Lab evolution

(Initial writing Jan 2019) Continuation from: Evolution of my Home server/lab – Part 2

I came across a fantastic subreddit last year or a couple years ago now? /r/homelab, which led me to /r/homelabsales. And boy that was a mistake on my wallet over time, but I loved every minute of it.
was able to locally purchase and pick up my first ever rack-mountable server/host: Lenovo/IBM x3650 M2. the timing was great because it was my present to myself for my birthday that week.

Initially i had only a single 73GB drive that he provided with the system, couldnt really do much with it. I was able to get “in” with the head of IT to purchase 4x 300GB SAS drives for me to get a start on learning about serverland.
once i got those a few days later, I immediately RAID5’d them. i also had a few more drives on the way thanks again to /r/homelabsales.
over time i was able to migrate all my VMs over to this new host, and on top of that I needed to stop killing the whole network when rebooting the hypervisor on the whitebox. cause that became SUPER annoying

I got the hang of pfSense enough to install on dedicated system, hoooray for work e-trash again! nabbed 2x hp towers, one to be set up later on. Bought a 4-port GbE NIC for the “new” pfSense build. Changed the dual port in the whitebox to be utilized as an active/active bond and set as the main NIC for VM data, it helped prevent complete disconnection issues (I need to redo some ethernet cabling, really)

Some catch-up (written Feb ’21)

Gear acquired from E-trash bins in 2020:

  • PfSense build is now a small Acer microtower with an i5-2400 to benefit low power cost and AES crypto for use with future pfSense versions.
  • A couple PCIe WLAN+BT cards, added one to my main gaming rig.
  • Scored multiple laptops, new “daily driver” Dell Latitude E7450 w/ i5-5300U vPro 16GB DDR3, added a 250GB SSD. MUCH improvement compared to the 2-in-1 Asus transformer T100-TAM with a little Atom CPU.
    • Also an HP Probook 430 G1 running MacOS BigSur on OpenCore 0.6.5
    • need parts, but an HP Probook 430 G3(I think? It’s not nearby at the moment) with a 6th gen i3 or i5
  • Cisco gear:
    • Cisco 2821 Integrated Services Router
    • Catalyst 2950 Series 24p 10/100 Switch
    • Catalyst 3550 Series 24p 10/100 +2 GBIC Switch
    • 4402 Wireless LAN Controller
    • A case of multiple AIRONET a/b/g 2.4GHz access points.
    • A handful of IP Phones; 7911 & 7942g models
    • 5505(?) ASA (Adaptive Security Appliance)
    • Catalyst 3560 v2 Series PoE-24 Switch – I was so excited for this one to power my IP Cameras, but RIP, something mustve shorted prior to going in the bin, showing a blend of amber/green on all nearly LEDs, no connections working.
  • HP Rack Gear:
    • DL380 G6 – 72GB RAM – Dual Xeon E5640’s
    • STORAGEWORKS MSA70 ARRAY — this will be a while before i can attempt to use this, but it will make for a great DAS.
  • A couple old 16 Analog + 16 Digital channel NVRs (Bosch and Honeywell), may use these to consolidate before sending feeds to Shinobi?
  • A handful of Dell Wyse Thin clients:
    • 1 as Kodi Media Center for Plex
    • 1 running 3cx pbx server for VOIP services for the Cisco Phones
    • 1 as Home Assistant running HassOS
    • A couple more untouched.
  • A couple Rack Cable Management arms.
  • USB 3.0 Displaylink Dual Display Docking Station
  • A couple small UPS’s
  • HP KVM ( I wish it was IP however)
  • A couple PDUs


I just acquired xFi gigabit services and gateway, pending modem replacement to actually benefit from the speeds.

Follow-up on 2018’s money saving post

Well it’s been only a short time hasn’t it?

This is based from the following post:

It’s been almost exactly 3 years, but boy am I glad to have done it. The phone I ordered happens to be the one I still stick with, although I’m quite sure the built-in flash memory and other chips are just giving way over time, as the phone itself can go from GO DO AWESOME THINGS to WAIT UP! in almost an instant. I know I’m due for a new phone.

The company had semi rebranded from MintSIM to now Mint Mobile. To add to that, an owner is none other than Deadpool Ryan Reynolds, and he is one I can’t wait to see what sort of promo ad he comes up with next.


The money I’ve saved by switching is has been so beneficial, especially including this past year with the pandemic and family emergencies cutting right into the budget.

After my initial 3 months on sign up, I have been paying for a full year at a time. I had been changing after each year to lower my monthly data pool, but then about half way through the year I upgrade it again, while only having to pay the increase for the remaining months and not the full year over. the fact that I can dynamically upgrade is fantastic.

Mint Mobile Yearly 8GB plan - $240/yr

They have even since added a new “Unlimited Data” plan that goes right along the pricing scale with the other plans, however I don’t see myself in need of it just yet.

Mint Mobile Plan List

Over the past few years, the data pools have had an increase while keeping the same pricing of the tiers. In fact, my next monthly reset will include a new increase.


What else can I say, really? This service is really good for me, at least in my area up in the Northeast.

I really recommend those of you who have been paying absurd amounts for just a cell service to check Mint Mobile out, for real, here!

Evolution of my Home server/lab – Part 2

Part 1

After I got XenServer working, I had set up a VM of the same version of my setup prior (Fedora Server 24).  I wasn’t familiar with docker at the time, so I had OpenVPN and PlexMediaServer installed manually.

I later learned of pfSense router/firewall, however I couldn’t easily set it up until I ordered a NIC.  I ended up hitting up Ebay for a cheap Intel EXPI9402PT Pro/1000 PT Dual Port Gigabit NIC – ~$15. This had to be set up as PCI passthrough for the pfSense VM.

Continue reading “Evolution of my Home server/lab – Part 2”

Evolution of my Home server/lab – Part 1

My journey began back when I had some extra computer parts laying around from upgrading my main PC. I had one build previous to the one in the pictures, using an old AMD Athlon 64 X2, and only 6 GB of DDR2 RAM.

I learned how to configure my own servers after using an solution on the first build, Amahi. I remember mainly running a Minecraft server, and the basics of Emby Server. After having some issues with the old hardware and acquiring new parts from my workplace e-trash, I decided to start fresh. Wiped a HDD clean to set up and learn my first hypervisor: Citrix XenServer.

Continue reading “Evolution of my Home server/lab – Part 1”

Money saving coming up soon

I finally bit the bullet to buy a replacement phone to GSM unlock it. I will be switching from Tmobile to Mint Sim.
Currently paying $120+/Mo for a single line, 6GB LTE (including phone lease cost). it’s a bit ridiculous. I just paid $170 for the replacement phone, and I will spend $75 TOTAL for 3 months of 10GB data.. if I paid for 3 more months of current service… I’d be spending nearly $380…what the ****?!

I currently have the LG V20, and I love it. but i have the bootloader unlocked and the device rooted. The issue with that is that the T-Mobile Device Unlock app will not run with an unlocked bootloader. Unfortunately, according to Tmobile, the app is the ONLY way to unlock the device, they told me i could unlock it, but said that i HAVE to use the app.

I could re-lock the bootloader, sure! But then, due to being on a newer bootloader version ( currently @ 10s) there is no rolling back to a rootable version.

I just purchased another V20 that will HOPEFULLY be on the older version.
*crosses fingers*