A Raspberry Pi Home Dashboard

Posted on November 27, 2016 in Blog • 3 min read

Some time ago I created an home dashboard, using a Raspberry Pi, to have all my favourite tools (i.e. Zabbix, Munin) on a wall screen in my room. Now I want to write down and share with everyone how I put it together.

The whole idea of this is to have the Raspberry Pi hidden behind the screen, so trailing Ethernet cables isn’t ideal. Luckily the Pi supports a range of Wifi adapters, also latest Pi has integrated Wifi.

What you’ll need

  • Raspberry Pi (I used a spare old one)
  • Micro SD Card (8 gigs is enough)
  • HDMI cable
  • Monitor/TV
  • (Optional) Wifi Adapter
  • (Optional) Monitor Mount

OS Setup

Download the latest version of Raspian from raspberrypi.org and flash the microSD card with your program of choice. If you need help doing that check the installation guide.

Boot your Raspberry Pi from the flashed microSD card, login using the default credentials and run raspi-config with:

sudo raspi-config

You’ll need to:

  • Change the account/password from default.
  • Enable SSH, to enable remote login.
  • Expand the file system, so you can use all your microSD card space.
  • Set the desktop environment to auto boot.
  • Edit the internationalisation options.
  • (Optional) Some monitor needs to enable overscan in order for the image to fill the screen.

If you want to be able to access your Pi from a static IP (very useful for reliable SSH access when it is tied up behind a flatscreen), you have two options to do this. You can either set a DHCP reservation on the router or modify the /etc/network/interfaces file on the Pi itself.

In ther interfaces file, you’ll need to make the changes to fit your network. for example:

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static

After a reboot you should be able to login via SSH.

OS Configuration

First of all, upgrade your system with:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y

This will sync the time with Ubuntu’s NTP server, it is a good idea to have it always in sync:

sudo apt-get install ntpdate
sudo ntpdate -u ntp.ubuntu.com

X Setup

Setup all X11 utilities and midori (a lightweight browser, you could also use epiphany, chromium or a host of other browsers):

sudo apt-get install -y lightdm unclutter lxde-core midori

Make sure the screen does not go to sleep, modify /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf. Add this line to the [SeatDefaults] section:

xserver-command=X -s 0 dpms

Edit /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE/autostart and make sure the @xscreensaver line is commented out. In addition, we’ll be adding three options that prevent the screen from going blank:

# @xscreensaver -no-splash
# Turn off screensaver
@xset s off
# Turn off power saving
@xset -dpms
# Disable screen blanking
@xset s noblank
# Hide the mouse cursor

Create (or modify) ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE/autostart and add the line:

@midori -e Fullscreen -a file:///home/pi/index.html

Create /home/pi/index.html as a static HTML page with a little bit of Javascript to create the web slideshow effect, it will load all the web pages in the urls list after waiting for setTimeout:

<!doctype html>
        <iframe id="foo" style="position:fixed; top:0px; left:0px; bottom:0px; right:0px; width:100%; height:100%; border:none; margin:0; padding:0; overflow:hidden; z-index:999999;"></iframe>
            (function() {
                var e = document.getElementById('foo'),
                    f = function( el, url ) {
                        el.src = url;
                    // List here the URLs you want to show in your home dashboard.
                    urls = [
                    i = 0,
                    l = urls.length;

                    (function rotation() {
                        if ( i != l-1 ) {
                        } else {
                            i = 0;
                        f( e, urls[i] );
                        setTimeout( arguments.callee, 90000 );

If you are going to show authenticated web pages, i.e. zabbix, you should authenticate yourself manually before.


If you want to turn off you dashboard for the night, you can simply add a cronjob service to shutdown the Raspberry, running sudo crontab -e and adding:

0       0      *       *       1,2,3,4,5 /sbin/shutdown -h now

You could also want to setup VNC to remotely control your raspberry and run your maintenance without the need of keyboard and mouse.