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Can't install Java 7 on Raspbian wheezy

July 15th, 2013

Crumbs, I thought it would be a simple job to install Oracle’s Java 7 on a Raspberry Pi but it wasn’t.

I started with an installation of Raspbian “wheezy”, uninstalled all the openjdk packages and installed Oracle Java. On typing java -version, I received the error:

java: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

A lot of reading later and I discover the problem is caused by a conflict in the binaries used by the operating system and the Oracle java executable. The Raspberry Pi hardware comes with hardware floating point (HFP) and as a result all the binaries that come with Raspbian “wheezy” take advantage of that. The Oracle java executable, however was compiled with options that use software-based floating point (SFP). This mismatch means that although the file JDK_HOME/jre/lib/arm/jli/ exists, the operating system is unable to understand it properly and as a result continues on it’s search to find one that will work. Eventually it gets to the end of the list and reports that it couldn’t find

So what can be done? Reinstall everything! Oracle does not yet provide a HFP build of Java. The only option is use a special version of Raspbian called Soft-float Debian “wheezy”. Then try installing Java 7 again.

Installing and setting up a Raspberry Pi

July 15th, 2013

I’m doing this on the Mac this time because it comes with loads of tools pre-installed to help. I’m also assuming that the Raspberry Pi has a keyboard and an active network connection (wired or wireless) with a DHCP server floating about somewhere.

  1. We need to install the operating system on the SD card. For this we will need to be the root user. You could prefix all the commands with sudo, but I find it easier just to sudo bash which will run another shell with elevated privileges.

    MrN-host:RaspberryPi mrn$ sudo bash

  2. Insert the SD card. The Mac will put an icon on the desktop representing the SD cards filesystem. Before anything we need to take control of the SD card.
  3. On the command line type: mount

    /dev/disk0s2 on / (hfs, local, journaled)
    devfs on /dev (devfs, local, nobrowse)
    map -hosts on /net (autofs, nosuid, automounted, nobrowse)
    map auto_home on /home (autofs, automounted, nobrowse)
    /dev/disk1s1 on /Volumes/NO NAME (msdos, local, nodev, nosuid, noowners)

  4. The name of the icon on the Desktop was “NO NAME", but it could be different for you if you have renamed the volume. Look for the device with the same name. In my case /dev/disk1s1.
  5. We unmount the SD card:

    diskutil umount /dev/disk1s1

  6. Type mount again and the “NO NAME” device should have disappeared.
  7. The /dev/disk1s1 is the name of the partition so /dev/disk1 is the name of the SD card’s device. We’ll need that later.
  8. Now, go to the Raspberry Pi download page and get a copy of the Raspberry Pi operating system. For this example I’ll use the recommended operating system Raspbian “wheezy” (2013-05-25-wheezy-raspbian). If it is possible, get the torrent version; there was 200 in my swarm and it downloaded in a few seconds.
  9. Unzip the download:


  10. Now the fun bit. We’re going to lay the downloaded file on to the SD card, well on to its block device. It took 15 minutes to copy the 1.8GB disk image on to the SD card.

    # dd if=2013-05-25-wheezy-raspbian.img of=/dev/disk1 bs=1m
    1850+0 records in
    1850+0 records out
    1939865600 bytes transferred in 1128.683885 secs (1718697 bytes/sec)

  11. The disk image that has been laid down on the SD card contained a single partition which when completely written was recognised by the Mac and automatically mounted. A boot disk icon should appear on the Desktop.
  12. Drag the boot disk icon to the Trash.
  13. Pull the card out of the Mac and place into the Raspberry Pi and switch it on.
  14. Boot up the Raspberry Pi and it should drop you off at a menu screen where we set up a few things.
  15. First up we will check and install the latest version of the menu screen or raspi-config. Use the up/down keys to go down to 8 Advanced Options and hit return. Now go down to A5 Update. The menu will restart running the latest version.
  16. Now we’ll configure a few things to help us along the way.
  17. Most important is to change the default password. Not for any security concerns but because the default password is “raspberry” which is not only too long but also plays havoc with my dyslexia. I can never remember if it’s “bp” or “pb", anyway I digress. I usually just use “pipi". Go into 1. Change User Password and follow the instructions.
  18. During the course of our installations and set up we may need to reboot a few times so we don’t want it going in to the windows environment each time we do. Switch it off with 3 Enable Boot to Desktop.
  19. As we are good to the world also consider using 6 Add to Rastrack. It just tells a magic server that you have installed a Raspberry Pi so they can do stats and things. There’s no registration.
  20. Penultimately go to 8 Advanced Options and then A2 Hostname. The current hostname is raspberrypi which is a bit long. You could end up writing this everywhere. So I’ll just name it after the owner drswifty.
  21. And finally select 1 Expand Filesystem. This takes the 1.8GB disk image you installed and expands it to fill the whole SD card giving you access to the other 14GB!. This can take a while, about 20 minutes for a 16GB card.
  22. When you exit with Finish, it will ask you if you want to reboot. Select No. We still need to find out what its IP address is so we can continue remotely from our favourite laptop using PuTTY.
  23. You will be dropped at the command prompt so issue the command ifconfig. Your external address will be listed in either the eth0 or wlan0 interfaces.

    eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr b8:27:eb:9b:6b:84
    inet addr: Bcast: Mask:
    RX packets:170 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
    TX packets:113 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
    collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
    RX bytes:15605 (15.2 KiB) TX bytes:14637 (14.2 KiB)

    lo Link encap:Local Loopback
    inet addr: Mask:
    UP LOOPBACK RUNNING MTU:16436 Metric:1
    RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
    TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
    collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
    RX bytes:0 (0.0 B) TX bytes:0 (0.0 B)

    wlan0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 4c:60:de:61:61:04
    RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
    TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
    collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
    RX bytes:0 (0.0 B) TX bytes:0 (0.0 B)

  24. Finally, reboot the machine so the hostname change comes into effect.

    sudo reboot

  25. When the machine reboots login as pi with whatever password you selected.

Quick and simple guide to Raspberry Pi operating systems

July 15th, 2013

From the Raspberry Pi download page and shortened!

  1. Noobs - A way to try all the main ones in one re-imagiable download.
  2. Raspbian “wheezy” - Recommended, with development tools.
  3. Soft-float Debian “wheezy” - Same as Raspbian but compiled for the slower soft-float hardware. Used for Oracle JVM version 7 or less.
  4. Arch Linux ARM - Boots in 10 seconds but definitely not for beginners.
  5. Pidora - Fedora.
  6. RISC OS - Acorn.

Learning Yii with Yii Developer's Tutorial

July 11th, 2013

One of the things that helped me out the most when I was learning Yii was their series on YouTube called Yii Developer’s Tutorial. I kind of stumbled across it when I was searching for help on getting started.

Unfortunately all the videos in the series didn’t seem to be listed anywhere. They were spread across 2 different peoples YouTube channels so it meant using the search engine to find the next episode!

I thought I’d group them together for you, like I did for the Armstrong & Miller - WWII RAF Sketches.

  1. Introduction: Concepts, MVC architecture and Active Records.
    Part 1

  2. Setting up your development environment.
    Part 2.1
    Part 2.2
    Part 2.3

  3. Creating your first Yii application. Generate Controllers, Views and Models via Gii. Connect to database. Friendly URLs.
    Part 3.1
    Part 3.2
    Part 3.3
    Part 3.4

  4. Yii Architectural Review. Yii is scalable, supports CRUD actions, MVC but is not classed as an enterprise application framework because it doesn’t support transactions, no business rules or constraints, no workflow control.
    Part 4

There is a another set of vids (showing my age there!) can be found on Yii’s website in the screencasts section. These start with showing how a controller can write Hello World on the screen and go through the steps of getting Hello World from the database.

Understanding Yii Layouts and Views

July 5th, 2013

When learning Yii I found it difficult to match the different layout strategies used in the demo applications that are bundled with Yii, specifically Helloworld, Hangman and Blog.

A layout is essentially another view. Layouts are optional as everything can be done in the view. If all your pages share a common look or feel then you may want to refactor the majority of the static (or nearly static) content into the Layout, leaving the view to provide the body of the content that is specific to that page.

If you’ve written a lot of PHP applications then you’ll recognise the following:


The page and maybe some more PHP.

If “The page and maybe some more PHP.” is the view then the rest is the layout. Or to put it another way a layout is a decorator for a view.

A nice example of this is the Blog demo. The view contains all the page specific body but the menus and side bars are held in the layout. You could add the layout to each view and not use layouts at all but this would mean repeating a lot of the same code across all the views.

The first thing to understand is the precedence of the layout overrides. As with all these things the closer to the code that’s running the higher the priority.

  1. Action: With the highest priority, this layout can be set inside the body of the controller action.


    class SiteController
       extends CController
      public function actionIndex()
        $this->layout "mylayout";
  2. Controller:The layout can be set at the controller level by overriding the layout variable from the base class.


    class PostController
       extends Controller
      public $layout='column2';
  3. Theme: The layout may be taken from the current theme.
  4. Module: The layout may be taken from the current module.
  5. Parent Modules: If the current module has no layout, then traverse up its parents until you find one.
  6. Default: Finally the Yii application defines the default layout [Yii::app()->layout] which is meant as a catch all.
  7. None: All these places are searched but if at the end of the day they don’t point to anything then a layout won’t be used.

This demo is the simplest because it does not render a view, it only outputs raw text (or data). Let’s trace the path through the application.

  1. /helloworld/ is accessed and Yii looks for the configuration file /helloworld/protected/config/main.php in order to find the first controller to load.
  2. The main.php configuration file is not found so Yii then looks for the default controller called Site. It loads /helloworld/protected/controllers/SiteController.php
  3. The default action for a controller is Index so actionIndex() is called which just echos some stuff to the screen.

This demo uses a single layout for all pages.

  1. /hangman/ is accessed and Yii looks for the configuration file /hangman/protected/config/main.php in order to find the first controller to load.
  2. The defaultController is game, so Yii loads /hangman/protected/controllers/GameController.php
  3. The default action has been set to “play” by overriding the defaultAction field of the GameController class. So actionPlay() is called first.
  4. At the end of actionPlay() the function render() is called with either “guess” as the view or “play". Let’s continue assuming “play” was selected.
  5. Now Yii will render /protected/views/game/play.php into a variable.
  6. Next it will look for a layout to place that rendering. Following the priorities from above it will eventually get to the default layout for the application (CWebApplication) which is layouts/main.php
  7. Yii will make sure that layouts/main.php exists then it will render that layout, setting $content to the result of rendering the view file.

This demo uses 3 layout files to render the site. main.php is the default catch-all layout and column1.php & column2.php are intermediate layout files.

  1. /blog/ is accessed and Yii looks for the configuration file /blog/protected/config/main.php in order to find the first controller to load.
  2. The defaultController is post, so Yii loads /blog/protected/controllers/PostController.php
  3. PostController.php sets the class layout to “column2″, so all views will use “column2″ as their layout.
  4. The default action is Index so actionIndex() is called next. When it gets to the end it calls render() to render the index view.
  5. /blog/protected/views/post/index.php is used to draw the blog posts and the result is returned to the renderer.
  6. The renderer uses the result of the view-render as the $content in the column2 layout.
  7. The column2 layout has the following form. It means that stuff between beginContent and endContent will be given to /layouts/main as its $content.



There’s another pretty decent article on Larry Ullman’s site, Working with Layouts in Yii.