Although the focus in my career right now is certainly more cloud focused in Amazon Web Services and Azure, I still use my home lab a lot.
For the last 5+ years my home lab had consisted of using 3x Intel NUC’s (i5 DC53427HYE), a Synology NAS for shared storage and an HP ProCurve switch. This setup served me well for most of those years. It has allowed me to get many of the certifications I have, progress in my career and have fun as well.
At the start of this year I decided it was time to give the home lab an overhaul. At first I looked at the newest generation of Intel NUC’s but really wasn’t looking forward to dropping over $1,300 on just partial compute (I’d still need to be RAM for each of the 3 NUC’s). I also wanted something that just worked, no more fooling around with network adapter drivers or doing this tweak or that tweak.
I also no longer needed to be concerned about something that had a tiny footprint. I also questioned if I really needed multiple physical ESXi hosts. My home lab isn’t running anything mission critical and if I really wanted I could always build additional nested VMware ESXi hosts on one powerful machine if I needed.
So in the end, the below is what I settled on. Replacing all of my compute, most of my networking and adding more storage!
SSH key authentication not only provides a more convenient way to logging into your EdgeRouter X, but is also more secure because the private key replaces the need of a password and thus is typically more difficult to brute force.
The below steps will show how to generate a SSH key, add it to the router, and then disable password authentication so that only the key-pair can be used to login.
NAKIVO Backup has been a great addition in my home lab and just a few months ago I wrote about my first impressions of NAKIVO Backup. Now I have a few posts lined up to highlight some individual features of NAKIVO Backup, starting with Instant File Recovery.
If you haven’t already guessed it, Instant File Recovery allows you to recover files or folders directly from a previous backup job. This is a great alternative to performing a full restore of a VM when all you might need is a single or even a couple of files and/or folders.
Sure ad blockers have been around for a long while now, but those are typically only available for your web browsers and not ever device allows you to install them such as cell phones, media players, smart TV’s, etc. I came across a neat project that allows you to block web ads on every device in your network, called Pi-Hole.
In a nutshell Pi-Hole was developed to run on a Raspberry Pi, but will run on most any Debian based distro, and will act as a DNS server to which you point your devices or router to use as the DNS server so that all requests are filtered through Pi-Hole. Pi-Hole then blocks 100’s of thousands ad domains. All without having to use a single browser extension and for FREE!
Recently I replaced my wireless router, an Asus RT-AC66U, with an Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X router and Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LR access point. Both of which are a HUGE step up over traditional consumer wireless routers.
The Ubiquiti access points use software called the Ubiquiti UniFi controller to configure and control the access points which can be installed locally or in the cloud – allowing you to manage the access points no matter where they are located.
To automate the install process, I created a simple script to deploy the Ubiquiti UniFi Controller in the cloud on a Ubuntu server, and have also tested the script on three popular VPS providers: Linode, Vultr, and DigitalOcean – all three worked perfectly!
For the past year and a half I’ve been using the Intel i5 3rd Gen NUC’s in my ESXi home lab with great success. In this time several people have asked if I recommend anything newer, and while Intel had a few 4th gen models I wasn’t really sold on them as most CPU benchmarks put them the same as my 3rd gen or lower and only added support for a 2.5″ drive which at the time I didn’t need but then Intel released news about several Intel NUC 5th generation models!