Home Lab

I’ve been thinking about reactivating my home computer lab for some time now, especially in light of all the major changes happening with the primary operating systems I work with:

  • Microsoft is rolling out Windows 10 desktop at the end of July. Having passed on the Win 8 / 8.1 scene, this one will be unavoidable.
  • Powershell is the de rigueur. Well, why not? We call it Windows and now you should use a CLI rather than the GUI. Makes perfect sense, right?
  • The next Windows server version will install without a GUI by default, so Powershell is going to become even more important.
  • Systemd in Linux (CentOS for me) will require relearning all of the wonderful command line stuff that I’ve known and loved for 20+ years.

So, on top of a subscription to ITTV.pro, hitting MS virtual academy and TechNet virtual labs, and some books to read ( link / link ), I decided to stand up a home server for lab work. The cheap goto box for home labs these days is the Lenovo TS140 (and it’s big brother TS440). Being relatively small, quiet, and inexpensive make it an ideal choice. I pondered getting a used rack server from Fleabay, but having had a few Dell Poweredges racked up a few feet away in my office I know from experience how damn loud these can be. Might have been cheaper, but having a jet engine running in the house (plus the power draw) just didn’t make sense. So, I got a TS140 and plopped in down on the floor behind the couch. Perfect.

The initial setup is 16GB memory, 80GB for OS (Server 2012 w/ Hyper-V role), 500GB for virtual machines, and a 3TB for vm and file backups. I went with the Xeon version to take advantage of the Intel AMT options (OOB management, although I still haven’t got remote KVM working).

My setup uses Microsoft Evaluation software for the host (Server 2012R2 Datacenter) and guest machines (Server 2012R2 Standard + Win8.1 Enterprise). I setup Veeam Free backup with Powershell integration for backing up the virtual machines. After getting the base configuration test lab (link) up and running along with an RRAS server and a test server, I’m up to 7 virtual machines and the box is humming along just fine.