Step-By-Step: How I built a Virtual Node on World's Smallest Mini PC

I’m writing this post to encourage fellow PRV holders that it is possible to build and run your own Incognito Virtual Node on a mini PC with minimal Linux knowledge.

Disclaimer: I have never used Linux before embarking on this project. This was only possible with the help of many folks in this community.
Special thanks to: @Chucky @Jamie @fitz_fiat @zes333 @raz @sid @doc for answering my questions on the other threads.

RECOMMENDED READING
These articles were a HUGE help in my journey to building and running my own Virtual Node:

Let’s begin…

Step 1) Buy a Mini PC

I wanted to build this Incognito Node on the world's smallest PC that I could find. I wanted a PC that was very energy efficient as I realize this machine would have to be running 24x7. I also like supporting Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects and hence the project below met these requirements:

Here is official photo and specs of the Larkbox…
Chuwi-Larkbox-specs

Each Chuwi Larkbox mini PC cost me $1,180 HKD (~$170 USD) and I received delivery 2 weeks ago and it’s super tiny measuring: 61mm x 61mm x 43mm (see below)

Chuwi-larkbox-size_700px

This mini PC is quite powerful for it’s size packing a Quad-Core Intel Celeron processor and supports 4K video via HDMI. It is also super energy efficient.

Step 2) Installing Linux on the mini PC

I had to download the latest version of Ubuntu ISO and then run a tool called Rufus to created a bootable USB stick. *Tip: Make sure your USB stick is at least 8GB in size.*

Here are the websites I went to for downloading all the software I needed and instructions on how to install Ubuntu for free via USB:

Please note: If your PC doesn’t boot from your USB stick to kick start the Ubuntu installer, you may need to change a BIOS setting. This step varies as each PC BIOS is different. If you fall into this category, you should refer to user guide, do a google search or jump on a discussion forum about how to change BIOS setting to boot from a USB stick.

Step 3) Install Ubuntu Desktop software updates

This is like doing a Windows or Mac Software update. What you need to do is open up the "Terminal" application and run these commands:
  1. Refresh Keys:
    sudo apt-key adv --refresh-keys --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com

  2. Update the Ubuntu Distribution
    sudo apt-get dist-upgrade -y

  3. Update all other applications
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y

Step 4) Install Incognito Virtual Node Software

I followed this post on how to do this. There are quite a number of step that are well documented by @annie and make sure you already have enough PRV to stake to your virtual node.

I’d rather not repeat the post so please read it and have your Incognito Mobile Wallet with you so you can follow the steps.

Step 5) Check for any software updates

After installing any software onto your Linux Machine I've been told it's always a good idea to run the following command in the Terminal to install any updates to the software (just incase you didn't install the latest copy).

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

Step 6) Configure Port Forwarding Rules on your modem/router

Even though the node software is running, this does not mean it can communicate with the incognito network. You may need to open up some ports to allow this to happen. This is where things get a little technical and this is were I needed a lot of guidance from the community.

Also note that this may be slightly different based on your modem and network configuration. I will show you my setup and I hopefully that helps explain what I did it. My home network is very simple with a single combined Modem + WiFi Router connected to broadband WAN network.

I have my Chuwi Larkbox PC connected to my WiFi router that is located about 1 metre away, hence the signal strength is very strong. If your PC has an ethernet cable outlet, this would be a preferred over WiFi as you will not have the additional risk of a signal drop outs.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Note down the internal IP Address of your Linux PC running the Incognito Virtual Node. In my case, my internal IP Address begin with: 192.168.0.xx.

  2. Go to your Firewall setting on your Modem/Router and configure the “Port Forwarding” rules. Below is a example of my settings:
    Firewall-port-fwd-config_700px

Please note: You will need to swap out my IP Addresses for your internal IP address of your Incognito vNode.

  1. “Save and Restart” your Modem for the changes to take effect.

  2. Check to see if you Linux Boxes ports are able to receive traffic from these port numbers. To do this you need to open the a web browser on Ubuntu Desktop and visit this website:

Here is an example of my machine that has a Port Forwarding issue:
port-forwarding-check_700px

  1. Once you have checked all port and the tool above reports “Success” for each port, you are all good to go.

Step 7) Check that your node is up and running using the Terminal

To do this you need to run the following command in the Terminal:

sudo docker stats

This will display something like the following:
sudo-docker-stats

*Linux Tip: “sudo” stands for “Super User Do” and it’s the equivalent of running something as “Administrator” on a Windows PC. You may be prompted to enter your root user password so have that handy. *

Well done!

There you have it, congrats on making it to the end of this article and I'm glad I haven't lost you along the way.

All in all, I was able to get my incognito virtual node up and running in about 8 hours, the longest part was installing the Ubuntu Desktop and then installing all the updates and incognito and I had some dramas with Port Forwarding.

Some of you may be wondering “Was my tiny PC able to handle the load when it came to earning PRV?”
Well here is the proof, I was able to take a screen shot of my Virtual Node whilst it was in “Earning” stage on the committee. Take a look at the CPU meter at the top right.

vNode-earning-CPU-meter_700px

My tiny CHUWI Larkbox was able to handle the load no worries at all. The 4 core Intel Celeron CPU was up for the task. This PC has 6GB of onboard DDR4 Ram, more than enough.

In closing

I hope this post helps inspire others the build there very own Incognito Virtual Node. Being a Windows and Mac user my entire life, this was my first venture into Linux land by and I must admit it really was not that scary as I thought it might be. However I could not have done this without the help of many in this helpful community.

This post if my gift back to the Incognito Community. I hope many others are now inspired to setup and run there own Virtual Nodes and grow this network.

Go Incognito!

39 Likes

Congratz on this cute mini pc, and even more on turning it into an Incognito node.
You did a great job. Thanks for sharing your experience to set it up, and for writing it down in manual format others can use as well.

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Perfect job…Did you tried on a raspberry pi4b?

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Hey @Katoshicoins, I did not end up buying the Raspberry hardware, only bought the CHUWI LarkBox.

I bought the LarkBox as it was part of an indiegogo (kickstarter like) project and I wanted to support them.

The specs were impressive for it’s size as it has a

  • Quad-core intel Celeron CPU
  • 6GB DDR4, and
  • 120GB SSD right out of the box.

For those interested in buying this hardware and building your own Incognito Virtual Node - https://store.chuwi.com/products/chuwi-larkbox

FYI, I have no affiliation with CHUWI and this is a completely independent article.

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Neat! I love tiny computers!

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Great! How many nodes can a single one of this tiny PCs can handle? Just one?

Good question but I think just one

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I love tiny things, can I run this pc by Windows system?

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Hi @wangfeng, thanks for your question. Yes, the CHUWI LarkBox comes pre-installed with a license of Windows 10 Home edition. You can checkout the specs on this page - https://store.chuwi.com/products/chuwi-larkbox

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Hi @J053, I am only running a single incognito node on it as I wanted to make sure it could handle the load. It has a low power Intel Celeron CPU and it’s a really cheap to run, tiny PC. If I wanted to run another node, I’d just go buy another Chuwi LarkBox.

Forgot to ask. How is it coping with heat? When the pNode starts syncing most of us can hear the fan starting to do its job. Does this box get loud as well? Does it heat up a lot?

(Still impressed you got this to work. And happy your effort paid off)

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Hi @Jamie, I could not have gotten this to work without your help, so thank you!

To answer your question about heat, I will pay more attention to that when my node is earning next time. This should be quite soon as the Telegram Nito bot (thx @Josh_Hamon) just told me my node on my LarkBox is “Pending”.

Is there any app for Linux that measures temperature and fan speed?

I know of many such utils for Windows PC but as I’m a newbie to Linux I’d appreciate some advice on a trustworthy application. I want to avoid installing spyware onto my vNode.

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Hey, @Linnovations congratulations! It’s a bold step towards technological decentralization :muscle: :muscle:

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Hey @Jamie, My node was selected (Yay!) so I was able to get a sense for temperature whilst my node was earning.

I noticed from the monitor that the Intel Quad-Core CPUs jumped from idle (non-earning) around 15% to between 50-75%. But the internal fan inside Chuwi Larkbox did not spin like crazy. In fact the device was whisper quiet. I don’t think the fan was even spinning fast at all. I could pick up the tiny PC with my hand (not hot at all).
CHUWI-Larkbox-Earning-running-cool_600px

I have been pleasantly surprised at how well this experiment has turned out.
Best of all it’s running on a super energy efficient power supply 12V x 2Amps.

Hey @andrey, perhaps you should consider using these lower powered more energy efficient Intel Celeron CPUs in the next generation Node Trees.

5 Likes

Hey @andrey, It’s awesome that the Incognito team are providing the software to allow us to run our own Virtual Nodes. :clap:
I think this is very important as many of us have spare PCs lying around that can be used to grow this decentralized privacy network.

Please feel free to share this article, or perhaps bring this up on the next PRV Holders call to encourage others in the community to give it a try. I am living proof that it is possible for a non-Linux user to run an Incognito vNode.

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@all, we should probably share it in other communities outside of the Incognito)

@Linnovations have you thought about to produce own pNode device, a “Pocket Node” or something like this ? :slight_smile:

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I am not too familiar with the Linux tools out there so I asked a hardcore Linux user friend. He uses xsensors to monitor both.

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It’s great to know, ram and hard drive even more than my laptop :sweat_smile:

Thanks for this great post @Linnovations

I am pretty new to the crypto world and my first Wallet was actually Incognito. That means anyone can find it quite easily. I have now more than 1750PRV which are all in the liquidity pool (‘Provide’) and would like to move to the next step.

I am actually thinking about doing the same build. vNode on a Mini PC. Is it still working fine? Did you get your first rewards? It seems the average PRV earnings should be around 20PRV per week this year.

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Hi @Stradimarius, well done on taking a privacy first approach to your venture into crypto by using the Incognito Wallet.

Great to hear you are looking into running your own vNode on a Mini PC.

My vNode has been running just over 3 weeks now and my node have recieved 2 earning rounds so far.

It handled the load fine and didn’t get hot at all. I monitored the CPU whilst it was earning PRV and I did not see any problems. The CPU did increase from an idle state of 10% to around 75% whilst earning PRV.

I have to say that my Incognito vNode on the CHUWI LarkBox is running beautifully. This was my 1st attempt at building a Linux PC from scratch. I hope my article helps encourage you to give it a try. If I can do it (with no prior Linux knowledge) I’m sure you can too!

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