Tweaking Bubba

I realized the other day that it is only a matter of time before I loose track of what changes have been made to the Bubba’s original configuration. What applications have been installed? What config files are being used? If I ever had to re-install the Bubba, or were to configure a Bubba for someone else, it would take a lot of time to get it going.

Enter this post. Ok, keeping track of all config files may be too ambitious, but it feels like a good idea to at least keep a log of what packages are installed. It will evolve over time, maybe some key config files/data will be included as well. And if it turns out to be a handy resource for other Bubba users – even better.

  1. Slimserver. If you have a Squeezebox media adapter, the Bubba is a fantastic match. Put your mp3s on the Bubba, install Slimserver (which is the server-side companion to the Squeezebox), hook up the Squeezebox to your stereo and you have a very nice, silent, always-on, low-power solution for listening to your mp3s. No more booting of the desktop PC, or having a power-hungry, loud server sitting in a corner somewhere. The guys at Excito has made a complete package available for download, including a Slimserver version that runs ok on the Bubba (the latest Slimserver versions are a bit too demanding for current generation Bubba, so you have to live without some of the latest features. I have never missed anything though, so it’s not a problem). More info here.
  2. Using SMART to monitor health of hard disk. Smartmontools is a very nice little package that monitors the health of your hard disk(s). Fairly small footprint, good feature set. Very flexible scheduling options allow you to do (for example) a basic test on a daily basis, and a more thorough test once a week, month or whatever. Once again, the Excito forums provide good info. More info here and here.

TODO list

With the Bubba having such limited memory and processing power, you really can’t put too many applications on it. So it is a bit of a balance act to decide which ones of the built-in features to enable, and what new packages to install. Below follows the current candidate list of nice-to-haves..

  1. Webmin. Very nice and extensible browser based server management solution. Kind of demanding on system resources, so it is likely to run slowly on Bubba. Also, it is a bit tricky to set up under Apache (by default it comes with its own web server, which in the case of Bubba just eats up precious resources). Some discussions (here and here) on Excito forums indicate it is indeed possible to use Webmin on Bubba.
  2. Some good, lightweight system monitoring server. With the limited process speed and amount of memory in the Bubba, it would be nice to have a way of monitoring system resource usage, and ideally warn by an email when some threshold is passed (too much swapping to disk, for example).
  3. Setting up secure tunneling to allow for access to Bubba (SSH, http, https) from very within very restrictive firewalls. Starting points for more info are found here and here (and many other places). Tinyproxy also seems to be a good, lightweight solution. Remains to be seen if it works on Bubba.
  4. Hardening of SSH. More info here and here (good one).
  5. Backup, backup of backup, and backup of backup of backup. So I am paranoid – I admit it. I want triple backups of my data, with the last backup being physically separated from the first two. My vision is to have the Bubba back up photos, documents and other valuable stuff normally residing on my desktop PC. The decTop then will backup the Bubba (decTop is another small, fan-less system, similar to Bubba). The decTop will then finally replicate its hard drive to some external site, possibly another Bubba placed at some friends house, maybe using this approach. Could also use a service like Mozy, I am however not sure what the backup performance would be like from Europe, and as they don’t have a Linux client it would require the PC to drive the backup.

One Response to “Tweaking Bubba”

  1. xMachina Says:

    Hi, I just followed your link here from the Bubba forums, nice write-up.

    On the Backup issue specifically, if you haven’t found an off-site backup option you’re happy with yet, I have been looking into it and reckon Amazon’s S3 storage is a good option. There are several Linux command-line tools to access it. I will post on the Bubba forums when I have a serious go to set it up.

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