PirateBox – some tipps

PirateBox is, without a doubt, a great project. Nevertheless there are some things to consider and also some things to improve. I’ll just make a short list of what I learnt. You are warmly invited to comment. I used the OpenWrt-version of Piratebox.

1) This might be obvious but I never conceived the notion of it until I worked with PirateBox and the TP-Link MR3020-Router: you’re just dealing with linux. After SSH-ing into the router just be free to explore and play around. cd and ls the hell outta this thing.

2) Simplest mode of operating the box is either via wall socket or a battery. Note there are premade affordable 12V to 5V USB-converters available. Just search for ‘12v 5v usb‘ on ebay or somewhere else. 12V (car) batteries are available in your local electronics store (maybe even the converter). A 7000 mAh battery should give you about a day of operating off-grid. This will vary of course due to wireless usage, router type and battery quality.

3) Tech and ‘open something’ people like the word ‘pirate’ – it’s freedom, it’s controlling your destingy, taking what’s yours, operating outside of incrusted structures. For other people it may be – at best – adventure tales and the pirate party (which has a arguable reputation) or – worse – illegal activity, stealing, hacking and so on. So, I decided to alter the SSID of my PirateBox. I called it Open Library – Share freely (instead of PirateBox – Share freely). To do this SSH into the router and follow these instructions. To mirror this information:

Edit the wireless file on the router by

vi /etc/config/wireless (vi cheatsheet)

Look for the SSID option and alter the string (allowed chars), save it and type

/etc/init.d/network reload

You should now be able to use your new SSID. I’d always choose something welcoming; ‘NSA-surveillance van’ maybe not a good idea. 😉

4) Furthermore, I altered the landing page of PirateBox. For two reasons; first, the PirateBox logo without explanation may be intimidating for some people. Second, not everyone is able to read English on a level which is sufficient to be comfortable in this new context. So I changed to PirateBox logo to a pictogram I found on the PLA blog (Number 42). Less intimidating while preserving the notion of sharing.

To change the logo as well as the text on the landing page you cd to

ls -a (shows all (hidden) contents in the folder)

You’ll find index.html (landing page), piratebox-logo-small.png (the logo on the landing page) and .READ.ME.htm (the about page). Code snippets for German ‘customisation’ are below this post. The big logo on the about page stayed the same, since I wanted to give credit to the project.

But how do you get this stuff on your computer to edit it? scp will help you. The article on scp explains it quite well, but just for the record:

scp source target (the general idea behind scp)

scp /opt/piratebox/www/index.html user@yourhost:/home/user/ (this will copy index.html into your home directory; of course, if you’re already in the directory, just put the filename as source; you’ll need the password for ‘user’ on your local machine)

scp user@yourhost:/home/user/index.html /opt/piratebox/www/ (and copy the file back to the router; overwrites without warning!)

Of course, you can edit all the files on the router with vi but it’s more comfortable this way, I guess. So, edit the files the way you want – all you need is a bit HTML knowledge. I started with a little disclaimer that nobody is trying to hack the users computer or will try to do something illegal. But I think the localisation is the important part; make PirateBox accessible by using your local language. (Though, I’d leave the english version as it is to honour the work of David and to be accessible for international folks.)

Well, that’s it. Have fun with shared information on PirateBox and leave a comment. 🙂



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<b>1.</b> Was ist das hier alles? <a href="/.READ.ME.htm" target="_parent"><b>Antworten hier</b></a>.<p>
<b>2.</b> Lade etwas hoch. :) Einfach unten Datei auswaehlen und los geht's.</p>
<b>3.</b> Anschauen und Runterladen des Vorhandenen kannst du <a href="/Shared" target="_parent"><b>hier</b></a>.<br>


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  <td><p>Erstmal: keine Angst - niemand hat vor dich zu hacken oder illegalem Treiben zu verleiten. :)</p>
  <p>PirateBox entstand aus den Ideen des Piratenradios und 'free culture movements' - Artikel darueber findest du auf Wikipedia. Ziel ist dabei ein Geraet zu erschaffen, welches autonom und mobil eingesetzt werden kann. Dabei setzt PirateBox auf freie Software (FLOSS) um ein lokales, anonymes Netzwerk zum Teilen von Bildern, Videos, Dokumenten, Musik usw. bereit zu stellen.</p>
<p>PirateBox ist dafuer gemacht sicher und einfach zu funktionieren: keine Zugangsdaten, keine Mitschnitte wer wann auf was zugegriffen hat. PirateBox ist nicht mit dem Internet verbunden, sodass niemand (Nein, nicht mal die NSA) mitbekommt was hier geschieht.</p>
<p>PirateBox wurde von David Darts erschaffen und steht unter einer Free Art License (2011). Mehr ueber das Projekt und wie Du dir einfach eine eigene PirateBox bauen kannst, findest du hier: http://wiki.daviddarts.com/piratebox</p>
<p>Mit der Partei hat dies hier uebrigens nichts zu tun. ;)</p>
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