Run Google Coder on your BeagleBone Black

Google Coder is a new Node.JS-based application to help kids create web pages that include HTML, JavaScript and CSS. With a bit of Googling, I was able to run it on a BeagleBone Black over the USB cable in no time.

Google ChromeScreenSnapz076 copy

You’ll need your BeagleBone Black to have Internet access for these initial configuration steps to work. For me, I configured some hacks to get my board access to the Internet to follow some of these steps, but I suggest you do the initial installation via an Ethernet connection that has access to the Internet, then go back to using the USB connection or whatever other network connection you had going for development after that. Perhaps in a later post I’ll share all my tricks for getting a BeagleBone Black out to the web even when only plugged in over USB.

First, we need to update some of the included Python modules and other odds and ends on the default Angstrom Distribution image.

opkg update
opkg install python-compiler python-distutils python-multiprocessing python-misc openssl-misc sudo

There’s also a need to install ‘redis’, which I didn’t find in the Angstorm package repository.

wget http://download.redis.io/releases/redis-2.6.16.tar.gz
tar xzf redis-2.6.16.tar.gz
cd redis-2.6.16
make install
cp redis.conf /etc/redis.conf
cat >/lib/systemd/system/redis.service <

Next, we need to work-around a bug in the installed node-gyp’s semver.

perl -i -pe "s/(&& semver.lt\(version, '3.0.0'\)\) {)/) {/" /usr/lib/node_modules/npm/node_modules/node-gyp/lib/configure.js

Now, we can get down to installing Google Coder.

useradd -m pi
git clone git://github.com/googlecreativelab/coder
cd coder/coder-base
npm install

Before I ran it, I modified coder/coder-base/config.js to avoid trying to use the same port name as the default BoneScript server.

exports.httpVisiblePort = '9000'; //forwarded http port the user sees
exports.httpsVisiblePort = '9001'; //forwarded https port the user sees

Alternatively, you could have simply disabled the BoneScript server, but I didn’t do this because I like to keep it running.

systemctl stop bonescript
systemctl disable bonescript.service bonescript.socket

You can now start it instantly.

cd ~/coder/coder-base
npm start

Or, you can create a service to start it up at every reboot.

cat >/lib/systemd/system/coder.service <<EOF
Description=Google Coder

ExecStart=/usr/bin/npm start

systemctl enable coder
systemctl start coder

After that, you are in Google Coder land. Open your browser to your BeagleBone Black port 8081 using https, assuming you made the recommended change to the config.js file mentioned above. If you are using the default config connected up over USB, browse to

One really cool aspect of running Google Coder on BeagleBone Black is that it can be ultimately cheaper because you don’t need to buy an SD card or power supply if you are running your BeagleBone Black off of another computer’s USB port. Of course, the coolest aspect is all of the hardware I/O capability on the BeagleBone Black and the extra processing power to do things like computer vision.

Because this is using an HTTPS connection, the BoneScript library doesn’t work out-of-the-box. However, the ability to edit the node.js of the application should make it trivial for me to add BoneScript as a service, so stay tuned for that post.

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