With this tutorial, we will be showing you the process of installing the UniFi Controller on a Raspberry Pi
UniFi is a range of network devices created by Ubiquiti. These devices range from Wi-Fi access points to security gateways and switches.
Setting up the UniFi software on a Raspberry Pi is a fairly straightforward process as it just relies on the multi-platform Java runtime to run.
Using the UniFi network controller, you can manage all the UniFi devices that are a part of your network. You will also be able to use this dashboard to see the statistics of your UniFi network.
Please note that before proceeding you will need to be running a 64-bit version of Raspberry Pi OS for this tutorial to work. Recent changes to UniFi have broken support for 32-bit operating systems.
Below is a list of the equipment that you will need to set up the Unifi Network Controller software on your Raspberry Pi
Preparing your Raspberry Pi for the UniFi Controller
In this section, we will prepare the operating system to run the UniFi software. These steps mainly revolve around getting the database server UniFi requires installed on your Raspberry Pi.
1. The first thing you should do is ensure that your Raspberry Pi is running up to date packages.
To update all packages, you will be required to run the following command.
sudo apt update sudo apt upgrade
Adding Entropy using rng-tools
2. To improve the startup speed of the UniFi controller software on our Raspberry Pi, we need to install
We will utilize this package to ensure the Raspberry Pi has enough entropy for the random number generation that the UniFi software uses.
sudo apt install rng-tools
3. We now need to make a slight change to the rng-tools configuration.
Begin editing the config file by running the following command.
sudo nano /etc/default/rng-tools-debian
4. Within this file, find and uncomment the following line.
By uncommenting this line, we are adding to the amount of entropy (The amount of randomness) that the system has available.
The Raspberry Pi features an integrated random number generator that we can utilize to increase the entropy pool.
5. Once you have made the change, save the file by pressing CTRL + X, then Y, followed by ENTER.
6. Finally, restart the
rng-tools service by running the command below.
sudo systemctl restart rng-tools
Once the service has finished restarting, it should now be safe to proceed to the next section of this guide.
Installing an Older Release of LibSSL
7. Due to the version of MongoDB that we will be utilizing, we will need to install an older release of LibSSL to our Raspberry Pi.
In particular, we will be installing LibSSL 1.0. You can download this old release by using the following command.
wget http://ports.ubuntu.com/pool/main/o/openssl/libssl1.0.0_1.0.2g-1ubuntu4_arm64.deb -O libssl1.0.deb
8. Once the package has been downloaded, all we need to do to install it is to run the command below.
sudo dpkg -i libssl1.0.deb
Installing MongoDB to your Raspberry Pi for the UniFi Controller
9. To use the UniFi Controller on your Raspberry Pi, we will need to install MongoDB.
This is the database server that UniFi uses to store all of its data. As we can’t rely on the package repository, we will need to follow some additional steps.
For this first step, we will download the latest available version of MongoDB 3.6 to our Pi. We are installing 3.6 as this is currently the only supported release for the UniFi Controller.
wget https://repo.mongodb.org/apt/ubuntu/dists/xenial/mongodb-org/3.6/multiverse/binary-arm64/mongodb-org-server_3.6.22_arm64.deb -O mongodb.deb
10. Once the package is downloaded, install it by using the following command within the terminal.
sudo dpkg -i mongodb.deb
11. Now that we have installed the MongoDB server, set it to start when your Raspberry Pi boots using the command below.
sudo systemctl enable mongod
12. Finally, start MongoDB by running the command shown below in the terminal.
This will start the server immediately, so we won’t have to wait till our device restarts.
sudo systemctl start mongod
Installing the UniFi Controller to the Raspberry Pi
1. Our first task is to add the UniFi repository to our sources list.
We can achieve this by running the command below.
echo 'deb [arch=amd64 signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/ubiquiti-archive-keyring.gpg] https://www.ui.com/downloads/unifi/debian stable ubiquiti' | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/100-ubnt-unifi.list >/dev/null
You might notice that we are using “
amd64” and not “
arm64” or “
armhf“. This is due to Ubiquiti not having their repository set up to mark “
arm64” as compatible. However, it doesn’t hugely matter as, at the moment, it will still download files compatible with our Raspberry Pi.
2. We now need to add the repositories GPG key by using the following command.
curl https://dl.ui.com/unifi/unifi-repo.gpg | sudo tee /usr/share/keyrings/ubiquiti-archive-keyring.gpg >/dev/null
The GPG key is what helps tell the package manager it is downloading the correct package.
3. As we made changes to the repositories, we need to now update the package list by running the command below.
sudo apt update
4. Now finally, we can install version 8 of the OpenJDK runtime as well as the Unifi Controller software itself to our Raspberry Pi by running the following command.
sudo apt install openjdk-11-jre-headless unifi
Installing UniFi through this method will automatically set up a service. This service will automatically start the UniFi software at boot.
Additionally, we are installing version 11 of the Java runtime environment as it is currently the only version supported by the UniFi controller.
First Boot of the UniFi Controller on your Raspberry Pi
In this section, we are going to walk you through the initial configuration steps of the UniFi software.
1. First, retrieve the local IP address for your Raspberry Pi.
If you have terminal access to your Pi, you can use the following command.
2. With your Raspberry Pi’s IP address handy, go to the following web address in your favorite web browser.
If you run into a certificate error, it is safe to ignore it as we know what device we are connecting to.
3. The first step requires you to give a name for your Raspberry Pi powered UniFi controller (1.).
You are also required to agree to the end-user license agreement and terms of service from UniFi, once you have read through them, click the checkbox (2.).
Once all done, click the “Next” button (3.) to proceed.
4. Next, you will need to sign in to your Ubiquiti account (1.).
If you don’t already have an account, you can register at the Ubiquiti website.
Once you have entered your login details, proceed by clicking the “Next” button.
5. Tweak the settings on this page that best suits your needs.
Once configured, click the “Next” button.
6. Use this screen to connect your Pi UniFi Network controller to the devices on your network.
To proceed, click the “Next” button.
7. Now give your new Wi-Fi network a name and a password.
Once you have configured your WiFi details (1.), click the “Next” button to proceed (2.).
8. This final screen will get you to review all your settings.
You will also be able to use this screen to set both the country and timezone (1.). Make sure you set these before continuing.
Once you have verified everything is correct, you can now click the “Finish” button (2.) to finish the setup process.
7. At this point, you should now have successfully set up the UniFi network controller on your Raspberry Pi.
Hopefully, at this point in the tutorial, you will now have the UniFi controller installed and running on your Raspberry Pi.
The Pi is a great base for your network controller as it can run 24/7 with little power.
If you have run into any issues setting up the UniFi software, feel free to comment below.
Check out our many other Raspberry Pi tutorials to learn more about this versatile system.