I used to be afraid of trying random software, changing perspective and trying something from a different point of view, or losing progress. This was before I built out my homelab. Before I learned that learning things for learning's sake is worth learning, even if that means I have to break or rip something apart piece by piece to dissect and study until I understood better. I used to be afraid of this, but now I'm not.
Back when I started, if I messed up my main system I'd have to re-install, re-build, from scratch or worse, waiting to replace parts. I had an aged desktop and an okay laptop, that was it. Is it enough? Absolutely, I was and remain happy that I had the chance to have those things when I did.
However, with time, I built out my homelab and with my homelab, even though I spend a lot of time deciding apps or what to learn for the stuff in my lab, I no longer fear tearing things apart and learning just about anything. Whereas before, I would be skittish to try something new, in fear that I'd have to repair, reinstall, or order replacement parts if I messed up and be down my main rig for the duration.
How does a homelab fit in?
My homelab was made of things I was alright with messing up, low cost items that weren't meaningful to a job or school or life, yet allowed me to try something new and learn the things I needed to advance in what I wanted. At first I bought a couple raspberry pis to build a cluster along with a synology nas. I wanted to learn server hosting and clustering with the Pis, I also wanted more storage and for that storage to be available on my laptop and my desktop and to be able to backup my work better without requiring something like Dropbox.
My next purchase was a Nucbox, a little square pc that I wanted to try running Linux on as a dev environment. Turned out maybe I purchased too low a spec for how I use my computer and I went back to using my laptop for a dev environment aside from my desktop, more on this later or in another part.
Then I bought an old retired rackmount server, an HP DL360P to be exact. I tossed proxmox on this and have been learning server hosting that way, the only thing that was missing was being able to learn clustering of Proxmox and having failover, something I want to learn although to be honest, I don't have a need, just a desire to learn it. This thing has helped me a lot, learning Proxmox and how easy it is to spin up VMs for testing, or even not having to set them up entirely each time. I can set one up for my needs and just use it as a template to clone a new vm from when I want to try something new. No more accidentally breaking my Pis or Nucbox OS and having to do some reinstallation. Load a VM at the click of a button and good to go, remove it when done. I use my Pis and Nucbox more for apps that I know I want running full time now as opposed to trying something new.
Lastly, I'm waiting on three HP EliteDesk 800 G2 mini/micro computers to set up as a proxmox cluster. This is for a similar takeaway that the Pis were for, clustering. I want to learn how to set up Proxmox clustering, failover and other things. I would do game hosting on my big server as well but.. hosting game servers over Starlink would be meh. Someday I shall have fiber! Then watch out because the self hosting truly begins for me when I can self host properly! That was dumb, I know but guess what? I laughed while typing it so I'm leaving it.
So what have I learned so far?
Well, a lot! Actually, I'm going to briefly summarize this as I want to make this its own part. Over the years I have learned how to use Linux server more effectively. I even run linux on one of my laptops as my dev environment now. My main rig still runs windows as I have games that wont work on Linux yet but when everything becomes 100% compatible with what I want to do? Maybe I'll swap over full time.
On the pis, I learned how to host ASP Net Core and other C# applications, bot apps that I've created for live streaming even though I don't live stream at the moment, and even docker! On docker I run several things and I'm using ansible on one thing, (even though I don't really know ansible), to run Jeff Geerling's playbook for Internet-Pi, a internet monitor along with pi-hole. On my Pis I was hosting MongoDB, PostreSQL database, MySQL database and other things like FreshRSS, an RSS reader, and just trying out other apps that were written about here on Noted.lol.
I'm excited to share more upcoming posts where I'll delve into the specifics of what's running in my setup, how I utilize each component, and perhaps even the quirky evolutions of my homelab and desk configurations that have enabled me to learn on the fly. Rest assured, you'll have moments of amazement and perhaps a few chuckles as I recount what I've done and why I may have moved on from certain setups.