where the flamingcow roams

Raspbian setup notes

I’ve been growing a document of setup notes for a new Raspberry Pi running Raspbian for awhile. Raspberry Pis are a problem for me, because it’s easy to have lots of them doing lots of tasks, so I do, everywhere. I thought I’d publish these notes, glommed together from various sources, in case they’re useful for others.

While many of these may work on other hardware and software, they’re regularly tested on Raspberry Pi 2 Model B with Raspbian Lite Jessie.

I should really script this.

Start with Raspbian Lite. NOOBS has an extra boot step, and Raspbian full version has a GUI and stuff like Wolfram Engine that you probably don’t want.

Log in

Use console, or grab the IP from your router’s DHCP client list and:

ssh pi@<ip address>
# password "raspberry"

Expand filesystem

sudo raspi-config --expand-rootfs
sudo reboot

Wait for reboot. Reconnect as above.


sudo apt-get -y update
sudo apt-get -y dist-upgrade

Update firmware

sudo apt-get -y install rpi-update
sudo rpi-update

Enable overclock (optional)

Pis seem to be relatively stable overclocked, even without a heatsink.

sudo raspi-config
# Select "8 Overclock"
# Select "<Ok>"
# Select "High"
# Select "<Ok>"
# Select "<Finish>"
# Select "<No>"

Disable swap

sudo dphys-swapfile uninstall

Create a new user

sudo adduser <username>
# Follow prompts
sudo usermod --append --groups sudo <username>

SSH in as the new user

# Find your Pi's current IP, you don't know it
# If you don't already have an SSH key pair
ssh-keygen -t ed25519
cat ~/.ssh/id_ed25519.pub
# Copy your key to your Pi
ssh <username>@<ip> mkdir .ssh
# Enter password
scp ~/.ssh/id_ed25519.pub <username>@<ip>:.ssh/authorized_keys
# Enter password
# Connect to your Pi; this should NOT ask for a password
ssh <username>@<ip>

Lock down sshd

The SSH server has a lot of options turned on by default for compatibility with a wide range of clients. If you’re connecting only from modern machines, and you’ve gotten public key authentication working as described above (and tested it!), then you can turn off lots of the legacy options.

sudo tee /etc/ssh/sshd_config <<END
Port 22
Protocol 2
HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_ed25519_key
UsePrivilegeSeparation sandbox
# Logging
SyslogFacility AUTH
LogLevel INFO
# Authentication:
LoginGraceTime 120
PermitRootLogin no
StrictModes yes
AuthenticationMethods publickey
RSAAuthentication no
PubkeyAuthentication yes
IgnoreRhosts yes
RhostsRSAAuthentication no
HostbasedAuthentication no
PermitEmptyPasswords no
ChallengeResponseAuthentication no
PasswordAuthentication no
X11Forwarding no
X11DisplayOffset 10
PrintMotd no
PrintLastLog yes
TCPKeepAlive yes
AcceptEnv LANG LC_*
UsePAM yes
KexAlgorithms curve25519-sha256@libssh.org
Ciphers chacha20-poly1305@openssh.com
MACs hmac-sha2-512-etm@openssh.com
# Enter password for sudo

Enable the hardware random number generator

Note that hardware random number generators are controversial.

sudo modprobe bcm2835_rng
echo bcm2835_rng | sudo tee --append /etc/modules
sudo apt-get -y install rng-tools

Enable the hardware watchdog

This has false negatives (failures to reboot when it should) for me, but never false positives.

sudo apt-get -y install watchdog
sudo tee --append /etc/watchdog.conf <<END
watchdog-device = /dev/watchdog

Enable automatic updates

sudo apt-get -y install unattended-upgrades
sudo dpkg-reconfigure -plow unattended-upgrades
# Choose "<Yes>"

Disable avahi

You didn’t need mdns, did you?

sudo systemctl disable avahi-daemon.service

Disable triggerhappy

You didn’t need volume buttons, did you?

sudo systemctl disable triggerhappy.service

Disable frequency scaling

If you’re not planning to run on battery; this thing is slow enough anyway.

sudo apt-get -y install cpufrequtils
sudo tee --append /etc/default/cpufrequtils <<END

Enable lldpd

This allows you to observe network topology if you have managed switches.

sudo apt-get -y install lldpd
sudo tee --append /etc/default/lldp <<END

Remove the pi user

Well-known username, well-known password, no thank you.

sudo deluser pi

Install busybox-syslogd

You give up persistent syslogs, but you reduce SD writes. You can still run “logread” to read logs since boot from RAM.

sudo apt-get -y install busybox-syslogd


Test that changes work, and have some (disabling auto-login) take effect.

sudo reboot

After reboot

Note that ssh may scream “REMOTE HOST IDENTIFICATION HAS CHANGED!”; that’s a symptom of the sshd_config changes above. Just remove the line from the known_hosts file and reconnect.