One (or many) of my future projects - for example: a private telegram bot - will need a central always-on device. So I had to find a good device for this use-case. Some of my criteria were: "powerful"/modern CPU, enough RAM to do some tasks in a parallel way, Ethernet or Wireless LAN, at least one USB-port, small and reasonable! But the most important feature: It should be able to run Node.js!


I think the most popular device is the Raspberry Pi Zero. It is quite cheap and many projects are realized with it. But due to the fact that it lacks some points of my criteria list I invested some time in the search for better alternatives. I stumbled over the OrangePi Zero and ordered it immediately. (There is also a possibility to power it over Ethernet => what a great device!) The only two small drawbacks, from my point of view, are that it has no native display-port and no CSI-interface to connect a camera-module.

Starting it up

If you have all the hardware (OrangePi Zero, a SD-card and a power supply) we can prepare everything. First we need an operating system. The official site offers different possibilities like Android, Debian, Ubuntu, etc. At the time when I was hooking up everything there was a problem with the downloads. Luckily there is an alternative: armbian. You have the choice between Ubuntu and Debian. (I chose to use Ubuntu.) To flash the image to your SD-card you need a special program - if you are using Windows - Win32DiskImager.

Be sure your OrangePi Zero is connected to a network with DHCP and check your leases. If everything is correct you should see a new leas after about 2 minutes. Now you can establish a connection to it with a tool like PuTTY. The default user is root and it's password is 1234. You will be asked to change the password and create a new user for daily usage.

The first thing I did was to connect the OrangePi Zero to my wireless LAN. Therefore we can use the integrated networkmanager. Just type in nmtui-connect and hit the enter-button. (You will need to run this command with super-user-permissions. ==> sudo nmtui-connect) Afterwards you will see a list of available SSIDs. If your wireless LAN is secured (I really hope so!) you will be asked for the password. If everything is correct you can check the status with the command ifconfig.

Running node.js

If you want to run node.js on your OrangePi Zero it is very easy. With Debian or Ubuntu as operating system you can user the package manager. You only have to add an additional source.

node.js V6
curl -sL | sudo -E bash -

node.js V7
curl -sL | sudo -E bash -

Afterwards you can install it like almost every other package.

sudo apt-get install -y nodejs

The sources will cover the following architectures: armhf, i386 and amd64. So you can also use this lines of code if you want to install node on a "normal" computer.

So now you are ready to implement your project. Currently I am working on a private telegram bot and some other projects which will be running on the OrangePi Zero. I will also write some posts on this projects.

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