Category: Homelab

How to Install Windows 10 and Join a Domain on VWWare ESXi

How to Install Windows 10 and Join a Domain on VWWare ESXi

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Installing FlightAware on a Raspberry Pi

How to install FlightAware on a Raspberry Pi

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How To Setup a Windows Server 2019 Domain Controller

Check out my latest video! Write up coming soon!

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Installing Server 2019

Installing Server 2019 – A How to Guide

The installation of Microsoft Windows Server 2019 mirrors that of a Microsoft Windows 10 Installation. At least, graphically. In this case we are installing Windows Server 2019 on a VM running on an ESXi host. First, we need to acquire the ISO for Windows Server 2019.

For this tutorial, we will visit the Microsoft Evaluation Center and download our selected ISO: 

Once you VM is created and your ISO is loaded, the first screen we will come to is the language screen. Select your language, time and currency format along with keyboard type. Then click next.

Once you select your languages and click next, you will be brought to the below screen where you will be prompted to “Install Now”

You will now need to select which version of Server 2019 to install. You have options of Standard and Datacenter. Choosing one of those options with (Desktop Experience) will install the traditional Windows GUI. Choosing one of the options without (Desktop Experience) will give you a CLI to use.

Accept the EULA by clicking on the check box and click next

Once you accept the EULA, you will be prompted to select the type installation you wish to perform. In this case, since it is a new VM, we will choose Custom Install.

Select the drive you are going to install Windows Server 2019 onto. For this tutorial, we only have one VHD in our virtual machine. Highlight it and hit the new button.

Enter the size you want the drive to be. We are using the full drive in this instance. Click the apply button.

You will receive notice that Windows will create additional partitions. Click ok.

To continue our installation after partitioning, select the largest partition to install Server 2019 onto. Then click next.

Windows will begin the installation process. This may take several minutes to complete. The system will reboot when it has completed.

Upon reboot, you will see this screen stating the system is getting ready.

Once the system reboots, you will be prompted to set a local administrator password. Set the password and confirm it and click finish.

You will be brought to the lock screen. Hit the control, alt and delete keys.

Enter your newly created password and hit enter.

You are now at the desktop and can continue configuring your new server.

Hope this helps someone out, it is a very basic guide to installing Microsoft Windows Server 2019.

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Nakivo Installation and Review

Nakivo – Homelab Build Out


As I work on building out my homelab, I decided that for this iteration of it, I needed to have something that was more robust to handle my backups. I spend a lot of time configuring and deploying my key VMs and I wanted to make sure that I had good backups as I tinker. 

I’ve long since used Nakivo Backup and Replication Free Edition which is a perfect solution for those on a budget or with a small environment. Nakivo’s free edition covers 2 VMs. This was a great start, but I really wanted to protect my whole infrastructure.  So I pulled the proverbial trigger and purchased 2 Enterprise Essential licenses to cover VMWare on my Dell R510. 

Being a Systems Administrator for over a decade, I’ve used and tested numerous backup products. Some worked better then others, and for me, most of them were well out of my price range. After using Nakivo in my lab and deploying it for a former employer, I felt it was well worth the investment to purchase the full product. 


Installation of Nakivo is very easy. I’ve used Nakivo on both Windows and Synology platforms. For this installation, I will be installing Nakivo on my Supermicro mini server case and a Supermicro X10SDV-TLN4F motherboard. You can see more about the server in my post titled “Small Home Lab Server”.

Nakivo Installation

Nakivo Installation

First we need to obtain the trial installation of Nakivo. You can do so by click on the link here.  Fill out the information and download the installation. Once you’ve downloaded the executable, we can go ahead and double click it. You will see the screen below.

Once the installer initializes, you have some options to pick. I accepted all of the defaults for my installation.


Nakivo Options


When the install is complete, click on the “Finish” button. If you’ve left the check box “Open NAKIVO Backup and Replication” selected, your default browser will open and prompt you to create your account. 


Install Finished

Your browser will launch and you will see Nakivo starting up.


Here you can pick your username, password and email address. Pretty straight forward.

Create New Account

Creating a new account


Next we need to add a host to back up. In this case, I have VMWare vCenter running. For my home lab I opted to purchase the VMUG Advantage subscription. This costs around $200/year and is well worth it for those of us who want to learn VMWare at home. You get all of their offerings to try out in your home lab for $200/year. Great feature from VMWare. 

So we will add the hostname, IP and the credentials to login to it. Then click the “Add” button.

Nakivo Inventory

Nakivo Inventory

For my installation, I used the onboard transporter. I do not have anything off site at this time and for what I back up, the onboard transporter works well. Click “Next” here.

Nakivo Transporters

Nakivo Transporters


Now we need to tell Nakivo where to store your backups. In my case, for now, I will pick the 3TB drive in my Supermicro computer (I am currently lacking in storage and hope to upgrade shortly)

I accept all the defaults here and click “Finish”

Nakivo Repositories

Nakivo Repositories

Now that we’ve installed Nakivo and added a host, it is time to configure a backup job.


Creating a Job

Creating a backup job with Nakivo is actually very easy. There is no agent to deploy or configure, it’s all done right from the user interface. First, select the “Create” button along the top of your console. Since I run VMWare in house, I am going select “VMWare vSphere backup job”

Create a job

Create a job


Select the VMs you wish to backup with this job. I built out this job for my firewall and UniFi server. Don’t mind the two inaccessible VMs, those are old and I have yet to remove them. 

Select a VM

Select a VM


Once we’ve selected our VMs, we need to tell Nakivo where to send those backups. I am using the onboard repository, so that is what I will select. 

Job Destination

Job Destination

Here you can schedule how often your backup actually runs. For now, I went with the defaults for this job. For the rest of my jobs, I will change the time at which the backup runs so they do not all run at one time.

Backup Schedule

Backup Schedule

Next, select your retention schedule. Again, for this job, I just left the default of keeping the last 10 recovery points.

Job Retention

Job Retention

The final step to creating your first job is selecting options for the job. Again, I left most of this as the defaults. 

Backup Options

Backup Options

Click on “Finish & Run” and Nakivo will prompt you which VMs in the job that you want to back up. 

Run Job All VMs

Run Job – All VMs

Click on “Run” and you will see on the main page that the job is now beginning to run. 

Job Running

Job Running

You’ve now successfully configured Nakivo Backup and Replication. Hope this helps some of my fellow homelabbers out. So far, I have Nakivo backing up my pfSense firewall, Unifi VM, Plex and File Server VMs and it is working well. My only downside at this time is slight lack of storage for my Supermicro. I am still on the hunt for a good option to backup a couple of my physical machines. 

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Small Home Lab Server

Small Home Lab Server

I have seen numerous posts on Reddit’s Home Lab subreddit from users looking for a small, quiet, low power home lab server. Well folks, this is the machine for you. Be aware, this machine is rather pricey. For the last year or so, my primary home lab goal was to consolidate all of my home lab resources into this lovely little box. This has now changed as I am back to expanding my lab. Please see my home lab rebuild post, Homelab Rebuild – Part 1 – Intro
This system is very quiet and sips around 50-60 watts of electricity. To top it off, this machine seems to handle anything and everything that I throw at it. The machine I purchased was a Supermicro SYS-5028D-TN4T case and a Supermicro X10SDV-TLN4F motherboard.


Intel Xeon-D 154132GB4x2TB Hard Drives2x512GB SSDsWindows 2012
The CPU, a Xeon-D 1541, on the Supermicro X10SDV-TLN4F motherboard is soldered on. What this means is that it is not up-gradable or changeable. At the time, I chose to only outfit it with 32GB of RAM. The system is capable of supporting up to 128GB of RAM. That being said, DDR4 2133 ECC is relatively expensive. The kit I went with was the Kingston ValueRAM KVR21E15D8K/32I – this included 2x16GB sticks of RAM. I already had all of the drives I was going to use for the time being. My boot drive is a 512GB Samsung SSD, with a second identical SSDs for some small VMs. I have 2x2tb drives for my BlueIris setup and 2x2tb for my backups.


Inside small Supermicro Home Lab Server

Inside Supermicro Home Lab Server


At first, I was rather skeptical if this chip would actually handle things like, Plex, BlueIris, ManageEngine, Untangle and all the other applications that I was running. I was coming from a multiple R710s and other, larger, more powerful systems.

Supermicro Home Lab Server Xeon D

Intel Xeon D 1541 Specs

 The Xeon-D 1541, surprisingly, packs quite a punch. I have had no trouble with this machine running all of my applications. The only time this system balked at me was when I initially converted over to BlueIris. BlueIris is a great piece of software, however, if not configured properly, it is a bit of a resource hog.



As an OS on this server, I initially wanted to go with ESXi. I am, after all, a VMWare kind of guy. However, this machine has an on board RAID controller. The on board Intel RAID controller is just software RAID. It will not pass through to ESXi and ESXi will not see anything attached to it. Given the cost of the machine, explained below, I decided not to purchase an additional RAID card at the time. Plus, I wanted to use it as an opportunity to learn something new. I opted to install Windows Server 2012 and configure Hyper-V. This was something very new to me. I have only dabbled with Hyper-V in the past. Most of the environments I work with are VMWare based.  So far, it has worked out very well.


Cost wise, this system is not for the faint of heart. The case/motherboard combo cost $1,224.99, the RAM cost 297.99 and shipping  cost me $36.84, all for a wopping total of $1,559.82. This price did not include any drives. I saved a few bucks because I already had the 4 drives to stick in the unit, plus two additional 512GB SSDs. If you have almost $1,600 to spend, and you want a very quiet, low power, powerful home server, this is the machine I would go with. I’ve been running it for almost a year and it has been rock solid.

Please feel free to check out some of my latest blog posts or my about me page to learn more!

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Create VLANs on a Cisco 2960G

Add VLANs and Assign Ports on Cisco 2960G Switch

This post will be focusing on the Cisco 2960G Switch I acquired in my post titled “Homelab Rebuild – Part 1 – Intro“.  Here I will be working on configuring the switch. This includes adding a VLAN for my WAN connection, adding ports to the VLANs and setting up a management interface.

Creating VLANs on a Cisco 2960G switch is a pretty straight forward task. You will need a Cisco WS-C2960G-8TC-L Switch and a USB to Serial ConverterPutty, or your favorite serial/SSH client, will also be needed. This tutorial assumes you already know how to connect to your switch using Putty.

Looking to configure similar settings on a Dell switch? Take a look at my blog post titled, Add a VLAN on a Dell PowerConnect 5524p Switch for help.


Follow along with the video tutorial!

Create the VLANs

First off, we need to enter configuration mode on the Cisco 2960G Switch. To accomplish this, type: “conf t” and hit the enter key.

Cisco 2960G VLANs conf t

Create VLAN5 – this our WAN VLAN. Type the command “vlan 5” and hit enter. Give your VLAN a name. In my case, VLAN5 is used for my WAN connection, so I gave it the name of “WAN” – you do not have to type name twice. I goofed on the first attempt. I wanted WAN in all caps. Then type “exi” or “exit” and hit enter.

Cisco 2960G VLANs database config

Create VLAN25 – this is our management/production VLAN. Type “vlan 25” and hit enter. Again, give your VLAN a name. Type “name Production” and hit enter. Exit VLAN 25.

Cisco 2960G VLANs 25 Creation


Change the host name

Also, while we are in config mode, lets take a moment to setup the switch’s host name. You do this by entering the command “hostname SW-ACH-WAN” and hitting enter. You will now see the switch’s host name change.

Cisco 2960G VLANs - Hostname Change


Assigning ports

After creating our VLANs, we need to assign switch ports to them. Otherwise, they are just VLANs. You can issue the command “show vlan” and the switch will show you all of the VLANs present on the Cisco 2960G and which switch ports are assigned to which VLAN.

Cisco 2960G VLANs - assign ports

In the screenshot above, you can see all eight ports are assigned to VLAN 1. You can also see we’ve created VLAN 5 with the name of “WAN” and VLAN 25 with the name of “Production”.

To assign ports to these VLANs, you must again enter config mode by typing “conf t” and hitting the enter key. Then, you need to enter each interface. Enter an interface by typing “interface gigabitEthernet 0/#” – Where the # is, is the port number. So, “interface gigabitEthernet 0/1” and hit enter.

Next, type “switchport access vlan 5” – this allows the switch port to access vlan 5. Then add your description by typing: description “Modem Uplink” and hitting enter. Finally, exit the interface you are working on and proceed to the next.

Cisco 2960G VLANs - switch interfaces

The table below gives a good break down of each port that I am using, what VLAN it is on and the purpose.

Switch Ports

15Modem UplinkThis port is where I will plug my Spectrum modem into, thus being my modem uplink on VLAN 5
25Uplink to ACH-FW01I will plug the physical NIC on HOST01 that is assigned to my firewall, ACH-FW01 into this port so that it can access the WAN connection.
35Uplink to ACH-FW02I will plug the physical NIC on HOST02 that is assigned to my firewall, ACH-FW02 into this port so that it can access the WAN connection.
725Management NetworkThis will connect the switch to my Dell switch stack so that I can manage the WAN switch from my production network, VLAN25.


Management VLAN

Since we are using VLAN 25 to access our management network, we need to assign it an IP Address. We do this by entering the VLAN as an interface. So, enter the command “interface vlan 25” and hit enter. You will now be in the interface config mode. Next, type the command “ip address” and hit enter. Be sure to use your IP addressing scheme for your management network. The is a /24 subnet mask.

Cisco 2960G VLANs - assign ip


Saving the configuration

Now that we have configured our switch, it is time to save your running config. If you do not save the running configuration, all of the changes will be lost when you reboot the switch. To save the config, type “copy run start” and hit enter.

Cisco 2960G VLANs - save running config


Some good reference reading can be found right from the manufacturer, in this case it is Cisco. You can check out this article regarding VLAN configuration on the Cisco 2960G switch.

Please feel free to check out some of my latest blog posts or my about me page to learn more!

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Dell R610 Intel Xeon CPU Upgrades

Dell R610 Intel Xeon CPU Upgrades

The first tasks I am tackling in my home lab rebuild is to upgrade the Intel Xeon CPUs in my Dell R610 hosts. I am removing the existing Intel Xeon E5520s in one, and Intel Xeon E5504s in the other and upgrading to Intel Xeon L5630s. As a result of going with the Intel Xeon L5630s, my power usage should, hopefully, be a bit lower. Upgrading the CPUs is a pretty straight forward task.

Removing the Dell R610 heat sinks and CPUs

The first step we must take is to remove the heat sinks and old CPUs. The heat sinks are the first to go. They are held in place by two metal levers that are clipped under a clasp on each side.  Press down on the blue plastic piece at the end of each metal lever. Slide it out from under the clasp and lift it up. Once you have done that on both sides, the heat sink will now come off.

Dell R610 Intel Xeon CPU Upgrades - Old CPUs

If the CPUs are still good and you might reuse or give them away, take care to clean off all of the old thermal paste. This way they go into the appropriate packaging clean.

Dell R610 Intel Xeon CPU Upgrades - Cleaned CPUs

Removing the CPU is a similar process to removing the heat sink. On the CPU socket, you will find a metal lever that is also hooked under a clasp of sorts. You will need to gently press down on the lever and slide it away from the clasp/hook. Once out from under the hook, allow the lever to go upward gently. It will be under pressure so be sure to keep a finger on it so it does not spring back and hit something.

Pull back the metal ring around the CPU and remove the CPU. Be careful not to damage any of the pins on the socket when you remove the CPU.

Dell R610 Intel Xeon CPU Upgrades - Removing CPUs


Cleaning the Dell R610 Heat Sinks and Applying Thermal Paste

Now that the heat sinks are off and in your hands, wipe off any thermal paste that remains on them. We will replace it with fresh thermal paste. Take a cloth and lightly dampen it with some rubbing alcohol. Then take the cloth and wipe the bottom of each heat sink. This will take the residue of the old thermal paste off and allow the new thermal paste to transfer the heat from the CPU to the heat sink better.

Dell R610 Intel Xeon CPU Upgrades - Heat Sinks Cleaned


There are many different types of thermal paste to use. The product I have been using successfully is a product called Super Lube. It is a silicone heat sink compound. A tube of it will run you around $7-8 on Amazon and should last you a long time. You don’t need much of it.

Dell R610 Intel Xeon CPU Upgrades - Thermal Paste


Re-installation of CPUs – Dell R610

Grab your new or replacement CPUs and unpackage them.

Dell R610 Intel Xeon CPU Upgrades - New CPUs

I am using the Intel Xeon L5630 CPUs. They are a lower power CPU and are fairly cheap. I believe I paid around $5-6ea on eBay.

Dell R610 Intel Xeon CPU Upgrades - New CPUs

Install your new CPUs carefully. The chips have two half circle notches cut out of them. One on each side. These notches line up with little plastic pegs within the socket. This keeps the chips aligned properly. They act as a key so you cannot put the chip in backwards.

Next, place the chips in their sockets. Fold the metal ring around the top of the chip and take the metal lever and push down. Slide the metal lever under the clasp/hook. The lever will have some pressure on it but you should not have to force it. If you have to force it, chances are you’ve installed the chip backwards.

Once the chips are installed, take a small dab of thermal paste and put a very thin layer on the top of each chip. This does not need to be very thick nor do you want gobs and gobs of thermal paste on there.

Dell R610 Intel Xeon CPU Upgrades - New Thermal Paste


Once you’ve applied your thermal paste, you can go ahead and re-install the heat sinks. Next, place one on each chip. Push down on the metal levers. Finally, lock the levers in place under the hook/clasp on each side.

Dell R610 Intel Xeon CPU Upgrades - Heat Sinks Installed

Now that you’ve successfully changed out both Intel Xeon CPUs in your Dell R610, you can power it up and enter the BIOS and confirm that it sees both CPUs.


Finally, if you are interested in my home lab rebuild, please check out my blog post titled “Homelab Rebuild – Part 1 – Intro” for more information

Please feel free to check out some of my latest blog posts or my about me page to learn more!

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Personal Weather Station Setup

Homelab Weather Station Weathering the options

As an IT guy, I like metrics and graphs. I like knowing how things are performing. I’ve also always been a bit fascinated by the weather. So naturally I decided to put two and two together and built my own weather station setup. I live out in a rural area and we can get rather high winds and lots of rain at times. This project really started because I wanted to know just how fast the wind would whip through our property.

Data Acquisition

As a techie person, I really wasn’t looking for an out-of-the-box solution. I wanted something a bit more…custom. I spent a lot of time researching various different software and “controllers” for the weather station. I figured I would decided what I was going to use for data acquisition before I picked a sensor suite. I settled on the WeatherBridge Pro from Meteobridge. Not probably the most popular device out there, but I thought it was pretty neat. It lets you report to various weather sites and export the data into MySQL and other various databases. It had quite the price tag at around $450-500. I purchased this in 2015 and overall it has been ok. I do not believe I would purchase a second one. It has had…quirks.. from day one. Occasionally it will hang up and need a reboot, the screen will go silly and need a reboot or I have had it drop off the network and not respond. When it works, it works well. Boots right up and grabs the data from the ISS (below) and reports it to WeatherUnderground and CWOP.

The OS is based off OpenWRT. The web GUI also has some quirks that are more annoying then anything else. Under the services tab, if you add a service, say a MySQL database, and then decide you want to remove it, there is no way to do so.

I’ve also found the the unit itself generates quite a bit of heat and there are no fans or vents on it.

Integrated Sensor Suite

Once settling on an acquisition device, I moved on to the sensor suite. This is the piece of hardware that lives outside and actually does the leg work. I went with the Davis Weather Station 06357. This setup comes with a temperature and humidity sensor, a wind speed (anemometer) and direction vane. These sensor report back to the WeatherBridge Pro over RF at 915MHz. The unit boasts a 1000′ distance, but I have found anything further then a few hundred feet is the limit. This could be a limitation of the WeatherBridge Pro or the Davis ISS. This is a fairly basic setup, which, for what I am doing, is perfectly acceptable. I picked up the mounting hardware as well.

Davis Weather Station 06357 Integrated Sensor Suite

Ambient Weather EZ-30-12 Mounting Kit

Ambient Weather EZ-100-35M 35″ Extension

This setup is mounted to the rail on my deck. I picked this location for ease of accessibility, and the fact that I am not terribly fond of heights so my roof was off limits. It has worked well in it’s current location. I purchased the sensor suite in 2015 and it has been installed since. It has held up well to the cold weather, wind, rain etc. I have been very happy with it.


All in all, the components I picked for my weather setup have worked out pretty well and I have been relatively happy with it. You can check out the data from my station on WeatherUnderground.

Please feel free to check out some of my latest blog posts or my about me page to learn more!

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Homelab Rebuild – Part 1 – Intro

Homelab Rebuild

For the last year and a half, I have been all about consolidating my gear. I got into this funk where I absolutely wanted nothing to do with enterprise equipment in my home. I wanted to go home and just be home. However, that attitude has sacrificed a lot of my personal learning and growth. I am a guy who LOVES to tinker. Doesn’t really matter what it is, I just love to tinker and I love gear.

After talking with some fellow IT guys during a meeting recently, I realized, I miss having the gear to work on at home. I missed having the resources to test something and not give a care if I break something.

I’ve also recently started this blog and am attempting to teach myself about WordPress, it’s plugins and WAFs (Web Application Firewalls). I felt re-invigorated to acquire some gear new gear. I am hoping this blog, and purchasing some new gear, will keep me interested in a hobby that has turned into a career for me.

 Hardware – Dell R510, R610


I have acquired 2 Dell PowerEdge R610s to use in my rebuilt homelab. Both are outfitted with only 16GB of RAM. Ideally, I would love to increase this to 32-48gb of RAM per host. The price was right on the two machines the way they sit so I figured I would just outfit them as needed. As low power is a slight concern for me, I ordered a pair of Xeon L5630s for each machine.

Shared Storage

I would love to have a true Dell SAN to go with the rest of my Dell stack, however, they are subtly out of my price range at the moment. Can you tell? I am a rather big Dell guy when it comes to servers. I picked up an 8 bay Dell R510, was hoping for a 12 bay, but this will give me a start. Honestly, with the size of drives these days, 8 bays should be sufficient for what I am using it for. This will allow me to install my collection of hard drives and pass them through to FreeNAS. I have also picked up a set of 10gb Mellanox cards and cables.

Mellanox Network Cards - 10GB

Dell R510 FreeNAS SAN, Dell R610 Hosts


I picked up a pair of Dell PowerConnect 5524Ps. Initially, I planned on using these as my VM switches and picking up a 48 port Cisco of some variation for my core switch. However, I’ve decided I would use both of these for the time being and forgo the Cisco idea. The 5500 series Dell switches support stacking via HDMI cable, not something I have ever tried, but I scored both switches for a song and this is homelab right?

Dell Switches Homelab Rebuild Network

I did however, purchase a Cisco WS-C2960G-8TC-L switch to hand off my modem to my firewalls. This will give me some redundancy…err at least to my firewalls. Maybe someday I will get a secondary WAN connection and setup some type of failover.

Homelab Rebuild Cisco Network Switch 2960G

VLANs, what good is a homelab without VLANs?


I will provision 3 ports on the Cisco C2960G on what I call VLAN5. Taking the link from my cable modem, I will feed the WAN into 1 port, and send it out the other 2 additional ports to my redundant firewalls. VLAN5 will only exist on the Cisco switch. By setting up the environment this way, it gives me a little bit of redundancy, at least, in my mind. Obviously my two single points of failure are my cable modem and the Cisco switch.

iSCSI Network – VLAN10

As the hosts will have no local storage, we will need to create this VLAN to handle all of the iSCSI/Storage traffic for both. This VLAN will only be present on the Dell stack.

vMotion Network – VLAN15

This VLAN will allow the movement of virtual machines back and forth between my two hosts.

Production/Home Network – VLAN25

VLAN25 is where most of the err….action…happens. This is where my end devices sit. I don’t typically try to break that stuff up in my home environment. This VLAN will be on both the Dell stack and Cisco switch. It will only be present on the Cisco switch so that I can manage the switch from my workstation.

Security Cam Network – VLAN35

My security cameras were once on VLAN25….with everything else… my network was in essence…flat. I currently have 9 cameras with the plan to add a few more (small farm, we have animals etc so we like to keep an eye on things) – I decided it was time to break them out into their own VLAN. Enter stage left, VLAN35. Some of you reading this may be asking, how does this guy pick his VLAN numbers?? Honestly, the number is in direct correlation to the 3rd octet of the VLAN. So, an example might be, – the x.x.35.x is where the number comes from. Just something I came up with and ran with.

Guest Network – VLAN45

I do not typically have a lot of guests at my house, we’re out in the woods and people don’t like to visit. I’m ok with that. However, when we do have the occasional guest, I would rather they be on their own VLAN and have no access to anything other than the internet.

Area 51 – VLAN51

This is a new one for me. VLAN51 will become my secure VLAN. It will have no access to the internet. No access to the rest of the network. Any VMs that are apart of VLAN51 will be shut down when not in use. VLAN51 will be used to network my penetration testing VMs.

Network Layout

Homelab Rebuild Network Design


Since I am moving my office to my basement, I will be working on installing two dedicated circuits for my new lab. My electrical panel is right there and access is fairly easy. Most likely these will be 2 – 20 amp circuits. I am not an electrician, I just play one on the internet. Just kidding, please if you are going to run your own circuits, be aware of the risks involved. I am fairly comfortable working with electricity.

One thing I regret selling is my UPS. That is a pricey component that I will need to re-acquire at some point. I have a couple of smaller ones, and frankly, it’s my homelab, if it goes offline, eh not the end of the world.


One item that I had a hard time selling when I was consolidating my lab, is my 25u StarTech Open Frame rack. I had advertised it locally numerous times and never had anyone actually come and buy it. So I kept it and I am glad I did. It’s one less thing I need to purchase for the this adventure. I am planning on either enclosing it or putting it in a small server closet in my shop/office. This will hopefully help keep the noise down.

Software – FreeNAS, VMWare, pfSense


Something I never needed before was a VMUG subscription. I always had access to VMWare products through work. This time around I will be purchasing the $200 subscription so that I can utilize all of the products that come with it. Both of my hosts will be running ESXi. I will also be using the vCenter appliance instead of the Windows based vCenter install since that is the way things are headed anyways.

Shared Storage

Several years ago I utilized FreeNAS as my SAN for a POC (Proof of Concept) for a previous employer. This worked out very well. FreeNAS will be once again utilized for this en-devour. It will be installed on an R510 as stated above. Then I will create an iSCSI target and present that to VMWare as a LUN. Once the LUN has been presented to VMWare, we can go to town building out the Virtual Machines. Fairly straight forward here.

Virtual Machines

As of the moment my virtual machines are…..lacking. I went from having numerous VMs to accomplish one or two tasks down to one physical host and only a couple VMs to do a lot of tasks. Some things on my list to virtualize:

Firewall – pfSense and CARP – this is something I have never tried. Never really had a reason to. I feel like in the spirit of homelab, I should attempt this. Currently I am running a single Untangle firewall on Hyper-V. I love Untangle (so far) but I do not believe there is a way to create a failover cluster. None the less, this could change at any time. I jump from UTM to UTM or Firewall to Firewall. Keeps things exciting you know?

Monitoring – Nagios, Observium (perhaps Grafana will make a debut at some point too)

Domain Controllers – Currently I am working on my Master’s in IT, so I have access to the Microsoft Imagine program, so I will more then likely be spinning up a couple DCs to work with.

File Server (either nextcloud or something)

Security related – AlienVault, Nessus, and a dedicated KALI VM. Perhaps even a couple other pentest VMs on a secure VLAN.

Patch Management – ManageEngine

Web Server – Centos 7/WordPress/MySQL

Home Automation and Security – HomeSeer

Media – Plex (and maybe iHome Media Server too)

Physical Machines

Additionally, aside from my 2 hosts and the R510 SAN, I do have several physical machines present in the lab. One of the biggest tasks will be to remove all of my VMs off my Hyper-V box and turn my Hyper-V box into a BlueIris/Nakivo backup box. I switched to BlueIris from Ubiquiti’s NVR recently, and although I am loving Blue Iris, I find it resource intensive. So I will be leaving it as a physical box. The way I figure it, I can remove all the other tasks off my SuperMicro Mini and then have room for Nakivo along side Blue Iris. That machine has plenty of oomph for those two tasks.

I have a custom built workstation that I can never figure out what to do with, so I ordered up a 2u case and will be racking that as well. This will server as my media ingest machine. By that I mean, when I buy my next lot of DVDs and Bluerays or borrow them, I will use this machine to ingest the media and flip it to my Plex server.

A secure homelab or network environment should have a jump box or jump point. For me, my Intel Skull Canyon NUC will become this. Just a versatile box that is always on. Something I can hit from the field. My NUC will also be tied to a TV or screen in my office so that I can monitor the systems in real time.


Check out my latest Home Lab rebuild posts

Dell R610 Intel Xeon CPU Upgrades – to see my progress on the two new hosts!

Add VLANs and Assign Ports on Cisco 2960G Switch – to see some configurations on my WAN switch

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