Semi-budget homelab

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knotapeterson

New Member
Mar 27, 2023
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I am planning on making a homelab using older business mini towers as the servers to run services. The goals are to self-host everything, have 10 gig and learn. My infrastructure layout was a machine for each of these functions: dns, router, nas, IoT server, game server, and mail/web server. I wanted to add Intel X520-DA2 to them for 10 gig. I wanted to use Unifi gear but with the account registration defeating the point of self-hosting, I have been thinking of using some TP-Link gear. The topology would be an 8 port 2.5gb PoE switch with 2 10 gig uplinks (for AP/IoT), a 24 port gig switch with 4 10 gig uplinks (all other clients), a 16 port 10 gig sfp+ switch (as the 10 gig backbone), and an 8 port gig switch with 4 ports being PoE (for management and backup). For the computers they are 1,500 for all, the network gear is about 1,500 and the NICs are around 800 for around 4,000 on the lab.

I'm fairly new to homelabs and self-hosting any advice would be appreciated. Are there better options for NICs? How would you design it differently to accomplish the same goals.
 

name stolen

Member
Feb 20, 2018
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I think most folks (here and elsewhere) would use virtual machines for those relatively lightweight services. That is one hell of an investment for a beginner homelab. Consolidating machines onto a host or three could probably get the entry point down to around $1000 for mostly gigabit, and budget 10G gear shouldn't up that too much. Have you checked out STH's Project TMM?

POE for management ports and backups? That is not where POE comes into play in the homelab. Possibly misinterpreted that sentence.
 

knotapeterson

New Member
Mar 27, 2023
2
0
1
I think most folks (here and elsewhere) would use virtual machines for those relatively lightweight services. That is one hell of an investment for a beginner homelab. Consolidating machines onto a host or three could probably get the entry point down to around $1000 for mostly gigabit, and budget 10G gear shouldn't up that too much. Have you checked out STH's Project TMM?

POE for management ports and backups? That is not where POE comes into play in the homelab. Possibly misinterpreted that sentence.
I'm sorry I need to clarify a couple of points and probably add some more context on my current setup.

I'm new to networks and designing a network and I wanted to see if I make any sense, how logical the plan I made is, and if my goals are even accomplished.

The plan wasn't to buy it all at once. I went with older business machines I can buy one at a time and add the dedicated service. I plan on running them in VMs at the beginning but I would like to add dedicated machines, buy gear slowly and develop the lab as time moves on. I wanted a way to increase the scalability and also learn how to network and manage a small infrastructure. The next step for my setup is to add the 24 port switch to add the other random devices like consoles and TVs and learn VLANs.

I got a Pi Zero, before the shortage, that I have a PoE adapter on. I bought the switch for the Pi and my small network. I wanted a way to implement it into my homelab plans and I thought using for management would be good. I planned on eventually running PiKVMs using the 4 PoE ports.

I already had 5 machines. 2 are old business machines. The Pi listed above. My personal machine, and a very old Macbook pro. I wanted a way to grow and implement them. For the business machines, one is a NAS and the other one is running debian with docker with all the services currently. I use the Pi as a back up DNS. I'm learning how to linux with the old macbook since I can just reinstall when I mess up without caring about the data on it. All of that connected to the PoE switch with 4 ports PoE and 4 regular.

I would love the project you're talking about. I am currently using Wendall's guide from Level 1 Tech but its a little bit of a struggle as I'm still fairly new.

To sum my questions:

I wanted to know whether or not its a smart plan?
What are good brands to implement?
Would you happen to have a guide on nfs, permissions and how to make them work together that would be awesome. Its been a struggle so far. Does Ubiquiti gear still require the account registration? Getting a solid answer on the internet has been frustrating.
Finally, good resources on making a network more secure?
Let me know if you have more questions.

Thank you.
 
Last edited:

name stolen

Member
Feb 20, 2018
53
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Ok, I think I have a better understanding of your goals, and I hope I'm not the only voice chiming in. Adding in a business machine here and there is a smart way to keep costs down. They do have their limitations and tradeoffs, but everything else does too. Generally limited in expandability and cooling, compared to a SM or Dell server, but MUCH quieter and more efficient (1U single socket SM and Dells are actually surprsingly efficient, but not at all quiet, and not really that expandable). Good call.

Now I see where POE comes into play for management - with POE-powered Pi's. I'm more of a NUC person than a Pi person, but that's just a preference, because they can handle quite a few lightweight VMs, so just one will do. But I see your point now.

I was recently given an 11 year old MBA (Intel Ivy Bridge 2012) so I'm basically beginning that journey with you. Backing to a TrueNAS TimeMachine share has been surprisingly smooth.

I have Ubiquiti USG (3 port), two USW-Flex-mini 5 port switches, and three access points (one Wifi6, one Wifi5, one Wifi4). I ran the controller on my Windows PC for 6+ years, until a few weeks ago when I migrated the db to a TrueNAS jail. I have never needed a Ubiquiti login/registration. I think that's only needed for CloudKey-managed controller instances, but I'm not totally sure. None of the equipment I listed required Ubiquiti to know anything about me. The Windows controller recently got a huge startup speed boost when they switched from Oracle JDK to OpenJDK, which was nice, but ultimately TrueNAS is always on and there's no reason to run the Windows PC 24/7.

I must leave NFS, security, and containers for others to comment on.

Here are some links, but you've probably seen them.


 
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