Monday, December 15, 2014

I recently discovered and I have to admit it sounded great being able to deploy apps to a running Raspberry Pi so I decided to give it a try. And apart from a few small things I'd like to see changed, it is indeed awesome.

Following the Getting Started guide I loaded the OS on an 8 GB Sandisk micro SD, inserted it in my Raspberry Pi B+, booted it up, waited and... nothing happened (well, the power LED on the RasPi came on but that's about it). I reformatted the card and tried again and this time RasPi's green LED started to blink soon after boot and like it says on the website, in about 6-10 minutes, my RasPi showed in the list of devices. I assume the first try didn't work because of something I did, so this is not in any way a bad mark for - in fact, the process is really smooth and explained in such detail on the website that setting it up is quite easy - the only reason I mentioned it is if someone else runs into the same issue, don't give up, retry and it will work for sure.

Now the device showed up on the dashboard, I went ahead with the next steps: cloned the text2speech app, added the resin git endpoint, commit the code and waited for the project to build. This step worked great but it took a very long time to install and compile all the packages and their dependencies; it would have taken a lot longer to build all the node.js modules directly on the Pi so this is a definite advantage. The problem though is that every time when I update the code and commit and push again, the install process starts all over again and it takes as long as the first time; for a simpler app, with a lot less dependencies this is not an issue but for the example app I tried this was definitely a nuisance. Normally, if I deployed such an app on a Pi the initial time to setup the node modules and their dependencies would have been much longer; but subsequent updates would find the modules in place and would only take seconds.

Another issue I found and it is probably only an issue for me is the terminal on the web interface didn't start; every time I try I get a message saying terminal works only for recently provisioned devices but my devices was added recently so it should have worked. This combined with the fact that I was not able to ssh into my Pi (maybe because the SSH service is not installed/started [update] because that would be a security risk) made me shutdown the Pi by unplugging it which is not very safe from the SD card point of view, it can become easily corrupted. It is true that if this is the case I can always start over by installing the OS file again; also, I can probably create my own Docker container with SSH installed and started by default so this may not be a real problem but since I am not familiar with Docker, it is a problem for me.

Last small issue is not having the ability to deploy more than one app on a running Pi - maybe this is possible but I haven't seen anywhere the docs talking about multiple apps on the same device; same app on multiple devices is possible but the other way around I am not sure how to do. This reason along with the previous ones I mentioned made me decide to wait until becomes a bit more mature before trying it again.

I hope these small problems I ran into won't stop you from trying - the idea is great and it works so it is indeed an awesome app worth checking out. Thank you to author(s) for such a great idea and app!

[Update] Recently I started to look into Docker which seems to be really awesome; a quick search for Docker on Raspberry Pi turned out this article on blog. I wanted to bring this up because this was a big task for the team and a huge success and whoever is going to use Docker on Raspberry Pi will owe the team a big thank you. Thank you, guys!


Guard said...

Hey, Resin employee here.

The Terminal issue should be fixed now, though you need to have a running application (that is something like web server that keeps listening to requests and doesn't exit instantly).

SSH it not started by default for security reasons.

merlin13 said...

Thanks for your clarifications, they make sense. I figured SSH may be a security issue, sorry I forgot to mention it, I will update my post.

All in all, Resin is awesome, as I already mentioned.

Domenico V. said...

Hi there - did you find out if there is a way to remotely shutdown a node?

merlin13 said...

No, I didn't. I probably could figure out how to start SSH but I didn't try.

I started using Weaved a little after that and while not the same thing as, I can do everything remotely so I stuck with it.