Category Archives: Development

Development technologies and projects

FreeBSD on a BBG

Here’s the situation after installing FreeBSD on my BBG (BeagleBone Green), using an image published by the raspBSD project. No custom configuration or installing additional software has been done, although I have updated the package database. There’s more information on the install in a previous post.

For background, a BeagleBone Green (BBG) has a TI Sitara AM335x (1GHz ARM Cortex-A8) with 512MB DDR3 and 4GB eMMC (primary boot device), a micro SD socket (alternate boot device and additional storage), two USB connectors (one client and one host), ethernet, two Grove 4-pin connectors and two 46-pin 2×23 0.100″ pin headers with GPIO, SPI, I2C and other signals. 

Identification & Disk Use

Active Processes

I have two remote ssh sessions open.

Memory use

BeagleBone and FreeBSD

I recently purchased a BeagleBone Green (BBG) to experiment with FreeBSD on an embedded platform. The BBG has been available for a couple of years, and while I was tempted to get a BBG Wireless (BBGW), it would have meant ordering on-line and waiting for delivery. At least for initial development work I prefer a hard-wired connection, but also prefer to support local when possible.

BeagleBone Green

A BeagleBone Green (BBG) is a TI Sitara AM335x (1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor) with 512MB DDR3 and 4GB eMMC (which is the standard boot device), a micro SD socket (the alternate boot device and data storage memory), two USB connectors (one client and one host), ethernet, two Grove 4-pin connectors and two 46-pin 2×23 0.100″ pin headers. The original BeagleBoard emerged around 2010, and in 2013 was a winner in Embedded Computing Design’s “2013 Top Embedded Innovator award” in the Top Products Silicon category. The BeagleBone Black (BBB) was launched in 2013 as a lower-cost barebones BeagleBoard, and the BBG was launched in 2015 with two Grove connectors replacing the BBB’s HDMI connector.

Open-Source Hardware

A significant advantage of the BBG (and the other BeagleBoards and BeagleBones) for that the physical design (the schematics and pcb layout files) are provided under an open-source license. The BBG files are in a GitHub project using the MIT license. For someone designing a similar-but-different product, this can be a significant time saver.  The openness reportedly continues to other technical details of the design, such as the low-level details of power management.

FreeBSD

The RaspBSD project provides pre-built images for the BBG. The project originally provided FreeBSD images for the Raspberry Pi, but has expanded their scope to include the BBG (and BBGW). Once I sorted out how to select the alternate boot device (to boot from the micro SD card I had copied the RaspBSD image to) everything started falling into place.

The RaspBSD image is based on Head, which is new for me as I’m running 10.3-RELEASE on my web server. However, I’m looking forward to experiencing life on the edge.

I’m not sure if this is correct, but it seemed to work consistently. To boot from the micro SD card instead of eMMC, disconnect power then hold down the switch beside the micro SD slot, apply power and continue holding the switch for a count of three. After some testing (and being sure I could re-load the bundled Ubuntu-based system if I wanted), I used the script provided with RaspBSD to copy the FreeBSD image to the eMMC. This significantly improved boot time and also freed up the micro SD card for data storage.

Conclusion

For me, the BBG is the superior single-board unix computer for basing a new product design on. The openly provided design files and technical documentation, as well as easy access to GPIOs and other hardware resources on the two pin headers, provide a significant head start compared to having to start from scratch.

Podcasts

I’m commuting again and listening to podcasts. 

  • FLOSS Weekly is interviews with free and open source project leaders.
  • Software Engineering Radio is sponsored by IEEE Software Magazine and can follow the rabbit hole down pretty deep.
  • The Changelog bills itself as “A weekly conversation that gets to the heart of open source technologies and the people who create them.” I recently added this back to the mix after an extended absence, and it seems to have changed and now seems to have a social angle.
  • The Stack Overflow Podcast is another return to the mix after an extended absence and will update this once I’ve caught up with a couple recent episodes. 
  • BSD Talk is interviews with people active in the BSD or general unix community, many recorded at a BSD conference.
  • BSD Now is a BSD oriented podcast sponsored by IX Systems (whose history I believe can be traced back to the beginning).
  • Embedded.fm is oriented towards embedded devices from a firmware perspective.
  • The Amp Hour is oriented towards embedded devices but from the perspective of hardware development. 

Install SuiteCRM on FreeBSD

SuiteCRM is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) web application, used by a company to store and organize information relating to customers and potential customers in a shared trusted environment. A CRM application may be stand-alone, or may integrate with other enterprise applications, such as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system (CRM may also be a module within an ERP system).

Please visit the SuiteCRM demo on dalescott.net (login as “auditor” with password “guest”).

SuiteCRM was created by forking Sugar CE v6.5. The company SugarCRM provided several editions of its Sugar CRM application, including the open-source Sugar CE (for Community Edition), as well as several proprietary-licensed commercial editions. In 2013, SugarCRM released Sugar v7 to commercial clients but reported it would not be providing the new features in community edition release. SalesAgility, a UK-based CRM consultancy with expertise developing client solutions based on Sugar CE, responded by creating SuiteCRM using the Sugar CE v6.5 codebase. The first release of SuiteCRM was v7.0 in October 2013,  and in 2014 SugarCRM announced that it would not be releasing any further feature releases of Sugar CE. Since then, SuiteCRM has since gone on to become an award winning and world leading CRM application.

Setup

I will be installing SuiteCRM v7.7.9 on FreeBSD 10.3-RELEASE, using Apache 2.4 and MariaDb 10.0.

  • Download a SuiteCRM zip distribution archive and extract to /usr/local/www/suitecrm-6.5.2.
  • Change owner of the SuiteCRM directory tree to www:www
  • Create a soft link from /usr/local/www/suitecrm to /usr/local/www/suitecrm-7.7.9
  • Configure Apache virtual host suitecrm.dalescott.net
  • Create “suitecrm” database and database user with full permissions to the database. Use these credentials in the install screen.
  • Run installer (http://suitecrm.dalescott.net)

The first thing the installer does is to confirm your acceptance of the AGPL license used by SuiteCRM.

The installer then presents an overview of your system configuration, and identifies any issues preventing installation. In my case, I’m good to proceed.

Next, enter your database credentials and other configuration data.

  • Select install demo data.
  • Enter admin user password and email.
  • Accept default visible modules.
  • Enter SMTP server credentials required for SuiteCRM to send email.

The installer will setup the database and then let you login as the admin user.

The last setup item is to create a cron task used by SuiteCRM to run periodic internal tasks.

TODO show cron job

Login

Login using the admin user and password. After authentication the SuiteCRM dashboard will be displayed.

Summary

SuiteCRM is a mature powerful CRM application. Watch for a basic walkthrough tutorial based the Swift Construction Company’s “using SuiteCRM”, but a large number of on-line video tutorials already exist.