The Raspberry Pi began its life as a project devoted to providing a small and inexpensive single-board computer to aid in the teaching of basic computer science. While it has a long way to go before it has fully been adopted by the educational community, it has seen unprecedented success by electronics hobbyists and tinkerers alike. With its small form factor and alluring price point, it’s no wonder that it has become the go-to gadget for a myriad of projects.
On paper, the specs don’t appear to be anything special: two USB ports, an ethernet port, HDMI out, 512MB RAM, powered via micro-USB and the only storage to speak of is an SD card (not included). For a very large proportion of project ideas, however, that’s more than enough. From media servers, gaming platforms, web servers all the way to robotics, this tiny Linux machine has proven incredibly versatile. So, when the InterWorx development team received a pair of Raspberry Pis to play with, it was only natural to speculate that our clustering control panel could potentially run on them. Why on earth would anyone want to attempt this? To quote George Mallory (of Mt. Everest fame), “Because it’s there”.
One glaring obstacle stood in our way, however. InterWorx is built to run in a stable Red Hat-like environment, preferably CentOS 5 or 6. Unfortunately, Red Hat has yet to release a similar distribution for the ARM architecture and we were forced to choose between porting our software to Debian (which presents a whole host of other issues unrelated to this article) or find a workable alternative.
That alternative came in the form of RedSleeve, a Red Hat-derived distribution for the ARM architecture with a reputation for compatibility with the initial run of Raspberry Pi boards. One hiccup was that the provided RedSleeve SD card images was incompatible with our newer Model B Pi, but we were able to complete a manual install without much difficulty.
The vast majority of the effort came in the form of rebuilding all of our software packages for the ARM architecture which, while by no means an easy task, was more time-consuming than it was difficult. However, once this was done and a few tweaks were made to our install script, we were ready to attempt an install.
After a bit of tweaking and streamlining of the install process — it worked! The install completed without any hiccups and we could successfully activate with our licensing server. We even managed to cluster both of the Pis without any modification to the software! Given the hardware limitations, things weren’t exactly blazing fast, but as a proof-of-concept of InterWorx on ARM servers we’re more than excited about the results.
As such, we are proud to unveil pi.interworx.com, a neat little page running on top of WordPress, InterWorx and, most importantly, a pair of credit-card sized computers nestled safely in our server room. Here you’ll find the wisdom we encountered over the course of this project, a place to voice your interest in future InterWorx ARM development, as well as the resources to do all of this yourself.