Beginner’s Guide to Installing Node.js on a Raspberry Pi

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This article has been updated to cover the installation of the latest version of Node at the time of this writing which is Node 8.x.

In this installment of our LTM (Learning through Making) series of Node.js tutorials, we’re going to get Node up and running on a Raspberry Pi 3 or Pi 2. With the Raspberry Pi 3, you won’t need to buy a separate USB Wi-Fi adapter. I’m focusing on the Raspberry Pi 3/Pi 2 rather than older versions such as the Raspberry Pi B+ since these are the latest models at the time of this writing.  The Raspberry Pi 3, for example, sports a 1.2 GHz quad-core ARMv8 chip with 1 GB of RAM versus the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+’s 700 MHz single-core ARMv6 chip with 512 MB RAM.

The instructions provided here are for installing Node.js on a Pi 3 (ARMv8) or Pi 2 (ARMv7) rather than other models based on the ARMv6 chip such as the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B, Raspberry Pi Model B+ or the Raspberry Pi Zero.  A majority of this installation guide should still prove useful for other Raspberry Pi systems besides the Pi 3 and Pi 2; however, the final steps focused on the installation of Node.js will not work for these systems based on the older ARMv6 architecture.

This tutorial is useful for anyone wishing to successfully install a Raspberry Pi 3/Pi 2 system, even if they are not interested in Node.js since the Node.js installation happens in the final steps of the tutorial.  But, why would you not want to install Node.js? 🙂  Let’s get started! Continue reading

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Connecting a Raspberry Pi Using an Ethernet Crossover Cable and Internet Connection Sharing

raspi-crossover
I’m preparing for an upcoming speaking engagement around the topic of using Node.js and the Raspberry Pi for IoT applications. While at home, I enjoy the luxury of being the owner of my network which provides complete freedom in network configuration. On the road, I will not have this luxury whether it is at a hotel or when speaking at the conference.

Raspberry PiHere’s the problem I am trying to solve. While on the road, I want to be able to connect my laptop to the Wi-Fi hotspot on my phone rather than utilizing the wireless network at the conference location which might be fraught with both security and reliability issues. I also want to be able to get my Raspberry Pi system on the Internet. Additionally, I need my Raspberry Pi and my laptop to reside on the same network so I can easily connect and share files back and forth. Finally, I need this to be easy and foolproof so I’m not sweating on stage and trying to tweak Raspbian network configuration settings in order to establish network connectivity.

How about you? You might also have a similar need if you are seeking to get your Raspberry Pi on the Internet at a hotel, university, or other venue such as a conference. I’m going to show you how you can get your Raspberry Pi on the network when you are not connected to your home network using an Ethernet crossover cable.

I have read a lot of guides on the Internet, but they involve way too many steps. Surely there must be a better way that requires minimal fuss? Absolutely! Let’s get started! Continue reading

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Node.js IoT – Create Local Module for CPU Sensor

CPU Sensor Local Module

We’re back and ready to do some refactoring of our CPU sensor so we can learn about Node.js modules and how to create them.  Building small, focused modules is one of the key tenets of the Node.js philosophy as summarized in The Node Way:

Building small, single-purpose modules is at the heart of the Node.js philosophy. Borrowing from Unix, Node.js encourages composing the complex and powerful out of smaller, simpler pieces. This idea trickles down from entire applications (using the best tool for the job vs. a full suite) to how the tools themselves are built.

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Node.js IoT – Build a Cross Platform CPU Sensor

cross platform cpu sensor

I took a little hiatus in our series to take my family on a trip to Japan with layovers on each end of the trip in China which included a ride on the Shanghai Maglev Train, the fastest train in the world.  We had a fantastic time, and it was a great educational experience for the kids.  It is also good to be back home!

We are back again with our Node.js IoT tutorial series and ready to continue developing our “CPU sensor” as CPU loading/utilization is a “sensor” we can measure, record, and ultimately stream to other locations.  Today, we will expand our CPU sensor and make it cross platform—and learn more about Node.js in the process. In future tutorials, we will harness the power of Node.js to interact with physical sensors that live outside of our computing environment.  Continue reading

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Using Visual Studio Code with a Raspberry Pi (Raspbian)

Learning through Making (LTM) logoWe’re back with our LTM (Learning through Making) series of Node.js tutorials and we’re gearing up and getting ready to write some code!  We’ve learned how to build a Raspberry Pi from the ground up including Node.js, we’ve created a web server in Node without code, and we’ve even managed to get this web server on the Internet as a cool trick.

So how are we going to write Node.js code? There’s nothing that would stop us from simply jumping onto our RasPi and using the Leafpad text editor or even the nano console-based editor to write our code.  I propose that we use some more robust tools in the form of an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) to help us along in our coding journey.

It turns out that the RasPi 2 and RasPi 3—in spite of the significant CPU/memory boost they offer over their predecessors—will run most IDEs a bit sluggishly and will be frustrating for any serious Node.js work.  I offer here a creative alternative we will use to expedite the software development lifecycle and run the Node.js code natively on the Pi. Continue reading

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Right click on Windows folder and open with Visual Studio Code

I’m all about using Visual Studio Code for Node.js development.  It is a lightweight code editor and runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.  I enjoy it so much that I also use it for Node.js projects on the Raspberry Pi.  To accomplish this, I create a Windows file share on the RasPi as described in my Beginner’s Guide to Installing Node.js on the Raspberry Pi and map a drive on my Windows system to the RasPi.  I am then able to use VS Code to create my Node.js code and jump onto the RasPi to run the actual code.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled program…  Today’s topic is aimed at Windows users who are using Visual Studio Code and want to be able to right click on a given folder and launch VS Code.  We’re going to add a right click context menu item to “Open Folder as VS Code Project” since it saves time—and it’s more fun! Continue reading

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Create a Web Server in Node without any Code

Learning through Making (LTM) logoWelcome back!  In a previous tutorial (Beginners Guide to Installing Node.js on a Raspberry Pi), we installed Node.js on a Raspberry Pi. We are now ready to continue our LTM (Learning through Making) tutorial series and build a simple web server without any code.  While this tutorial is geared toward the RasPi, the instructions can be easily mapped over to other platforms such as Windows, Linux, and OS X.  Let’s get started! Continue reading

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Solution for Can’t Ping Raspberry Pi Hostname on the Network

In preparing for my upcoming tutorial which is a beginner’s guide to installing Node.js on a Raspberry Pi 2, I ran into an issue. After getting the RasPi is up and running on the network, I was not able to ping its hostname (raspberrypi, by default) from another machine and find it so I could connect to it through Putty, xrdp, VNC, etc.  After all, I wanted to be able to run headless and disconnect the monitor, USB keyboard/mouse, and still connect to it from another machine on my network.

One option was to run ifconfig on the RasPi and take note of the IP address for eth0 (if connected through Ethernet) or wlan0 (if connected through Wi-Fi).  I could then hard code this IP address in the hosts file on the Windows (or other) machine. The problem is that the RasPi retrieves its IP address through DHCP by default from my local router at home, and this IP address is not guaranteed to remain the same.  I could log into my router and note the static IP address range and reconfigure the RasPi to use one of these static IP address rather than DHCP.  However, I am preparing a beginner’s tutorial and not all of my readers want to become Linux TCP/IP networking experts.

I discovered an elegant solution if you are trying to ping and connect to the RasPi from another Windows machine on the same network.  Samba to the rescue! Continue reading

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