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Setting up a Raspberry Pi 2 Samba server (in early January 2016)

The following is how I configured a Raspberry Pi 2 as a samba server, using a Seagate Backup Plus Slim, 1TB, drive.

For ease I purchased the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 2 Complete Starter Kit. It runs about $70 and includes enough to get up and running with the Raspberry Pi 2, with the Pi itself, a nice case, power supply, HDMI cable, WiFi adapter, and SD card with NOOBS/Raspbian installer.

For the hard drive I opted to purchase a Seagate Backup Plus Slim 1TB Portable External Hard Drive, since I've had good enough luck with Seagate in the past, and reviews are generally favorable. This ran me $60. I confirmed that it worked fine on my Windows 10 machine, and was already formatted to NTFS.

Unfortunately, once I received the Pi and drive I found that the power supply/Pi wasn't putting off enough power to keep the drive running. After looking at the options, including tweaking the Pi to pass through more power through the USB connector, I opted to pick up a powered USB hub instead (especially since I was considering setting up a camera at some point in the future).

For this I went with the AmazonBasics 4 Port USB 3.0 Hub with 5V/2.5A power adapter for about $17. Reviews are quite favorable, and I didn't see any indication that it wouldn't work. Once I received the included manual does note that Windows 2000 through 8 are required, or Mac OS X. However, as you'll see there were no issues.

Before powering my Raspberry Pi 2 up I went ahead and plugged the USB Hub into the Pi, and the Seagate Backup Plus into the HUB. I powered up the HUB first, and then powered up the Pi.

While it was a couple years old, How to Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Low-Power Network Storage Device worked fairly well for the setup steps.

Setup commands

Unless otherwise noted, all commands were run on the Raspberry Pi 2 itself, at the command line, outside of Raspbian.

While the guide suggests installing ntfs-3g, this was already installed on my Pi.

sudo apt-get install ntfs-3g

Getting a listing of the disks, sudo fdisk -l, returned /dev/sda1 for the name of the Seagate drive. So, despite a moment of worry, the Amazon USB Hub worked perfectly fine.

The next step was to setup the drive. I opted for all lowercase when doing so.

sudo mkdir /media/usbhdd1

Next was the mounting of the drive.

sudo mount -t auto /dev/sda1 /media/usbhdd1

Within the directory I setup a new shares directory.

sudo mkdir /media/usbhdd1/shares

When I first tried to install Samba I received a number of errors. A quick update resolved the issues.

sudo apt-get update

Then I was able to install Samba.

sudo apt-get install samba samba-common-bin

Backup the Samba configuration, just in case, and then open the config in nano.

sudo cp /etc/samba/smb.conf /etc/samba/smb.conf.old
sudo nano /etc/samba/smb.conf

My Windows 10 machine was already on the WORKGROUP workgroup, so I didn't have to touch this, but verify workgroup is set as needed.

Contrary to the guide I was unable to find a security line in the Authenication section, so I skipped that for now, and promised to try to get in without authenticating before I went too far.

At the bottom of the config I added the following:

[Backup1]
comment = Backup Folder
path = /media/usbhdd1/shares
valid users = @users
force group = users
create mask = 0660
directory mask = 0771
read only = no

CTRL+X will exit, and allow you to save. Press Enter to just overwrite the existing file.

Restart the Samba service:

sudo /etc/init.d/samba restart

Now setup a user account in UNIX and then for Samba. Yes, this means entering the password 4 times. Personally, I'm a fan of Preshing's xkcd Password Generator and storing the credentials in KeePass.

sudo useradd backups -m -G users
sudo passwd backups
sudo smbpasswd -a backups

For ease I then determined the ip of the Raspberry Pi.

ifconfig

And then I just browsed to that directly in Windows explorer (\\192.168.x.x). Thankfully I was prompted for credentials when I tried to access the Backup1 directory. Entering the credentials I had created above worked great.

The next step was to put some data in the directory. Over my wireless network speeds weren't fantastic, but it worked fine.

I verified the files had been copied over:

cd /media/usbhdd1/shares
ls

Next was a step I almost forgot, which was to have the Raspberry Pi automatically mount the drive after rebooting. The config first needed to be opened in nano, sudo nano /etc/fstab, and then I had to add the following, which I did so at the end of the file.

/dev/sda1    /media/usbhdd1     auto    noatime     0       0

Ctrl + x as usual to exit, save, and overwrite the existing file.

Finally, restart the Raspberry Pi itself to verify that I could still get to the share after it came back up.

sudo reboot

(All original content on this site is licensed under the Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0.)

Google Services on the Amazon Fire HD 8

xda-developers has a post, Installing Google Framework/Playstore without Root (5th Gen Amazon Fire 2015), that includes a couple different sets of instructions.

What worked for me was grabbing the mega.nz zip download and then:

  1. Make sure you're a developer and you allow apps from unknown sources.
  2. Install ES File Explorer via the Amazon Appstore. It's something I install on all my Android devices.
  3. Extract the contents of the zip you downloaded from Mega somewhere.
  4. Connect your Fire tablet to your computer via a USB cable.
  5. Copy all the files to the Download directory on your tablet.
  6. In ES File Explorer navigate to the Download directory.
  7. Install com.android.vending-5.9-12*.apk
  8. Install com.google.android.gms-6.6.03*.apk
  9. Install GoogleLoginService.apk
  10. Install GoogleServicesFramework.apk
  11. Turn off and then turn back on the device.
  12. You can try opening Google Play. If it automatically closes (it did for me), install com.android.vending-5.9.12*.apk again. When I did so it asked me if I wanted to install the update, and referenced one of the other services.
  13. You should be able to run the Google Play application now.
  14. When prompted, you can safely update the Google services.

With Google Play installed I was able to login to Google, as well as install YouTube and Chrome to my Fire HD 8.

(All original content on this site is licensed under the Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0.)

Review: Adonit Jot Dash - Fine Point Precision Stylus

The following is a review of the Adonit Jot Dash - Fine Point Precision Stylus, received as part of the Amazon Vine program.

Not what I was expecting

For the most part I'm not yet at the point in my life where I need to use a stylus pen for my electronic devices. My fingers are the right size, and with devices getting larger, I don't need the precision. I'm also not much of an artist, so it's not necessary to draw. However, with Windows 10 ending up on almost all my devices, and touch screens on all my laptops, I did want to try using a stylus for some creative outlets.

Before receiving this as part of the Amazon Vine program I was using, off and on, a pen with the nub on the eraser part that would be picked up by touch devices. However, since I had played with it, or because it was cheap, the nub wouldn't stay on. The opportunity to try a real stylus was something I was looking forward to.

Sadly, the Adonit Jot Dash - Fine Point Precision Stylus wasn't what I was looking for. I love how the stylus feels in my hand, and I like how it looks. The magnetic charging base is pretty nice, as it allowed me to hang it down from the USB drive on my primary PC during charging.

I tested it with a Samsung Galaxy S4, 2nd Gen Nexus 7, and two Asus tablets/laptops running Windows 10. On all devices it was recognized without issue, without having to install or enable anything. However, it didn't perform as well as I would like. On both my Android devices it seemed a little off. What may have been the cause is how I actually used it, since the tip isn't as soft as I would have liked. Instead, every time I used it I felt as though if I pressed down too hard I'd end up with a scratch in my screen or screen protector. While it hasn't caused any damage, I do wish it had a bit of give, or was more rounded than it is.

I did like the simple indicator when the device is powered on/off (green or red light). It's relatively simple to use, so it doesn't include any instructions in the box, just a few paragraphs on the back on how to power it on. It being rechargeable is also quite nice.

Ultimately, however, since it doesn't include any software, multi-touch devices may still register other input (such as palm) when this device is used. I also really wish the tip felt softer, so I wasn't afraid to use it. For these reasons I give the Adonit Jot Dash - Fine Point Precision Stylus a neutral 3 of 5 stars, which would have translated to a 3.5 if I could have. It definitely works with every device I tried it with, but I think my usage will be limited, and only with devices that have screen protection.

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