Manage your Finance with Firefly III and Raspberry PI

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Having finance under control is a good way to correctly manage money and analyze what expenses can be reduced to save. Usually, many internet services offer solutions to manage your money, but privacy issues raised attention on data saved in the cloud, so more and more people look for self-hosted solutions able to grant data reside in their homes. An answer to this need is Firefly III

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to install FireFly III with Docker on a credit card-sized, cheap computer: Raspberry PI.

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What is Firefly III

FireFly III logo

Firefly III, a free and open-source personal finance manager, aims to get you aware of where your money is spent so that you can organize better your payments and verify where you should look if you want to make savings.

It is self-hosted, meaning that it can run on a home computer or you can alternatively find a hosting service where to install it.

Firefly III installation can be performed on Docker, Kubernetes, LAMP server or via hosting tools (like Softaculous). For this project, I’m going to use the Docker procedure on Raspberry PI 3 model A+, but this guide applies also to newer Raspberry PI computer boards.

What We Need

As usual, I suggest adding from now to your favourite e-commerce shopping cart all the needed hardware, so that at the end you will be able to evaluate overall costs and decide if continue with the project or remove them from the shopping cart. So, hardware will be only:

Check hardware prices with the following links:

Amazon Raspberry PI 3 Model A+ box
Amazon raspberry pi boards box
Amazon Micro SD box
Amazon Raspberry PI Power Supply box

Step-by-Step Procedure

Preparing Environment

Start installing Raspberry PI OS Lite.

Make your operating system up to date, from the command line:

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

Then install Docker and Docker compose:

curl -fsSL https://get.docker.com -o get-docker.sh
sudo sh get-docker.sh
sudo usermod -aG docker pi
sudo apt install docker-compose

Reboot or reload your profile to get docker privileges to the pi user.

Preparing Build and Compose Files

You will need to set your favourite values for some credentials/parameters. It is better to prepare their values from now so that you will be ready to set them. This tutorial will include the following values, so you have to change them with your ones:

  • “fireflyiiiDb” (the name for the database in MariaDB dedicated to your Firefly III)
  • “fireflyiiiUser” (user for database access in MariaDB)
  • “fireflyiiiPassword” (password for database access in MariaDB)

You will also need an APP_KEY, which needs to be a random string of 32 characters. This APP_KEY can be generated from your terminal with the command:

head /dev/urandom | LANG=C tr -dc 'A-Za-z0-9' | head -c 32

Start preparing the folder where files will be collected. Folder name will be used, by default, from docker-compose to name container services. Create and enter it:

mkdir fireflyIII
cd fireflyIII

The folder will include the following files, which I’m going to show you one by one:

Dockerfile
mySqlScript.sql
docker-compose.yml
.env

Dockerfile

This file is used to build a MariaDB container from a lite Debian base image. Please refer to Create custom MariaDB container article for more detailed info:

mySqlScript.sql

Also, this script refers to MariaDB’s custom container creation. It differs from the original one because the create database command is issued at the start. Consider that this script will run only once at first boot during the building process:

CREATE DATABASE fireflyiiiDb;
create user fireflyiiiUser@'%' identified by 'fireflyiiiPassword';
grant all privileges on fireflyiiiDb.* to fireflyiiiUser@'%';
flush privileges;
quit

docker-compose.yml

This is a mix of MariaDB compose file and Firefly III file.

# My Firefly III
# by peppe8o.com

version: '3.3'
services:
 fireflyiii:
  image: fireflyiii/core:latest
  volumes:
   - firefly_iii_upload:/var/www/firefly-iii/storage/upload
  env_file: .env
  ports:
   - 80:8080
  depends_on:
   - db
 db:
  build: .
  restart: always
  volumes:
   - firefly_iii_db:/var/lib/mysql

volumes:
 firefly_iii_upload:
 firefly_iii_db:

.env

env file includes all configurations needed by the Firefly III service. Get the .env file from the FireflyIII example file and save it with the correct name:

wget -O .env https://raw.githubusercontent.com/firefly-iii/firefly-iii/main/.env.example

Customize .env file:

nano .env

Identify and change the following parameters:

APP_KEY=SomeRandomStringOf32CharsExactly -> change with your random generated APP_KEY

DB_DATABASE=firefly -> change to DB_DATABASE=fireflyiiiDb

DB_USERNAME=firefly -> change to DB_USERNAME=fireflyiiiUser

DB_PASSWORD=secret_firefly_password -> change to DB_PASSWORD=fireflyiiiPassword

You can edit or leave with default values remaining parameters.

Run Firefly III

Finally, start service by issuing the following terminal command:

docker-compose up -d

Your Raspberry PI will automatically start from the Debian image. It will update the base image and install MariaDB, then use SQL script to initialize your database container.

Then, still, it will automatically download all FireFly III packages to initialize the related container. Once finished you will have back your terminal prompt. Setup operations could continue also after containers creation, so check Firefly III web container logs with the following command:

docker logs fireflyiii_fireflyiii_1

Please, note that if you used a different folder name, you will have firefly service named with the folder name before the underscore character. Operations should finish when this command results in something similar to the following one:

...
Updated version.
+------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| |
| Thank you for installing Firefly III, v5.4.2! |
| |
| |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
Go!
AH00558: apache2: Could not reliably determine the server's fully qualified domain name, using 172.20.0.3. Set the 'ServerName' directive globally to suppress this message
AH00558: apache2: Could not reliably determine the server's fully qualified domain name, using 172.20.0.3. Set the 'ServerName' directive globally to suppress this message
[Fri Sep 25 23:22:55.451094 2020] [mpm_prefork:notice] [pid 1] AH00163: Apache/2.4.38 (Debian) PHP/7.4.10 configured -- resuming normal operations
[Fri Sep 25 23:22:55.451308 2020] [core:notice] [pid 1] AH00094: Command line: 'apache2 -D FOREGROUND'

From here your FireflyIII service should be ready. In your favourite web browser, use Raspberry PI IP address (mine is 192.168.1.177) for the URL. The page will redirected to Firefly III registration URL (give more minutes in case of connection refused error and try again):

FireFly III register page

Insert your email address and choose your password (consider that your password must be at least 16 digits, including upper case, symbol, chars and number).

Then click the register button. This will redirect you to the Firefly III home page:

FireFly III home page

You are now ready to use your Firefly III service!

For more info and a user guide, please refer to Firefly III official documentation page.

Final Operations

At the procedure end, it is a good practice to enter the MariaDB container to change the root password for security.

Next Steps

Interested in more RPI projects? Take a look at peppe8o Raspberry PI tutorials to get new ways to use your powerful board!

Enjoy!

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