So assuming you leave your HomeLab for a while...

SecCon

Member
May 26, 2022
49
12
8
I am an adult with fixed work and pre-defined vacation periods. I leave my home for several weeks at a time, several times on the year.

I have all my hardware and servers in my home, on two locations: my main server rack in the garage and my networking cabinet in the attic of the house.

Having spent the spring doing just about everything that everyone does in a HomeLab / SoHoLab environment, and work, I was looking forward to a few vacation weeks. In that planning it suddenly hit me... "I don't want all my servers running while I am away for a few weeks!". Waste of power if nothing else. Lack of onsite monitoring is also a factor. So I had to revise my setup, what runs on the servers I would shut down? Do I want to keep any of it powered on?

Do someone recognize the situation? You may want to leave Internet access on, the ip-telephony on, the alarm on, some sensors for temperature and water and such, on. The problem is described above, you have some or all of those apps in virtual machines on a physical server you would rather leave off while you are away.

Having OPNSense just like that made me reconsider its implementation. I don't want it on a server I may shut down for extended leaves. I want it on a low power 1U or smaller in my network cabinet inside the house, protected by alarms and , in theory, inaccessible from outside. Same goes for other applications like my web site monitoring, Matomo app and the UISP for my Ubiquiti Edge network hardware.

So now some may start thinking about why I don't put that on servers and clouds outside my home and office? I could do that for some apps. The thing is I like to have all under my hood. It's controllable, inexpensive and accessible. I do not trust AWS or any Cloud solutions...

As it is, I will be putting a short 1U appliance computer to host my OPNSense in the network cabinet - TBH it should have gone there in the first place.

What considerations and ideas do you have? Have you thought about this and what did you do about it?
 

i386

Well-Known Member
Mar 18, 2016
3,121
997
113
33
Germany
I had plans to run multiple servers (at least 1x mission critical, 1x file/media server, 1x vm host).

Ended up with one (beefy) server runnning 24/7 because the costs for the different servers was more than what I would save with them running 24/7 or "on demand" ._.
 

SecCon

Member
May 26, 2022
49
12
8
Well, I might, but one backs up the other so... well.. yeah sure its just hard drives in the end.
 

Sean Ho

seanho.com
Nov 19, 2019
352
141
43
Vancouver, BC
seanho.com
First step is prioritising what services you want running 24/7, then determine resource requirements for each, then design a solution to keep them running.

OPNSense doesn't take much (old R210ii, cheap TMM plus NIC, etc.). VoIP just needs the ATA. Sensors, I assume you have HomeAssistant, NodeRed, or similar; also very minimal requirements, just the Zigbee/Z-wave dongle if relevant. Your various monitoring apps, UISP, etc. also only need a bit of RAM and a network connection. So far all of this could go on a single TMM with virtualization, or perhaps one for the router and another for containers/VMs. They plus your ATA and modem/ONT could last quite a while on a 1500VA UPS.

If you have security cams and BlueIris or similar, that'd need some storage and perhaps a Windows VM.
 
  • Like
Reactions: abq

BlueFox

Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2015
1,653
1,010
113
Maybe not what you're looking for, but I've just accepted that things might break while I'm away and that there's nothing I can do. Just don't think about it while I'm gone. My last vacation earlier this year, I was over 1000km away from the nearest cell tower for nearly a month and only had a satellite phone for emergencies (internet on it is a whopping 2400 bit/s and really expensive). Could be a bit easier for me as I live in an access-controlled highrise, so security/environmental stuff isn't a concern at least.

If you want to minimize energy usage, I use a NUC for VMs. It actually does double duty as my HTPC. Modern ones have 2.5GbE (some even dual), support 64GB RAM, and include reasonably powerful CPUs. Hard to beat and will run forever off a UPS.
 
Last edited:

SecCon

Member
May 26, 2022
49
12
8
@BlueFox In regards to cell phone coverage that is kind beside the point, I am not allowed by my employer to be unreachable, not like that anyway...

As for the other aspects of setting up low power virtual machines for "necessary apps" it is currently something I am doing. OPNSense will be running in a Sophos SG 210 box I recntly bought and I have reconfigured my network to run on UISP, but in order to do that (I can't use the UISP Cloud, not enough UI devices).

I would really like to get my hands on a short low power 1U rack server. Max 40 cm deep. Then I could run my local UISP, server monitoring and some other aforementioned apps on that. Hard to find for some reason.
 
Last edited:

BlueFox

Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2015
1,653
1,010
113
@BlueFox In regards to cell phone coverage that is kind beside the point, I am not allowed by my employer to be unreachable, not like that anyway...

I would really like to get my hands on a short low power 1U rack server. Max 40 cm deep. Then I could run my local UISP, server monitoring and some other aforementioned apps on that. Hard to find for some reason.
That is unfortunate. I specifically travel outside of the country because that's the only way I get out of carrying my work phone on me (can't take corporate assets outside of the country without very high levels of approval).

As for short depth 1Us, Supermicro X10SDV line and SC504/505 chassis (depending if you want front or rear IO)?
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: SecCon

SecCon

Member
May 26, 2022
49
12
8
Yeah, well work phone can be a pain...

Nice pic I found



That looks great... front IO makes things easier.

Seems Dell PowerEdge R230 CTO also comes in a short version

I guess I should make a new thread in hardware and request tips for these kinda servers.

Lots of models here: 1U-4U Short Depth Systems rackservers
 

acquacow

Well-Known Member
Feb 15, 2017
671
358
63
40
I put all of my 24x7 stuff onto two Xeon-D 8-core boxen.
One is FreeNAS that holds all my files up, plus utility jails: nginx, nextcloud, minecraft... VMs: win10, rhel, foreman.
The other is an ESX box that runs any other VMs I'm working on and still need up and running. It's usually off though. I turn it on for projects and have 4 other ESX nodes I spin up when I need to test a larger deployment.

If power goes out while I'm gone, FreeNAS is connected to my UPS and will decide when to shut itself down. It can shut down my other nodes too if they are up and running. I can turn everything on remotely via IPMI later if needed.
 
  • Like
Reactions: itronin

SecCon

Member
May 26, 2022
49
12
8
Pondering doing something like this...

Stage1:
Reduce amount of physical servers as @i386 suggest. Today I have three but only really using two and that could probably be trimmed down to one. I am not sure on what OS to base that one on. I need at least three Windows machines, one Ubuntu and one FreeBSD.
  • Windows 1: Windows Server, all my file share and backup is tied in to that, and have been for years. backup software, synchronization, the works. Not planning on changing that, my environment is based on Windows and required for work and family.
  • Windows 2: Windows 10, for lab and odd stuff.
  • Windows 3: WXPx32, doing some with a decade olde code, can't do it any other way.
  • Ubuntu: To run UISP and other Docker or Linux based apps
  • FreeBSD: It's the core OS of OPNSense. Standalone machine.
I could run all that via Hyper-V on a Windows Server that also handles the Windows1 stuff, not virtualized.

Then again I could run it all via ESXi, with all the machines virtualized, everything on RAID drives. But not sure how that would work with my file shares (16TB on 4x6TB drives I think it was). ESXi works great for machine management though, especially the graphical console is great and have saved my ass countless times. Maybe a virtual ESXi as Hyper-V on Windows Server... easy backup if nothing else.

I have done some work in TrueNAS (well, FreeNAS) and it is great, but it's just to many functions for my needs and I never could get the Console for virtual machines over VNC to work. Is that better nowadays? ZFS is of course a bonus, but with RAID5/6 and a working backup, I think I am covered.

Stage2:
When I have my OPNSense appliance move that there. One vmachine less.
If I get a small server like the mentioned SuperMicro, I could move UISP and some other apps to that one. Another vmachine less, or moved from "big server".

When done, this would let me shutdown the big server as needed, yet still running my network related apps in a safer, low power, environment. Also, leaving one server on is not the same as leaving 2 or even 3 servers on, so with added security, I could run that 24/7. More chains and pad locks. :p

I forgot to mention I do have a NAS, but that is running backups from everywhere else 24/7, and inaccessible from anywhere else, so that I leave as is.
 

SecCon

Member
May 26, 2022
49
12
8
Thanks to @Rahvin9999 I am several steps closer to achieving this. He is selling me two SuperMicro mini servers that will be part of above mentioned Stage 2.