Nov 212017
 

OnePlus 3T, the flagship phone of about a year back from the revolutionary company OnePlus, is still a coveted smart phone. We can attribute it to the powerful hardware and a software which provides a near stock experience. And above that, the makers have stuck to their promise of providing timely updates up to Android 8, Oreo. #UpdateOnePlus3T

So after a very short wait from the beta program announcement, OnePlus has released the Oxygen OS 5.0 update to this phone. It’s an OTA update and users can access it via their settings.

Warning : Updating via mobile network may incur huge cost as the update file is about 1.4 GB

Even though OnePlus has released the update, most of the people across the globe cannot access it. This is because OnePlus follows the strategy of release in phases. Phased release ensures that any bug(which might have been left even after rigorous tests)can be caught before it reaches everyone. Secondly, it helps in reducing the download server load.

So if you are one of those who have not yet received the OTA, there’s a trick.

Disclaimer : Check your local regulations regarding accessing internet via VPN before you do this.

You need to download a VPN client on your phone. VPN Master is a good app for the same.

Once you install the VPN client, set your country to any country receiving the OTA. It works for Germany very well. What this does is that it tell the servers that the phone is in Germany. Once you setup and activate VPN, got to Settings—> System Update. Your phone should automatically check for update. If the country which you selected is in the update list, you will see the update on screen. From here, you can use the normal procedure to start your update.

Once you have started downloading the update, you can switch off and uninstall the VPN. You do not require it any longer. The update will continue.

Cheers!!

Oct 162017
 

As I open my computer table drawer, I am simply not able to take stock of situation that going on inside. Corners of multiple phones protruding out of a tangled mess of charging cables, old and new, more useless than useful. As I reach my hand to pick up the old ipod box with the ipod still on it, a male jumper cable pokes my palm, reminding my neglect towards a “well planned” project on my Raspberry Pi. The yellowed charger cable for my Kindle 3G keyboard doesn’t turn anymore white than it was a month back. Below it, lies the remains of another Kindle with a broken screen. The Kindle was bought in that state, another home project, which was pushed aside on cost concerns. More cables and pins and stuff hint to a mess, long neglected, under the assumption that this mess would be needed one day or the another.

Right now, all I need to do is cleanup. And it would be a good scenario if i could #CleanUpCashOut .  A little cash against this mess wouldn’t hurt.

I had my opportunities to get rid of the situation. But you develop an affection towards these things which have been with you for long and you can’t part away. Some years back, I thought that my days with kindle were over as I had a respectable sized smartphone with kindle app on it. I could now access all my ebooks on my phone and carrying another gadget around seemed very yesteryearly. So I listed my beloved kindle for sale on an online portal with a high price. I was actually in two minds about selling so I listed a high price, thinking that it would not sell and I would just use it as an excuse to keep the kindle.

If you gave me a rupee for all my wishes which didn’t come true, I would have been a millionaire. The kindle sold quickly, as if it was the last piece of equipment on earth. So I finally decide to come to terms with this relation and packed the kindle in its original box, with all the original accessories(manual included, I am fair in that sense). I went to the post office and was shocked at the amount I would need to pay to get it across to the buyer. Between the postage and the commission for the portal, I would be giving it away at half the price for which I listed. My heart sank.

I excused myself from the post office and went back home thinking. I had to come up with something which would prevent the buyer from giving me a poor rating and I wouldn’t be penalised by the e-commerce portal. But I just couldn’t come up with anything believable.

At home, I unpacked the kindle and reached for the same drawer full of mess to keep it back in place. As I opened up, the drawer it gave me the solution to all my problems. I saw the kindle with the broken screen lying below a pile of cables. Guess what I did…!!

No. I am not some fraud. I might be a bit of a lair in this case but I wouldn’t cheat anyone off their money. Of course I didn’t send the broken kindle to the buyer. I sent a message to the buyer to either provide his phone number or call me on mine. He gave me his number and I explained to him the situation. I told him that while packing the kindle screen broke as I applied too much pressure. I didn’t want him to feel cheated so I didn’t sent the broken kindle to him. This would also prevent any escalation with the e-commerce portal. He was a reasonable guy(to whom I lied but didn’t defraud or do any harm) and he understood the situation based on what I told him.The kindle stays on with me and I have read many more books on it.

But now I feel it is really the time to part with it. My kids are too small to start reading and they will break it apart if I give it to them now. When they grow up, I will get them another one. Meanwhile this one can ‘kindle’ another person’s interest in reading.

Cashify

I found a website which deals in this stuff. Buying old stuff off your hands and also paying you for it. It’s https://www.cashify.in/ . I plan to sell my kindle to them along with my other accessories like the old iPodd Shuffle, two working mobile phones etc. Check out their video below. The famous dacoit, Gabbar selling his phone to cashify using his famous dialogue sequence is genius.

If you use the coupon code CLEANCASH on their website, they also provide rs. 250 additional for the sale that you make to them.

Cashify is also available as a mobile app. Download it here. Come on #CleanUpCashOut .

Oct 082017
 

One of my previous posts introduced you to NPCI and the products and services offered by them. Today we concentrate more on UPI BHIM mobile app and see how we can use it for our daily transactions. The transactions can be money transfer from one party to another or a payment at merchant point of sale terminals.

The older methods

For money transfer, we have been using the NEFT/RTGS and the IMPS services for quite some time. These services require that the remitter knows the beneficiary details. It is quite difficult to remember these details. The remitter has to feed a 15-16 digit account number, IFSC code, Bank Branch details and the correct name of the account holder. Some banks also have set a period of time before which the beneficiary is not activated. So in case of emergency, immediate transfer to a new beneficiary is not possible.

For online payments or at a brick and mortar retails store, we need to either present a card to the merchant or feed in the card or account details on the website. There are chances of misuse of the card details if proper security measures were not in place. The process is also tedious due to multiple levels of authentication.

With the advent of UPI and BHIM, all this has changed. Online money transfer and payments have never been simpler.

What is UPI

I have explained about UPI in my previous post. But in short, UPI(Unified Payment Interface) helps the financial organisations and clearences houses to use a simpler method for identifying remitter and payee. All it requires is for you to login to BHIM APP create a VPA(virtual Payment Address). This VPA is unique to a user and is in format XXXXX@UPI. Eg. if your phone number linked to a bank account which you choose to register with BHIM is 1234567890, then the VPA can be 1234567890@UPI. If you choose to set it on the basis of name, it can be yourname@UPI or your.name@UPI etc. It’s your choice on the basis of availability.

Note that the prerequisites for using BHIM app are a bank account with phone number linked.

Getting Started

The first thing you will need to do is download the BHIM app. Make sure that you download it from google play store or apple app store. Do not use any other app which you may get via any file sharing site. It could be fake. The link are here for Google Play store and here for Apple itunes store.

Once downloaded, launch the app using the app icon in you app drawer and follow the below slide-show in sequence to set up BHIM.

  • First you will need to verify your mobile number. For a multi-sim device, select the sim which you wish to register with BHIM. This should be the phone number which is linked to you account.
  • Setup a 4 digit pin to access the app. Note that this app doesn’t work on rooted devices.
  • Select the bank which you want to link. The app will display the accounts registered with the bank and linked to the phone number. Select the account you wish to link with BHIM.
  • Setup a 6 digit UPI pin using your debit cards details . You will use this pin for authorising any transaction you wish to carry out.

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Using BHIM

Home Screen

Once setup you can launch BHIM app. You should enter the 4 digit pin which you have set to login to the app. You will be presented with the screen as below.

The various option available on the home screen are as follows:

Clicking the bell icon will display any notification like transfer status, money transfer requests etc.

Send button is used to transfer money to a beneficiary

Request button is used to send a money transfer request to a remitter.

Scan & Pay option is used to use the mobile camera to scan a QR code for payment.

Under the the My Information section:

Transactions list out all the successful and failed transactions and their details

Profile gives the details of your profile including your UPI ID

Bank Account list out the bank accounts linked to BHIM. It gives you option to set default account for UPI transactions.

My Beneficiaries list out the beneficiaries added by you. In case you have installed the app fresh, you will have to add beneficiary using this section.

Adding Beneficiary

To add a beneficiary, click on My beneficiaries. If you have not yet setup beneficiary address, the page will be blank with an option to Add UPI ID.

  • Click on it and on the next screen, enter the UPI Id provided by the beneficiary. It could be in the format XXXXXXX@UPI or XXXXXXXX@hdfcbank etc. The XXXXXXX stand for the combination of alpha numeric id.
  • Click on Verify.
  • The app will verify the UPI ID and provide more details of the payee if the verification succeeds.
  • If the details are correct, click on Add Beneficiary.
  • The My Beneficiaries screen will list the newly added beneficiary.

Click through the slide show below for graphical representation.

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Sending Money

To send money to a beneficiary, click on Send button in the home screen.

  • Select the beneficiary to whom you want to send money.
  • Enter the amount and remarks(if any)
  • Click on Confirm in the confirm to pay screen.
  • Enter you 6 digit UPI PIN for the transaction.
  • The last two slides show a successful transaction and the view of the beneficiary Transactions screen.

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Requesting Money Transfer

Your friend owes you some money but you find it embarrassing to ask him. Well no need to ask anymore. Just send a request with remarks and he will get the hint.

To request money, click on Request button on the home screen.

  • Select the UPI ID from whom you want to request money transfer.
  • Enter the amount and any remarks in the next page.
  • Click on Request.
  • The other party will get a notification in the BHIM app.
  • He/She can then decide to approve the request or deny it.
  • If the other party approves, the money will be transferred to your account and you will get a notification. The transfer will be visible in your as will as the other party’s transaction list.

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Scan & Pay

This is a novel method of making payments. You must have seen that a lot of merchants have a sticker near their point of sale counter with a square containing a graphical code. It is called as QR code or a Quick Response Code. BHIM app also gives the facility to pay by scanning a QR code. This QR code contains UPI ID and other details, including the amount to be transferred in many cases. You can download your own QR code which will be visible in the Profile section.

When you want to make a payment, you will need a code from the beneficiary. The procedure to scan and pay is same as the Send option. The only difference is that instead of selecting the beneficiary from the My Beneficiaries option, you should select the Scan & Pay option. You will have to provide the camera access to BHIM app when prompted. The camera window will open up in BHIM and you can hold it about 5-10 cm from the QR Code provided by the merchant.

The beneficiary may also choose to send you the QR code via email or any other electronic format. You can use the option Pick from Gallery in this case. The app will read the QR Code and fill the beneficiary details accordingly. You will need to follow the same procedure as sending money as detailed earlier.

Note that all the transfers are done from and into your Primary account. You have an option to change primary bank account in the Bank Account list.

Going Digital

With the advent of digital age and better internet penetration, people are using BHIM app more widely and soon you should find its application at many more locations.

In case of queries, do contact me. You can also contact the official twitter handle of UPI and BHIM and they will be more than happy to help you out. The twitter handles are @UPI_NPCI and @NPCI_BHIM.

Sep 252017
 

If you are a iPhone fan, you must be eagerly waiting to get your hands on their new toys, the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. Traditionally apple has never considered India as their primary market and Indians have received the iPhones, much later than their counterparts in other parts of world, including China.

But this has not been the case in recent times. Apple has started looking at India as a key market and has started launching their products, almost along with the rest of the world.

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You must have read about people flying to countries like singapore to buy the iPhone on launch day. Well, you need not rush for your passports. Wait a couple of days and the iPhone 8 or 8 plus will be at your door steps.

As you can see in the image below, iPhone 8 and 8 plus is up for pre-order on amazon and the deliveries are starting this week. If you pre-order now, you might even get the phone by Sunday. You will be ready to flaunt among your colleagues or friends, first thing on Monday.

The iPhone 8 costs from 64,000 rupees for basic 64 GB model to 77,000 rupees for the Gold 256 GB model

The price of iPhone 8 Plus meanwhile touches 86,000 rupees. To buy iPhone 8 in India, here.

So hurry be the lucky ones and buy the very first sets of iPhone in India.

There is no word on availability of iPhone X in India as yet. It is expected to be priced around 1,05,000 rupees.

This site had earlier suggested the nomenclature which could be followed by apple for their anniversary phone.

Sep 092017
 

The idiot box has been in control of our entertainment since quite a few decades. It has come a long way from B&W to Color, from the old CRT to the latest LCD and LED, from terrestrial transmission to satellite. But you have never been in control of what you view. The entertainment companies controlled your viewing habit and you will stuck with whatever was available.

But the advent of internet age has changed it all. Now is the time to take control of what you view on that rectangular piece of electronic equipment.

Introducing to you, the Amazon Fire Stick.

Exclusively available on amazon, its a very brilliant piece of equipment. All you need to have is a TV with HDMI port(even your computer monitor with HDMI port will suffice) capable of displaying HD resolution at 50/60 Hz and internet connection accessible on wifi. Your are all set to go.

The Amazon Fire Stick comes with a voice remote controller, a power adapter, two batteries for the remote and a HDMI extender. A quick start guide helps you to set thing up before you can watch your first video via the Fire Stick.

Here are a few features in brief:

  • The Fire Stick can be configured with your amazon account which will enable you to view all the contents served via the Amazon Prime Video service, right on your TV.
  • With the built in video and audio streaming apps, you won’t be wanting anything more. Play videos from YouTube, Netflix, Hotstar etc. right on your TV for everyone.
  • A remote which accepts voice commands is a very thoughtful addition to the setup.
  • You can move the Fire Stick along with you on that vacation of business conference and never miss the latest episode of your favourite TV show.
  • You can download various apps readily available in the inbuilt app store.
  • For the geeks, you can even configure the stick to access media on your network easily.
  • Works over wifi, so no messy wires hanging around your TV(of course you need to hide the power adapter)

So all you out there longing to buy a smart TV, wait. This might just be the thing which satisfies your need.

Note: Internet access over wifi needed to access most features. An unlimited data plan would be best for this product. For capped data plan, keep a tab of data consumption and use accordingly.

Buy on Amazon here.

 

Sep 072017
 

Apple is all set to launch its 10th anniversary edition of their iPhone lineage, the iPhone 8 or the iPhone X edition. Expectations are running high as we move in towards 12th September, the day when the phone is supposed to be launched. Knowing Apple, we can be sure of some surprises and a punch of upgrades in the latest scheduled release. There could be something to commemorate Steve Jobs too in the package of products slated to launch.

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Here’s what we expect to see.

  • The iPhone X could be the costliest flagship of all times. Expected to cost Rs. 1,00,000, it certainly is not within the reach of a common man. But then, Apple product has set certain precedents which, when broken, have not gone well for their product(remember iPhone 5c?).
  • Though the moniker “8” is a natural successor to “7”, seems like Apple just might skip the “8” and “9” and bring in iPhone 10 to coincide with their 10th anniversary. They could also have two different variants of their flagship, one a regular flagship and the second one a commemorative flagship. They could even move from their conventional numbering to Roman Numerals, iPhone X, probably representing the 10th anniversary edition while also creating the extreme aura.
  • Rumors suggest the latest iPhone X will sport a completely new design, thus departing from the tradition which is being followed since iPhone 4. A shift in fingerprint sensor from front to rear and integrated in the apple logo would not be a surprise. The front would thus be button free and could integrate a neat speaker grille or the front could be a simple touch screen with very narrow top and bottom bezels. What its going to be is hard to know as of now as we do not have those episodes of unintentional leaks as in case of previous iPhones. But we still have 4 day, so fingers crossed.
  • Apple may not look to jumbo sizing the iPhone above current levels and may just stick to the sweet spot of 5.2”
  • We can expect an upgrade to Processor and RAM. We can expect something in camera section too. Apple has been using their camera upgrades as their USP since some time now. Same could be the case with iPhone X.
  • Wireless charging could be a standard feature and the 3.5 mm may not reappear again. It seems likely Apple may help this transition further by including the airpods as in-the-box accessory.

Stay tuned for the official launch of the iPhone X on 12th September 2017. And check your bank accounts. You will need it on 15th September when the sale is expected to commence.

Sep 022017
 

The existence of a new real life game called “Blue whale” and the incidents of suicides related to it are all over the news. Quite scary to read. How few unknown people can take control of your life without ever meeting you, points towards the various dangers lurking out there in the digital world. We have to stay alert and keep ourselves protected from these dangers. And ensure that our kids are protected too. Modern age parents take pride in the facts that their kid of age 2 years very easily navigates through their phones, click photos on them, run apps like YouTube and make their parents proud. Have we ever wondered that the kids learn things very fast and it might be so that they manage to learn thing which even we adults find difficult. For example, installing an unwanted/forbidden app and using it without our knowledge. Its true that new generation kids shouldn’t be deprived of access to technology, but parents need to control and monitor properly.

Coming back to Blue Whale, it is said that it is not an app, but a social network group/page/whatever you may call it, which lures people in to taking up unearthly challenges and ending these challenges with the ultimate challenge to commit suicide. The facts are not yet clear but certain things are. It is not an app. Atleast not an app on Google Play Store or iphone App Store. These stores are monitored and controlled very closely and such a game would not have passed their scrutiny so easily. So even if it was an app, or ever is converted in to an installable app, it will be available via uncontrolled third party app stores or as a third party app which can be installed by clicking suspicious links. But the security features in Android and iOS doesn’t let you install such apps so easily, and even has security features which disable installation of third party apps. My advice, enable these security features first.

You can take certain measures to ensure that unwanted apps are not present on your phone.

Disabling installation of Apps from unknown source:

In android settings under security options, find the option “Unknown Source” and disable it. If this is enabled, you are giving access to installation of third party unverified application. If your kids click on unverified insecure links, these apps can be easily hidden behind the link and can get downloaded.

Uninstalling suspicious apps:

Now-a-days, all apps are required to ask for permission to certain device features which are security sensitive. Eg. access to your SMS application, phone book, camera etc. If you install an app which, when launched, requests permission to certain features which its doesn’t have any business asking for, do not give the access and uninstall it if it is not important. Ask the developer via the feedback regarding this access request if this app is very much required by you and give access only once you are sure what you are doing. For example, certain games ask access to phone book. This is required in case they have a feature where you can invite your friends on the phonebook to download the same app and play with you. But in case the app has no such feature, it has no business asking for phone book access. Its better to uninstall it rather than give them all information about your contacts.

Do not Root the phone:

In case you use lots of apps which are financially sensitive, like banking apps, on your mobile, do not root your phone. Even if you root the phone, ensure you give access only to legitimate verified apps, which really need the root access for their usage. The rooting of a phone is equivalent to giving administration access on your windows computer of super user access on Linux. A normal phone user doesn’t need root a phone as all his work can be done without root. Rooting is done only by super users who try to squeeze every bit out of their phones and a little bit more. They are the nerd and know what they are doing.

Update you phones regularly:

Keep on checking your phone for updates and update it as son as you get one. A good mobile manufacturer provides updates with latest security patches and features. These patches close any backdoors which might have been present in your phone which can give unauthorized access to a third party.

Coming to Blue Whale and securing your kids, there is nothing in this world which can protect them other than you. Keep an eye on their digital habits and their real life habits. You, as a parent, can easily detect any change in their habits and find the cause. No amount of other digital security can protect your kids as much as your sharp eyes on them.

Sep 022017
 

OnePlus, the famed Chinese manufacture of smart phones is celebrating their 1000 days in India. And on this occasion, they have announced a anniversary discount on their OnePlus 3T smart phone. OnePlus 3T is a well known flagship(though a generation old now) and the discounts offered puts this smart phone in a very mouth watering slop of pricing.

The phone is offered at a discount of Rs. 4000 and will be available for Rs. 25,999 instead of the usual R. 29,999 of the MRP. Of course this phone is sold at Rs. 27,999 on Amazon.in currently, a discount of Rs. 2000 over MRP.

Under the anniversary offer, additional cashback of Rs. 2000 can be availed by customers purchasing using Axis bank Credit or Debit cards. A discount of additional 2000 Rs. is available for exchange of old phone(also available on OnePlus 5. So all in all, this phone can be purchased for Rs. 21,999 which is a very sweet deal.

Other offers include zero interest EMI on major credit and debit cards and 100 lucky winners will get complimentary domestic flight vouchers from Cleartrip. It is not clear whether all the offers will be available only on One Plus e-store or also with their exclusive partners Amazon India. This will be clear when the offer period starts.The offer will be available between 5th September to 7th September 2017.

Currently, If you try to exchange on Amazon.in, you might be able to match the discount which is to be offered between the offer period.

The smartphones is powered by a Snapdragon 821 processor(known to be powerful as well as efficient) with 6GB RAM and 64GB/128GB internal memory, a configuration which puts itself somewhere near the current top levels. It boasts of a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with Full HD resolution protected by Gorilla Glass 4. The phone is available in Gunmetal and Soft Gold color options and in 6GB RAM/64GB storage options only.

Aug 302017
 

In my last post, I had promised to come back with a guide on setting up your Pi as a media server. It has been some time now, but here it follows.

Before we begin, how about some insight to media servers and certain technology standard called DLNA?

We all have a lots of media lying around in various storage devices and we(some of us at least) still use the stone age methods of transferring media to our media players(USB stick to use on smart TV, phones, tablets etc.). How good it would be if we were able to access our media right from its source without getting up from the chair!!

Enter media servers. These are a bit of software running on a network connected computer, which organise, and share your media to anyone connected on to the network. To unify the way these network connected devices access media, a certification standard was formulated by various electronics giants like Sony. The basic idea behind formulating this standard was to ensure that media can be accessed across various platforms with ease. So the media content might be on a windows based server but it could be accessed by DLNA compliant devices which could range from a smart TV with proprietary operating system, or a android based mobile phone(android was just in making back then but the standard was platform independent so could be adopted at a later stage easily) or even a linux based computer. More information on DLNA of Digital Living Network Alliance can be found here.

Anyway, if you are following this guide, it means you are a potential candidate to setup media server on your home network. This guide is specific to Raspbian OS and the prerequisites are to have a Raspberry Pi which is connected to your network(via wired network preferably) and your HDDs with the media folders mounted to an accessible folder. You can follow the guides in my previous posts here and here for that.

Let’s begin!!

Login to you pi via SSH. Remember we are running the device headless since we want to conserve the processing power. In case you are still using desktop, you can launch terminal from the desktop.

First ensure that your Raspbian installation is up-to-date. Run the following commands for that.

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

Next install minidlna using:

sudo apt-get install minidlna

Once installed, backup the minidlna configuration file using:

sudo cp /etc/minidlna.conf /etc/backup_minidlna.conf

Open the minidlna configuration file in nano for editing using:

sudo nano /etc/minidlna.conf

(you can use sudo leafpad /etc/minidlna.conf to open in leafpad in case you are working on desktop instead of terminal)

In the configuration file, find(using up/dn arrow keys) db_dir and set its value to :

db_dir=/home/pi/.minidlna

Remember, most of these settings are commented out using #. Remove the # to uncomment them and make them usable.

Set minidlna media directories to point at the directories which hold your media as follows:

media_dir=V, /media/WD/movies

Here “V” stands for Videos. For specifying aa audio directory, use “A” and “P” for photos . The above line in the configuration file will specify that one of the media directory to scan for video files only is located /media/WD/movies. I have used WD since I have mounted one of my HDD at /media/WD and the “movies” is a folder in that HDD which contains movies. You will certainly have a different configuration so check your setup and edit this line accordingly.

If you are specifying media_dir=V, /XXX/XXXX/XXX, the server will only serve video files to the network. If you do not specify “V”, it will search for all media contents in music, photos, videos. So the line can also be :

media_dir=/media/WD/movies

You can have multiple configuration lines here. But I suggest you organise the media properly before sharing else your media devices will show you a lot of directories and you will find it difficult to locate specific media in them.

In friendly_name suggest a recognisable name. Mine is :

friendly_name=Raspberry Pi MiniDLNA

You can have anything you like.

Uncomment out the inotify=yes so that the server keeps on searching for new media, whenever you add new files.

Now click ctrl+x.. It will as whether to save the file. Select yes. Then run the following commands.

sudo service minidlna restart

sudo service minidlna force-reload

To ensure minidlna service starts at reboot run the command:

sudo update-rc.d minidlna defaults

No go for a reboot once using:

sudo reboot

If you have done everything right, upon reboot you should be able to see your media server on you DLNA compliant devices, or DLNA media player softwares.

Do ping me in case you have trouble.

Jul 232017
 

It’s a very common thing to have multiple hard drives in our possession these days. With all the data and media that we have with us, the inbuilt storage in our computers prove insufficient. External HDDs also provide easy portability for the media. But we always face an issue when we want to share our media or even the HDD space with others in our own home or on our internal network. One solution is to attach the HDD to the computer and configure it as a shared drive. But that would require a computer which is running 24×7 so that the drives are available at any given time to anyone. Not an ideal solution.

Another method is to configure a NAS or Network Attached Storage. NAS is basically a storage attached to a network device(typically a server, but can also be a dedicated controller) which is connected to a network and runs 24X7. You do get NAS devices in market but these devices are typically as costly as a single 2TB drive and are normally beneficial for higher speed transfers. The NAS configuration which I plan to discuss here, will give you transfer speeds of about 4-5 mbps over local network and should be suitable for home/home office networks. And we use a versatile computer which has very low footprint in terms of space and power consumption. The Raspberry Pi is one of the best suited computer board for this project.

Before you go further you need:

  • A Pi with Raspbian installed and connected over you local network. Use this tutorial for the same.
  • A powered USB hub sufficient to power your HDDs. Buy here based on number of HDDs you have

Warning : Do not attempt to power up your HDDs via the Raspberry Pi USB ports since the pi can handle only about 2.5 amps of current through it and may burn out in case overloaded.

So let’s get started.

(Note : This guide has been drafted based on my installation experience, which was further assisted by the guides available at howtogeek.com and instructables.com . Any errors during the installation, you can leave me a note or you can check the guides on their websites. Both websites listed different methods and I couldn’t get mine configured using them individually. But I succeeded when I followed both the guides together)

  • Connect your HDDs to the USB hub and connect the Hub to one of the USB ports on the Pi.
  • Open up shell via SSH( or terminal in case you have connected the keyboard/mouse and screen to your Pi)
  • Run the commands sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get upgrade to update your Pi installation and repositories.
  • If your HDDs are NTFS format, you will need to run the following command in terminal.

sudo apt-get install ntfs-3g

This will get you Pi ready to understand the ntfs format on your HDDs.

Next step is to identify your drives

  • Type ls –l /dev/disk/by-uuid
  • The output of this command will be similar to below:

clip_image001

  • Here sda1, sdb1, sdc1 denotes the external HDDs. The number will vary as per the HDDs connected by you. We are interested in the 16 digit hexadecimal UUID against each of these. Note down the 16 digit codes and the corresponding HDD identifiers. eg. sda1 – 1C0CA2830CA25812 in the example above.
  • Next run code ls –l /dev/disk/by-label
  • The output will be something like this:

clip_image002

  • As you can see, my labels are Transcend, Storite and WD for sda1, sdb1 and sdc1 respectively. These are the actual labels which you have given to the HDDs. Note these down and match them with the UUID. So in my case it will be sda1 – 1C0CA2830CA25812 – Transcend.
  • Now that we have identified the HDDs, we need to mount these drives. But before that we create a location to mount these drives.
  • Run code sudo mkdir /media/DRIVE_NAME . eg. for my transcend drive, I created directory using sudo mkdir /media/transcend
  • Do this for all the drives that your have connected.
  • Next, mount each drive with the following command for each instance:

sudo mount -t ntfs-3g -o uid=pi,gid=pi /dev/sdxx /media/DRIVE_NAME

  • Where sdxx is sda1, sdb1, sdc1 etc and DRIVE_NAME is the corresponding mount point which you created earlier. So for my transcend drive the command will be:

sudo mount -t ntfs-3g -o uid=pi,gid=pi /dev/sda1 /media/transcend

  • Do this for all the drives.
  • If you have fat32 or ext4 drives, suitably modify the command:
  • ntfs-3g for NTFS drives
  • vfat for FAT32 drives
  • ext4 for ext4 drives
  • The drives should mount everytime we reboot. So we need to add it to startup script.
  • Run sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/backup_fstab
  • Then run sudo nano /etc/fstab
  • Add the following correspondint to each drive

/dev/sda1 /media/transcend auto noatime 0 0

Use the correct drive identified sdxx and the corresponding correct DRIVE_NAME for each HDD.

  • Restart the Pi using sudo reboot
  • Next step is to install samba.
  • Run sudo apt-get samba samba-common-bin
  • Once installed, backup the samba configuration file before proceeding:

sudo cp /etc/samba/smb.conf /etc/samba/backup_smb.conf

  • Run sudo nano /etc/samba/smb.conf
  • In the configuration file that opens up, ensure that the workgroup is your local workgroup for your network. Ideally its WORKGROUP for windows. Modify it if you are using something else.
  • In the Authentication section, enter security = user to enable verification
  • Now scroll to the bottom of the file and add your drives as follows:

clip_image003

  • Here valid user = @pi is the username I selected. You may select anything you want eg. valid users = @josh .
  • You may also choose to share specific folders inside the HDD instead of the entire HDD. Modify path if that is the case. The read only attribute specifies the modification rights and the no flag specifies that the users on network can read as well as write to the shared drive/folder.
  • Save using ctrl+X, say yes and hit enter.
  • Run sudo /etc/init.d/samba restart
  • Add user to give access to the shared drive
  • sudo useradd josh -m -G users
  • sudo passwd josh
  • You will be prompted to enter a password twice.
  • Next enter the command sudo smbpasswd –a josh
  • Create password on prompt
  • Restart samba using sudo service smbd restart
  • The HDDs should be visible to you on other computers on your network. You can configure it as a network drive. You will need to specify username and password once for access.

Next time, we will see how to configure DLNA server on your Pi to share the media files to your DLNA compliant devices.

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