I posted earlier how I used a Raspberry Pi to power 5 gridseed miners. I was impressed with the RPi and how it handled running linux scripts while using very little power. Alas I had to sell that mining setup and the RPi along with it since it was the controller for the entire setup. When I heard about the BeagleBone Black, it got me all excited again for these little embeddable unix machines that I thought I’d put together a short post on how to setup the BeagleBone for various usage scenarios.
Some Differences Between the Raspberry Pi and the BeagleBone Black
- The BeagleBone Black has a more powerful processor. On the other hand, the Raspberry Pi has a more powerful graphics processing unit that makes it more suitable for a PLEX / XBMC home media server.
- The BeagleBone Black comes with 4 GB of embedded flash storage preloaded with Debian linux. The Raspberry Pi only has a flash card reader, and the unit ships without an OS loaded (you have to purchase an SD card and load Raspbian OS or your preferred linux distribution on it).
- The BeagleBone Black is expandable using various hardware capes (see picture below). The Raspberry Pi uses breakout boards for expansion, and one big thing the RPi has in it’s favor is its large userbase with numerous tutorials posted online.
BeagleBone Black Initial Network Setup
You should follow the instructions included with the BeagleBone Black to make sure everything is up to date. You don’t need to connect to it via ethernet as the BeagleBone can accept incoming terminal connections over USB.
The Debian installation will broadcast as beaglebone.local, so you can login by typing
• ssh firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need to get the IP address of the BeagleBone Black, try typing either
• ifconfig -a
• ip addr show
The latter command will list all network devices along with their associated ip address. Once you have the ip address of your BeagleBone box, you can ssh directly to that ip address.
If you want to change the BeagleBone Black hostname (so you don’t have to login via IP each time)
• Update /etc/hostname
• Update /etc/hosts
to ensure that your local address resolves to the new system name. You’ll have to update the OpenSSH server after the name change by adding root@hostname at the end of
You can reload the network configuration by restarting the machine.
Powering Your BeagleBone Black
The Raspberry Pi had a neat trick where you could backpower it through a powered USB hub: after connecting your keyboard, mouse etc. to the USB hub and then plugging it into the RPi, the USB hub would be enough to power the machine. The BeagleBone Black isn’t designed to be powered this way: you can either power it through its 5v barrel connection (a Raspberry Pi power adapter will work fine for a BeagleBone Black incidentally) or through its secondary micro-usb connection. The same “charge only” usb charging station I use for my iPad & Kindle works fine powering the BeagleBone Black.
Also note that connecting the BeagleBone to a computer will power it just fine.
BeagleBone for Running a LAMP Stack
Running a LAMP stack means installing Apache / MySQL & PHP on your BeagleBone to act as a web server. It’s a good idea before installing any new software to update your OS.
• sudo apt-get update && apt-get upgrade
There’s a good tutorial here that goes through setting up a LAMP stack on the BeagleBone for running Drupal. My main interest was running WordPress on BeagleBone localhost, which is covered here. You can always cross check with the DigitalOcean tutorials for Debian should you run into any problems.
BeagleBone Black as a SeedBox / Torrent Client
The BeagleBone Black sips energy and so can run 24/7 without being any burden on your utility bill. Since torrenting requires your machine to be on for an extended amount of time, you could use the BeagleBone as a seedbox (even while running a localhost webserver at the same time). The biggest drawback is the lack of storage for the device which is easily remedied by plugging in an external drive via the main USB port. I’ve setup rtorrent before on a VPS. I found that a bit complicated and had heard good things about the Transmission bittorrent client. A very easy to follow guide is over here. Part of the simplicity in that guide stems from your machine only being on a local home network. Also note that it installs Samba, creating Windows style shared drives which effectively makes your torrent box a simple NAS. (If you get any permission denied errors, try running transmission-daemon as a command instead of as a service).