BeagleBone Black : WordPress On Ubuntu


Installing LAMP and WordPress on Ubuntu Running on A BeagleBone Black

Since I have been using WordPress with a couple blogs for almost 8 years now, I am fairly comfortable with the platform.  With my weekly BeagleBone Black challenges of late, I felt that installing WordPress would be a great idea to try.  I can tell you that the BeagleBone Black, once again, didn’t disappoint.

Before we begin, I want to just say that running WordPress on the BBB is an academic endeavor.  I wouldn’t think about hosting a public blog due to performance with this configuration but it is perfect for my needs as a teaching tool.  My oldest son just turned seven and is incredibly inquisitive about science.  He catches bugs, lizards, etc. and takes pictures of them.  He loves astronomy and never stops asking when the sun will go supernova.  I thought it would be a great for him to document his findings in a blog to teach him more about the scientific method, documenting his findings and getting more comfortable with the computer.  As an added bonus, I want to see where this takes him.

Getting Started

penguin-ubuntuAs I mentioned my previous blog, I created a “snapshot” of sorts by starting off with a fresh version of Ubuntu then adding my base setup changes then finally creating the tarball of the entire OS.  This way, I can simply reflash the card, restore my base install and begin on the next project.  That’s what I am doing with this.  This is basically my setup:

BeagleBone Black – Installing Ubuntu – Part 1

BeagleBone Black – Installing Ubuntu – Part 2

Beaglebone Black : Back Up Ubuntu

I didn’t include the wireless, cloud9, or OpenGate for this because I wasn’t sure where I was going to put WordPress and was concerned with space.  Turns out, that space wasn’t an issue (other than bleeding off CPU cycles).

Once I had my base install configured, I needed to install and configure three additional components before WordPress:

  • mySQL Database
  • Apache Web Server
  • PHP Scripting Language

This comprises what is called a LAMP server (Linux Apache Mysql Php)

Installing LAMP on BeagleBone Black Ubuntu

At first, I thought this was going to be easy.  I found a package in the package manager for installing LAMP and tried it out.  I’m not saying it doesn’t work, but I will say that I had to reflash a couple times and it never really worked well for me.  Also, I really wanted to have a little more control over what I was installing, so I ended up installing and configuring each component separately.  We’re going to do that here.  I based my steps off a couple walk-through guides found on Ubuntu Server Guide and (links to these and other resources will be found at the end of this walk-through).

MySQL Installation and Configuration

Real quick, before we start installing packages, let’s make sure we’re up to date with everything:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Since we already have the Linux part of LAMP, let’s move to mySQL. You can install this with a simple command of:

sudo apt-get install mysql-server

You will be prompted to provide a password for the root account.  It is always strongly advised to do so and remember this password.  If you forget, you won’t be able to move forward.

Once the install is complete, we need to test the install and then create a database for our installation.  Before we continue, think about the name or type of WordPress site you want to create.  Since mine is to help teach my son about science, I will call mine, ‘science’.  You want to keep it small and if you have more than two words, separate with underscores or dashes (‘_’ or ‘-‘).

To test your installation, type:

mysql -u root -p

You will be prompted to for the password you provided during the installation.  Once you have successfully done this, type:

show databases;

This command will list out a table of databases that are currently available.

mysql> show databases;
| Database           |
| information_schema |
| mysql              |
| performance_schema |
| test               |
4 rows in set (0.01 sec)

If you have made it this far, you are ready to continue.

Now we need to create a user, a table, and provide permissions.  I used ‘scienceadmin‘ for the username and ‘science‘ for the database.  Simply replace these with your credentials.  Oh, and with these commands, don’t forget the semicolon. If you do, it’s not a big deal, just type `;` on the next line and the command will execute.

Create the Database:

create database science;

Create the user:

create user scienceadmin@localhost;

Set a password for this user:

set password for scienceadmin@localhost=password("squirrelhunter01");

Create the permissions for this user to use the database:

grant all privileges on science.* to scienceadmin@localhost identified by 'squirrelhunter01';

Finally, let’s refresh MySQL:

flush privileges;

To get out of mySQL:


Installing Apache Web Server

beagleThis will be pretty straight forward.  To install the web server, you enter in:

sudo apt-get install apache2

After the install you can start it up with this command:

sudo service apache2 start

and test it in your browser: “http<beaglebone IP or personalized hostname>/”

You should see the “It Works!” page.

We’re done with Apache for now.

Installing PHP

To install or update PHP, run the following command:

sudo apt-get install php5 libapache2-mod-php5 php5-mysql

Once this is complete, let’s test it.  Navigate to /var/www and create a file named, ‘test.php‘ then add the following text:


Next, fire up a web browser and navigate to `http://<bbb_IP>/test.php`.

You should see a page filled with server/site/php goodness.

And we are done with the LAMP installation.  Easy right?

WordPress Install and Configuration

Now we get to the meat of this walk-through.  Let’s first decide where we’re going to put our WordPress site.  When you download WordPress and unpack it, you can put it in your root or in a sub-folder.  You an even have several instances running at the same time in several folders.  When I was working through this, I went a road less traveled by putting the site on a thumb drive and created a symlink from the web server root.  This creates quite a mess (I will write up a way to do this shortly) but for the purpose of getting a wordpress site up and running, we’ll start with the easy way.

The Easy Way

At this point, I am showing 1.1 GB of free drive space.  This should be more than apache_featherplenty to run WordPress right off the BBB.  First let’s download the WordPress files.  I can simply download the latest version to my home directory like this:

dfrey@ubuntu-armhf:~$ cd
dfrey@ubuntu-armhf:~$ wget -O wordpress.tar.gz
dfrey@ubuntu-armhf:~$ tar -xvpzf wordpress.tar.gz


Now, we should have the WordPress site files that I can copy to any directory.  Let’s try it out in the root of our web site.

sudo cp -r wordpress/* /var/www/

This just copied all the files to the root of my web server.  Let’s go check it out in the browser: `http://<bbb_ip>/`

huh?  We still get the same message as before.  Well, this is because we need to configure a couple things.  Since this is a manual installation of WordPress, we have a little more work to do but it’s easy.

In your browser, navigate to, `http://<bbb_ip>/wp-admin/`

You should see a message indicating the wp-config.ini is missing.  Click the `Create a Configuration File` button and you will navigate to the setup configuration introduction page.  You are going to need to have the following ready (we did most of this already so it’s no big deal).  I’ll add my info from above as an example:

  1. Database name – ‘science
  2. Database username ‘scienceadmin
  3. Database password ‘squirrelhunter01
  4. Database host ‘localhost
  5. Table prefix (if you want to run more than one WordPress in a single database) – You can create whatever prefix you like.  If I were going to put more than one WP site in the same database on this BBB, I would choose, ‘sci_‘, but for now we’ll go with ‘wp_

And click ‘Submit

When I ran this, The wp-config.php file couldn’t be written.  Not that this is a huge problem now but it will be shortly so let’s address this issue now.

We installed Apache as root, so the folders that where created by the installer are owned by root.  Apache runs under a user named www-data.  We need to change the ownership of the www folder so that apache can do it’s magic.  Navigate to /var then run this command:

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data www

This will change the ownership and group membership of the www folder and everything underneath it.  Now we can continue.  Hit your back button in the browser so you can see the configuration form again.  Click submit again and you should now get the “All right Sparky…” message indicating the config file was created successfully.

Now, let’s head on to setting up the actual WordPress site.   Click the “Run the Install” button.  Here, you will enter the title of the site that displays on the header,  the user name of the site administrator and the password for this user.  Don’t worry.  You didn’t miss anything, we’ll create this account inside of WordPress now.  These are for the site not the database.  They can be completely different or exactly the same.  It’s up to you.

Site Title:     Science
Username:  scienceguy
Password:   tesla@24
Email: (just made that up)
Privacy:       (turned this off)

Now click on the ‘Install WordPress` button.  The scripts will run for a while then take you to the `Success Page`.  Click Login then enter your username and password.  If everything was done correctly, you now have a spanky brand new WordPress site.

After installing, I still have just under 1GB of space left.  If you intend to install other things on your BBB, you might want to install other things off the board, on a thumb drive.  That walk-though will be coming in a couple days.

Oh, I forgot one thing.   You need to remove two files from your /var/www folder:

  1. index.html – this will override the WordPress pages (its why we didn’t get an error when we tried it before configuring WordPress)
  2. test.php – this has some server-specific information that a hacker could use against your BBB.

Now got to `http://<bbb_ip>/&gt;` in your browser and you will see the public version of your site.  Go WordPress Crazy and have fun.

Feel free to leave comments if you have any questions or if you found this walk-though useful.

I got so excited to post this, I forgot my link references.  Here you go:

Beaglebone Black : Cloud9 and Bonescript Install Guide

beagleIn my previous post about installing the GateOne terminal emulator, I mentioned that I wanted to replicate the experience and features for the OOTB Beaglebone image of Angstrom only on Ubuntu.  Well, I’m getting a little closer day by day.  This post was originally intended to be the installation of Cloud9 but as I was reviewing my notes, I decided to try getting Bonescript installed as well.  Both installations are contained in this guide.

Since I am fairly new to the BBB, I haven’t spent much time with Cloud9 or Bonescript. I was initially attracted to it because of its power to size ratio and that Ubuntu was an option.  However, I am planning to do some maker projects with the BBB, so I will get to test my handiwork.  Just understand that even though I got them running, I have yet to extensively test them.

Like with WiFi, a lot of people have struggled with getting Cloud9 running and I am no different.  Others mentioned and blogged about their successes but I was unable to replicate their success.  However, I will include the links to a couple blogs where I gathered information and inspiration.  I hope that this method works for you.  Let’s get started.

NOTE:  We will be removing the current version of Node from this instance, so if you have any dependencies on the current installation, you may wish to think twice before you proceed.

Installing the Prerequisites

First, we need to prepare our system for the install.

sudo apt-get install -y build-essential g++ curl libssl-dev apache2-utils git libxml2-dev

Also, we will need to remove node.js if it exists:

sudo apt-get remove nodejs

One of the blogs I used (Sam’s Site) indicated that downloading NVM (Node Version nodejs-logoManager) but I wasn’t able to get this to build correctly.  So I downloaded the latest version of Node and attempted to build it but it didn’t work either.  So, I split the difference between the minimum (v.0.6.16) and the latest (v.0.10.18) and settled with v.0.8.25.  I found it on the nodejs distribution page. I unpacked it, navigated into directory created, and then ran this sequence.  A word of caution: The ‘make’ step takes a while.  I literally burned hours compiling node on the BBB while I was working out which version would work.

sudo make install

After the install completed, rebooted the BBB and then when it came back, I ran the command:

node --version

and the return was:


Now, that node was installed, I cloned the Cloud9 repository (repo) from here:

I'm on Cloud9

I’m on Cloud9

I attempted the install instructions by changing directories to Cloud9 then executing:

npm install

This resulted in a miserable failure.  However, since with the node installation came the npm (node package manager), I thought there might be a Cloud9 package and sure enough, there was. So I changed to my home directory and altered my command to:

sudo npm install Cloud9

This actually worked.  However, I was trying a bunch of stuff and it all kind of got messy and I had 3 files.  I found them by typing in:


The one I was looking for was under ~/node_modules/cloud9. I changed directories to this directory and then executed:


The resulted in the application actually starting, much to my surprise.  However, when I navigate to the site (ex. http://bbb.local:3131), nothing came up.  After going back to the Cloud9 repo page on github, I found the configuration under the Installation and Usage section.  Adding the -l hostname flag will allow you to specify what machine can access the IDE.  You can use a wildcard and allow any machine to access the IDE, like so:

./ -l

Going back to my browser and navigating to the BBB on port 3131, The IDE finally came up.  Allowing any workstation to access the IDE can be risky.  You can add some additional security by specifying a username and password: -l --username test --password test2

When you open the web page, you will be challenged with a basic auth login modal.

Keep in mind, we are working on a Beaglebone Black, not an NSA network.  However, good security should always be considered.  As with the GateOne app, this one is rather new to me but when I start it up, I see the file structure of my Cloud9 folder.  I will need to figure out how to fine-tune this.

Finally, as promised, the installation of Bonescript was bloody easy.  Change your current directory to your Cloud9 folder and enter:

npm install bonescript

…and shortly, bonescript will be installed as well.  I am not going to explore the configuration or usage of bonescript yet because I simply haven’t used it yet but at least it didn’t blow up in my face when I installed it.

Bonus Round

I did some tidying up to release some space that was taken up from the install process. First I copied the the node folder from my home folder to /opt.  Next, I copied the cloud9 folder from ~/node_modules to /opt.  Then I removed the node, node_modules, tmp, and cloud9 folder from him home folder.  This released more than half of my previously free space.  What I learned here is that if you don’t  plan to use these tools, don’t bother to install them.  They use up precious space and are a bit slow.

I have yet to add cloud9 to my startup process but that shouldn’t be too difficult.  I already have a script that is kicked off from a cron job using the @reboot trick I mentioned in the Ubuntu Guide.  I will simply add this to it.

I hope that if you use the Cloud9 on the Angstrom image and are looking to moving to Ubuntu, you don’t hesitate because of this process.  I found it challenging but I learned about NodeJS, NVM, NPM, and the build/install process which I have not had much experience with before.  It’s fun and a great way to get to know your Beaglebone.  Best of all, if it fails miserably, you can always reimage and go back to the OOTB image anytime.

Let me know if you have any questions or if you discover some neat trick that expands this.  I would love to know more and to hear from you.

Related links: (Google search resulting in a log of crying and nashing of teeth)

Beaglebone Black: GateOne Terminal on Ubuntu


Liftoff GateOne on the BeagleBone Black with Ubuntu

If you have been following my series about installing Ubuntu on Beaglebone Black, you might have wondered about some of the stock tools like Cloud9 IDE (an installation guide coming soon) and GateOne that aren’t on the Ubuntu image.  This post will help you to get GateOne installed.

Just a word of caution:  This guide discusses the technical steps in getting the GateOne Terminal Emulator on your BBB.  It does not go into details as to how to configure it, specifically security.  If you attempt to do this, please be aware of the potential security risks involved.

After my last few posts, I was planning to start on the IO Python Library but I began to think of the other tools that make BBB easy to use out of the box.  The two things that I recall from my first impression experience was the Cloud9 IDE and GateOne Terminal Emulator.  I wanted to at least have the option of these tools.  GateOne has a ton of options that allows you to configure it for just about any need.  Since it’s an OOTB offering with the default Angstrom distro, I figured I would be able to get it running on my Ubuntu install as well.  It’s really easy to do:

You may find it helpful to review the Installation instructions prior to getting started.  When all else fails, RTFM.  Here’s the link:

We need to do some prep to get ready for the installation.  You will need the following:

  • GIT
  • PIP
  • Python Tornado
  • Source Code for GateOne

Note: Since the BBB is not the never-ending well of space, you should be ever-mindful of how much stuff costs (size) before installing it.  I will discuss some commands to help clean-up previous installs using apt-get later.

Time to get the Beagle Ready

We don’t need to configure git after installation to retrieve the source but if you use git, you should.  Here’s a link for Configuring GIT but it’s optional for this guide. In your BBB terminal, type:

sudo apt-get install git

After this installs, you will be able to download source code from GIT repositories.

Next, we need to install PIP.  PIP is a Python package management app, similar to ‘apt-get.’  We will need this to install Tornado.  Tornado is essentially a Python web server.  To get this installed, we need to install PIP:

sudo apt-get install python-pip

Yay! Now that we’re done with that, let’s get Tornado installed:

sudo pip install tornado

Download and Install GateOne

Now that we have our house in order, we can get busy.  There’s a bunch of ways to get the source, but I found that this is the easiest:  We can clone the code right to your home directory because the install process will put the final product in the /opt directory.

First change to your home directory then clone the code with this command:

git clone

This will put a folder called ‘gateone’ in your home directory.  Now let’s get inside this folder and install this puppy:

sudo python install

Now we will wait for a bit.  There’s a lot happening.  It seemed to take about 5 minutes but I was dodging baby bottles and Wii remotes at the time.

When this is done, you should be ready to give it a try.  Change your directory to /opt/gateone then execute this command:

sudo ./

A bunch of feedback it going to dump to the terminal.  If you don;t see red, you should be good.  Give a close look for any error messages.  If all looks good, then it’s time to try it for a spin.  Quick note:  You won’t be able to use it yet but we want to see if it works.  Open up your favorite web browser on a computer on the same network and enter the address:

https://<your BBB IP or BBB hostname>

You should see the familiar charcoal screen.  It’s going to start yelling at you about not having permissions and what not.  We’re about to fix that.  Go back to the terminal and stop the service (ctrl+c).  The problem is that the app has not been given permission to allow your workstation access.  To do this we will add a parameter “–origins=*”  Also, you can add an extra layer of security by specifying a layer of authorization, you can use kerberos, google, or none.  I gave Google a try and it sorta worked but we’ll skip that for now.  First, here’s the command:

sudo ./ --origins=* --auth=none

Head back to your browser and go to the same address.  You might get an error but just refresh the page and you should see the login prompt.  I tooled around and it seems to work exactly the same as a regular ssh session.  Let’s take look at the Google authorization.   You are going to need a Google account for this.

Stop the app and change the auth parameter like this:

sudo ./ --origins=* --auth=google

When you go to the page this time, you will instantly be redirected to Google to log in and/or authorize the app.  Do so and you should be redirected back to your GateOne interface.  In my case, it didn’t happen.  I just refreshed and since I authorized, it presented me with the GateOne Login interface.

So, my initial impression was it was really easy to install and give me yet another tool to leverage with the BBB.  This was a quick and dirty install and I look forward to exploring the many options with tool.  I’ll be sure to post my findings here when I find something cool or useful.

I mentioned that I would talk about drive space management using apt-get.  Well, I’m running out of steam but I will say quickly that you can safely delete the source files from the git branch we downloaded to the home folder.  I’ll put up something on apt-get shortly but in the meantime, you can do some reading here:

This guide applys to all versions of supported Ubuntu and this link starts you at maintenance.  Keep scrolling down to the removal section.  If you’re nutty or curious, read the whole bloody thing.  🙂

UPDATE:  I found a simple way to start up the script on boot.  First, you will need to modify the /opt/gateone/settings/10server.conf file to add/modify the two parameters that we added when running the script manually.  Here’s what they look like:

"origins": "*",

Save that and test it with:

sudo ./

If everything is good, then run this command I found in the INSTALL.txt, found in the source files folder (remember me saying RTFM?  It applies to me too):

update-rc.d gateone defaults

Here are a couple links for the install files and instructions:

Beaglebone Black – Set Up Wireless on Ubuntu

Not Hard but Not Easy

wifiThis guide is the culmination of several dozens of hours or trial and error, cursing, and perhaps a little alcohol.  In my Ubuntu on Beaglebone Black setup guide, WiFi was conspicuously missing.  I did this because I felt WiFi needed its own treatment and the subject can differ radically based on the user’s WiFi card, experience with Linux, and comfort level with BBB.

Historically, I have been pampered by Ubuntu’s nature of “Just works.”  Having run my workstation for just over a year, there have been several little glitches but nothing that vexed me so much that I was ready to go “Office Space” on any machine.  However, getting WiFi running on my Beaglebone Black took me to the brink.  I know that I am not alone and I wanted to save anyone reading this from the same huge, frustrating exercise that so many before me have had.

Before we get started, let me set the stage and define the scope.

When I purchased my BBB from, I picked up the WiFi dongle at a price that was very reasonable.  With the community of BBB users, I thought if I can’t get it running surely someone else has.  Well, this is true but the path to success is long and meandering.  I had such a difficult time with it, I walked away from Angstrom and sought safe haven elsewhere, hence Ubuntu.  Now being on the other side of the WiFi issue, I cannot say that Angstrom was the problem (I still am not convinced it’s the answer).  I have read through countless numbers of posts on the subject and have seen every kind of solution, each of which, have failed.

A side note: I must apologize that I do not have the address for the blog that helped me get this working.  When I was setting this up, I was just trying the next in a long line of failed attempts to get the dongle working and I seriously did not expect it to work.  I have yet to find the blog but when I do, I will put the link here.

Finally, I was trying to configure the WiFi with Ubuntu and I stumbled upon a blog where someone pointed readers to some files.  I downloaded them and I was surprised that I was actually starting to make some progress but the instructions went on to give instructions that ended up not working.  However, I found another site that had a different network configuration that ended up working.  The following instructions provide the steps I followed to get Wifi working for my BBB:

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp   
   wpa-ssid "URANUS"   
   wpa-psk "PASSWORD"

Finally, I started the WiFi interface by entering this command: sudo ifconfig wlan0 up.  When I ran ifconf, my wlan0 had an IP address.  I was able to ping it and ssh to the BBB through this.

But I was skeptical.  So I bounced the BBB and when it came back, I attempted to SSH to the BBB though the wireless and… SUCCESS!

So far, this seems to work.  I’m not crazy about putting any password into a config that’s not encrypted or somehow obfuscated but I have locked my BBB down pretty tight and it’s not exposed externally, so in this case, I’m ok with the risk but understand that it is a risk.  I was just not able to get any other configuration methods with iwconfig or wpa_supplicant to work.

Also, I am not really worried about my BBB getting an IP from DHCP while at home.  I prefer to create an IP reservation in my router’s DHCP table.  This allows me to change other network-related configurations on my router and I know that my clients will get the updates.  With static assignments, you will have to manually change these configurations on your client.

Maybe it’s not pretty but it gets the job done.  I will continue to work on this when I can get more sd-cards because I’m not crazy about roaching my current installation for the sake of experimentation.  When I have other results to report, I will post them here.

Good Luck!

Links related to this post:

BeagleBone Black – Installing Ubuntu – Part 2

OM Nom Nom

OM Nom Nom


Let’s Keep Going…

Back in Part 1, we got a lot done:

  • Installed Ubuntu 13 -Raring to a sd-card
  • Configured network stuff
  • Added IP Mailer script
  • Learned I don’t feed trolls

but there still so much more to do.  Let’s keep going…

System Updates

We really need to update the OS at this point.  Thankfully, this is wicked easy:

sudo apt-get update

When that’s done…

sudo apt-get upgrade

This second one will take about 3-5 minutes.  Once done, we are ready to rock! \m/

User Administration

Right now, we are still working under the default ubuntu user account.  This might be handy to have as a OSIS (oh s**t I’m screwed) account but we have to lock it down so we don’t invite trouble.  We also need to create our own user account and get our groups sorted out so we have access to sudo and continue our quest for BBB-Ubuntu nirvana.

First, lets get a new account going.  I created a user account by typing in the following:

ubuntu@ubuntu-armhf:~$ sudo adduser dfrey
[sudo] password for ubuntu: ****************
 Adding user `dfrey' ...
 Adding new group `dfrey' (1001) ...
 Adding new user `dfrey' (1001) with group `dfrey' ...
 Creating home directory `/home/dfrey' ...
 Copying files from `/etc/skel' ...
 Enter new UNIX password: ********************
 Retype new UNIX password: ********************
 passwd: password updated successfully
 Changing the user information for dfrey
 Enter the new value, or press ENTER for the default
 Full Name []: David Frey
 Room Number []:
 Work Phone []:
 Home Phone []:
 Other []:
 Is the information correct? [Y/n] y

(I added the asterisks for effect.  You will not see them when you create the user.)

Ok, so now we have a user with a default group of the same name.  We still need to grant access to the sudo group:

sudo usermod -a -G sudo dfrey

Here’s what’s going on with this command:

  • -a allows the group to be appended instead of being replaced
  • -G adds the specified group as supplemental group (-g) would be primary)
  • the second ‘sudo’ is the group designator
  • dfrey‘ is the user to which all this will be applied

You can test out your handy work by typing:

ubuntu@ubuntu-armhf:~$ su dfrey

Note:  This password prompt is for the ‘dfrey‘ password, not the existing user.  With this, we are actually logging in as ‘dfrey.’  Next, try:

dfrey@ubuntu-armhf:/home/ubuntu$ sudo date
[sudo] password for dfrey: 
Wed Sep 11 01:16:49 UTC 2013
dfrey@ubuntu-armhf:/home/ubuntu$ exit

Now that we have tested our user account, let’s reboot the BBB to make sure everything is working.  We are going to test a few things here:

  • We haven’t broken the BBB
  • The IP Mailer script works
  • We can log into the system with our new user

Cross your fingers, say a little prayer, and type in:

sudo shutdown -r now

When you get kicked out of your SSH session, start pinging the BBB with the address you’ve been using or use the Hosts file entry we talked about in Part 1.

If you start seeing this:

Host Unreachable

That’s a pretty good sign that the IP assignment has been changed for your BBB.  If your IP Mailer script is working, you should have an email waiting for you with your new IP.  Actually, it should be there with your current one whether or not it’s new.

If you have a valid IP address, then SSH back into the system. If you are having trouble, didn’t get the email and SSH doesn’t work with your current IP, go back to Part 1 and look for “The Hard Way.”  This process will help you get your IP.

However, we’re moving on, so catch up with us when you get done goofin’ around.

Secure The Default User

This distro of Ubuntu (as you are already aware) comes with a default user account, ubuntu.  The password is cleverly disguised as “ubuntu”  All the forces of the universe call on us to either disable this account or at the least, change the password.  We’ll go through both processes and you can choose which one is right for you.

Disable The “ubuntu” Account

To protect your new BBB, you need to shut this account down.  Since its preconfigured to the distro, you may be able to leverage it later so were just going to shut it down rather than outright delete it (which might still be a good idea for public accessable installations).

In the terminal simply type:

sudo passwd -l ubuntu

Now the account is still on the BBB but locked.  To unlock it is just as simple:

sudo passwd -u ubuntu

Voila!  Security! Just keep in mind that this may not be a fool-proof method.  If someone has accessed your BBB with a SSH key, this might not stop them.  Just keep an eye on who’s logging onto your system with the ‘last‘ command.

Now, don’t go and get all nutty and do this until you have a fairly secure system.  The “ubuntu” account may still come in handy.  Let’s make is a bit more secure though.

Change The Default Account Password

Assuming we logged in with the new user that we created above (in my case “dfrey“), let’s change the password for “ubuntu.”  In the terminal, follow along:

First, let’s log in as “ubuntu“:

dfrey@ubuntu-armhf:~$ su ubuntu
Password: <should still be 'ubuntu'>

Then we will issue the password change command:

ubuntu@ubuntu-armhf:~$ passwd
Changing password for ubuntu.
(current) UNIX password: <still 'ubuntu'>
Enter new UNIX password: <super difficult-to-remember, impossible-to-guess password>
Retype new UNIX password: <see above>
passwd: password updated successfully

Finally, let’s test that (the password verification was a test but we go above and beyond):

dfrey@ubuntu-armhf:~$ su ubuntu
Password: <super difficult-to-remember, impossible-to-guess password>

UPDATE: After posting this, I got to thinking that if changing the password or disabling the account is a good measure, one could change the password then lock the account and that gives you extra protection.  Just take this message home with you.  There are a lot of very cleaver people out there looking for an opportunity to mess with your chi.  Be proactive about your system security.

That’s all there is to that.

Save The Date

Because the BBB doesn’t have a real-time clock, Ubuntu needs to be configured to fetch the time on a regular basis.  You may not care but time can be an issue with regards to certificates and security tokens, so lets run though this exercise to get things up to snuff.

First, let’s see where we are.  Type in the following:

dfrey@ubuntu-armhf:~$ date
Wed Sep 11 01:20:23 UTC 2013

Since it is 9:20 PM where I’m at, we’re a bit off.  Navigate to /etc remove or backup your localtime file:

sudo rm localtime


dfrey@ubuntu-armhf:/etc$ sudo mv localtime localtime-orig

Now lets update the time file.  You should be able to navigate to /usr/share/zoneinfo and see a bunch of countries or zones.  Find the one you are in and if it’s a country drill down into that.  For instance the America folder has a file, New_York, which is in my time zone.  Yours will probably be different.

You will need to create a symbolic link in /etc to your timezone file.  This is how I did mine:

sudo ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/New_York /etc/localtime

Now we can see if your locale-base date will work.  We can update the date from a date server by entering the following:

dfrey@ubuntu-armhf:~$ ntpdate -b -s -u
dfrey@ubuntu-armhf:~$ date
Wed Sep 10 21:23:12 EDT 2013

So, we are mostly done here but we still need to check in with the time server to keep everything in lock-step.  If you are just browsing around, getting familiar with your BBB, you can do this maybe 2 – 4 times a day.  If you have date/timing apps, you will need to increase this due to clock drift.  Over at, dwatts has a section called “Setting the timezone.”   I used his awesome tutorial to initially setup up my BBB and I’m happy to report that the Timezone section works for Ubuntu.

So, let’s get to time-synching eh?

Back in Part 1, we added a script to cron so that it would run every time the system rebooted.  Well, we’ll be doing the same thing here but we need to set an interval.  I will give you two examples and you can choose which one you want.

For an update twice a day, add this line to your crontab file:

00 */12 * * * ntpdate -b -s -u

For updates every thirty minutes, add this line:

*/30 * * * * ntpdate -b -s -u

Either of these should work.


Ok, so you guys have been pretty good (except for those two goofs in the back) so I’ll throw you my alias list.  It’s not much but it keeps me cozy at night.

First, here’s the list:

alias c='clear'
alias reboot='sudo shutdown -r now'
alias la='ls -als'
alias lt='ls -alt'
alias mkdir='mkdir -pv'
alias path='echo -e ${PATH//:/\\n}'
alias sudo='sudo env PATH=$PATH'
alias now='date +%T'
alias nowtime=now
alias nowdate='date +"%d-%m-%Y"'
alias ports='netstat -tulanp'
alias apt-get="sudo apt-get"
alias updatey="sudo apt-get --yes"
alias update='sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade'

Now, let’s get these squared away.  By default, Ubuntu is going to set your profile to Bash (Borne-Again SHell).  It’s my favorite and it’s what I’ll be using for the example.

The cool thing is that Ubuntu was ready for you.  In your home directory, is a hidden file called .bashrc.  It contains a couple of the most popular aliases but there is an option for you to add more.  Simply create a new file in your home directory called: “.bash_aliases” and paste whatever you want in there and save the file.  Everytime you log in, your aliases will be loaded and available to you.

The final step is to log out (exit) from your SSH session and then log back in.  All your aliases will be ready to serve you.  .bashrc is parsed every time log on so doing this will update your personal profile configs.

In my next post, I will be installing and configuring several applications that I use including:

Oh and I haven’t forgotten the BeagleBone Black Ubuntu Wireless Configurations Throwdown.  That’s coming soon as well.

Please check back soon for that.

Software Development Toolbox

Shortly, I will be doing a series of posts for people who want to get a start in building their own web sites but don’t know where to start. This will be aimed towards beginners and non-technical individuals to get you started in creating a web presence. If you have any suggestions for types of technologies you would like to see, please drop me a note