Blog

Mender 1.3 beta: Raspberry Pi 3

14th Nov 2017

Mender 1.3.0 beta is here and ready for you to try out!

In addition, we are happy to announce the production release of Mender 1.2.2! The Mender 1.2.2 release notes contains the details on the improvements in the Mender 1.2.2 patch release.

The key features of Mender 1.3 beta are covered below, and you can see the detailed items in the Mender 1.3.0 beta release notes.

In-product onboarding

Documentation quality is a key focus area for Mender in order to make Mender easy to use. However, it is even better if documentation is not needed at all because the product is self-explanatory. One of the first improvements you will notice in Mender 1.3 beta is a step in this direction: the new in-product onboarding guide.

For example, if you have not yet connected any devices to the server it will let you know about the next steps to do this:

No devices found

It is also context-sensitive. For instance, it will direct you back if you go to the Deployments tab before you have any devices connected:

Not ready for deployment

You can hide or show the help tips by clicking your email address at the top right:

Hide help tips

Good onboarding is important, it strikes a balance between allowing users to play around without getting lost or overwhelmed. We hope we were able to make a good compromise with the design and would be very interested in hearing your feedback!

Raspberry Pi 3 reference device

We are very happy to add Raspberry Pi 3 as a reference device to Mender 1.3 beta and future versions! This means that we will include Raspberry Pi 3 in our CI environment and ensure it works with future versions of Mender as well.

Raspberry Pi 3 B

In addition, we will provide demo images, i.e. disk images (.sdimg) and Artifacts (.mender), for Mender supporting Raspberry Pi 3 for future versions of Mender so you can easily test and build for this device type! It is very likely other revisions of the Raspberry Pi will work well too.

Resuming Artifact downloads

If you have a 100 MB Artifact (.mender) file and the connection gets interrupted as your devices are close to finishing the download, it is quite wasteful to start the download from scratch again. In fact, this may cause the download to be restarted many times in unreliable networks because it may be interrupted over and over.

To alleviate this, the Mender client now supports resuming of downloads, so it will pick up from the byte where it left off when downloading the Artifact from the server!

State scripts improvements

State scripts, introduced in Mender 1.2, became a popular feature set.

Mender 1.3 beta introduces several improvements to logging the output of the state scripts. Errors now contain the full description, not just the error code and all output from state scripts is logged to stderr. This should help diagnosing any failures while running the state scripts.

In addition, retry functionality has been added. This allows a state script to tell Mender to wait before proceeding with the update (in addition to proceed or stop). This enables better support for many use cases, including update confirmation by the end user.

User management

If several members of your team want to manage software updates to your devices it is now possible to create separate user accounts for each of them -- so you do not have to share an account. To do this, click on your email address on the top right and "User management":

Create new user

There is a REST API available for user management as well, so you can automate user creation and removal.

All users have the same permissions. We plan to introduce more advanced permission sets with Role-based access control (RBAC) as well as external authentication (e.g. LDAP) in the future.

Smarter auto-logout

To improve security, the Mender UI automatically logs you out after 15 minutes in 1.2.0 and newer versions. However, we got several reports from the community that this functionality was annoying (the well-known tradeoff between security vs. usability).

Mender 1.3.0 beta helps alleviate this by being smarter to test for activity before logging you out. So if you are using any aspect of the UI, it should reset the 15 minute counter, thus you should not get logged out that frequently.

In the future we also plan to add a Keep me logged in checkbox if you are on a very secure computer and location and want to disable this functionality altogether.

Try Mender 1.3 beta

The documentation has a new 1.3 section that includes all the resources you need to get going. To test the new features, you can start with these pages:

Upgrading Mender 1.2 production installations

If you are using Mender 1.1 or 1.2, follow the Mender 1.2 upgrade documentation to upgrade to the 1.2.2 patch release.

It will likely work to use the same document to upgrade older releases of Mender as well, but please note that the official and tested upgrade path is always from the previous minor or patch release (i.e. 1.1.x and 1.2.x releases for 1.2.2).

We do not recommend upgrading production installations to Mender 1.3.0 beta, rather create a new test environment (see link above).

Try Hosted Mender beta

Hosted Mender is a secure Mender server we host for you, so you do not have to spend time maintaining scalability, security, certificates, uptime, upgrades and compatibility of the Mender server. Simply point your Mender clients to our server!

Hosted Mender is currently in beta and fully compatible with the new Mender 1.2.2 and 1.3.0 beta client releases. We recommend that you use Yocto Project's pyro (2.3) version with these Mender releases for the best experience.

Sign up for Hosted Mender beta for free at https://mender.io/signup.

Support for your board

If you are getting started with OTA updates or do not have time to integrate the Mender client with your board, we are happy to help with professional services to enable Mender support for your board!

Share your feedback

We are happy to continue to see your general feedback on Mender, be it positive or need for improvement, on the Mender mailing list. Your continued feedback ensures Mender will meet your needs even better in the future!

If you believe you have encoutered a bug, please submit your report at the Mender JIRA issue tracker.

We hope you enjoy the new features and are looking forward to hearing from you!