Homelab Adventure - Part 1: The Adventure Begins

Welcome to my journey in building my own homelab. This will hopefully be an ongoing series of blog posts of my adventures in building my own personal infrastructure.

What is a Homelab

The primary idea behind a homelab is a place to learn about infrastructure, servers and development.

/r/homelab defines a homelab as:

Homelab [hom-læb](n): a laboratory of (usually slightly outdated) awesome in the domicile

Now by this definition a homelab should reside in a home. In my case part of my homelab will exist outside of my home, due to space and noise constraints. So my homelab is somewhere between a homelab and a “cloudlab”.

The /r/homelab wiki has a more information on how to get started with a homelab.

Inventory

At the time of writing here is my current inventory of servers. It will most likely grow and evolve as time goes on.

  • 1 VPS
    • CPU: 2 Cores
    • RAM: 2GB
    • Disk: 40GB SSD
  • 1 NAS
    • CPU: Intel i5-6600K
    • RAM: 8GB
    • Disk: 2x 250GB SSD, 4x 3TB WD Red
  • 2 Dedicated Servers
    • Dedicated Server 1
    • CPU: 2x Intel Xeon L5420
    • RAM: 32GB
    • Disk: 2x 1TB HDD
    • Dedicated Server 2
    • CPU: Intel Xeon E5 1410 v2
    • RAM: 64GB
    • Disk: 3x 6TB HDD

Goals

  • Ability to host applications easily, there is a lot of good self hosted software out there.
  • Keep ongoing maintenance to a minimum.
  • Automatic encrypted backups, because RAID is not a backup
  • Ability to easily add and remove servers.
  • An internal network between servers, some of my servers exist outside of my home network.
  • Alerting and Monitoring, so I know when servers go down, failing drives, backups didn’t run, etc.

The Plan

These are the tools/software I decided on to satisfy each of the above goals.

Hosting Applications Easily

  • Docker for hosting most applications and allows me to move services around easily.

  • Portainer for managing the docker containers on specific servers.

  • Salt for everything else that doesn’t fit into a container.

  • Traefik provides routing and certificates for services.

Minimizing Ongoing Maintenance

Automatic Backups

Adding and Removing Servers

  • Salt allows me to have a declarative configuration for servers.
  • DNS for servers and services to facilitate container movement. This will be configured automatically or through dnscontrol.

Internal Network

  • Zerotier is for my internal network. It’s not a fully decentralized like tinc but has some trade offs that make it easier to use, you can read more about it here

Alerting and Monitoring

  • Icinga2 will be used for alerting.
  • InfluxDB is a time series database used for storage of metrics.
  • Grafana is used for making graphs and dashboards from the data stored in influxdb.