How do I build a RACHEL-Pi?

Just follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Pre-built RACHEL servers are available at our online store.
All proceeds go back into the non-profit World Possible, which develops, supports, and installs RACHEL.

1. Get a Raspberry Pi.

First of course you need a Raspberry Pi. You may already have one, or many... in which case you can skip this step. If you've never heard of the Raspberry Pi, it is an inexpensive credit-card sized computer that can run the Linux operating system and RACHEL.

We recommend getting the Raspberry Pi 3, but RACHEL has also been tested and works on the 2B, the 2B+, and even the old 1B. The only difference is that older models will support fewer simultaneous users and will respond more slowly.

Since the Raspberry Pi comes "bare", you will need to buy a power supply. The Raspberry Pi website has a chart detailing power requirements. It is important to get a power supply that is switched and regulated for reliability. A plastic case to protect the Raspberry Pi circuit board is strongly recommended.

The Raspberry Pi 3 includes WiFi capabilities, and will automatically act as a WiFi hotspot for RACHEL content once RACHEL is installed. If you are using an earlier model Raspberry Pi like the 2B or 2B+, and want WiFi capability, you will need to purchase a USB WiFi adapter. The only one we have tested to work is the Tenda TE-W311MI. You do not need a WiFi adapter if you are only going to connect your RACHEL-Pi to a wired network.

All that said, here is a basic shopping list:

The required components come to just under $70 before shipping.

It's worth noting that a pre-built RACHEL-Pi, which includes a nicer case and an international power supply is $99 at our online store, and it comes with RACHEL's freely available software content pre-installed. All proceeds go back into the non-profit World Possible, which develops, supports, and installs RACHEL.

2. Get a 64GB SD Card Ready.

You'll need a 64 GB SD card to host the operating system and the RACHEL software content. We recommended getting a fast card as it will have a significant impact on the performance of your RACHEL-Pi. High performance cards are available from many brands. Look for read speeds 40/MBs or higher.

Don't try to save money on the SD card. Get a card from a reputable brand, with fast read-write speeds. It will save you trouble later.

3. Download the RACHEL-Pi Image.

Think of the "image" as an exact copy of the whole hard drive of your PC or Mac -- everything in just one file. In this case you will download this "image" and then write it to your own SD card, making an exact copy of our original RACHEL-Pi server card. First you have to download it.

Note: this file is very large, and can take many hours to download over a home connection.

Most people will want to download the RACHEL-Pi image using FTP. We recommend using a modern FTP client like FileZilla that can recover from network hiccups. You will want to connect using the information below:

FTP server: ftp.worldpossible.org
User/Pass: anonymous/anonymous

Then you will want to navigate to the rachelpi_64 folder for your language of choice and download the latest version.

Version Language Preview
rachelpi_64EN_4.0.img English preview
rachelpi_64ES_3.2.img Spanish / Español preview
rachelpi_64FR_3.0.img French / Français preview

Another option for advanced users is downloading with rsync. If you have a unix-based system like Linux or Mac OS X, you can download the images reliably from the command line with the commands below. If the connection is interrupted for any reason, you can re-run the same command and it will pick up where it left off.

rsync -Pavz rsync://worldpossible.org/rachel/rachelpi_64EN/rachelpi_64EN_4.0.img ./English
rsync -Pavz rsync://worldpossible.org/rachel/rachelpi_64ES/rachelpi_64ES_3.2.img ./Spanish / Español
rsync -Pavz rsync://worldpossible.org/rachel/rachelpi_64FR/rachelpi_64FR_3.0.img ./French / Français

4. Write the downloaded RACHEL-Pi image to your SD card.

These are the instructions for Windows:

  1. Install Win32 Disk Imager, a free program you can download here.
  2. Plug your MicroSD card into your PC -- you may need an MicroSD/USB adapter.
  3. Run the Win32 Disk Imager Software.
  4. Select the downloaded rachelpi_64xx_x.x.img file and the device where the MicroSD card is inserted.
    BE CAREFUL to select the correct device, as it will likely differ from the picture below,
    and will be OVERWRITTEN in the next step.
  5. Then click the Write button:

    Depending on the speed of your MicroSD interface, writing the card can take hours.

These are the instructions for Mac OS X and Linux (Advanced):

  1. Open a Terminal
  2. Plug your MicroSD card into your PC -- you may need an MicroSD/USB adapter.
  3. Determine the device ID with either diskutil list or df:

    In our case the device is /dev/disk3 - as hinted by the filesystem type and size. We'll use /dev/disk3 in the examples, but your device is likely different.
  4. Make sure the device is not mounted with diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk3.
    BE CAREFUL to select the correct device, as it will likely differ from ours,
    and will be OVERWRITTEN in the next step.
  5. Run the following command, replacing the image file and output device with your values:
    sudo dd bs=1m if=rachelpi_64xx_x.x.img of=/dev/rdisk3
    Note that we have used /dev/rdisk3 instead of just /dev/disk3. This indicates we are using the "raw device", which is much, much faster on the Mac, and possibly on other platforms as well. Depending on the speed of your MicroSD interface, writing the card can take hours.

5. Start Your RACHEL-Pi Server.

After the SD card is written, insert it into your Raspberry Pi and connect the power. It will take a minute or so to boot up. Look for a WiFi network called "RPI" and connect to that. There is no WiFi password.

Once you're connected, enter "10.10.10.10" into your browser's address bar. You should immediately see RACHEL content, ready to go. Explore and have fun!

If you are connecting your RACHEL-Pi to a wired network, you will need to find out which IP address it was assigned by your router. You can to do that through your router's administration page: see your router's manual for instructions on viewing DHCP clients.

Alternately, you can ssh to the RACHEL-Pi itself over WiFi and check:

  1. Connect to RPI WiFi.
  2. Using a program like PuTTY or ssh from the command line, connect to 10.10.10.10
  3. The username is pi and the password is rachel
  4. Once connected, run ifconfig eth0 | grep "inet addr"
  5. You should get a line that looks something like this:
    inet addr:192.168.1.7 Bcast:192.168.1.255 Mask:255.255.255.0

In our example the LAN address would be 192.168.1.7. So just enter that into your browser's address bar and you should be all set.

If you are installing on a wired network permanently, like in a school, you should check your router's manual for instructions on reserving an address for the RACHEL-Pi so that it doesn't change.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What web browser should I use with RACHEL?

RACHEL content should work with all modern browsers, but we think Google Chrome is a good choice because it includes built-in support for PDFs and Flash, as well as being fast and standards compliant.

Can I add additional content?

Yes. You can upload your own content to your RACHEL-Pi server, just look for the "File Share" section of the RACHEL front page.

Alternately, advanced users can log into the RACHEL-Pi (user/pass: pi/rachel) and rsync content from our module repository. Modules must be downloaded to /var/www/modules, and you may have to clear up some space first by removing unwanted modules, as the 64GB MicroSD card image is nearly full.

How do I shut down the RACHEL-Pi?

The Raspberry Pi does not include a power switch, but it is important that you don't just disconnect the power to shut it off, as this can easily corrupt your SD card. To shut down the RACHEL-Pi we have included a web-based shutdown feature. Simply log in to the RACHEL Admin page (user/pass: root/rachel) and scroll to the bottom. You'll see a Shutdown option.

Alternately, you can log into the RACHEL-Pi via ssh (user/pass: pi/rachel) and execute the command:
sudo shutdown -h now

How was the RACHEL-Pi Image created? Can I make my own?

You are more than welcome to work with our build process which is hosted on GitHub. We have several repositories -- take a look at the rachelpiOS build, which sets up a Raspberry-Pi with software but not content. Also see contentshell, which contains the content wrapper for all modules. And if you want to create a content module for inclusion in our module repository, you should start with the module-template.

Does RACHEL work on other hardware?

Yes! It will actually run on just about anything. However we don't have updated guides for other systems yet. If you write a guide, we'd be happy to include it here!

Is there a smaller, simpler version of RACHEL?

Yes! We offer a completely static version called RACHEL-USB, which requires no software installation and will work on any Windows, Mac, or Linux PC with a USB port and a web browser. It does not include interactive KA-Lite exercises, and only a selection of Wikipedia content, but for simplicity it can't be beat.

You can download it here or at our FTP server: ftp.worldpossible.org user/pass: anonymous/anonymous.

RACHEL-USB Englishpreview download (20 GB)
RACHEL-USB Spanishpreview download (21 GB)

Can I just buy a RACHEL-Pi Server?

Yes! You can buy a ready-to-use RACHEL Server from our online store. We have both the RACHEL-Pi version described here, as well as our more powerful RACHEL-Plus Server. All proceeds go back into the non-profit World Possible, which develops, supports, and installs RACHEL. You can also donate directly.