Tag: Virtual Machines

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.
 

Specs

CPURAMHard DrivesSSDsOS
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

 Performance

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.

 

Downsides

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

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!

Permanent link to this article: https://achubbard.com/2018/03/26/small-home-lab-server/

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

Hosts

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

Network

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?

WAN – VLAN5

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, 10.10.35.0/24 – 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

Power

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.

Rack

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

Hypervisor

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.

*Update*

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

Permanent link to this article: https://achubbard.com/2018/02/24/homelab-rebuild-network-hosts-freenas-dell-r510/

Installing Untangle on Hyper-V

Background

Over the years I have had numerous different types of firewalls and UTMs in my home lab. For a while, I ran an ASA, then migrated to pfSense and soon after that I went over the a Ubiquiti USG-Pro. Looking for my next challenge, I stumbled across Untangle. Although I had heard of Untangle before I had never used it. I figured I would give it a try. Untangle has a home use version available for $50 per year. I purchased a subscription. So far, it has been a fairly decent application. I have been extremely happy with it. For $50 you get Untangle and most of their premium plugins. I thought it was a great deal.

To download and/or purchase Untangle at Home Please click the link below

Untangle at Home

The consumer can download Untangle in a couple of difference forms. ISO 32/64bit, Firmware or as a Virtual Appliance. I thought, great, I can download Untangle, spin up a VM and be on my way. As it turns out, Untangle only provides their appliance as an OVA. This is only supported by VMWare. Here in lies my issue, I am running Hyper-V. I was determined to get it this working either way. Untangle will install on Hyper-V, they just do not provide the virtual appliance.

Determination

Getting Untangle to work on Hyper-V took me some time. I ran into numerous configuration issues along the way. Almost to the point where I gave up on the whole project. However, I was fairly determined to make it work. My background is in ESXi and not Hyper-V so that was where most of my learning curve came from. For me, the biggest hangup was configuring the virtual switch for the WAN. Whatever my issue was, I could not get it to function. Hopefully my blog/tutorial post will help someone get their Untangle instance setup on Hyper-V

Virtual Switch Configuration

Prior to creating a new virtual machine for your Untangle install, open up the Hyper-V Management Console and create 2 virtual switches. The Virtual Switch Manager will help you do this. One will be for the LAN connection, the other will be for the WAN connection. 

WAN Configuration

We will start with the “External” or the WAN switch first. On your physical host, this is where you will plug your ISP’s modem into.

Create your virtual switch. Give it a name that indicates it’s use, so in this case, mine is simply, “WAN”. From the drop down menu under the “External Network” radio button, select the physical adapter that you will use. Be sure to un-check “Allow management operating system to share this network adapter” – this will prevent your host from trying to use it.

 

LAN Configuration

Repeat the virtual switch creation process again, only this time, select the physical network adapter on your host that you will be connecting to your LAN. Select “External” for this switch too. Be sure to check off “Allow management operating system to share this adapter” – this will allow your host to share LAN access with this VM.

Virtual Machine Creation and Specs

Create a new virtual machine. If you need help creating a virtual machine, please see my post titled “CentOS 7 Minimal Installation on Hyper-V”or click on the link to take you there. The only difference with this virtual machine will be the specs. Here is what I have chosen for my install:

Memory: 6gb

Processor: 2 Virtual Processors

Hard Drive: 40gb

Network Adapters: 2 – 1 for LAN, 1 for WAN

Untangle Installation

Once your VM has booted, you will see the “Untangle Installer Boot Menu” – I used the graphical install option

Select your language

Pick your location

Choose your keyboard type

Untangle will show you a system summary before beginning it’s installation process

To continue with the installation, select “yes” to format your VHD.

Write the changes to disk

Untangle will continue it’s base install. This process takes a little while, you may want to go make yourself a coffee and come back.

Untangle has now completed it’s long installation, click on continue and the VM will reboot.

Finalization

With Untangle on Hyper-V I have found that it sometimes has the tendency to appear to be hung up on this spot. Don’t worry though, let it sit and it will come right up. It is not stuck.

When the VM boots up and launches the OS, you will be prompted to go through the initial setup phase. This is fairly straight forward. At this point, you have now installed Untangle on Hyper-V.

I hope this tutorial helps you understand how to get Untangle installed on Hyper-V. It is a fairly straight forward process. Although I ran into some issues initially because I had never done it before.

Permanent link to this article: https://achubbard.com/2018/02/01/installing-untangle-hyper-v/

CentOS 7 Minimal Installation on Hyper-V

CentOS Minimal Installation Tutorial

This tutorial will show you how to install CentOS minimal on a Hyper-V virtual machine. We will also focus on getting network connectivity.

Before we begin this tutorial, please head over to centos.org and grab a copy of the latest ISO of CentOS Minimal, link below.

Download Centos

Creating the virtual machine:

CentOS Download

Once you’ve downloaded your ISO, on your server or workstation running Hyper-V, launch the Hyper-V management console.

Hyper-V Management

Within the management console, right click on your server, and select “New” and then “Virtual Machine”

New VM - Hyper-V

Give your new VM a name and instruct Hyper-V on where to store the config files.

Hyper-V Name and Location VM

Select the amount of memory you want your virtual machine to have. In my case, I have chosen to give mine 1024mb or 1gig.

Hyper-V Memory

Pick your network connection (this is your virtual switch) and click “next”

VM Lan

Once you’ve assigned your new VM a network connection, you need to create a virtual hard disk for it. Select “Create Virtual Hard Disk” from the menu, give it a name, select the location you wish to save it in and the size.

Create VHD Hyper-V

Now we must tell Hyper-V where to find the CentOS ISO that we downloaded. Select “Install an operating system from a boot CD/DVD-ROM” pick the “Image File (.iso)” option. Click on “Browse” and locate the ISO. Then click “Next”

Select ISO File

Finally a summary page will be displayed. This will tell you all of the options that you selected for your virtual machine. At this step, please click on “Finish.” Clicking “Finish” will bring you back to the Hyper-V management console.

Hyper-V Summary

In the Hyper-V management console, find your newly created virtual machine, select it and right click. Click on the “Connect” option that appears.

Hyper-V Connect

Go ahead and click on the green power button to fire up your VM.

Hyper-V Connect

Installing CentOS on your Virtual Machine

Your virtual machine will now begin to read the ISO inserted into it’s virtual optical drive. Using the arrows on your keyboard, highlight the “Install CentOS 7” and hit the enter key.

CentOS ISO - Install

Select your language. In my case, I left it as the default of English. Then click continue.

CentOS Pick Language

Select the disk on which you wish to install CentOS. I typically allow CentOS to use the automatic partitioning feature. Then click “Done”

CentOS Disk Install

During the installation, you are asked to set a root password and/or create a user. I have chosen to do both. You may click each icon and assign a password and create a user. CentOS will then set these during it’s installation.

Create User Root Pass

User Pass Created

Allow CentOS to complete it’s installation process. Once this step is complete, the virtual machine will reboot. Once it has rebooted, you will see the following prompt. Here you can login with either your root user or the user you had CentOS create during installation. CentOS is now installed.

CentOSInstalled

 

Gaining Network Access

 

 

CentOS minimal out of the box on Hyper-V will not get an IP Address. You can verify this by logging in and issuing the command “ip addr”

CheckIP

If you get an IP address, you should see it listed under “eth0” – in this case we do not see an IP address. This is because CentOS does not go out and try to grab an IP on boot. In order to change this, you must issue the command, “vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0”CentOS Eth0 Conf

To change this config, hit the “i” key to switch vi into insert mode. Arrow down until you get to the last entry, “ONBOOT”, you must change this from “no” to “yes” – when you’ve changed this, hit the : key and type wq to write the changes and quit vi.

Change_OnBootYes

Restart your network interface by issuing the command “systemctl restart network” – CentOS will hang for a moment and then restart the network adapter.

CentOS Restart Network

Now you can issue the command “ip addr” again and you should see an IP address listed for interface eth0.

CheckIPAgain

You now have a base CentOS Minimal install with network connectivity. This will give you a great base to install Nagios. I will be writing a tutorial shortly on the installation and configuration of Nagios Core on CentOS.

 

Check out some of my other blogs on Hyper-V!

Permanent link to this article: https://achubbard.com/2018/01/31/centos-7-minimal-installation-hyper-v/