Accidental Homelab - Sept, 20 2021 - A lotta little things

I had a pretty good week in the homelab. A lot of little things seemed to come together.

  1. Proxmox big.LITTLE seems to work. My setup has been going for over a week. When it is not in use, I poweroff the Dell server and let the little NUC handle all the services that I like to keep running 4 hours per day. I’ve tried to kill the cluster by changing configures via the GUI when the Dell server is powered down. So far, the Proxmox GUI has not allowed me to apply any changes that would damage the cluster.

  2. PFSense handles domain names really well. One of my biggest pet peeves with the Unifi controller is that there was no good way of assigning hostnames in a consistent way to all devices on the network. There is a ‘devices’ tab that seemed to only show about 75% of the device on the network. You could give those devices an alias, but you could not give them a hostname.

PFSense handles devices and domain names. Under the ‘DHCP Server’ service, you can assign IP addresses and hostnames to any MAC address on the network. Then, this information is passed to the ‘DNS Resolver’ service. So any device on the network can be given a name and an IP in a single location.

This even works for devices with a static IP. I just go to Angry IP and look up the MAC address of the device and then assign that device a hostname in the DHCP Server. Every propagates correctly.

  1. PFSense also handles VLANs and VPNs very well. I and split my network into a number of subnets depending on their purpose. * is for stable services and devices on the network. * is for experimental stuff. * is for the iot junk. Then I have three other VLAN for different VPS we use for work. These divisions help keep things organized.

Each VLAN has its own wireless network in Unifi. That way if someone needs to “go to work’ They just log into the right VLAN from whatever computer they are on. No more screwing around trying to keep finicky VPN clients going across server different devices.

  1. Proxmox and TrueNAS both run really well as VMs inside Proxmox. This is making it really easy to test out different configurations and learn new features without extra hardware. One interesting feature is that you can pass physical hard drives through to VMs. It makes the testing more realistic.

  2. The Spice remote desktop system works really well. Over a wired connection, the desktop feels as snappy as if were local. I don’t play games. So, I have no idea how that would work.

  3. I have a couple of new projects lined up.

Currently, I use a 2.5 inch SATA Samsung EVO as my VM drive in proxmox. I am doing initial research on PCIe to NVMe risers so I can use NMVe drives in the server. I understand they can be significantly faster than SATA SSD, but Dells do not work well with non-Dell PCIe drives so the fans spin to full speed by default. I need to get to the bottom of this.

I would like to start experimenting with graphics cards on the server. My video needs are very limited so I can work remotely with spice, but several of my robotics projects use GPUs for improved performance. I would like to move these projects to the server. Luckily, my needs are not at the bleeding edge in terms of hardware. All of my projects have a lot of room to improve on the software side. So, a 5-year-old graphics card should work just fine for now.

So, how has learnlinuxtv helped me this week… I was unaware of the @reboot option for cron jobs and the existence of online cronjob generators. @ reboot works really well for my proxmox host and vms which I randomly power on and off. The online generators are really helpful at create bug free cronjobs.

The pfsense DNS resolver is great for making local DNS records for domains that you own. I typically make one for local use on pfsense, and one public record for zerotier. All traffic stays local when I’m on my home network and is routed through zerotier when I’m away. I can access all my services without opening my firewall.

And Techno Tim did a great video on passing a video card to a vm. it should help you get the job done.


Yes, I have been nothing but impressed with pfsense. I don’t know if it would have been the best first homelab firewall. I used the Unifi ‘single pane of glass’ for several years with great success. PFSense is a great place to land after some experience.

Yes. and to share favorite youtube channels. Both CraftComputing and level1techs have done some valuable videos on the subject.

I am really looking forward to seeing intel start making video cards. Regardless of how I feel about some of the business practices of the company. They do a great job contributing to open source so customers can make the bst use of their products.

Pfsense was my first step into “prosumer” grade products. It’s a lot to learn but I take it a little at a time. Before getting my pfsense router I didn’t even know what a dns server was, or what it did. I have no regrets about starting here. So I have to respectfully disagree and say that pfsense is equally a good starting place. But I am the type that doesn’t mind breaking things along the way.

And I was going to mention Craft Computing first, but he’s really got a series going on. Not to mention he’s splitting his cards between vm’s. Very interesting though. But thanks for the level1techs shout out. I will check them out.

well, regarding pfsense, I think Lawrence Systems has a ton of content about advanced stuff and also beginner stuff. It is quite exhaustive.

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