I checked out the official Raspberry Pi Blog last night and I stumbled across the PiBakery project. This is a wonderful, easy to use project that allows you to preconfigure a Raspberry Pi boot image using a scratch like drag-and-drop interface.
The setup is easy, you just drag your blocks in the order you want, insert an SD card and then build the image ready to plug directly into the Raspberry Pi. Once done, you power on the Pi and the configuration script runs like a charm.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it can do, but here’s how i’m using it:
My PiBakery Setup
This process is fairly self explanatory on first boot of the Raspberry Pi the host name and user password are set, the WiFi is configured and VNC server is installed before the whole device is rebooted. Then, on every subsequent boot, VNC server is run on a specific port.
For me, the ability to configure a device just for wireless is huge without all the other configuration options that are available.
In 15 minutes last night I went from a fresh MicroSD card to a connecting to the Pi via SSH on my Mac and that included the time it took to build the image via PiBakery. Setting up a Pi from scratch to the same stage would easily take over a hour and involve an external keyboard, mouse and screen. If you are managing a lab of Raspberry Pi’s in an education setting then this is going to be an essential tool.
The only downside is that the install images are a little on the large side, so your initial download will be slow (depending on your internet connection). The Mac installer was 1.4GB and the Windows installer was 1GB – but this includes the full rasbian image to this is to be expected.
Moving forward, i’m planning on using my trusty old Raspberry Pi 2 as a python coding environment, so the ability to configure the image to automatically run python scripts is going to be a great help in the long run.
This is a fantastic free product that i’d recommend to anyone either new to Raspberry Pi’s or even veteran users. You can find more details of the project, the installers for Mac and Windows (Linux coming soon) and the PiBakery documentation over at the official website.