Setup my own Homelab — Pt.1

A short guide on how to complicate your daily routine by adding it system administrations tasks

I’m often disappointed by the fact that in my daily job activities, i can’t really deep dive into some technologies, platforms, tools and concepts that actually i would like to study in deep and hopefully, master.

I always keep on one or more side projects, but this time i made the leap to buy and setup my own homelab, or domestic home server, in order not only to practice more with that set of skills that are extremely important nowadays, but also to have my own playground where i can freely mess around and customize everything as i want.

First of all, choose the proper machine. My idea was to buy a small factor machine, they are very small, powerful enough to handle also pretty high workloads and most of all they are silent and since they are going to stay running 24/7, they must be energy efficient.

I knew that Lenovo and HP were leaders in this market share so i dived for a while on ebay and at the end i took home an HP Elitedesk G1 800 mini that is equipped with an Intel i3 2.90GHZ, 4GB DDR3 ( + 4GB coming soon), 500 GB HDD, an additional port for an m2 disk and all of this with a TDP of just 35 watts. This kind of machines are also pretty easy to open up and additional customization to the hardware parts shouldn’t be that hard.

This is how it looked once arrived home:

Photo1

Photo2

First step: the most important one, the thing that really can change the outcome of this adventure, THE STICKERS CHOICE.

This whole thing is my first adventure of this kind, so i decided to keep it simple using only related and useful stickers, K3S the lightweight Kubernetes distribution that probably will find a home on this little machine, the Shining twins to scary and keep out grub errors and drivers incompatibilities and Jack Torrance from Shining, to reminds me how i’m gonna end up at the end of this journey as domestic sysadmin :) The last sticker is a nice concession from Civo.com, a new fully managed Kubernetes provider (built on K3S), which is going to be launched soon with incredible performances at interesting prices.

Anyway, this is how it appears now:

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Second step: choose the software. My first idea was to install CentOs 8 but the latest happenings about CentOS release plans, made me rethink about my choice and i ended up choosing Ubuntu Server. Since i’ll be playing with containers, virtualisations and cloudy stuff, Ubuntu server appears to be the most suggested for this kind of applications, and furthermore since i’m a Kubuntu user i shouldn’t find many differences between my desktop environment and the server one.

I have few ideas in mind on what software, services and technologies i’m going to run on this machine, but please feel free to suggest any idea that could be interesting for an home server !

Computer engineer with a keen interest in security, blockchain and distributed systems

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