I started my Home Lab In order to get hands on experience with a variety of emerging technologies. It gives me the space to learn, build, break, and fix things in a controlled setting. As the world continuously changes, there is constant research, evaluations, and proof of concepts that must be performed constantly and rapidly on multiple technologies for a solution to determine the best path to resolution.
My Home Lab contains numerous devices: a SuperMicro Server, various Raspberry Pis, pfSense router, a Juniper and MikroTik switching, Fortigate Firewall, PCs, Macs, Linux servers, WiFi APs, a printer servers, and a monitored UPS power backup. I run a variety of VMs, Docker containers, headless Pis, and Samba Shares (across all operating systems).
The centerpiece of the collection is the SuperMicro server – I got it used and upgraded the CPUs to something more efficient with more cores. Through the IPMI, I was able to install TrueNAS Scale, which I currently use as my main OS. From there I can run VMs, set up storage pools, and do anything else I’d need a server to do. It has 12 drive bays, and I have TrueNAS on a SATA-DOM, so it doesn’t take up a bay.
I have numerous Raspberry Pis – and each are for different things. My favorite is the Pi NAS (Network Attached Storage) server – I have a RAID-Z1 (four drives) that can be accessed by any computer on the network via a Samba share. This also gets backed up weekly (cron) to an external drive completely separate from those four, just in case of a catastrophic failure. My next Pi project is going to be replacing my DNS server with PiHole so I can be in more control of the DNS blocking on my network. (I tried PFBlocker numerous times and have run into a variety of weird issues – so I’m going for something else)
I also completely rebuilt my PC. The computer I had was a 2008 Velocity Micro machine and had a lot of trouble keeping, especially during gameplay. I stripped it down to bare metal, and started from scratch. Most importantly, I replaced the motherboard with an AMD B550 Aorus Elite with a Ryzen 5 5600X processor. I also upgraded the power supply, memory, and graphic card. There are 5 slots for hard drives, so I added a server HBA card to get the best throughput from each of the drives to the PCI lanes. I put back in the original CD rom drives, but I also added a hot swap bay in the front for hard drives; add the fans and lights, and it’s basically a brand new machine.
Recently I’ve been experimenting with a couple of different VPN tunnels to reach a friend’s LAN. So far we’ve tested OpenVPN and Wireguard (both on pfSense). They work mostly the same, but have some subtle differences – with Wireguard, we were more easily able to implement a Point-to-Point tunneling protocol using a /31 network (with only two nodes – our two routers).