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Raspberry Pi

How-to Build a Low Budget Usenet Download Machine: Setting Up SABnzbd

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of the How-to Build a Low Budget Usenet Download Machine series. In this guide, we will walk you step-by-step all the way through installing, setting up, and configuring SABNZBd on your Raspberry Pi. We will also cover getting your Pi primed for downloading from your UsenetServer account.

Since we’ve started this How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine series, we have shown you how to gather the parts necessary to build your Pi, set up the Raspbian OSset up remote access to your Pi using SSH over your network, and set up storage on your Pi. Before attempting to follow this guide and install SAB, we highly recommend you review the required guides mentioned above doing so will make your life so much easier to get SAB running on your Pi. Before proceeding any further, you should have a working, powered-on Raspberry Pi with Internet access that you can login into directly or remotely via SSH.

Updating Apt-Get and SABnzbd

Before we do anything else, we need to update and upgrade the apt-get installer.

To do so, type in the following commands in the terminal:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

If it’s been a while since you updated, you may want to go have a Coke and smile because it could take a while for the update process to complete. Once the upgrade is complete, we are ready to get down to business and install SABnzbd on our Pi.

To install SABnzbd, type the following command at the terminal:

sudo apt-get install sabnzbdplus

This command will install the core dependencies for SABnzbd, including several Python tools (like the RSS Feed Parser and Cheetah template gallery) as well as the basic SABnzbd themes. During the package install process, you’ll see the following error at some point:

[....] SABnzbd+ binary newsgrabber: not configured, aborting. See /etc/default/s[warndplus ... (warning).

This is not important at this point because it is just SAB letting us know that we do not have a news server configured for use. This, of course, makes sense because we haven’t even set SAB up yet. After the install finishes, you are ok to move to the next section,

Running the SABnzbd Setup Wizard

SABnzbd Setup Wizard
After the sabnzbdplus installation has finished, you’ll be returned to the command prompt. Enter the following command to launch SABnzbd for the first time:

sabnzbdplus --server

The command starts the SABnzbd daemon and turns on the WebUI. Several commands will scroll by and then it will stop and give the impression that the application has crashed, but it hasn’t. It has just taken control of the terminal, and as it performs, new functions they will appear here. Open up a new terminal window or SSH connection (if you CTRL+C to break out and return to the command prompt, you’ll cause the daemon to shut down).

From either a browser on the Raspberry Pi or a remote browser on your desktop, you can now start up the configuration wizard. We’d strongly advise you to use a remote web browser for ease of use and better performance.

Open a browser and go to:

http://[Your Pi's IP]:8080/wizard/

Select your preferred language and click “Start Wizard.” The first step is to input your UsenetServer account information:

News Server Setup












Input news.usenetserver.com for the the host, port, username/password, and set the number of connections. While you can easily get away with 20+ connections on a desktop or server installation, we suggest starting with four connections on your Pi and gradually increasing the number upwards if you find you need more concurrent connections. Click Test Server to make sure you get connected to our servers without any issues.

Step two of the wizard sets the access control:

Setup SAB Access












If you would like to be able to access the SAB web interface from any device on your network and not just your PC, select the first option under the Access section. We also recommend you password-protect your SAB web interface by checking the password protect box and entering in a username and password of your choice. If you would like the web interface to be secured using SSL, check the box to enable HTTPS and move on to the next step (we do recommend you enable this option).

You can skip step three of the quick-start wizard altogether, unless you need to configure NZB search services. Click “Next” to skip ahead to step four. Step four is automated, SABnzbd will restart, and the wizard will show you the web addresses where you can access the WebUI, like so:

Go ahead and click on one of the SAB links or “Go to SABnzbd” and you’ll be taken to the SAB web interface.

Installing UNRAR for Automated Unpacking

SABbnzbd Error Message









Now that you are logged into SAB and looking at the new spiffy webUI, you might notice there is a problem. We are getting a warning: “No UNRAR program found, unpacking RAR files is not possible”.

Guess what? SABnzbd’s core installation package doesn’t come with a unRAR utility. What this means is that SAB will download your favorite NZB posts from the Usenet, although you will have to manually unpack and decompress the RAR files as they come in — but we wouldn’t stand for that nonsense. So instead, we’re going to install an unrar-nonfree utility.

In order to automate the file unpacking, we’re going to have to build a copy of the free but oddly-named unrar-nonfree app. Luckily, we found a step-by-step guide from someone over at RaspberryPi.StackExchange who outlined just how to do so for Raspian.

At the terminal, enter the following command to allow you to edit your sources.list and add the repository that contains unrar-nonfree:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

In nano, add the following line to the .list file:

deb-src http://archive.raspbian.org/raspbian wheezy main contrib non-free rpi

Press CTRL+X to exit nano and Y to save/overwrite the old .list file. Back at the command prompt, you will need to update your sources list for the change to take effect:

sudo apt-get update

After the update is finished, it’s time to create a working directory and then change to it:

mkdir ~/unrar-nonfree && cd ~/unrar-nonfree

Time to download unrar-nonfree’s dependencies:

sudo apt-get build-dep unrar-nonfree

When the process finishes and you’re back at the prompt, enter the following command to download the source code and build the installation package:

sudo apt-get source -b unrar-nonfree

Now it’s time to install the package. If you’re following this tutorial after a new version of unrar-nonfree is released, you’ll need to update the filename. You can check the version number by typing “ls” at the command prompt to list the files we downloaded in the previous steps:

sudo dpkg -i unrar_4.1.4-1+deb7u1_armhf.deb

Once the installation is complete, you can quickly test to see if command “unrar” is available to the system by simply typing “unrar” at the command prompt. If properly installed, the unrar app will send back a list of all the available unrar switches and their descriptions. If the package installed without error, you can tidy up after yourself with the following command:

cd && rm -r ~/unrar-nonfree

Now it’s time to get rid of that error in SABnzbd. Restart SABnzbd from within the WebUI by clicking on Options > Restart (upper right hand corner of page). When you restart, the error message should be gone. You can make sure that the error log is empty by clicking on the Status link in the upper left hand corner:

SABnzbd Error Log








The last thing we need to configure is our storage directories for SAB. As of right now, everything is configured to be downloaded and stored on our Pi’s SD card, which is not what we want as it would fill up fast. We need to setup our SAB directories to take advantage of our large USB storage drive(s) that we configured earlier in our Setting Up Storage on the Pi guide. Let’s get those directories setup.

Configuring the SABnzbd Directories

To avoid filling up your SD card and having SAB come to a screeching halt, we’re going to move all the important directories off the SD card and on to the external hard drive. If you do not already have a USB hard drive attached to your Raspberry Pi and set to auto-mount at boot, you should read Setting Up Storage on the Pi to find out how to get it setup. We’re going to use the same HDD naming convention and directory structure we used in that guide, so adjust your commands in this section to match the location of your HDD.

First, let’s create the directories we need for SABnzbd:

sudo mkdir /media/USBHDD1/shares/SABnzbd/downloading
sudo mkdir /media/USBHDD1/shares/SABnzbd/completed
sudo mkdir /media/USBHDD1/shares/SABnzbd/watch
sudo mkdir /media/USBHDD1/shares/SABnzbd/watch/nzb-backup
sudo mkdir /media/USBHDD1/shares/SABnzbd/scripts

After creating the directories, return to the WebUI of SABnzbd to change the default directories. In the WebUI, navigate to Config > Folders. There are two sections: User Folders and System folders. Within those two sections, change the following entries using the folders we just created. You must use absolute paths to force SABnzbd to use folders outside the default of /home/pi/.

Temporary Download Folder:  /media/USBHDD1/shares/SABnzbd/downloading
Completed Download Folder:  /media/USBHDD1/shares/SABnzbd/completed
Watched Folder:  /media/USBHDD1/shares/SABnzbd/watch
Scripts Folder:  /media/USBHDD1/shares/SABnzbd/scripts
.nzb Backup Folder:  /media/USBHDD1/shares/SABnzbd/watch/nzb-backup

In addition to these changes, you should set the “Minimum Free Space for Temporary Download Folder” by using designations such as 900M for 900 megabytes or 20G for 20 gigabytes. You should generally leave 10-20GB free on your disk to serve as a nice buffer and cushion.

Once you have made all your changes, click Save at the bottom of the menu. The changes we made require a restart. To restart, click Downloads to return to the main WebUI screen and then click Options > Restart in the upper right hand corner. Now that our directories are setup, we can finally test SAB by downloading an NZB.

Testing Your SABnzbd Install

SABnzbd WebUI Downloader








After SABnzbd restarts, it’s time to test it and make sure we can download something without any issues. For our test, we visited Binsearch.info and found a copy of Linux Mint to download. To start the download, we dropped the .NZB file into the SABnzbd /watch/ folder where SABnzbd will automatically snatch it up. Alternatively, you can click the Add NZB button at the top of the WebUI and add the NZB that way also. It will appear in the Queue and then transfer to the History section of the WebUI as it shifts from downloading to verifying and unpacking, as seen in the screenshot above.

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Innovation Challenge: Announcing the Winning Project

It has been many weeks since we first launched the UsenetServer Innovation Challenge, but at last, the time has come for our winner to claim victory and take home his or her Raspberry Pi 2 to build and complete their new project!

Before we declare our winner, we have a bit of background on the project and how our judges arrived at their decision. Our panel of judges consisted of four experts in the world of Usenet. They were tasked with judging and scoring their top two favorite entries based on four main criteria: 1) Creativity, 2) Feasibility, 3) Originality, and 4) the inclusion of a UsenetServer service. Each of the criteria was given a score rating from 1-10, meaning that with a perfect score, a winner could earn up to 80 points. The entry that received the highest overall rating score in all of the combined categories was declared the winner of our challenge. In all, there were 27 total eligible entries and our four judges narrowed it down to five finalists. It was a close race — our winner won with 69 points and our first runner-up earned 56. Many of the other entries considered included home automation projects and smart home features. Our winner, Jason, won by proposing the following project with a Raspberry Pi:

Jason – The current Raspberry Pi project I’m working on includes a PHP backend that runs a PHP script that routinely checks an NZB RSS feed from any online NZB search site service that offers one. It then pulls any newly posted NZB links, cleans up the RSS entry, and sends the NZB download link (via Pushover) to my Android phone and tablet. From there, Android’s Tasker and Auto-Notification intercept the notification, and create a new notification with a “Download” button and the name of the Usenet binary posted. Once the download button is pressed, the NZB Link is sent back to SABnzbd’s API (which is also running on the Raspberry Pi). Then the download is queued up and started. I also get a Pushover notification when the download has completed, and whether it was successful or not. This system currently works great, and I can easily queue up new binary downloads from my Android Wear watch-device as soon as they are posted to the NZB search site. The next phase of the operation is to build a web-based interface to tell the PHP script to skip notifying me if a post has any specific text in the title, or send a “high-priority” notification with different text in the title.

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We look forward to following Jason’s progress on his winning project, and we will have more posts in the future detailing its development! We were so excited and pleased with the variety of entries we received and would like to give a big thank you to everyone who participated in our challenge.

Never stop inventing and creating new things — you, the innovators, are building our future!

Innovation Challenge Top Entries

When we started the UsenetServer Innovation Challenge, we pressed our users to get those creative juices flowing when we asked them to build a Do-It-Yourself project using a Raspberry Pi 2 micro computer as the starting point and key component of the project. We had no restrictions and left the field wide open for entries with only one caveat: the incorporation of our Usenet or VPN service. While we don’t have our winners yet, we wanted to share with you some samples of the awesome entries submitted before the judging period comes to a close!


The PocketPi is a project that uses solar technology in conjunction with multiple

sensors to create a sleek, portable survival device that would function even

without common power. These devices are fitted with a module that allows for 3G

connectivity. This allows for the device to connect to the UsenetServer network

and provide search data with an easy to use interface. This includes current

weather conditions, and the network is also used to upload data from a range of

sensors, to provide cloud-based analysis and data mining to find patterns.

Basically, the PocketPi is a very portable, very sleek and rugged piece of

equipment that is waterproof, dust-proof, etc and utilises the cloud to provide data

to the user, even if they are out-of-bounds of accessible power

Continue reading

Raspberry Pi

How-to Build a Low-Budget Usenet Downloading Machine: Setting up Storage

Since we’ve started this How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine series, we have shown you how to gather the parts necessary to build your Pi, set up the Raspbian OS, and set up remote access to your Pi using SSH over your network. All of this has been great so far; now you have a fully-functioning, low-powered mini-computer that can be used for almost anything, and it won’t consume more than $15 in energy per year. Yes that’s right, a fully-functional computer that costs next to nothing to run for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Are you excited yet? You should be! Now that our Pi is booted, primed and ready, it’s time to christen our soon-to-be Usenet downloading machine with some much-needed storage.

What You Need

The hardware you need for your storage solution is based solely on what storage configuration you would like. You could have one standalone external USB hard drive to dump your favorite downloads onto, or you could set up a dual-USB drive backup to keep a copy of ALL of your download files. You could also set up two independent USB drives to increase your overall storage capacity if that is what is most important to you. At the end of the day, your storage configuration is ultimately a matter of personal preference. Using one USB drive, your downloading rig will ultimately use less power; however, you will miss out on the obvious multi-drive benefits.

Setting Up Storage for Raspberry Pi

When we got ready to piece together this how-to, we discovered our friends over at How-To Geek had already created an excellent guide called How to turn a Raspberry Pi into a Low Power Network Storage Service. In How-To Geek’s article, you’ll find instructions to set up either of the two storage configurations we discussed earlier, as well as instructions on how to set up Samba to enable access to your storage via your windows network on your other computers and devices.

What’s Next?

Stay tuned for our last installment of the How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine, in which we’ll be setting up SABnzbd. In this final chapter, we will take you through the installation of the SABnzbd package on Raspbian OS and provide a step-by-step guide for configuring access to UsenetServer.


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Raspberry Pi

How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine: Configuring Remote Access

In our last post, we wrote a step-by-step walkthrough of how to successfully setup your Raspbian Operating System for the first-time boot of your Raspberry Pi 2. Now we are going to show you how to configure remote access to your Pi. The reason for this configuration is simple: you want to avoid the extra hardware (monitor, mouse, keyboard, etc.) that comes with most computers. Setting up remote access will allow you to configure and tinker with your Pi’s setup, all from the convenience of your laptop or desktop computer (As long as your Pi is on the same network). Check out the first part of this series: Building the Pi


Configuring Secure Shell Access SSH (Command-Line)

The best and easiest way to administer your Raspberry Pi is via the command-line interface using a terminal connection over secure shell access (SSH). Using an SSH client like PuTTY for Windows or the default Macintosh app Terminal, you can connect to your Pi and send commands to it just as if you were typing commands via the Pi’s directly-connected USB keyboard. To enable secure shell access to login to your Pi, you will need to run the following command:


This will launch the raspi-config utility on your Pi. Once the raspi-config is launched, do the following:

After you run ./rapi-config utility, go the the "Advanced Options," Go down to the SSH option and then select enable to turn on secure shell access for remote administration.

After you run ./rapi-config utility, go the the “Advanced Options,” select the SSH option and then select “Enable” to turn on Secure Shell Access for remote administration.

Turn on Secure Shell Remote Access

Go down to “Advanced Options,” choose “SSH” on the next screen, and select “Yes” to enable. This will authorize Secure Shell remote terminal access, allowing you to connect to your Pi from any other computer on the same network. Select “Finish” on the Main Menu and your Pi will reboot with the updated configuration.

Accessing the Pi Using SSHWindows

Now that you have enabled Secure Shell remote access, you’ll need to launch an SSH client on your desktop to test the remote access and ensure it is working correctly. If you are running Windows, you are going to need to install PuTTY. Once you open a copy of PuTTY, make sure you have the “Session” category selected on the left. Input your Raspberry Pi’s IP address (You can get this via your router’s DHCP table or by running ifconfig on your Pi), select the SSH connection type, and connect.

Connect via SSH using Putty client for Windows

Enter in your Pi’s IP address, select “SSH” as the connection type and click “Connect” to start a Secure Shell connection with your Pi.

You may be asked if you want to connect to your Pi, click “Yes.” If you are successfully connected, you will see a terminal window like the one below, prompting you for your Pi’s username and password. You will login with the username ‘pi’ and password ‘raspberry’ (Unless you changed it using ./raspi-config). After you have successfully logged-in you will see something like this:

Connect to Pi via SSH terminal access

After you have connected via SSH with PuTTY and entered your login information, you will see a terminal window to your Pi.

Accessing the Pi Using SSHMacintosh

Now that you have enabled Secure Shell remote access, you’ll need to launch an SSH client on your desktop to test the remote access and ensure it is working correctly. If you are a Mac user, you can connect to your Pi via SSH using the native Terminal utility included in your Mac’s Applications >> Utilities folder. To start a connection, launch the Terminal app and then type the following:

ssh pi@

where should be replaced with your Pi’s actual IP address.

Next, you will be asked if you would like to connect to your Pi, type “Yes.” After that, you will be prompted for your Pi’s login information. From this point, you can issue commands directly to the Pi without the need to connect a monitor or keyboard to it ever again.


In the next installment of our How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine series, we will walkthrough setting up physical storage devices on your Pi to store your Usenet downloads.

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Raspberry Pi

How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine: Building the Pi

It can be really annoying having to run your home PC overnight to complete a batch of NZB downloads. Using the Raspberry Pi 2 (retail value: $35.00), you can build a low-budget, low-power Usenet downloading machine that runs Raspbian and SABnzbd. In this multi-part series, you will learn how-to to successfully create a fully functioning NZB downloader complete with web-based queue management and a network-attached storage setup for all of your downloaded Usenet binaries.

Why the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B?

The cost of the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, especially when compared to the set of technical features that it offers, can’t be beat at $35 for the core unit.  The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B is the second-generation Raspberry Pi. Replacing the original in February 2015, the Pi 2 delivers six times the processing speed of its predecessor with an upgraded Broadcom BCM2836 processor. The board also features an increase in memory capacity to 1GB of RAM. The Raspberry Pi is an open-source product designed to be supported by Internet-based user forums. As a starting point, you can refer to their official website for your base operating system needs.

Raspberry Pi 2 Model B

Raspberry Pi 2 Model B

Other Features Include:

  • GPU provides Open GL ES 2.0, hardware-accelerated OpenVG, and 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode
  • GPU is capable of 1Gpixel/s, 1.5Gtexel/s or 24GFLOPs with texture filtering and DMA infrastructure
  • HD 1080p video output
  • Composite video (PAL/NTSC) output
  • Stereo audio output
  • 10/100 BaseT RJ45 Ethernet socket
  • HDMI 1.3 & 1.4 video/audio socket
  • 3.5mm 4-pole audio/composite video out jack socket
  • 4 x USB 2.0 sockets
  • 15-way MPI CSI-2 connector for Raspberry Pi HD video camera (775-7731)
  • 15-way Display Serial Interface connector
  • MicroSD card socket
  • Boots from MicroSD card, running a new version of the Linux operating system
  • 40-pin header for GPIO and serial buses (compatible with Raspberry Pi 1 26-pin header)
  • Power supply: +5V @ 2A via microUSB socket
  • Dimensions: 86 x 56 x 20mm


What You Need to Build the Pi

Once you have the Raspberry Pi 2 that is great, but it might as well be a $35 paper weight without the other components needed to prepare it for some serious downloading action. Remember you will need a proper power adapter to power the device and although the Pi 2 Model B has an Ethernet port, you might as well have WiFi capability to save yourself another wired connection. You are also going to need USB storage to store your data and USB input devices (keyboard and mouse) to setup the Pi on its initial boot. The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B has 4 USB 2.0 ports, but it’s always good to have more so we recommend throwing a powered USB hub into the mix as well. Finally, you will need a decent sized SD card (4GB or more) to load and store the Raspbian Linux operating system that your Pi will run. Here is our list of recommended components you’ll need to build the Pi 2 downloading machine:

  • Raspberry Pi 2 Model B
  • microUSB Power Adapter (+5volts @ 2Amps)



  • USB Wifi Adapter (We Recommend the Panda 300Mbps Wireless-N USB Adapter (PAU05))
  • USB Mouse & Keyboard
  • Powered USB Hub to Support Additional Devices (We recommend the D-Link DUB-H7)
  • External USB Hard Disk Storage (Two is better for data redundancy)
  • HDMI Cable for Video Display on Initial Boot
  • 8GB microSD card (We recommend 8GB, minimum of 4GB)

If you’re looking to save time and money, a kit can be ordered here that contains most of the components needed to get started on this project. But if you’re looking for a more customized build, a full list of compatible hardware can be found here.

A bit about audio and video: For digital video to a standard computer monitor that lacks an HDMI port, an HDMI to DVI cable is needed for the video signal and a 3.5mm stereo cable for the sound (as you’ll lose the sound in the HDMI to DVI conversion).

What’s Next in Our Series? Time to Load the OS, Raspbian

Raspbian OS

Raspbian OS

In the next installment of UsenetServer’s How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine, we walk you through imaging your microSD card with the latest release of the Raspian operating system. Go to Part Two: Setting Up the Raspbian OS

Build a Cheap Home Theater PC

Many people are often looking for a better more flexible home theater device to better manage and browse their favorite digital media, but many of us don’t have a huge budget to drop on the most expensive gear.

Building a good home theater media management system on a budget can be a challenge, but watch as our friends from DIY Tryin show us how to turn a Raspberry Pi into a cheap yet powerful home theater PC using BerryBoot and XBMC clone openelec. For a full list of items needed to complete this project, check out Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Home Theater PC – Watch Netflix, Amazon Prime and more