Technology

Magic Mirror – On A Low CPU Budget

For quite a few hackers out there, it’s still hard to find a decently powerful Raspberry Pi for a non-eye-watering price. [Rupin Chheda] wanted to build a magic mirror with a web-based frontend, and a modern enough Raspberry Pi would’ve worked just fine. Sadly, all he could get was single-1 GHz-core 512MB-RAM Zero W boards, which he found unable to run Chromium well enough given the stock Raspbian Desktop install, let alone a webserver alongside it. Not to give up, [Rupin] gives us a step-by-step breakdown on creating a low-footprint Raspbian install showing a single webpage.

Starting with Raspbian Lite, a distribution that doesn’t ship with any desktop features by default, he shows how to equip it with a minimal GUI – no desktop environment needed, just an X server with the OpenBox window manager, as you don’t need more for a kiosk mode application. In place of Chromium, you can install Midori, which is a lean browser that works quite well in single-website mode, and [Rupin] shows you how to make it autostart, as well as the little quirks that make sure your display doesn’t go to sleep. The webserver runs in Heroku cloud, but we wager that, with such a minimal install, it could as well run on the device itself.

With these instructions, you can easily build a low-power single-page browser when all you have is a fairly basic Raspberry Pi board. Of course, magic mirrors are a well-researched topic by now, but you can always put a new spin on an old topic, like in this this retro-tv-based build. You don’t have to build a magic mirror to make use of this hack, either – build a recipe kiosk!

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