What's In My ESXi

• Virtualisation   • Server

Four years have past since I build my home lab! I thought I’d share what virtual machines I’m currently rolling and what I’ve left behind in that time.

pfSense

pfSense is a free and open source firewall and router that also features unified threat management, load balancing, multi WAN, and more.

pfSense has worked really well for me over the last 4 years. I love its flexibility to micromanage my network to stay organised and in complete control of everything that’s happening.

One caveat I have is its ability to track users and their usage. Packages such as ntopng can help with that but it fills up the entire disk! This is something that’s done much better on Sophos or Meraki appliances.

  • CPU: 1
  • RAM: 512MB
  • HDD: 8GB
  • Packages:
    • Avahi
    • mailreport
    • Open-VM-Tools
    • openvpn-client-export
    • Service_Watchdog

FreeNAS

Free & Open Source unified file and block storage, VM, and Docker system with templates, a self-healing file system, snapshots, and replication.

The world’s #1 storage OS, FreeNAS provides storage capabilities for my home lab. It’s main job is bundling my 6 x 4TB drives together and sharing it throughout the network.

FreeNAS uses ZFS which eats a lot of RAM, preventing me from running a lot of other stuff I would’ve like to self-host (e.g. Ansible Tower). If I could however, I would give it even more RAM as it’ll give me some peace of mind.

Currently on FreeNAS, I’m making use of NFS to share with my *nix clients and SMB with Windows.

  • CPU: 4
  • RAM: 16GB
  • HDD: 8GB, 6 x 4TB WD Se, 2 x 512GB Samsung 850 Pro

Pi-hole

A black hole for Internet advertisements

I’ve recently spun up Pi-hole as a DNS server for Google Home and Chromecast devices. This was achieved with pfSense’s ability to redirect all traffic from Google’s DNS servers to the Pi-hole. I haven’t had a chance to test if it actually removes ads however, it currently has 400000 queries and 0 have been blocked.

I wouldn’t set Pi-hole or any other adblocker network-wide as it could interfere with webpages or applications. I rather control adblocking individually on each host if it requires it.

  • CPU: 1
  • RAM: 512MB
  • HDD: 16GB

UPS

A VM image that is provided by CyberPanel to use PowerPanel Business Edition, their application that gracefully shuts downs ESXi during a power outage.

  • CPU: 1
  • RAM: 512MB

Milestone

Milestone XProtect video management software (VMS) is powerful and easy to use with a wide array of features for basic to advanced surveillance needs.

My one (sadly) Windows VM that runs my surveillance camera software, Milestone XProtect. I would love to use something…else but there’s not much out there in the Linux world that works well (not Zoneminder).

  • CPU: 2
  • RAM: 4GB

Usenet

This VM has replaced 6 other virtual machines by making use of Docker! I’ve previously posted about this in my previous post so take a look at that to find out more. I didn’t think that Docker containers would be so light compared to a brand new Ubuntu server install which only uses ~30MB of RAM compared to 512MB+ which I had for each service before.

  • CPU: 4
  • RAM: 2
  • HDD: 100GB

Old VMs

Here a few VMs I have but no longer use:

  • ADDS: Windows Active Directory server. After 3.5 years with it, I realised no one else makes use of LDAP auth besides me so started using local users instead
  • Unifi: Ubiquity’s Unifi software. After setting up my Unifi AP AC, there’s not much point leaving it running when it could also be configured through a phone app
  • Emby/Plex: Media management system and transcoder. I rather use an HTPC with Kodi
  • GitLab: Code repository. Much easier to just store my code on GitHub/GitLab.com
  • MediaWiki: Wiki. I’ve moved all my documentation over to readthedocs as I wrote in previous post
  • napp-it: ZFS Storage provider. FreeNAS just worked better
  • IPAM: IP Address management. Easier to look at the DNS page in pfSense
  • NTP: A time server. pfSense provides NTP services too so this was surpass.