I'm Carson Seese, and this is my HomeLab. I work here with my random assortment of tech and complete lack of documentation. Everything in here has a story and a poorly implemented backup strategy. One thing I've learned after 3 years – you never know WHAT is gonna crash next.


I'm Back(?)

Well, a little over a year later, here I am with another random rambling. In my last post, I teased redoing my network entirely with VLANs and a more robust networking configuration - I even tested it all out in Packet Tracer! Well, long story short the upgrade was more difficult than it should've been (read: an entire weekend of downtime troubleshooting things) but today things are working surprisingly well. After spending the last few weeks building out a Grafana status page for everything, reconfiguring backup strageties, and reducing the number of active VMs, I decided it was finally time to write an update post that details what all I'm running and why. As usually, this will definitely be a bit of a ramble, so you may want to skim everything and skip to the good parts.

Hardware Overview

My homelab is something of a visual disaster, although it functions quite well. The main server (Dell R710) is my Proxmox hypervisor and the primary workhouse of the lab. For storage and backups, I have a FreeNAS box (Dell R510) with NFS shares for Proxmox and several VMs. Both servers are configured with the same dual Intel L5640s and 64GB RAM. In hindsight, I should've just picked up another R710 for a clustering configuration, but most R710s I could find for a reasonable price at the time were only shipping with 2.5" drive bays, which aren't ideal if you're on a budget.

Don't mind the wires on the left, they're actually very organized although hanging loosely.

For routing and switching, not much has changed since my previous post. I have an EdgeRouter-X for the primary router at home, which also handles routing between the main SeeseNet, GuestNet, and IoTNet vlans and the lab network. My Dell PowerConnect 5524 is still the rock solid core switch which I am personally a huge fan of. For my (limited) PoE needs, the Cisco 3560 48-port is doing just fine for now - although a gigabit upgrade is definitely something I am considering for the future. Wireless access is handled by 4 Cisco AIR-CAP2602i APs (802.11n) which aren't exactly the cream of the crop - but for ~$10/pc you can't go wrong. Ever since switching to Cisco APs, we've never had any trouble with signal strength, interference, or speed. As clearly depicted by the image below... cable management is definitely not a strongpoint here. Looking to get a good keystone patch panel in the near future, but square-hole rails might have to come first.

Unused are my Cisco 2611 router and 3550 switch - mostly just for testing and messing around.

New non-"production" hardware additions to the lab include my origional working Apple Macintosh (the one with the signatures engraved on the inside of the case) and my Ender 3 Pro 3d printer - which will have to be a writeup for another day. The Macintosh has been a ton of fun to tinker with (I even have the origional Microsoft BASIC manual and floppies), although it's looking like the port for the power cord will need re-soldered (a project which will have to come another day).

Can't get enough of the classic Apple logo

Software Overview

In the last few weeks, I've spent a lot of time performing software upgrades and consolidating some rather redundant VMs and containers for easier management and less wear and tear on my poor consumer SSDs holding my live VMs.

The homelabbing community seems to have some passionate opinions about Proxmox.. but it works well for me.

The VM/container breakdown is as follows:

  • Blog: Super lightweight container running the Ghost web server this blog is powered by
  • VPN: Wireguard VPN server (Wireguard kernel module installed at the Proxmox level so I could use a lightweight container to run the actual VPN software)
  • AdBlocker: I recently switched to AdGuard Home from Pi-Hole as it seems to have a slightly better feature set. It's fast, easy to update, and has a very functional user interface. My biggest complaint is it's lack of a stats API endpoint or the ability to write to an external stats database.
  • Web: Nginx web server handling reverse proxy for things like the Blog, Docker, etc. and hosting my primary website.
  • vWLC: Cisco Virtual Wireless Controller for managing the APs. More detail about it's configuration can be found here.
  • Devbox: A basic Ubuntu Server VM which I use for nearly all of my software development, either through VIM or the VSCode remote development extension.
  • NetData: Ubuntu Server running InfluxDB (Version 1 for now), Grafana, and Telegraf collecting stats to present on my network status page. Mounted NFS shares for storage on the FreeNAS box.
  • Docker01: Docker host handling a hand-full of containers, some production and some for testing. Currently using Portainer as a GUI with a single host, although would love to do some sort of clustered Raspberry Pi setup in the future.
Grafana monitoring dashboard

Conclusion

That's basically it. Just a quick update post about what I'm currently running in my lab. I have so many ideas for blog posts to make in the future, but I've really not been feeling any inspiration to write unfortunately. Hopefully I'll have a little time this summer to change that. In the mean time, check out my new(ish) personal "portfolio" website: carsonseese.com.