accounts/use-personal-access-tokens-to-authenticate
  3. Download and install Git: https://git-scm.com/download/
  4. Download Visual Studio Code: https://code.visualstudio.com/Download
  5. Inside of Visual Studio Code, click on the Extensions button
  6. Search the marketplace for Visual Studio Team Services and select Install button
  7. Once the extension has been Installed, click on the Reload button.
  8. Inside of Visual Studio Code, press F1 on your keyboard and type Git: Clone

  9. Once prompted, type in the URL to your Team Project and click on the Open Repository button
  10. Once in the repository, type: Team: Sign In  Select Provide an Access token manually, enter the Personal Access Token from Visual Studio Online and press Enter on your keyboard
  11. From there, go ahead and make a change to any of the files in your Repository
  12. Click on the Source Control icon in Visual Studio Code
  13. Select Commit All
    1. Note: You will be prompted to type in a commit message, go ahead and type in what you changed

  14. Either select Push from the button in the top right, or click the Push button in the bottom left corner
  15. Validate you see the committed changes in Visual Studio Team Services

Setting up a new Raspberry Pi via SSH

This is my super subpar tutorial on how to quickly setup a new Raspberry Pi via SSH (no mouse/keyboard/monitor directly attached to the device).

  1. Download the latest copy of the operating system (I personally prefer Raspbian Stretch Lite for the most minimal setup): https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/
  2. Extract the download so you have a copy of the ****-**-**-raspbian-stretch-lite.img file
  3. Download Etcher to burn the image to an SD Card: https://etcher.io/
  4. Download a copy of Putty if you don’t have a way to ssh: https://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/latest.html
  5. Open the SD card you just flashed and you should see the “boot” partition.  Create a file called ssh (no file extension or data needs to be written to the file)
    1. Note: ssh is disabled on all OS builds starting November 16 forward — see here: https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/remote-access/ssh/
  6. Default credentials:
    1. Username: pi
    2. Password: raspberry
  7. Quick commands
    1. Configure Raspberry PI specific settings: sudo raspi-config
    2. Proper Shutdown (-h) / Restart (-r): sudo shutdown -h now

Unlike most laptops/desktops, the Raspberry Pi doesn’t have a shutdown button, so always use the commands above to prevent SD Card corruption!

Windows 10 – Missing Windows Disc Image Burner for ISO files

In Windows, you typically are able to download a .ISO file, right click on it, and burn it via your CD/DVD drive using the Windows Disc Image Burner application. Unfortunately, for whatever reason my machine is missing this menu item.

A quick workaround that doesn’t involve any registry hacks is to simply right click on the file, select Open With, and select Choose another app.

Select More apps and scroll to the bottom and select Look for another app on this PC.

Navigate to C:\Windows\System32, select isoburn.exe, and click Open

At this point, you can go ahead and burn your iso 🙂

 

[Tutorial] Configuring an Azure Acitve Directory (AAD) Application to leverage multiple Reply URLs

Use Case:

I was recently asked if it is possible to configure multiple Sign-On URLs for a SalesForce application by a customer.  Per the customer, the Sign on URL and the Identifier URL are how Salesforce HR agents log in, in addition to the forms filled out via the web application. When multiple Reply URLs are configured, SSO is possible between both the agent and web application.  Without configuring multiple URLs, you will receive an error stating that the Reply URL is incorrect via the Agent or Web Application.

In this case, this tutorial will cover how to configure multiple Reply URLs for a single Azure AD Application; whether created from the Azure AD Marketplace or custom.

Here is a link to a customer on SalesForce’s forums asking a very similar question as well: https://developer.salesforce.com/forums/?id=9060G000000ICYYQA4

Configure Multiple Reply URLs in Azure AD

  1. Login to https://portal.azure.com and select Azure Active Directory
  2. Select App Registrations (even though an application may be an Enterprise application, please proceed with App registrations)
  3. Select your application from the list
  4. Select Reply URLs on the right side of the blade
  5. Add/Remove the URLs to the desired configuration and then click Save

Please note that if you do browse back to Enterprise Applications, today the portal will only reflect one-URL as of 7/24/2017.

List of schema versions for Windows Server Active Directory

Here’s the current list of Schema Versions for Active Directory on Windows Server.

OS Schema Version
Windows 2000 Server 13
Windows Server 2003 30
Windows Server 2003 R2 31
Windows Server 2008 44
Windows Server 2008 R2 47
Windows Server 2012 56
Windows Server 2012 R2 69
Windows Server 2016 87

 

You can validate the current schema version you have in your environment via PowerShell or Registry Editor.

Validate schema version via PowerShell:

Get-ADObject (Get-ADRootDSE).schemaNamingContext -Property objectVersion

In this screenshot, I have ObjectVersion equal to 69, denoting the schema has been extended for AD on Windows Server 2012 R2.

Validate schema version via Registry Editor:

  1. Click Start and search for
  2. regedit
    regedit
  3. Open up regedit and navigate to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\NTDS\Parameters
  4. In this screenshot, I have Schema Version equal to 69, denoting the schema has been extended for AD on Windows Server 2012 R2.
    regedit - schema version

Configuring time for Azure IaaS Domain Joined Machines

Synopsis: When placing a Virtual Machine on the Azure Platform, by default it inherits time controls from the underlying hypervisor: Hyper-V.  The default behavior for these VMs is to synchronize the system clock with the host via the Hyper-V TimeSync service (VMIC) for Hyper-V hosts and guests running prior operating systems to Windows Server 2016.

Windows 2016 guests will find the most accurate clock, rather than defaulting to the host. It was for this reason that we advised to manually disable Hyper-V Time Provider setting for machines participating in a domain in Windows 2012R2 and below.  More information on Windows Server 2016 time can be found here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/identity/ad-ds/get-started/windows-time-service/windows-2016-accurate-time

To disable the Hyper-V Time Provider, we recommend creating a new Group Policy template and targeting your Azure VMs.

Validate that your machine is synchronized to the Hyper-V Time Provider

Open command prompt and execute the following command: w32tm /query /status

If you see VM IC Time Synchronization Provider, the Guest OS is synchronized to the VM Host

Create a new group policy to disable the Hyper-V Time Provider (VM IC Time Synchronization)

  1. Create a new Group Policy and target it to an OU that contains the machines synchronized to the Hyper-V Time Provider
  2. Edit the new Group Policy Object
  3. Navigate to Computer configuration -> Preferences -> Windows Settings -> Registry and Add a new item

  4. Navigate to the following Key HKLM:SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W32Time\TimeProviders\VMICTimeProvider and select the Enabled Value
  5. Change the Value data to 00000000 and click OK

  6. Restart each of the Azure Virtual Machines or login to each machine and execute the following command to restart the Windows Time service: net stop w32time && net start w32time

  7. Validate that the Source is now pointing to your NTP server/domain by running the following command: w32tm /query /status