/posts/ 2023/a-terrible-user-experience

A Terrible User Experience

Jul 1, 2023

#rapsberry pi #balena #anthias 

This is a bit of a vent, I may be wrong, I may be a little caught up in the moment, but a simple task should not be this difficult.

I’m currently trying to setup a Kiosk-mode Raspberry Pi for Leigh Hackspace to act as a ‘Hackspace Status’ screen, showing some stats and a rotating list of artwork to show upcoming events.

I decided to just try and build something myself, but while I was using the Raspberry Pi Imager I spotted a section for purpose-specific OS installations, and within there was Anthias. “Hey, that looks good, Web UI and does what I need it to do” I thought to myself. Anthias is the rebadged Screenly OSE, as to avoid confusion they renamed it to split it away from the commercial Screenly option. Open source versions of commercial products never really work well, but maybe it’ll do the bare minimum I need.

I got it installed on a Raspberry Pi 3, booted it up and it sat on the boot-screen and did nothing else. Oh, did it need some pre-config or something? I plugged the SD card into another system and it mounted ‘resin-boot’, a sign of using BalenaOS rather than Raspbian. I headed back to the website and checked for documentation and nothing on the site?

So, I found the Github repository, “General Documentation”, great. First port of call in the document: “SSH into the host”. Try to connect, “connection refused”. Oh, ok, do I need to enable SSH? The document links to the official Raspbian docs on how to do that but it isn’t running Raspbian…

All official documentation has been exhausted, time to consult the forums. Many people seem to report the same as me:

But, it quickly became obvious what the issue was: Using the official image that uses BalenaOS.

As it turns out, it straight up doesn’t work, to the point that every response seems to be ‘I used Raspberry Pi OS Lite and installed it via the script, and it works there’, even the developer of the product posts the same.

I understand that Screenly has no real investment in this open-source version of their product, but straight-up shipping a broken version of your product into the official Raspberry Pi imaging tool seems dumb on a new level.

I’ve given up and moved on to trying FullPageOS, it might not have the flashy UI but I can manage that via Ansible.