Raspberry Pi as a network monitoring node

Using an inexpensive Raspberry Pi system for remote network troubleshooting

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The Raspberry Pi is an amazing little inexpensive Linux-based computer. It has been remarkably successful and there have been over 1 million Raspberry Pi systems sold. The Raspberry Pi can also be a useful tool in conventional IT environments and can be an inexpensive way to perform remote network monitoring. In this article we cover how to get a Raspberry Pi up and going and how to configure it for network monitoring purposes. For less than $50 you can have a remotely accessible network device for testing and troubleshooting up and working in less than 30 minutes.

The Raspberry Pi was a project that grew out of the University of Cambridge's Computer Laboratory as an inexpensive computer to aid in the teaching of computer programming to students. The Raspberry Pi supports Python and Scratch (a graphical programming language). The inventors of the Raspberry Pi created the Raspberry Pi Foundation. For less than $50 you can get a fully-functional networked computer with many optional external interfaces.

Equipment you'll need

There are several items that you will need to obtain to get a fully-functional Raspberry Pi system. The most important component is to get a Raspberry Pi Model B with 512MB of RAM. This is the most power currently available Pi (eventually there will be a Model C). There are many online retailers where you can acquire the Raspberry Pi base system so it is easy to buy one.

It comes with an on-board FastEthernet interface, but you can use a USB wireless adapter if you prefer. Just be sure to check the compatibility of your peripherals first and you may need a powered USB hub.

You will need at least an 8GB (up to 32GB) Class 10 SD card flash which acts like the hard drive. This SD card will contain the file system and all the system storage.

The Raspberry Pi needs power through a micro USB cable connected to a power source. This is similar to the connector you use to charge your mobile devices so you may already have this on-hand.

It is helpful to start off with a USB keyboard and mouse. You likely already have these already. I use a Logitech K520 keyboard and Logitech M310 mouse combo kit that uses a single USB interface for both the keyboard and mouse. The Raspberry Pi only has 2 onboard USB 2.0 interfaces so to connect more USB devices you will need a powered USB hub.

It will also be nice to have a monitor with an HDMI interface. You will also need an HDMI cable. You probably already have these and don't need to buy them. Having a HDMI interface monitor is an optional nice-to-have for initial setup, but is not needed for long-term use.

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