Beagleboard Kitchen PC – Some pictures…

Since several people asked me to show some pictures of the kitchen PC now I took the time making some pictures of the current state of the kitchen PC.

It is mounted on the wall in our kitchen in a Proof-of-Concept case now. The pictures show the current state of the GUI which will be reworked in the near future. Means I am already in progress redesigning the graphical frontend. The last three images give a preview on the new design. But enough of the words … now have a look at the pictures of my beagleboard driven kitchen PC.

Filed under: Beagleboard

Beagleboard Kitchen PC – Hardware

After choosing the Beagleboard C4 as the platform for my kitchen PC project I had to search for the needed components. The beagleboard comes as single board pc without any other components. To be able to use it additional components are needed. For example a power supply, a serial connector and a usb to serial converter for programming the beagleboard, a memory card (SD) for storing the OS components on it and so on … And for this special use case a screen and speakers are needed.

The Beagleboard For those who don’t know the beagleboard a quick introduction: The Beagle Board is a low-cost, fan-less single-board computer. The design and specifications of the boards are open source and available to the public. The documentations of the board are very detailed.

There are a lot of different beagle board based projects out there, for example robots, home automation projects.

Here a list of the components I used to build the system round the beagleboard:

Common needed components

  • AC Power Adapter, 15W, out 5V with 5.5mm Plug for Beagleboard Power Supply for the Beagleboard
  • SDHC-Card, 4GB, SanDisk Ultra
  • USB2 Hub (4 Ports)USB hub without the case

For programming the board

  • IDC10 to DB9M bulkhead (RS-232) cable IDC10 to DB9M bulkhead (RS232) adapter cable
  • DB9F Null Modem (RS-232) cable 1,8m Nullmodem cable
  • Delock USB2.0 to DB9M RS-232 (Serial) adapter USB to DB9M RS-232 serial adapter

Special components for the project

  • Speaker: LogiLink SP0006, USB, White One of the USB speakers
  • HDMI to DVI Kabel 1,5m
  • Touchscreen 7″ LCD Monitor with mounting frameThe touchscreen showing the beagleboard boot screen
  • TP-Link 54Mbps Wireless USB Adapter The WiFi USB adapter

A lesson I learned during putting the components together: The HDMI plug at the beagle board outputs a pure digital signal (-> DVI-D). It is not possible to attach a VGA display directly to that board. So it is important to have a display which can handle HDMI/DVI-D signals.

Another note: Be careful when plugging/unplugging things from the board. Always detach the power supply from both devices before e.g. pluggin/unplugging the display connection.

And please, don’t ask me why I did not buy an iPad and have a lot more functionality with it… guys, it is a lot less fun!

Okay. This was the hardware now. On the next post I’ll write about putting the components together and the first starts of the board. So stay tuned…


nagstamon 0.9.5 released

Nagstamon Logo Nagstamon has been released in version 0.9.5. I haven’t written about Nagstamon before, so for a brief introduction: It is a program to display Nagios status information on your desktop in form of lists. The lists are mostly equal to the “problem lists” in Nagios. Nagstamon comes with a graphical user interface which is based on GTK. Nagstamon is highly portable, it works on Linux with KDE/Gnome, Windows 2000 to Windows 7, Mac OS X, and so on.

The main reason I am writing about this release is that it includes a new backend for talking to Check_MK’s Multisite using the brand new web service provided by Multisite.

I implemented this module several weeks ago for a customer which had problems with too many status.cgi requests on the Nagios system. With this backend the overhead of the status.cgi’s which generates a lot of load on larger Nagios systems is gone. The Check_MK Multisite server module for Nagstamon connects to the Multisite webservice which connects to one or several Nagios servers using Livestatus.

The Multisite webservice uses special views in Multisite. You can access and/or modify them by using the View Editor of Multisite. The customized views can be saved on a user base or for all users.

The server modules for Multisite is completely implemented. It supports all features of Nagstamon. It is also possible to reschedule “passive checks” generated by Check_MK using Nagstamon.

Thanks to Henri (the developer of Nagstamon) for helping and including the changes so fast!

The release includes several other interesting features, take a look at the official changelog for a full list. The new Nagstamon version can be downloaded here: Nagstamon 0.9.5.

Filed under: Nagios

Beagleboard based kitchen PC project

BeagleboardI am coming up with a new geek project! In last autumn I came across the Beagleboard which looked very interesting to me – My next geek toy!

Not that I needed it … My first thought: What can I do with it? What is the best reason to buy such a cute thing?! I had several approaches like building a NAS, router but none of them seemed the be a good reason to buy such a board. I do have good solutions for that.

One evening my wife provided the idea for my new project: A kitchen PC! She is listening to the radio in the morning, needs several timers while cooking or baking, uses cooking recipes from the Internet and likes to take a look at the weather forecast. Since the radio in the kitchen has a bad signal and the egg timer can only used for one timer it was clear to me: I’ll build a kitchen PC for her – YAY!!

So what am I gonna do?

  1. Buy a Beagleboard, power supplies, touchscreen for the user interface, wifi USB dongle, speakers (Small power consumption)
  2. Build a case for the kitchen PC – nothing very special ; But I like it to be small and wall mounted
  3. Build a minimalistic Linux based operating system for the Beagleboard (Quick bootup)
  4. Design and create the program for controlling the PC

I was a bit lazy the last months. So I did not write these lines while developing the system. The system is finished for the moment and daily used – Cool! But I did not write anything about it yet.

Now I decided to write about the interesting parts of the story. I’ll split the topics in different posts, so I won’t end up with a huge post which no one likes to read. This first post is meant to introduce the project and give a brief view on the tasks and goals of the project. In the next post I’ll write down the single hardware parts I used for the project. So standby for the next post…

Filed under: Beagleboard

OMD 0.46 release – The modern way managing Nagios installations

You think Nagios is rusty old stuff? Certainly not! Great things are happening around Nagios. One of these brand new innovations is OMD – The Open Monitoring Distribution. It has been released in version 0.46 yesterday. OMD is THE way of installing and managing Nagios installations these days. It brings you multi instance setups, one command upgrade of Nagios and all included addons and many other interesting things. You should definitely take a look at OMD.

Version 0.46 brings a lot of new features. Some of these are:

  • Check_MK 1.1.9i8: This update brings lots of new features, such as WATO. Please read the Migration Notes for important details of the new version.
  • Shinken 0.5.1: New in OMD
  • Thruk 0.82.1: New statusmap layout and theme, display full commandline, improved excel export and more.
  • NagVis 1.5.8
  • PNP4Nagios 0.6.11
  • RRDTool 1.4.5
  • Site specific cron jobs have been added. Logrotate is used to handle the Apache log files
  • Site user now have a fully functional perl environment and can use cpan to install modules for theirs site only. No root access required for installing modules.
Filed under: Nagios

Justniffer – cool network traffic sniffer

From time to time I need a network sniffer for debugging HTTP traffic. In most of the cases I use tcpdump, tshark or wireshark. But these tools were not sufficient in all cases. So I looked out for other tools and it seems I found a very cool console based network sniffer for analyzing HTTP traffic on linux: justniffer.

It is not limited to HTTP. It can help in toubleshooting perfomance in several network TCP based services like HTTP, SIP, SMTP, IMAP, POP, LDAP and so on.


OMD 0.44 released

Oh dear. So many new thing but simply not enough time to write about it…

I wanted to drop a short note about the current OMD version. It has been released several days ago but I think it’s worth to write about it since OMD is a very nice solution for installing and updating Nagios plus addons easily.


OMD – The Open Monitoring Distribution based on Nagios

OMD is NOT yet another linux distribution! OMD stands for nothing else than open monitoring distribution.

The OMD is package based on Nagios and a collection of Nagios plugins/addons which are bundled together to give a quick start to Nagios & Co. The difference to other tries to set-up such a project is that this approach is completely open – no real limits. This will be the next big step in evolution of Nagios!

You are interested? Take a look at the full article…


German Umlauts on US Keyboard in X (Ubuntu 10.04)

The US keyboard layout is better for programmers since many of the needed special chars like brackets, semicolons and so on are easier to type than, for example, with the German keyboard layout which I used so far. Since I am programming a lot on my notebook I decided to buy a new keyboard with the US layout to make it easier to learn using the US layout.

Besides programming I often write German documentations, mails and other kinds of texts. When writing things in German the umlaut chars like ä, ö and so on are important. So I would miss these chars a lot when using the US keyboard layout. In fact there are some key combinations in linux and/or X11 to type those chars but they way too complicated to be used while writing a longer text.

After some research I found a solution by using the user specific Xmodmap file. See how I modified that configuration file to fit my needs…


Check_MK with a lot of new upcoming checks

Check_MK After writing a lot of new checks for Check_MK the last days I have to put my fingers in a bucket of ice water to get them cooled down again. With the checks Check_MK can now monitor a lot of new different new systems.

And the best is: Check_MK will find the systems to be monitored with this check automatically using the very powerful inventory mechanism. Some of those checks need the Check_MK agent to be installed on the target systems but some of them use SNMP for monitoring remote hosts.