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things I break/fix for fun and learning

Apr 6, 2018 - 3 minute read - Comments

Homelab Upgraded

My current setup consists of old hardware I have lying around. I use a Lenovo Y410 for my main webserver and jumpbox server and a bunch of DLINK / TPLINK routers flashed with OpenWRT. I also have a Lenovo T420s with maxxed out RAM and SSD storage for virtualization.

I recently passed my RHCSA exam and decided to pursue in getting the RHCE. I got hooked with studying and decided to build a homelab if the price is within the budget. Recently I came across a local refurbisher. What caught my attention is that they have 2 DELL PowerEdge T300 for 70cad each! The hardware is quite old (single Xeon, DDR2, 3.5in SAS / SATA) but for the price, I think it is a steal! I did further research and watched several videos for about a week regarding the hardware capabilities and decided to buy it.

The seller was accomodating and we communicated via email / phone calls. Here is the picture of the server at their warehouse, being prepared for delivery -

I decided to buy the 2 servers for 2 reasons -

  • in case the other breaks outside the warranty period, I have a spare available for cheap
  • I can use both at the same time at some point and simulate hardware clustering

Once I got the servers, first thing I did is download the update CD from DELL’s website and perform a firmware upgrade. There were 3 items that needed upgrade - BIOS, BMC and NIC.

Firmware upgrade in action -

Once the firmware are upgraded, I started to play around configuring RAID and playing around with ESXi. The configuration of the server is nothing that fancy, it only has 4GBs RAM and that is already a limiting factor with ESXi. Storage is also at 2x146GB SATA which is on the low side. My plan is to max out one of the servers, and transfer the components into the other.

Ordered 6pcs 4GB DDR2 ECC RAM (for 2USD each, thank you ebay!) and 4pcs 450GB 15K RPM SAS HDD (for 8cad each, thank you ebay!). Once the items arrived, I installed all of them in the main server and transferred the old components into the other server.

HDD and RAM upgrades -

Final specs of the servers -

Server1

Xeon X3323

24GB DDR2 ECC RAM

4pcs 450GB 15K RPM SAS HDD

SAS RAID Controller

2pcs GB NIC

Server2

Xeon X3323

16GB DDR2 ECC RAM

4pcs 146GB 7.2K RPM SATA HDD

SAS RAID Controller

2pcs GB NIC

Server1 is now running bare-metal hypervisor ESXi with several VMs – CentOS, RHEL, Suse, Windows and Solaris VMs! I really like this setup as it feels like it’s the real thing – doing sysadmin work on enterprise hardware using enterprise hypervisor and server OS.

My battlestation, upgraded -

ESXi in action, together with my own DNS server -

Now that I have a working ESXi server, I need to be able to access it remotely so that I can practice on my lab anywhere as long as there is internet connection.

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