Home Server Hobbyist

TJT

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I came upon this idea recently as I've been doing the job hunt looking for a more challenging/better one and I've noticed a gap in my knowledge of various things. While I am confident in developing with technology I've used in the past few years, my work is mostly within a Windows environment. Occasionally I use a little Linux here and there. I'm very much a hands on learner and while reading and studying stuff is certainly helpful it's not enough to get me really confident with it.

To resolve this I've gone deep down the rabbit hole of the private home server hobby in the last couple weeks. This subreddit made me especially interested.
Anyway, I've purchased an old small business server off of Ebay for like $120. It has four hd bays and 2x 1TB drives already in it. I also have a raspberry pi I am going to be putting to some use. So I figured I'd start this thread about it.

This is my current plan. I'll be setting this up the weekend after this one when the server arrives.
  • Rasperry Pi
    • 32GB SD card and I attached my old 120GB USB passport drive to it just for space.
    • Arch Linux OS - I chose this because it is the most lightweight version of Linux I've read about so far.
    • Nagios - Practice using Nagios, it will just be monitoring that other server I bought for now but good practice all around.
    • Other services
  • Dell PowerEdge T110
    • Container Linux OS - I chose this just so I can practice using containers only for shit I install on it as this distro does not have a package manager at all.
    • State stalked by Nagios on my Raspberry Pi, will see if I can direct this feed to my phone.
    • Containerized MongoDB
    • Containerized PostGres
    • Containerized Plex
    • Some IRC opensource thing
    • Whatever apps I develop that need hosting.
This is 50/50 for fun and a learning experience that will translate to my professional career. I am also interested in practicing the security aspect and putting a ton of mildly useful apps on github to make myself more robust.

Anyway, should be fun! I have the raspberry Pi in my nightstand because that is also where my router is. The server will need to go next to it for now as it needs a hard connection until I figure out a better place for it.
 

Funkor

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Suineg made a thread with his experiences in home server stuff: Building a server for all your needs.

I really want to do this some point as a media server to make it easier to stream to any device in my home, or just buy an Nvidia Shield and do it the lazy way.
 
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Cukernaut

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Fun fact— seems like the tower versions of servers are significantly cheaper than the 1U pizza box versions nowadays.. same specs and everything. Good to know if your doing home servers
 

Rezz

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I work with > 1000 Dells every day, so I hate those things with a passion. HP DL360 Gen 8 for the win.

One thing to note about the Tower servers, however. Not everything is as compatible with them, and the parts can be substantially harder to come across since they make way less enterprise towers than they do anything else (regardless if you are HP or Dell). It's out there, and people sell it, but it isn't nearly as common as the standard 1 - 2 RU rack server parts. 11th Gen stuff might be cheaper than more recent stuff, but it is also well past it's warranty/lifecycle at this point. (T110 = 11th Generation T100 tower server; they are 7ish years old at this point)

An interesting option would be to get a Cisco UCS rack server; they are by -far- the cleanest interior servers I have ever seen. Problem of course is that they are Cisco, thus overpriced and they lack compatibility with... well most stuff. But when they work, they are really, really nice.

You should definitely know that, no matter what server you get, it's probably going to be fairly f'n loud if it is near where you sleep. Especially if it is doing any sort of work at all.
 
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Rezz

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Hrm, I haven't seen a lot of the M1/M2 Generation stuff, but the M3/4 generation stuff were gorgeous from a layout aesthetic. Substantially different from the 720s/730s. Too bad my current job is Dell from the ground up; even running the s6010-ons with Cumulus running because yay Linux. Nice from a single-source of gear standpoint, but the random problems with Dell's gear is just.... painful.

Still, if you gotta go Dell, the 720xd (or 730xd if the price has dropped enough) is a baller rig with a lot of overhead to improve on it. Towers are easier to just sort of prop up places though (they are much closer to a mid-tower than a full tower) and hey if you can get it for cheap and fully equipped? (32GB max is a bit low, and only one CPU in the T110, but if it's enough it's enough) Probably not terrible at all for the scope of just playing around.
 

TJT

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I wouldn't purchase those big ass power hungry servers. Mini-ITX Box PC Solutions | SuperServer | Products - Super Micro Computer, Inc.

I also wouldn't run obscure Linuxes either if you want viable experience. CentOS or Ubuntu (including raspbian on the Pi). As a bonus, you can run the STIG'd images and see if you can make your shit work ;).
I have no real purpose for it so this entry of the $120 is a Dell PowerEdge T110. Which is fine for what I intend to use it for. Which is nothing important. If I level up my shit I'll dive deep and get something nicer.

I've used Fedora and Ubuntu before. Arch Linux is just Noob which is a common Pi build. That PiHole thing sounds sweet so I will certainly set that up. Container Linux is, like I said, just a distro without a package manager. I've no projects in particular in mind yet other than what I already mentioned. So.... Let's go!
 

alavaz

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Oh yeah the T110 is fine, I was more so responding to the R720. I'd only run a mini-ITX or NUC for a home server these days.

Docker and Kubernetes are the two "hype" containers right now. I'd lean toward using those if you can.

I'm actually rebuilding my server this weekend and intend to run:

ESXi 6.7 Hypervisor
VM - Windows server 2019 domain controller (also DNS and CA)
VM - OpenConnect VPN Server (CentOS 6) using Certificate Authentication
VM - Plex server / NFS Server (CentOS 6) The Plex client on my firetv is shit now so I have to use Kodi and access my media via NFS and it works very well.

RaspberryPi - DNSMASQ server. I use this to filter my kids web traffic. All of their devices use this server as their DNS server and it has a schedule to turn on/off Youtube access among other things.

I may also run another Windows machine for my IIS/SQL applications. Not sure yet. I've been considering running SharePoint or something similar to organize documents, but feel that it may be a bit overkill and more hassle than it;s worth.
 

loudgas

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OpenDNS is what I use for filtering, 1 subnet is free per account. It works well.

Definitely for those of us who have to pay for hydro, among other expenses low power solutions are the way to go.
 

TJT

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alavaz alavaz

So is there a way to just configure the pi sd card on my desktop pc and slot it in? This is what I want to do and I figured there was some VM setup to do this... but their own site/google doesn't seem to support this concept and want me to plug this shit in to set it up. Which is fine I guess but I didn't have an extra keyboard and mouse laying around and didn't want to go to the store last night just to get one. But it appears that I might have to do so tonight.
 

brekk

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alavaz alavaz

So is there a way to just configure the pi sd card on my desktop pc and slot it in? This is what I want to do and I figured there was some VM setup to do this... but their own site/google doesn't seem to support this concept and want me to plug this shit in to set it up. Which is fine I guess but I didn't have an extra keyboard and mouse laying around and didn't want to go to the store last night just to get one. But it appears that I might have to do so tonight.
Yeah If you download the right ISO and use Rufus USB maker, or another tool it will directly make a bootable microsd.
 

alavaz

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alavaz alavaz

So is there a way to just configure the pi sd card on my desktop pc and slot it in? This is what I want to do and I figured there was some VM setup to do this... but their own site/google doesn't seem to support this concept and want me to plug this shit in to set it up. Which is fine I guess but I didn't have an extra keyboard and mouse laying around and didn't want to go to the store last night just to get one. But it appears that I might have to do so tonight.
You can image the sd card using various tools - I use wind32 disk imager but etcher works too - directly with the OS you want to run. If you have DHCP set up, you can boot the pi, let it get an address then SSH into it using whatever the default account is for your OS. For Raspbian it's just pi/raspberry. You can then configure over SSH.

With NOOBS, you need to connect a mouse, keyboard and monitor and boot the pi, then select your OS and it will do the imaging for you. I just use a wireless logitech keyboard and mouse since it only takes one usb slot and I can easily move the dongle around to any PC I need a key/mouse on.

I rock this keyboard/mouse combo - but you can also get smaller ones with built in trackpads that are nice as well -
 
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TJT

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So I got my Pi set up and my server. The Pi was easy but the server was some frustrating shit. Now the T110 II! You'd think that following the installation guide would be straight forward. But noooooo. Literally every step was followed by catastrophic failure. An hour of troubleshooting and research. Onto the next step and rinse repeat for 6 fucking hours. It's current configuration I am fairly certain falls into the area of serious jerry rigging. It has been a long, long time since I had to prepare a system from nothing like this.

But it's up and ready to work. The T110 II has a memory mismatch I'll have to fix later... by buying some new RAM. It can only use 2GB of the 8GB in there. So the ebay guys I bought it from were kind a shady in that way. They sure did check if it would boot or not but they did nothing else beyond that, no Sir.

Then I spent a very long time trying to understand the Uverse ATT router/modem I have here. I didn't bother buying my own router to bridge it to. But the Uverse equipment is apparently universally abhorred when it comes to home tech projects. So much of it is locked down. I found a way around most of it without my own router. But I might need one in the future.

I have Pi-Hole set up mostly. But I need to figure out the correct way to network it around the Uverse modem without fucking up my internet. After some research here's my plan. Did I mention that I really hate network shit? It's like the tedium of fucking with CSS but even worse.
  1. Pi/Pi-Hole set up in local network.
  2. Configure PiHole to be a DHCP
  3. Use PiHole DHCP so I can refer to a chosen DNS within it (Uverse 5268ac router does not let you alter DNS settings in any way)
  4. Direct the DHCP IP on the Uverse router to the Pi's static IP address. Forwarding to its DHCP and then to the right DNS
  5. Profit
I am fairly certain this plan will fail but I will try it late tonight sometime and see what happens. Fun times bros!
 
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brekk

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Can you not just disable DHCP on the modem entirely? If not you're going to need to look at your own router with in for proper control of your network.