The Raspberry Pi Foundation has released a new tool to make it simple to set up a network of the $35 computers in a business or a classroom.
The PiServer software allows networks of Raspberry Pi computers to be set up without the need to configure and update each device separately.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation suggests PiServer could be useful to those using a network of Pi boards in a classroom, as media centers throughout a home or as a cluster of industrial control systems in a commercial setting. There is also a potential performance benefit from each Pi not having to rely on slower local SD card storage.
Each Raspberry Pi boots from a shared file system on a central server or PC that is running the PiServer software. Each Pi can have an identical setup, or different boards can be configured to run different operating systems, while still being centrally managed.
PiServer is designed to be used with the latest version of the Pi, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, which has the ability to boot over an Ethernet network. The tool streamlines the complexities of ensuring the Pi boards play nicely with other devices on the local network, simplifying the tedium of properly configuring the likes of DHCP and TFTP settings.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s director of software engineering Gordon Hollingworth says that PiServer encompasses “broader functionality” than similar community tools such PiNet, and should “work for industrial Raspberry Pi solutions as well as in the classroom”.
PiServer is bundled with the latest version of Raspbian for x86 computers. Once Raspbian for x86 is downloaded and installed, setting up PiServer to configure a network of Pi boards is relatively straightforward when following the instructions here.
The $35 Raspberry Pi was launched in 2012 to inspire children to learn about computers, and has blown past all sales expectations, selling more than 14 million boards.