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This is not complete, more to follow
[[Category: RaspberryPi]]
[[Category: RaspberryPi]]

Revision as of 03:14, 20 January 2016

Erlang on Raspberry Pi, starting with a fresh Raspbian image (even Lite will do). Make sure you run raspi-config to enlarge the file system to fill your memory card. Erlang takes a couple of hours to compile (when you run "make").

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wget
sudo apt-get install libssl-dev
sudo apt-get install ncurses-dev
wget http://www.erlang.org/download/otp_src_18.2.1.tar.gz
tar -xzvf otp_src_18.2.1.tar.gz
cd otp_src_18.2.1/
sudo make install
cd ..
sudo rm -R otp_src_18.2.1/

If you don't want to install everything that comes with the standard Erlang package, you can save space and time just by putting a file with the name SKIP in every library you don't want/need in your raspberry pi. This is the applications I usually skip. Do this before you run ./configure and make.

touch lib/asn1/SKIP
touch lib/cosEvent/SKIP
touch lib/cosEventDomain/SKIP
touch lib/cosFileTransfer/SKIP
touch lib/cosNotification/SKIP
touch lib/cosProperty/SKIP
touch lib/cosTime/SKIP
touch lib/cosTransactions/SKIP
touch lib/diameter/SKIP
touch lib/eldap/SKIP
touch lib/ic/SKIP
touch lib/gs/SKIP
touch lib/megaco/SKIP
touch lib/orber/SKIP
touch lib/ose/SKIP
touch lib/otp_mibs/SKIP
touch lib/parsetools/SKIP
touch lib/percept/SKIP
touch lib/reltool/SKIP
touch lib/snmp/SKIP
touch lib/test_server/SKIP
touch lib/typer/SKIP
touch lib/webtool/SKIP
touch lib/wx/SKIP
touch lib/xmerl/SKIP

You start the interactive shell with erl and quit with Ctrl-g q. Read about Erlang at [1].


On this page I will show how to use Erlang on Raspberry Pi to put a sensor value from Gertboard on the web using an interface written in Forth and how to put a picture from Pi Camera on the web. Then I will show how to drive a small screen (5") directly from Erlang graphics library ex11 [2].

A Web Server

Erlang is a perfect language to use for programming a web server, and that is exactly what Loïc Hoguin did. [3] Cowboy is one of the most scalable web servers there is and it's also small, so it fits nicely in a Raspberry Pi. I was thinking of using it to display the kW load from my Atlast Forth interface to Gertboard. Here is how I did it; Install git

sudo apt-get install git

then install the cowboy web server and test run it. Follow the instructions in the | Getting Started section. Don't edit src/hello_erlang.app.src, it's not there, edit ebin/yourname.app instead. This will be fixed soon in the Getting started guide.

Replace the file nameofyourserver_app.erl with the following code and replace housserver with the name of your server:



start(_Type, _Args) ->
	Dispatch = cowboy_router:compile([
		{'_', [
			{"/", toppage_handler, []},
			{"/kwh", ws_handler_1, []},
			{"/static/[...]", cowboy_static, {priv_dir, houseserver, [<<"static">>],[
				{mimetypes, cow_mimetypes, all}
	{ok, _} = cowboy:start_http(http, 100, [{port, 8080}], [
		{env, [{dispatch, Dispatch}]}

stop(_State) ->

This dispatcher will run toppage_handler.erl when called with a plain URL. It will run ws_handler_1.erl when called with URL/kwh, and when called with URL/static/somefile.html it will look for somefile.html in priv/static/

My ws_handler_1 is a websocket handler to let me display kwh-load in realtime on a web page. I'll add that to this wiki at a later time.

External interfaces


Erlang processes communicate with the outside world using the same message passing mechanism as used between Erlang processes. This mechanism is used for communication with the host operating system and for interaction with programs written in other languages. If required for reasons of efficiency, a special version of this concept allows e.g. C programs to be directly linked into the Erlang runtime system. The easy way is good enough, so just open a port to Atlast Forth in the file src/toppage_handler.erl. Replace toppage_handler.erl with the following:

%% @doc Hello world handler.


init(_Transport, Req, []) ->
        {ok, Req, undefined}.

handle(Req, State) ->
  Port = open_port({spawn, "./priv/atlast -i./priv/kwh.atl"}, [{line,40}]),
  Port ! {self(), {command, "1 gertboard\n"}},
  Port ! {self(), {command, "w\n"}},
    {Port,{data,{eol,D}}} -> D
  after 20*1000 -> D = "timeout"
  Port ! {self(), {command, "0 gertboard\n"}},
  {ok, Req2} = cowboy_req:reply(200, [], D, Req),
  {ok, Req2, State}.

terminate(_Reason, _Req, _State) ->

and compile the file:


Now, we need to put atlast in the ./priv directory, but first we have to get rid of the banner and the prompt.

In atlmain.c comment out PR("ATLAST 1.2 (2007-10-07) This program is in the public domain.\n"); at line 55 and comment out if (!fname) at 162,163,164 and 165. Save and run make again.

In directory cowboy, create a directory priv and copy atlast to it:

cd ~/cowboy
mkdir priv
cp ../atlast-1.2/atlast ./priv

Create a file kwh.atl and put it in the same priv directory with the word definitions for getting kW and W load values from Gertboard:

( The first 25 getkwh is for detecting an edge, drop the result and find next edge. Convert the two integers to float and divide them.  )
( 3.6 divided by the result. The result is load in kilowatts )
: kw 3.6 25 getkwh 2drop 25 getkwh float 2 roll float 2swap f/ f/ ." "kw=" f. cr ;

( The same thing done with integers only. Here the result is in W )
: w 25 getkwh 2drop 25 getkwh 36 * swap 100 / / ." "w=" . cr ;

OK, now we just have to start it up (sudo is needed by the Gertboard driver, not by Cowboy, and for pure simplicity I take another shortcut and starts the Cowboy with sudo rights. Don't do this in a production environment). Remember to change the name "houseserver" to the name of your server.


sudo ./_rel/houseserver_release/bin/houseserver_release console

Point the browser to or whatever IP address you have on your Raspberry Pi. After a few seconds the W load should show up. I stop here as this is not the right place to discuss how to make a web GUI; lots of other sites can help with that. And one final note: You have to run "make" even if you only changed an HTML-file, I scratched my head a bit about that before I got it, have fun :)

Note: The suggested way to call the port directly from toppage_handler.erl is just to make it easy. In a real website with thousands of users you should open the port from a separate process and let it run and serve more than one web call.

Pi Camera


If you have a PiCamera and wants to have a picture on a web page. The cool thing with this is that it's in real time, it is not a file that is served, but a new picture is taken when you do the web call. Check that /opt/vc/bin/raspistill works on your system, then replace the code in src/toppage_handler.erl with the following (then follow the Gertboard example for compiling and running):

%% @doc Hello world handler.


init(_Transport, Req, []) ->
        {ok, Req, undefined}.

handle(Req, State) ->
  Port = open_port({spawn, "/opt/vc/bin/raspistill -t 2 -w 1024 -h 768 -o -"}, [binary]),
  Str = loop(Port,<<>>), 
  {ok, Req2} = cowboy_req:reply(200, [], Str, Req),
  {ok, Req2, State}.

terminate(_Reason, _Req, _State) ->

loop(Port,Frame) ->
    {Port, {data, Chunk}} -> 
      Size = byte_size(Chunk) - 2,
      case Chunk of 
        <<_:Size/binary,255,217>> -> Framestring = base64:encode_to_string(<<Frame/binary,Chunk/binary>>),
                  "<html><img src = 'data:image/jpeg;base64," ++ Framestring ++ "'></html>";
    _ -> loop(Port,<<Frame/binary,Chunk/binary>>)
  after 20*1000 -> "<html>timeout</html>"

Note: The suggested way to call the port directly from toppage_handler.erl is just to make it easy. In a real website with thousands of users you should open the port from a separate process and let it run and serve more than one web call.


raspivid can create an H.264 video file, and with the command line parameter -o - it will stream to stdout. Below is an Erlang module that takes this stream, slices it in 10 second chunks and sends these slices over a websocket connection to a webserver.

% Takes a stream from raspivid and sends 10 second chunks over a websocket to a webserver as a binary message
start() -> spawn_link(?MODULE,init,[]).

init() ->
	process_flag(trap_exit, true),
        websocket_client:start_link("ws://", ?MODULE, []).
	open_port({spawn, "raspivid -n -t 600000 -g 300 -w 640 -h 480 -pf 'baseline' -fps 30 -ih -qp 30 -o -"}, [binary,eof]),

loop(Data) ->
		{_, {data, Data1}}  ->
			Rest1 = case binary:split(<<Data/binary,Data1/binary>>,?BOUNDARY,[global]) of 
				[_,Chunk,Rest] -> websocket_client:cast(self(),{binary,<<?BOUNDARY/binary,Chunk/binary>>}),
				_ -> <<Data/binary,Data1/binary>>
		{_,eof} -> ok;
		{'EXIT', _Pid0, Why} -> io:format("~p crash: ~p~n",[?MODULE,Why]);
		_Any -> 
	after 15000 ->
		io:format("~p timeout~n",[?MODULE])

Save the code in a file raspivid.erl and compile.

I am using https://github.com/jeremyong/websocket_client as websocket client and Cowboy as websocket server. On the server side you just have to save each chunk in a file and enclose it in a ts-container. I use tsMuxeR [4] for that:

file:write_file("my_media.h264", Bin),
Meta = "MUXOPT --no-pcr-on-video-pid --new-audio-pes --vbr  --vbv-len=500
V_MPEG4/ISO/AVC, my_media.h264, fps=25, ar=As source",
file:write_file("my_media.meta", list_to_binary(Meta)),
os:cmd("tsMuxeR my_media.meta my_media.ts"),

You can play the file my_media.ts as it is, or you can put it in an m3u8 playlist. If you want to have one large media file you can just concatenate the 10 second H.264 chunks before running tsMuxeR.


This is a simple owserver client. It can call dir and print a directory listing from a onewire network. First, you have to install owfs:

sudo apt-get install owfs

Configure owfs in /etc/owfs.conf

Then, save a file, onewire.erl with the following content:


start() -> spawn_link(?MODULE,init,[]).

init() ->
	io:format("New process: ~p~n", [?MODULE]),
	{ok,Socket} = gen_tcp:connect("localhost", 4304, [binary, {packet, 0}]),
	Version = 0,
	Type = 10,
	Control_flags = 36,
	Size = 1024,
	Offset = 0,
	Raw = <<"/",0>>,
	Payload = size(Raw),
	ok = gen_tcp:send(Socket,<<Version:32,Payload:32,Type:32,Control_flags:32,Size:32,Offset:32,Raw/binary>>),

loop(Socket) ->
		{tcp,Socket,Bin} -> Dir = get_directory(Bin),
			io:format("In ~p: Dir is: ~p~n",[?MODULE,Dir]),
		{ow_dir,Raw,Pid} -> 
			Version = 0,
			Type = 10, % get
			Control_flags = 36,
			Size = 1024,
			Offset = 0,
			Payload = size(Raw),
			ok = gen_tcp:send(Socket,<<Version:32,Payload:32,Type:32,Control_flags:32,Size:32,Offset:32,Raw/binary>>),
			receive {tcp,Socket,Bin} -> Dir = get_directory(Bin), Pid ! {ow_dir,Dir} after 10000 -> ok end,
		{tcp_closed,_} -> ok;
		Any -> io:format("~p got unknown msg: ~p~n",[?MODULE, Any]),

% Function get_directory(Bin)
get_directory(Bin) ->
get_dir(<<>>,Dir) -> Dir;
get_dir(<<0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0, Return_value:32/signed-integer,Rest/binary>>,_Dir) when Return_value /= 0 -> 
	io:format("Return value is: ~p and Rest is: ~p~n",[Return_value,Rest]);
get_dir(<<_Version:32,_Payload:32,0:32,_Control_flags:32,Size:32,_Offset:32,Raw:Size/binary,0,Rest/binary>>,Dir) ->
get_dir(<<_Version:32,Payload:32,Return_value:32,_Control_flags:32,_Size:32,_Offset:32,Raw:Payload/binary>>,Dir) ->
	io:format("Return value is: ~p and Raw is: ~p~n",[Return_value,Raw]),

Compile the file with: erlc onewire.erl Start an Erlang console with erl and type onewire:start(), and you should see a listing of your onewire network.

Another Erlang module can send this message to onewire: {ow_dir,<<"/",0>>,self()} and get back a directory listing.

The native Erlang graphics library, ex11

Make sure you have a working ATLAST Forth Erlang port by following the examples in the Forth section and the Gertboard example above. You don't have to install Cowboy, just do the changes to ATLAST Forth to make it start without printing the banner.

Then install ex11, follow the installation instructions from my Github page [5].

In directory ex11, create a directory priv and copy atlast to it:

cd ~/ex11
mkdir priv
cp ../atlast-1.2/atlast ./priv

Create a file kwh.atl and put it in the same priv directory with the word definitions for getting W load values from Gertboard:

: w 25 getkwh 2drop 25 getkwh 36 * swap 100 / / ." "w=" . cr ;

This is not complete, more to follow