Monthly Archives: December 2016

Raspberry Pi 2B RAID 5 build – Part 2

Now we’re ready to do the semi difficult parts.

Write the Raspbian Linux OS image to the micro SD card. I use a Mac so I use the following instructions:…/inst…/installing-images/

Note that when you are in the Mac’s System Report window, expand Hardware -> USB -> USB2.0 Hub -> USB 2.0 Hub then click on USB Storage. Or whatever you do, find that USB Storage node. In the details panel below on the right you’ll find “BSD Name”, in my case it is disk5, that’s the micro SD card we’re writing the image to (the Pi instructions missed this very tiny important detail).


If you use Windows then use the following instructions:…/…/installing-images/

For Macs, when you use the sudo dd command to write the image to the micro SD card, a progress update won’t be displayed. Instead press Control-T to see a status update when you want.

The process takes about 4.5 minutes on my Mac. It’ll be roughly the same on other computers as the time is dependent on the USB 2.0 port and microSD speed. I have a Class 10 micro SD card, which is pretty fast at the time this is posted.

Once you’re done with writing the Raspbian Linux OS image, boot up the Pi.

It is already preconfigured to provide X Window for a GUI display, and the network is preconfigured to use DHCP.

It’s now a ready to use Linux desktop, though I like the term tinypute myself

Next we’ll install and build the RAID 5 array itself …

On to Part 3 of the journey


Raspberry Pi 2B RAID 5 build – Part 1

First, you need a Raspberry Pi 2B computer. You can purchase it anywhere. It’s home is here:

Remember to purchase a micro USB cable with a power charger which is used as the Pi’s power supply, also remember to purchase an HDMI cable.

The HDMI cable is used to display the Pi’s video output on an HDTV monitor (1080p). I’ve only used the HDMI display once to find the IP address of the Pi, after that I typically use the terminal/ssh to connect and work with the Pi.

In case they don’t come with the USB 2.0 cable (they should), also remember to buy 4 USB 2.0 cables.

Second, you need 4 USB 2.0 external hard disks. The Pi has 4 USB 2.0 ports so up to 4 disks can be connected directly. You can use more disks but you’ll have to use a USB hub. Using a hub to use more than 4 USB disks will degrade performance as a single USB 2.0 connection is shared amongst many disks.

Third, you’ll need a micro SD card, 8GB will do. This will be the Pi’s Linux OS hard disk.

Fourth, you’ll need to download the OS (it’s called Raspbian and is actually Linux in the Debian distribution form. Get it? Rasp(berry) and (De)bian .

You can download it from here:

Next we’ll write the image to the SD Card …

On to part 2 of the journey

Raspberry Pi 2B RAID 5 build – the Journey

This is my journey in building my own at home private cloud

It has no high availability from the processing node perspective as there is no fail-over/backup processing hardware to make this a highly available cluster. There is a solution to this as described in,1 if you like the challenge. I might do that at another time.

This implementation only has disk high availability from 3 x 3TB USB 3.0 external disks turning this build into a nice NAS for my PCs, VMs, and laptops. We’ll see how slowly it crawls. It actually has decent performance for daily routines. Large file size & number copies will make it crawl. I just do that overnight (copied my iTunes library over).

Yes, I’m a digital pack-rat .

Go on part 1 of the journey!


Install a LAMP and mailman (mailing list) server


I needed a mail server for a few custom email addresses from several domains that I own. There are some 6 domains and 10 custom email addresses.

Multiple email domains can be hosted on a single mail server. They are called virtual domains. Basically and can be directed to Clients from domain1 and domain2 connect for email service to

This configuration moves my email addresses from which charges $5.- / month / email account. Totals to saving a sweet $50.- monthly. That’s $600.- a year which I could use for something else.

I begin by installing the Mail Server using this cookbook: LAMP + Mail Server + Web Mail Server then I install mailman using my own cookbook Mailman 2.1.23 Install Instructions.

This results in a Mail Server capable of hosting multiple domains with multiple emails accounts. In fact it is running in my home office on a Raspberry Pi box!

If you want something like this but skip about 200+ lines of instructions, let me know, I’d be happy to help!



Shopify Facebook trouble

I recently helped my wife launch her website for the Christmas season. Her shop is Tiarani Studio at with a line of her traditional Batik Silk Scarves. They are wonderfully luxurious silk as you can see.

Tiarani Silk Scarves

I decided to take advantage of the Shopify Facebook 15 day trial advertised as easy to setup and simple checkout all for $9.95 / month.

Step 1 is to create a Facebook page. You’ll use this page as your shop within Facebook. Simple enough, it’s just like any other page. You can post, put up photos, and other things you normally do with Facebook pages. By all means announce your shop and hype it up.

Step 2 is to create an account at Shopify Facebook page, pretty easy, enter email address, first & last name, your store name and click on “Create store”. You’ll be asked pertinent information later.

Step 3 is to connect your Facebook page created in Step 1 to your Shopify account.

Step 4 is to add products. The usual titles, descriptions, pricing, tags and visibility (make sure it’s set). I use tags as a convenient way to categorize. I have 2 tags, Winter and Spring to categorize by season. I have a 3rd tag Featured to show products that are showcased. The visibility setting determines whether the product is displayed in the shop or not.

Step 5 is to create collections. I create 3 collections, each one is selected by each tag. So I have 3 collections using each tag, one for Featured, another for Winter, the last for Spring. In the collection page there is also a visibility setting (also make sure its set) to display the collection in the shop.

Step 6 is to go back to products page and bulk select all products and do a bulk action of publishing and make sure it’s set to Facebook. Push the Bulk Action button then Publish Selected products. Let it sync!

Step 7 is similar, go back to the collections page and bulk select all collections (except the “Home Page”) I’ve no idea what that does, I only want Winter and Spring collections to display. Push the Bulk Action button and Publish Selected collections. Let it sync too!

Step 8 is pray that the integration goes smoothly. It did the first time for me and here is where trouble can start. Shopify has its own approval process so you don’t sell anything untoward, and also says Facebook has a manual 24 hour store approval stage, so be prepared to wait for a day and call in if your shop hasn’t displayed yet. For me it incredibly happened just like that in 5 minutes and my Facebook page got a “Shop Now” button, a Shop section, and I could checkout a product. Theoretically the money gets deposited in my Shopify account, but I didn’t actually make a payment.

Uh Oh … trouble. The integration worked really well for nearly 2 hours. After which it went berserk. A collection that shouldn’t have displayed (Home Page collection), and one that should didn’t (Spring collection). I sync’ed and sync’ed and they never reset themselves.

Lastly the entire set of collections and products disappeared from my Facebook shop! Facebook points the finger to Shopify.

Shopify Facebook Page Problem

This is fatal for an ecommerce shop! It can’t make any money. The idea of spending money to make money maybe hasn’t dawned on Shopify. Or at least maybe their idea is to make money for themselves only 🙂

Just to show I didn’t make this up here is my Shopify Facebook collections page that show the collections to show. Shopify points the finger to Facebook.

Shopify Facebook Collections

To add insult to injury, 5+ support chats and some phone calls later they admit that the problem affects a large set of their customers and it’s Facebook’s faulty integration process that is to blame. One chat even set expectation that it might take 3-5 days to approve the shop and that might be the cause. I have email transcripts of the chats. I now rarely see their email updates, what else is there to say?

At the time of the posting I consider my Shopify Facebook shop dead RIP. This close to Christmas there is no more time to market much less to sell (even to friends & family).

I even offered to hand deliver within the Seattle Metro area same/next day free. Plus I ran a very focused Google Adwords ad campaign targeting very specific demographics (affluent 35-50 age group), and area (Seattle Metro). The ad was running well with positioning within 3-4 ranking from the top! No getters though.

But sadly 4 days later, on December 23rd, and about the last 48 hours of promised resolution the shop is still dead.

As a shopper I am extremely annoyed, disappointed, felt cheated, and disgusted with the incompetency of what appears is a serious lack of software development capabilities (Shopify is a startup company residing in Toronto, Canada).

As an interested investor seeing their 86% growth so far as attractive, I must wonder how their stock price is going fare. For the next financial results season, did they give guidance based on expected increased revenue from the Shopify Facebook facepalm or not? If they did, I might wait a while and let their stock drop like a rock and pick it up at near low.

So there you have it. Great promise, deeply troubling execution.

Facepalm on my Facebook page 🙂 Come Shop Tiarani Studio instead!