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Stellarmate on SSD - easier than I expected

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I was looking at the google - and saw many posts about how to boot from an SSD USB3 drive on a Raspberry Pi4.  It seemed daunting for a non-programmer - and no two ways were the same.  But I was playing at Raspberry Pi imager on my Macbook and noticed the option to burn a USB Boot bootloader on an SD card, which forces the Pi to boot from a USB drive.  So I decided to try this easy route.  I burned the SD card and then used BalenaEtcher to write a copy of StellarMate OS onto a 1TB USB SSD drive I had laying around.  I plugged the SSD USB drive into the Pi, and booted.  I got a plain green screen.  Nothing else.  Everyone said I needed to keep the SD card in the pi - so I did.  Got the green screen.   So I removed the SD card and the Pi booted right off the USB drive and up popped a zippy Stellarmate!    I don't know if I ever needed to burn the Pi SD card in the first place or not.  

I was able to configure Kstars and all my Observatory gear loaded up fine.  The speed difference was night and day running of SSD USB3 drive vs the SD card.  I haven't installed all the astrometry files yet and put it through a test - but so far it's running smoothly.  I even installed FireCapture as well - but that needed some tweaks to run.  

Since backups are needed, I will now get a much smaller SSD drive to use as the new boot drive, with just my aps and astrometry files on it.  This way I can easily make backups of the bootable system, and have my imaging data on the 1TB drive.

The only issue I have is the desktop screen sharing system on Stellarmate is still laggy compared to Astroberry - about twice as slow and no one seems to know why.  I tried carious things to speed it up - but still it falls behind other VNC servers out there.  I may install a different server and see if it improves. 


 

iOptron CEM120 EC2 and CEM25P
Celestron C11 EdgeHD
William Optics Star71
ASI 1600Mm Pro, ASI 462MC
Moonlight motorfocus & Esatto focuser
LodeStar X2 and ZWO OAG
DewBuster
NANO PC-T4
The following user(s) said Thank You: Rishi Garrod
Last edit: 10 months 3 weeks ago by Peter Kennett.
10 months 3 weeks ago #72518

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Hi,
yes you can burn the full SM or AB image direct to SSD and it will boot fine as long as your RPI4 has the latest firmware….no need to burn or use an SD card…
And yes, I now use Astroberry after using SM for two years, and it is is much faster, and no idea why, I asked Jasem about this and he does no like to comment…..but maybe it’s due to that fact AB uses RealVNC, whereas SM can’t as it’s a paid for software so not allowed to include RealVNC, other than that I have no idea why it’s quicker…..but it sure is, and more stable TBH…
Stellarmate OS on Raspberry pi4b
Skywatcher EQ8 pro, on steel pier
Takahashi FSQ85, FS60cb & Meade 8” SCT (de-forked)
Starlight Xpress SXVR H18, SXVR M25c, Lodestar x2 Guide Camera
Pegasus Ultimate Hub V2 for all USB & Power
Pegasus focus motors on all scopes
The following user(s) said Thank You: Peter Kennett
10 months 3 weeks ago #72521

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I've been using RealVNC with SM for the last few months and it is considerably faster... and it's free!

Worth a try!

Ron
Mounts: Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro, Meade LX85, Celestron NexStar Evolution Alt/Az
OTAs: Celestron 8" Edge HD w/Celestron Focus Motor, Meade 80mm APO Triplet Refractor w/ZWO EAF
Cameras: ASI533MC Pro, ASI183MC Pro, ASI224MC, ASI120MC-S, ZWO ASI290MM
Raspberry Pi 4 with Stellarmate OS, MacBook Pro
The following user(s) said Thank You: Peter Kennett
Last edit: 10 months 3 weeks ago by Ron Clanton.
10 months 3 weeks ago #72522

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I like AB too, but I can’t for the life of me get a working copy of KStars 3.5.3 to install on it. I’m not a programmer and tried for a week to do it. I gave up. I need 3.5.3 because it corrected a critical bug with the Nexdome driver, and AB is stuck at 3.5.2.

iOptron CEM120 EC2 and CEM25P
Celestron C11 EdgeHD
William Optics Star71
ASI 1600Mm Pro, ASI 462MC
Moonlight motorfocus & Esatto focuser
LodeStar X2 and ZWO OAG
DewBuster
NANO PC-T4
10 months 3 weeks ago #72524

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Thanks, great tip.

I had a Samsung T5 (500GB) spare so I decided to give it a try.
I did a few extra steps ensuring I had updated everything including the bootloader before I started.
After I had copied my SD card to the SSD the root partition was the size of the remaining disk. I used "GParted" to shrink the partition to 60GB to make it easier to copy. Then I created a new partition with the rest of the disk space and moved the Pictures folder to that partition.
WO ZS 61
Esprit 100
Skyliner 200p
Edgehd 8 with Celestron OAG
Stellarmate on RPi 4
iOptron GEM45
294 mc pro
224 planetary cam
174 guide cam
Powerbox Ultimate
Sesto Senso focusser
Arduino focusser
QHY5II-Mono guide camera
EOS6D - not modified

The following user(s) said Thank You: Peter Kennett, Gustav Olav Lundby
10 months 3 weeks ago #72535

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That's awesome. Can you share the exact procedure to do that?
I assume it will erase all the data on the SSD, correct?
 

iOptron CEM120 EC2 and CEM25P
Celestron C11 EdgeHD
William Optics Star71
ASI 1600Mm Pro, ASI 462MC
Moonlight motorfocus & Esatto focuser
LodeStar X2 and ZWO OAG
DewBuster
NANO PC-T4
Last edit: 10 months 3 weeks ago by Peter Kennett.
10 months 3 weeks ago #72538

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Well - that's not working. :(
I spent three hours trying to get my Esatto focuser to connect, and it refuses.   The USB drive is attached to USB0 and I cant get the the Esatto to try a different port.  I disconnected, reconnected, powered every thing off, and rebooted a doze times.  I know Linux programmers can solve this easy - but I'm not skilled in that.  I attached my MacMini and everything connected fine - even with the USB drive attached.  

:(

 

iOptron CEM120 EC2 and CEM25P
Celestron C11 EdgeHD
William Optics Star71
ASI 1600Mm Pro, ASI 462MC
Moonlight motorfocus & Esatto focuser
LodeStar X2 and ZWO OAG
DewBuster
NANO PC-T4
Last edit: 10 months 3 weeks ago by Peter Kennett.
10 months 3 weeks ago #72540

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Maybe as an "easy" fix you can attach your SSD to USB1?

This is the process I followed.

So first I updated everything:

sudo apt update
sudo apt full-upgrade
sudo rpi-update

Then a reboot:

sudo reboot

Then an update of the bootloader:

sudo rpi-eeprom-update -d -a

Then a reboot:

sudo reboot

Now I am ready to change the boot order. For this I use the raspi-config utility:

sudo raspi-config

Select Boot Options
Select Boot ROM version
Select Latest then press OK
Choose No to Reset boot ROM to defaults
Select OK to end this section

Now we are sure we are using the latest boot ROM.
Next we are going to change the boot order.

Select Boot Order

Choose USB boot first, OK.
Do not reboot!

Now use the SD card copier (make sure your USB SSD drive is attached to a USB 3 port) and copy from the SD card to the USB drive.
This step deletes everything on your USB SSD
Now you can reboot and the RPI should boot from the USB (if the USB drive is not attached it will boot from the SD card).

sudo reboot

This process will have created a boot (/boot) partition and a root (/) partition on the SSD. The root partition will be the size of the whole remaining disk. If you want to make a backup from time to time this is not handy as it will take an age to copy and you will need a lot of storage (another SSD just as big) to make a backup. To solve this we need to shrink the root (/) partition. I used a tool called GParted. To install and run it do the following:

sudo apt-get install -y gparted

Now it gets a bit messy because we want to modify the partition we are currently using and that is not possible. So you must shutdown the RPi, disconnect the USB SSD drive and reboot, this will boot from the SD card (makes a nice check to ensure that still works as a backup). Once rebooted you can connect the USB SSD again.

Now start the partitioning tool:

sudo gparted (or select it from the System Tools menu)
Select the SSD drive in the dialog box on the right had side. It should be something like /dev/sda
In the partition table you should see:
/dev/sda1 and /dev/sda2. /dev/sda1 is the boot partion which we will leave alone. We are interested in /dev/sda2

Select /dev/sda2
Right mouse click and select "Unmount" (otherwise we can't change it).
Right mouse click and select "Resize/Move". I made mine 60GB.
Once this is done there will be free space available. From the Partition menu choose "New". The default is that it will use all the remaining disk. Give it a label (I called my "data") and select OK. Now you have everything ready to change the partition (nothing has actually happed yet). You will see a green check box just under the menu, when you are confident everything is OK press the green check mark. Now the actual changes will be made.

You should now have something that looks a little like this:

  

Reboot with the SSD attached and you should be done!

Have to start work now. I will explain how I moved the Pictures folder this evening.

Now I have written down all the steps I realise it's maybe not for the faint hearted (those of you who are not linux geeks) but I hope it will help.
 
WO ZS 61
Esprit 100
Skyliner 200p
Edgehd 8 with Celestron OAG
Stellarmate on RPi 4
iOptron GEM45
294 mc pro
224 planetary cam
174 guide cam
Powerbox Ultimate
Sesto Senso focusser
Arduino focusser
QHY5II-Mono guide camera
EOS6D - not modified

The following user(s) said Thank You: Peter Kennett, Sanjaya Kumar
Last edit: 4 months 2 weeks ago by Rishi Garrod.
10 months 3 weeks ago #72543
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@Peter
this is a bug at the moment I have the same issue with the tty USB ports, I can’t connect two of my devices, I have asked Jasem on five different occasions to sort bit nothing as of yet…..:(
If I get one connected on USB0 then the other just keeps searching and can’t find a port, then it try’s USB0 and forces the other device to then disconnect….it’s been a nightmare, had to resort to using my mount of a Bluetooth device so I can connect…..
Stellarmate OS on Raspberry pi4b
Skywatcher EQ8 pro, on steel pier
Takahashi FSQ85, FS60cb & Meade 8” SCT (de-forked)
Starlight Xpress SXVR H18, SXVR M25c, Lodestar x2 Guide Camera
Pegasus Ultimate Hub V2 for all USB & Power
Pegasus focus motors on all scopes
Last edit: 10 months 3 weeks ago by AstroNerd.
10 months 3 weeks ago #72544

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Rishi, that's great, thanks!!

iOptron CEM120 EC2 and CEM25P
Celestron C11 EdgeHD
William Optics Star71
ASI 1600Mm Pro, ASI 462MC
Moonlight motorfocus & Esatto focuser
LodeStar X2 and ZWO OAG
DewBuster
NANO PC-T4
10 months 3 weeks ago #72556

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Thanks Peter.

So to move your Pictures folder to the newly created partition there are two methods. I think the Linux guys will go for a Soft Link. Since they know all about that stuff I will focus on the other method which involves modifying the XDG configuration. This is simply telling the OS where various standard folders are like "Pictures".

First copy the Pictures Folder from its current location (in the Home Folder /home/stellarmate) to the new partition (/media/stellarmate/rootfs/home/stellarmate/Pictures). Use the File Manager if you are not comfortable with the command line.

Type the following at a command prompt:
xdg-user-dirs-update --set PICTURES /media/stellarmate/data/Pictures

My path may not match your so ensure you replace "/media/stellarmate/data/Pictures" with the path to your new Pictures folder.

One more step. We need to create a file called .config/user-dirs.conf.
Enter the following in a command prompt.
cd ~
sudo nano .config/user-dirs.conf (yes the "." is meant to be there, it makes a file/folder hidden in Linux)
Type the following in the file:

enabled=False
filename_encoding=UTF-8

Save using Ctrl X, Yes

then reboot:

sudo reboot

Now the OS will know that your Pictures folder is on your new partition.
WO ZS 61
Esprit 100
Skyliner 200p
Edgehd 8 with Celestron OAG
Stellarmate on RPi 4
iOptron GEM45
294 mc pro
224 planetary cam
174 guide cam
Powerbox Ultimate
Sesto Senso focusser
Arduino focusser
QHY5II-Mono guide camera
EOS6D - not modified

10 months 3 weeks ago #72562

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Thanks again Rishi. When I followed your instructions to create the data partition, it shows up in "/media/stellarmate/data"
But I don't have permissions to write to it, so I cant copy the "Pictures" folder there. The permissions state "Only Owner" can see, modify or add to it.

I just tried sudo chmod 777 /media/stellarmate/data/  and that seemed to work.

Peter

iOptron CEM120 EC2 and CEM25P
Celestron C11 EdgeHD
William Optics Star71
ASI 1600Mm Pro, ASI 462MC
Moonlight motorfocus & Esatto focuser
LodeStar X2 and ZWO OAG
DewBuster
NANO PC-T4
Last edit: 10 months 3 weeks ago by Peter Kennett.
10 months 3 weeks ago #72570

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