March 4th, 2013

Setting up Raspberry Pi with SSH

Unripe raspberries dreaming of being Pis

I purchased a pair of Raspberry Pis (Model B) from ModMyPi to use for my data gathering. My doctoral work requires data from bike-share systems such as Velib’ in Paris. I will be scraping many sites repeatedly for the next couple of years. I wanted a distributed system that could resist theft/fire, hard-drive failure and internet service interruptions while still being affordable. Going with my current host would not have been possible due to my long term capacity requirements of about 40GB and the costs associated with those requirements. I considered using Amazon’s Web Service but don’t want to lose control of my data and I’m not sure the cost is worthwhile compared to using a couple Raspberry Pis (RPi). I wanted to share my process because most existing tutorials ask you to connect your RPi to a monitor/TV for setup. That’s no longer required since SSH is enabled by default. I also desired documenting my steps so that I can exactly replicated my setup for my second RPi.

I purchased SD cards with my RPis. If you need to install Raspian, the OS, to your SD card you should check out these directions.

There are all sorts of instructions online about needing to hook your RPi to a screen for setup. Since my SD cards already have the OS installed I decided to just attach the RPi to my home network and see if I could connect to it using my mac. After connecting the LAN cable and power source, I checked my router’s LAN client list and there was my raspberrypi at IP The IP address will be different for you based on router brand/settings and random IP allocation. From what I’ve read ssh was not typically enabled by default. You were supposed to enable it. This must be a new setting to enable ssh setup directly.

Basic setup and installation

Using terminal I ssh’d into it my RPi:

ssh pi@

Accepted the key and logged on with the password raspberry

The authenticity of host ' (' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is XXXXXXXX.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added '' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.

pi@'s password: raspberry
Linux raspberrypi 3.2.27+ #250 PREEMPT Thu Oct 18 19:03:02 BST 2012 armv6l

The programs included with the Debian GNU/Linux system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Debian GNU/Linux comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent
permitted by applicable law.

NOTICE: the software on this Raspberry Pi has not been fully configured.
Please run 'sudo raspi-config'

<h3>Blue setup menu</h3>
pi@raspberrypi ~ $ sudo raspi-config

In the blue screen menu I expanded the root partition to fill the card. Changed my password. Set my locale/language – this is important even if you just want the default English. I set my timezone to Luxembourg. Having the correct time will be important for my data scraping. It is also important that daylight savings changes be applied and on the correct day. I disabled the booting to desktop option as I will be strictly using the RPis as servers. Finally I performed an update.

So to recapitulate what I did on the blue screen:

  • Expanded root partition.
  • Changed my password.
  • Changed locale/language
  • Changed timezone.
  • Disabled booting to desktop
  • Upgraded raspi-config

I exited the blue menu and rebooted:

pi@raspberrypi ~ $ sudo reboot

This closed my connection. After a minute I proceeded to ssh back into my RPi, enter my new password and perform an update.

i@raspberrypi ~ $ sudo apt-get upgrade

This causes a long list of files to download and then it takes even longer to unpack and replace the old with the new. This takes about 25 minutes.

Locale problems

I received many warnings about locale not being set. After unsuccessfully trying to fix it I came across a solution which turned out to not be a good idea. I edited /etc/environment:

sudo vi /etc/environment

I wrote my locale manually there: LC_ALL=”en_CA.UTF-8″
This actually overrides some settings that can be negative if you have people from different languages using your server.

After reading up it seems ssh on my local machine/mac may be causing the problem. To fix the real source of the problem, which you won’t get if you are using your pi directly rather than sshing, I modified /etc/ssh_config on my mac:

sudo vim /etc/ssh_config

and commented out the 21st line:

#   SendEnv LANG LC_*

I actually went and undid my earlier changes in /etc/environment

Shutting down correctly

If at any time you wish to shutdown (turn it off, not rebooting) your RPi use the following command:

sudo shutdown -h now

In order to always shut down with the -h flag I modified the global profile /etc/profile and added a new alias:

alias shutdown='shutdown -h'

Host/server name

I spuriously changed the name of my box from raspberrypi to vegetable:

sudo vi /etc/hostname
sudo vi /etc/hosts

In the two files above change the name raspberrypi to your new server name. You should reboot before proceeding.

Firware update

I want my RPi to stay up to date so I downloaded an auto update tool and its requirements by following these directions with some modifications.

sudo apt-get install ca-certificates
sudo apt-get install git-core
sudo wget -O /usr/bin/rpi-update && sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/rpi-update
sudo rpi-update
sudo reboot

It downloads about 40 MB of data and takes 5 minutes to update the firmware. I then rebooted my machine and ssh’d back in.


At this point the RPi is up to date and we can begin customization. I have purchased a pair of powered D-Link DUB-H4 (Ver/Rev. C1) four port hubs and two 2.5″ 250 GB USB powered hard drives to create some servers. These will be connected with some super short/customized length USB cables into a tight package mini-server package.

At this point you need to decide if you will serve dynamic content using PHP or Python (other options exist – but I’ll only cover these two). I will be doing my requests using Python. My server is not meant to be serving pages to the public. I will stick with PHP but the instructions for using the WSGI/python-apache plugin are included below.

Regardless of the customization path you probably want to install apache2 and php5:

sudo apt-get install apache2 php5

This will also install libapache2-mod-php5, a dependency. If you are curious what dependencies exist for a package, such as php5, simply enter the command:

apt-cache depends php

I can test that apache was successful by visiting the IP of my server ( – yours will be different) with a web browser. This brings up the standard Apache It works! page located in /var/www/index.html.

I would like my pi user to have a web folder. For now let’s just make a directory:

mkdir ~/public_html

I created a simple HTML page, named index.html, in the public_html folder:

  <h1>Pi's home</h2>

I need to enable the user directory module so each user’s ~/public_html folder will be accessible.

sudo a2enmod userdir
sudo service apache2 restart

Restarting apache and check the pi user home page ( should be visible.

PHP should be working in the root directory but not for users. To enable php in each user’s public_html directory we also need to modify a file. Open /etc/apache2/mods-available/php5.conf and follow the directions in the file to comment out the last section so it looks like this:

#<IfModule mod_userdir.c>
#    <Directory /home/*/public_html>
#        php_admin_value engine Off
#    </Directory>

Restart apache and you should have user pages functioning.

Python WSGI web-server

If you want to be able to run a python optimized Apache server follow these directions. Using python and the WSGI python-apache module should allow you to serve more requests per second.

sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-wsgi

This installs the python module WSGI.

Just as we enabled the user directory module, we can now enable the WSGI module. Let’s create a simple page to test it first. Again in my public_html directory I will create a file named index.wsgi with the following contents:

def application(environ, start_response):
    """"Simplest possible application object"""
    status = '200 OK'
    response_headers = [('Content-type', 'text/plain')]
    start_response(status, response_headers)
    return ['Hello, World!\n']

We enable WSGI (it may be already):

sudo a2enmod wsgi
sudo service apache2 restart

And do some more changes to apache. Change the file /etc/apache2/apache2.conf and add at the bottom:

WSGIRestrictEmbedded On

# Duplicate for each user as needed
WSGIDaemonProcess pi user=pi home=/home/pi/public_html
<Directory /home/pi/public_html>
    WSGIProcessGroup pi

Note the second section. You will need to duplicate this for each user. Replace ‘pi’ with your username. This indicates where WSGI files will be executed from.

Now we need to edit /etc/apache2/sites-available/default and add at the bottom of the file again, but within/above the tag:

<Directory /home/*/public_html>
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews ExecCGI
    AddHandler wsgi-script .wsgi
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all

Restart apache and take a look at your WSGI file (


MySQL or some database type is likely required. I will be using it to keep all my cleaned data easily accessible. I will mainly be accessing the MySQL DB using python so I’ve also installed the python-mysqldb interface.

sudo apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client php5-mysql python-mysqldb

Initial setup conclusion

We now have a functioning basic server. The typical required programs have been installed. As it stands the server is limited to the SD card size of 8 GB. This is insufficient for almost all applications. In my next post I’ll explain how I connected my hub, external hard drive and RPi together as well as setting up MySQL and data archives to be located on the external drive.

Tags: , , , , ,

One Response to “Setting up Raspberry Pi with SSH”

  1. frakturmedia » Blog Archive » Setting up Raspberry Pi’s for scraping Says:

    […] Setting up Raspberry Pi with SSH March 20th, […]