The lab - Introduction
There’s something about having your own laboratory to test stuff out that appeals to me, and that’s why I decided to put together a small rack in my office. It’s cool to figure out even the most basics like “what’s the best row for this particular equipment?” and then move on from there. I have learned so many through friends and research already, and I barely started messing with this. There’s a huge community of “homelabbers” out there, of which I had no idea. Amazingly, apparently it can also help you land your first job1.
I’ve been slowly acquiring some devices throughout the year to put it together, and it currently consists of a 20U network rack, with:
- 3 Dell Optiplex 3020, micro version
- 1 Dell Optiplex 7040, micro version
- 1 Lenovo ThinkCentre M93
- 1 Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
- 1 ISP modem
- 1 Unifi Security Gateway
- 1 60W Unifi switch with 8 ports (4 PoE)
I have 10+ devices that need (or would be better with) a cable, including a TV, my workstation, an access point, etc. so it’s clear that this switch can’t handle all of them as more than 8 ports are needed for this. A 24p switch will come soon but, for now, I’ll have to keep using my TV with Wi-Fi and some devices will have to remain disconnected. Another thing the rack desperately needs is an UPS.
The home labbing has two main goals: (1) trying out specific things in an environment that is close to what I have in my work, and (2) being able to serve my home with solutions such as jellyfin and nextcloud, which allow us to ditch a number of paid TV subscriptions that live under DRMs, as well as synchronization tools like Google Drive and Dropbox. Currently, only (1) has been fulfilled, as I didn’t have proper time to set up jellyfin, nextcloud and a few others. But, on the other hand, (1) has been thriving – I have set up a Nomad cluster exactly like I have in my work, with Consul, Traefik, Vault, and a number of other services too, and I’ve been trying out a lot of different things and configurations on it. I’m confident that my local Vault installation is way ahead of what we currently have in my work and that means that I’ll end up switching how we deploy Vault there, whenever I get some leeway.
In the following posts I intend to break down how the network has been laid out, how the cluster was installed and some other interesting aspects of homelabbing. This is pretty much a public log, primarily for me, so I can look back and see the differences between then and now, and how the lab evolved with time. Even my motivations might change throughout the years, who knows.
I intend to keep all the homelab code in my sourcehut.
If you’re someone that’s just starting in the IT or software development world, a homelab can help you a lot with your first interviews, I’ve seen a lot of people saying that it helped them get their first job or switch careers, maybe because self-hosting is a huge part of the industry. So, if you’re just starting out, this appeals to you, and you have some spare equipment such as an old laptop, I’d definitely recommend self-hosting some services. Maybe jellyfin or plex to ditch a Netflix subscription after their recent policies banning sharing your account with your family? ↩︎