Building a NanoPi Cluster - Part 2

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Now the hardware for the NanoPi-Datacenter is done, its time for the system setup. I chose Armbian 5.25 stable as base system for the master and the worker nodes since this is based on a Debian 8 (Jessie) with a 4.9.4 Kernel version.

The Debian image is available at armbian

Preparing the SD-Card

All nodes should have the same base image and default configuration, so the following steps are equal to all five SD-Cards execpt of the network configuration.

After inserting the SD-Card, dmesg | tail displays the most recent system messages which contains information about the name of the SD-Card device. In my case the name is /dev/mmcblk0 To be sure that the SD-Card is not mounted I checked the output of df -h. The following command writes the image to the SD-Card:

$ dd -if=./Armbian_5.25_Nanopineo_Debian_jessie_dev_4.9.4.img of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=4M

Once the image is written to the SD-Card, I inserted the Card into one of the NanoPis to boot the System once. This is necessary because Armbian does some initializations like preparing the partions etc. After that, I configured the network connections.

My internal network is and the external address for the master comes via dhcp.

The easiest way to perform this task is to mount the Card on the laptop again and do the following steps:

  • Mount the SD-Card $ mount /dev/mmcblk0p1 /mnt/sdcard

  • Edit network settings $ vim /mnt/sdcard/etc/network/interfaces

  • Change content to

  #for master:
  iface eth0 inet static

  iface eth1 inet dhcp
  # for worker
  iface eth0 inet static
       address // .3; .4; .5 for the other nodes

Now the base system is ready, bootable and accessible on every cluster node. All futher configurations can now be done after the nodes are up and running!

Node configuration

Using the nodes in a cluster requires a bit more configuration on each node. Things like setting the hostname and adding ssh-keys make it easier to work on the cluster and bridging the network on the master node is required to make the internet available to the worker.

When connecting to an Armbian system for the first time it asks to change the root password, a new user and a hostname. I entered ‘raimund’ as user and

  • huiwaina as masters hostname
  • wahi-0[1-4] as workers hostname

To be continued…