What's your home lab environment for?

Discussion in 'DIY Server and Workstation Builds' started by WANg, Aug 24, 2018.

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What's your home lab for?

  1. Learning / Familiarization with unknown tech

    21 vote(s)
    75.0%
  2. ...Profit! (consulting/dev work/cryptocurrency mining)

    4 vote(s)
    14.3%
  3. ???? (explain at the response below?)

    3 vote(s)
    10.7%
  1. WANg

    WANg Active Member

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    I had a bit of a write-up earlier in the evening - I was thinking about what a home server environment is typically used for. For me, it's for doing stuff that you would otherwise not do at $DAYJOB - maybe pull apart Kerberos to figure out how it works, write some godawful shell scripts that you don't want to test in production, maybe test a certain SQL statement that will tie up the production machine (but can be tested safely with your environment that contains a test data set). Perhaps you are trying to get experience working with interrupt pinning and CPU affinity before you have to do it for real. Of course, I also notice that some of us are using your home labs to mine bitcoins, or maybe do deep learning, or use docker to roll your own code out as part of a side-gig.

    So, what do you use your home lab for? Are you happy with the choices you made in terms of purchases, both hardware or software tech? Would a discussion regarding the challenges of running a home lab be helpful?
     
    #1
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
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  2. CreoleLakerFan

    CreoleLakerFan Active Member

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    Combination of options 1 and 2 for me. I take on some consulting projects through my business, and my lab has developed into a pretty beefy setup over the years as I slot in new gear to familiarize myself with tech or sharpen my skills for an upcoming project.

    The biggest challenges I experience have to do with the time it takes to administer a complex environment for home use. As a result, I have completely segregated my home gear from my lab stuff. I keep it as simple as possible, opting for open source where feasible, and minimal complexity.

    Well, not so much on the minimal complexity.
     
    #2
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  3. T_Minus

    T_Minus Moderator

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    This for me too :) About to do step 2? or 3? in shrinking/simplifying/lower power my 'home' setup :)

    Lab is more business development/proof of concepts, random hardware testing for projects, idea testing grounds, etc, etc.

    I don't need to keep lab hardware/software up for any need so I mostly test, benchmark, etc, then power down. Some tests may last weeks or 1-2 months but other than my 'home stuff' I keep the lab down.


    Like @CreoleLakerFan the biggest challenge for me is remembering HOW to administer stuff that I may have gotten down to nuts and bolts within the last year and "learned it all" then my use-case never materialized and I forget how until the next 6-15mo when I need to do it again ;) I've started writing mini-blog posts with commands, screenshots, etc, and little words/tags so I can search/find them again :D This has saved time for sure.
     
    #3
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  4. Blinky 42

    Blinky 42 Active Member

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    #1 and #2 for myself as well - Always been a fan of figuring some things out in my own time and my own equipment.
    I would rather put some time in and figure out something as a proof of concept first before convincing clients to drop $100k's on something new

    Random examples:
    - No problem buying 3 diff used switches for my own experimentation and comparison, but convincing purchasing people to do the same is often near impossible or slow as hell. Only so far you can get reading the spec sheets until you get your hands on the HW and see that is it slow as hell and a nightmare to use in practice.
    - I setup my first asterisk VoIP system at home before redoing the entire office phone system with it. Went through a few different phones and FXO / FXS cards and found many to be crap before finding Sangoma ones were more stable and better for the price at the time.
    - Was able to convince folks that Supermicro equipment would do what they need for far less $ than even used Dell / HP equipment at the time by bringing in servers and showing people that it was fine.

    Unless you are still in school or in an environment that can afford to have a large collection of test/lab equipment around to work on, it is hard to get experience with something until you can get you hands on it and experiment. Was even more important when I was a consultant since they are paying for your experience on knowing what does and doesn't work for their use case. The home lab is the hardware side of what I do on in software development, the software side is just far faster/easier to evaluate typically because you don't need a stack of servers and switches to test something out ;)
     
    #4
  5. laserpaddy

    laserpaddy Member

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    Mine is being built for anger management..,,not really- I have spinal cord damage so I am at home 100% of the time- before that series of unfortunante events Iwas an engineer and an Ops manager for engineering- --so needless to say I had to find something to keep my brain active since I can no longer bench press 450lbs.
    Its therapy
     
    #5
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  6. Marsh

    Marsh Moderator

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    First attempt to quit my job at Oracle when I was 36 years old ( year of 1992), after 2 years , finally left the company.

    I spent next 20 years , lived thru few stock and real estate turmoil , always wondering would I run out of money.
    I built a serious homelab to kept pace with technology , in case I need to find a job. Fortunately, I did not needed to go back to work.

    Fast forward today, I am 62 years old , I like to hang out at STH forum with bunch nice folks.
    For the past 7 years, I am the primary caregiver for my elderly mother that suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
    Having a homelab make me happy , and excuse to buy toys.
     
    #6
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  7. K D

    K D Well-Known Member

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    I just like messing with hardware and building computers. Also I am in a non technical role at work. So this is a way for me to stay in touch and make sure I don't completely forget what I learned as well as stay on top of the curve with new tech.
     
    #7
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  8. Robert Fontaine

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    Computer hardware and operating systems have been a low grade hobby for many years. I have had a love of technology all my life. I keep moving the dungeon lab along each year in hopes that I might do something interesting with it and in practice I spend more time learning about how to build a home lab slowly than actually use it to do something. I keep intending to do many things but mostly I just play on the edges as I'm not nearly as smart as I would like to be and by the end of most work days I just want to have a nap.

    If I can ever figure out how. I would like to stop wasting my time working and spend my time studying math, physics, engineering and playing with computers but at this point I suspect that that will not happen. At 50 I suspect that ship has mostly sailed but every couple of years I find a quiet spot where I can push myself a little bit further in hopes of understanding some of the magic that is happening in the world.

    I find amazing the resources that are now available to anyone with the drive or talent to explore at a world class level without money or physical access. This is so revolutionary that I can't understand it. I never thought I would watch Feynman Lectures, attend Lectures on Machine Learning by Andrew Ng, download machine learning libraries from Google, and have supercomputer processing cards gathering dust on my shelf.

    This is my desperate little way of trying to connect to the the incredible innovations that are occurring in the world. I need a job as a janitor at a good university.
     
    #8
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  9. marcoi

    marcoi Active Member

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    I use my home lab for personal and business use cases. Since moving into self employed status 2 years ago (https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/input-from-it-consultant-with-their-own-llc.13649/#post-131051) I been building up my lab since i can claim the equipment as a business expense :D

    Part of my home lab details can be seen here : https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/home-setup-design-changes.20609/

    For personal side of things, I use the hardware to run several VMs I use for home networking, storage and backup, gaming servers for family, etc. For business side i run several VMs for VOIP, remote desktop, building out new vm to test software i support, etc.

    My home lab is always changing as my needs change either for personal or business side of things. Eventually I like to replace the older gen servers with something more current. I also love hardware regardless whether my "work" requires me to know it or not. As an IT consultant, the more you know about IT things in general the better you are able to work with clients etc.
     
    #9
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  10. Marsh

    Marsh Moderator

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    I love your idea wanting to be a janitor at a good university, you get your fancy degree for free.
    If your child qualify and got accepted, it is almost like a full ride scholarship.
     
    #10
  11. Robert Fontaine

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    Better than a full ride scholarship. No time limits. No constraints on the course you can take. No expectations. Free education for self and family at my local university. Very smart people to chat with. I think I could happily spend my senior years sweeping floors at the university at night and auditing courses in the day time.
     
    #11
  12. Marsh

    Marsh Moderator

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    I live 25 min drive from UC Berkley, 45 min drive from Stanford.

    When my son was attending Stanford, I looked up the schedule of some random lecture that interested me.
    I just showed up , took a seat in the lecture hall, listen to all the smart people.

    Since I skipped college during my youth , it was fascinating to learn about the latest trend research ,
    I did not have to do any homework or took any final.

    I did the same in UCB as well. Cheap retirement fun , except the cost of parking.
     
    #12
  13. RepairBill

    RepairBill New Member

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    I use my home lab for evaluating hardware and software in order to understand it thoroughly before I recommend configurations to clients. So it's about learning and (hopefully) generating good advice, for which I can get paid...
     
    #13
  14. cactus

    cactus Moderator

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    [​IMG]
    Started as a way to learn when I was working/starting out in IT. I don't work in that space anymore, so now it is just an expensive hobby.
     
    #14
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