In a need to update my skills and being really interested in a ESXI server after my boss talked to me about his setup for a side project we worked on I built a home lab. Mine isn’t anything fancy but it enables me do whatever I want for building and experimenting with little need to keep reinstalling new Operating Systems.
What hardware did I use?
For most people there are three options, build, use part from a previous upgrade, or buy a setup. For most people who build their own computers I would recommend building a server from their old parts, but I actually just gave mine away to a neighbor kid who wanted to get into PC gaming. So I could either buy parts and build a new PC or buy a prebuilt. In my case I knew this would be a server only so I didn’t want to build a typical PC.
I opted to use an old server, there are a ton of them on Amazon and similar sites. This enabled me to get a really good price for the hardware and felt good since I kept some chips from going to the dump.
Software for the server
once you find the hardware you want to use you’ll need to find the software you want to run. Depending on what you plan to use the server for you can go with a Linux distro or Windows Server. What I did was use ESXI which allows you to run multiple operating systems without a full OS to run the virtual machines. ESXI is really minified to take minimal resources.
What I’m using it for
Currently I’m using my server to run Home Assistant to automate and monitor my home. It’s not completely setup for everything but I’m able to monitor the key systems I want to watch. Home Assistant takes a lot of the basic IoT integrations so you can focus on creating hooks where things happen after something else happens. I’m working on building logic so I can see when my solar system is overproducing electricity to send to the grid so I use higher electrical use devices when it cost me nothing.
My other use for this server is to mess around with passion projects. After finishing this post I’ll be working on learning about Linux. I truly believe that to really understand a system you have to poke around. Sometimes better know as FAFO
With ESXI I can take snapshots of a sever before messing around in case I really mess a server up I can just bounce it back.