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Installation instructions for setting up a local Raspberry Pi cluster at your home desk.
- Operating System on SD Card
- Network Setup
- RPi Configuration
- SSH Config
Note: For the time this post was published, there isn't an official
Raspberry Pi OSimage that supports a 64 bit system. There are beta versions but with limitations. This blog post won't cover them until officially released.
Operating System on SD Card
Connect the SD card to your local machine (laptop / desktop)
Raspberry Pi OS Lite (Debian Buster)image from here
Flash OS image using
Raspberry Pi Imageras specified in here
After flashing, eject and re-connect the SD card again to your local machine
Mount the SD card
Open a terminal session and create a text file named
sshin the boot partition
# If you are working on macOS sudo touch /Volumes/boot/ssh # Other Unix-like operating system sudo touch <path-to-rpi-boot-volume>/ssh
Eject the SD card and connect it to the Raspberry Pi
- Power up the RPi and connect directly to the home router
Open the router network dashboard
Note: Your router dashboard address might differ, check with your router manufacture guide.
Client Listthat there is a new
Assign a static IP address using this guide
- SSH into the server using
ssh pi@<RPI-IP-ADDRESS>with an IP address from previous step and the default password
Set the GPU memory split to 16MB by editing the RPi configuration file
sudo vi /boot/config.txtand appending
Note: We specify the minimum memory possible to reserve for GPU (display) since we won’t require user interface.
sudo rebootfor changes to take effect
SSH again to the RPI server and type
sudo raspi-config. Edit the following settings:
- Change the password for the
- Set the hostname to your liking
Make sure SSH server is enabled
Note: If you are planning on using this server as a Kubernetes master - name it
kmaster. If it is a Kubernetes node, name it
<number>is the next in-line number of your cluster stack.
- Change the password for the
Close the SSH session and reconnect to the RPi server again
Verify hostname was properly set and force manual replacement, if required. From the RPi terminal:
cat /etc/hostnameand check for
cat /etc/hostsand check for
hostnamewhich should return
kmaster, otherwise run
sudo hostname kmasterand check again
knode<number>according to the server type if you are setting up a Kubernetes cluster.
(Optional): Install your favourite utilities on the RPi server:
# Use Vim as a text editor sudo apt-get -y install vim
(Optional): Set your preferred aliases on
# Open bash run command file for editing vim ~/.bashrc # List all files/directories including hidden ones with size unit suffixes alias l="ls -lah"
(Optional): If you are planning to install the Rancher
k3sversion of Kubernetes, you should enable a few container features by adding them to the end of the
# Edit file with sudo sudo vim /boot/cmdline.txt # Append the following cgroup_enable=cpuset cgroup_memory=1 cgroup_enable=memory
We need to configure secure shell access for client <-> RPi server communication. It will allow us to access the RPi server from client machines such as our laptop and also allow secure communication between the RPi server and our locally installed utilities.
These instructions are relevant to the computer being used to connect to the RPi server:
- Create directory
~/.sshif it doesn't exists and cd into it
kmaster OR knode<number>, no passphrase)
Add the private key
kmasterto the ssh agent (select between permanent/temporary)
ssh-add ~/.ssh/kmaster # Add temporary to keychain ssh-add -K ~/.ssh/kmaster # Add permanently to keychain
Note: This will allow a secure communication without prompting for the password every time.
Copy the public key to RPi server
# Master node ssh-copy-id -i ~/.ssh/kmaster.pub pi@<RPI-IP-ADDRESS> # Agent node ssh-copy-id -i ~/.ssh/knode<number>.pub pi@<RPI-IP-ADDRESS>
Important: For this step you will need to authenticate with your password. A file named
~/.ssh/authorized_keysis auto-created with the public key content on the RPi server.
(Optional): If you have defined a static IP for the RPi server as described in here, add named hosts records on your client machine:
# Use names instead of IP addresses echo -e "<MASTER-IP-ADDRESS>\tkmaster" | sudo tee -a /etc/hosts echo -e "<NODE-IP-ADDRESS>\tknode1" | sudo tee -a /etc/hosts
These instructions are intended for the RPi server to enable SSH communication:
sudo vim /etc/ssh/ssh_config
PasswordAuthenticationby removing the
- Change its value to
- Make sure
PasswordAuthenticationis properly aligned (4 spaces)
Restart SSH server
sudo /etc/init.d/ssh restart sudo /etc/init.d/ssh status # Verify SSH server is running
To verify everything is set-up correctly, try to connect from the client machine i.e. laptop to the RPi server with the following command:
ssh pi@kmaster ssh pi@knode<number>
What? Locale errors/warnings when connecting to a RPi server and/or running
locale on a server node. These are a few example errors:
setlocale: LC_ALL: cannot change locale (en_US.UTF-8) locale: Cannot set LC_CTYPE to default locale: No such file or directory locale: Cannot set LC_MESSAGES to default locale: No such file or directory locale: Cannot set LC_ALL to default locale: No such file or directory
Solution: We'll set our locale to
en_US by running the following steps:
- SSH to the RPi server
- Edit the
sudo vi /etc/locale.gen
- Uncomment the line with
en_US.UTF-8by removing the
#character (make sure there are no leading spaces)
sudo locale-gen en_US.UTF-8
sudo update-locale en_US.UTF-8
localeand make sure there are no errors/warnings
By the end of this post you should have a working headless (non-GUI) Raspberry Pi(s) connected to your home network with SSH communication available, good job ! 👏
What now? You are welcome to check back for a future blog post on how to install Kubernetes on top of your amazing RPi cluster.
Please leave your comment, suggestion or any other input you think is relevant to this post in the discussion below.
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