Slicing Pi’s differently

How it all currently is

The way my Pi’s were all setup was :-

  • markpi – Raspberry Pi OS Buster 64 bit kernel and 32 bit userland. On it I had this web server, SAMBA and was our main video player. This is a 4GB Pi 4 with a 1TB Seagate SSD as the boot and storage device.
  • raspberrypi – Raspberry Pi OS Bullseye 64 bit. It is a 1GB Pi 4. As well as about 10TB of spinning rust attached via a Simplecom 3 x 2 bay powered SATA boxes with their own power it also had a 1 TB Toshiba SSD. The Simplecom units are daisy chained using their USB ports and the SSD is in the other USB3 port of the Pi. Bandwidth and speed are not important as this is storage for my digital and scanned photos as well as the family digitised slides and Super 8 movies. About 8 or 9 TB of the stuff. All of its storage is shared via SAMBA and / or NFS.
  • Desktop – Raspberry Pi OS Bullseye 64 bit.  It is my daily driver desktop machine and runs from a Sandisk 500GB SSD.
  • mincepi – Raspberry Pi OS 64 bit Pi 3B+. Acting as my local caching only DNS via “dnsmasq” along with TVHeadend.
  • pi-zero – Raspberry Pi OS Bullseye 32bit. SSD card only and is my GPS disciplined time source with NTP. It also has a small display showing date and time only. That’s it….
  • Pi 400 – this one is sitting on the shelf and does nothing. Good to have a spare though. If any of the other Pi’s go belly-up a simple change of the boot media and plug it in and we’re away again.

So why change it ?

The biggest shortcoming was that the web server and our media player is on the same Pi. For me that wasn’t acceptable as there were conflicting demands. When playing streamed media the network traffic was intense which compromised the web server so I thought something needed to change.

The Pi 3B+ was basically wasted as all it did was dnsmasq and TVHeadend.

The Pi-zero was, and remains just a GPS disciplined ntp server.

The NAS Pi remains so although I wanted to change it to booting from spinning rust. Stuff had to moved around a bit too – there are drives that are nearly full and others that are nearly empty. For example the drive that has the old Super 8 movies on it is only about half full and the storage requirements here are not going to increase. Moving it to a smaller drive that’s only just big enough makes sense. I’ve thought about RAID but I feel that’s not the best solution here – too many things can go wrong. Better to organise the current storage so that there is free space where needed and bugger all free space where it isn’t.

At the end I want a Pi serving up this web site and TVHeadend so we can watch free to air TV in places where terrestrial TV is unavailable but mobile phone services is. I wanted a robust desktop Pi with enough storage available. I wanted my GPS disciplined clock available via NTP and I wanted a NAS with its storage organised sensibly. Lastly I wanted a Pi to play our movies and stuff without interfering with anything else. This Pi stays with Buster as Bullseye, 32 and 64bit, plays really, really badly with our TV which is connected to the Pi (I strongly the Bullseye “kms” driver) which is what we watch “stuff” on.

Surely that’s not too much to ask. Is it ?


The changes

The Pi 4 4GB media player has the media drive from the NAS Pi mounted in a suitable spot so basically all it’ll need is a SD card with VLC, etc. on it. It also is running Buster as previously noted. As they say in the Meerkat ad’s, Simples.

The NAS Pi, with a lot of messing around, has had the storage moved around and generally reorganised. The irreplaceable stuff is now on a single 8 TB hard drive and is backed up twice with one copy kept here and the other with a friend for safe keeping. This is essentially static storage and only added to when the family discovers new stuff – family and school photos, holiday movies, etc. The replaceable stuff, as well as our digital and scanned photos, is spread over two more 8 TB hard drives and the boot device is now a 3 TB hard drive which also holds the NFS exports for “/home” on my desktop Pi and the media player Pi. All of the re-organising left me with two 8TB hard drives spare.

The desktop Pi has the “/home” directory moved to a NFS drive from the NAS Pi and has the “/boot” and “/root” on a smaller SD card.

The Pi 3B+ is now the web, DNS (via dnsmasq) and TVHeadend server running Bullseye 64 bit with a SD card boot device.

The Pi-zero remains as my time server just for fun. It also has dnsmasq as a backup caching only name server.

All except the Pi-zero and the desktop Pi are powered with Raspberry POE+ hats which work really well and declutter the cupboard they are in considerably.

So, how did it all work out ?

Well, so far it’s all worked out pretty well. I’ve even managed to migrate my wife to a Pi. Because of my new structure it was really easy – just clone my desktop SD card and make a couple of changes – dhcpcd.conf and fstab and then plug it in and boot it. My wife didn’t need a lot of convincing either – the annual M$ licence fee impost and changes to the pricing structure which would make MS Office a LOT more expensive did that. Job done and a home found for the “spare” Pi-400.


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