Homelabbing, and with it self-hosting, has been a great exploration into server maintance, dabbling with new technologies, and has overall (sometimes it's been a hassle, but it comes with the territory) been an enjoyable little hobby.
As the title implies, however, I have reduced the amount of services, and horsepower in my homelab, at least for the time being, starting from 24/09/2022.
Energy costs a lot now
With the increase of gas/electric prices many households (including my own), have been looking at ways of reducing their bills, especially with Winter approaching, and the knowledge that there will be more usage in the coming months.
Couple this with the already inflated cost-of-living, this is making it less, and less sustainable for me to run devices 24/7, as I cannot justify the expenditure.
I want to go nomadic
Looking on the brighter-side, a big thing in my mind at the moment, is wanting to travel around one-bagging for as long a period as I can. So paring down my belongings is already something I'm doing, as ideally I only own what I need, and what can be easily stored for when I get back into renting a place. Storing multiple PCs is much harder than a couple of Raspberry Pis.
Reliability of my public services is iffy
With my in-home self-hosting there were always a couple of pitfalls, but I was happy to deal with these.
First, my IP isn't static, so when the ISP decides it's time for a new IP, boom. I've then got to change my DNS settings for my domains to keep things up.
Second, it's not a fantastic connection as-is. I will randomly get hit by blips of no internet throughout the day, which takes the services offline for however-long, sometimes multiple times a day.
What does this actually entail?
I've taken lilman, my last remaining server, out-of-comission for the time being (just after upgrading to 32GB RAM...), and have popped two RPIs in my shed in it's stead to cover my in-home needs for hosted services. I've also migrated services that are exposed to the web to the VPSs I already owned, and I'm also looking at Oracle's Always Free tier to migrate some of my game servers to (although credit card validation is playing with me).
What's happened with services?
So you may be wondering what's to happen with the services I was previously self-hosting at home. Some things, such as virtualisation, and any testing environments have been taken away, but for others they've been migrated around.
Of course there are some things that I want/need to keep at home, these services primarily come down to those that deal with files, and don't require internet access, however there are some outliers to this rule.
To maintain access to my files needed to work, my ISOs, my media collection, etc. I've setup a RPI3B+ (nasberrypi) as a NAS, connected to my 4TB HDD via an externally powered SATA hub. This is the only real "essential", as I can access these files on a laptop, and easily watch, edit, etc.
If I want to access my services, and namely my NAS from outside of my network, I need a VPN. This is on the RPI3B+, as the only thing alongside the NAS in case I opt to just maintain the NAS.
Jellyfin I watch media, and Jellyfin was the best option I found quite a while back. I've read it works well on RPIs, so I'm giving it a go on a seperate RPI3B (mediapi). So far though, it's not performing very well, but I'll struggle with it for the time being.
Adguard Whilst I still have an internet connection, I'd like to keep blocking wanky ads. This is on the 3B.
Nginx Not for websites, but for the proxy-pass functionality, so that I can safely share my Jellyfin, etc. instances over the web. On the 3B.
AirSonic (New) Trying out AirSonic, as I'd like to play my own music when, and wherever, whilst having the actual files stored in case of no interwebs. On the 3B.
OSMC (instead of Jellyfin)
My second Pi will likely just be an OSMC box, with media mounted from the NAS, as it seems like the best way to get anything to work. I don't really need to stream to my laptop/phone, just using the TV in the living room seems a better option for an intential lifestyle. Although, I do still want to see about music streaming.
The services I've migrated to my already exisitng VPSes (to go along with what they already hosted), are those which are internet accessed, and need additional reliability.
I've migrated aney.co.uk and anetwork.uk to my American VPS that hosts my node applications, obviously this makes my sites slower (in the UK), but I'll take what I can get for now, and maybe get a new UK based VPS in the future.
Git has been migrated to my off-site backup server. The logic behind this is that I'll have my repos checked-out, and with more up to date code than on the server, so this is alright. The performance difference here isn't noticable to me currently, which is nice.
Oracle VM (Maybe)
As I stated, this still isn't a guarantee, but if I opt to get game servers back online, the Oracle always free tier will be my first option. Who knows, when you're reading this I could have aNetwork entirely running on an Oracle VM instead of offline, like it is without lilman.
Two come to mind right at the beginning of this "experiment".
- Putting lilman back in the driver seat. I've moved some services off of the device, but for my media consumption the 3B isn't cutting it. With this, getting lilman set back up is probably the idea, either that or setting up a thinkpad as a server that's not always on.
- Just having a NAS. I may just keep the 3B+ as a NAS, and set the other Pi up as a client, with OSMC. This way I can mount the files, and watch them on the TV. A little annoying that I won't be able to stream from laptops/phones, but it could be better like that anyway. This has been opted for currently.
If I remember to do so, I'll make a new post, or some edits to this, in regards to how this downsizing is going, and if it's overall a positive, or negative experience.
Will you go back to hosting at home?
Yes (most probably, I could find I love the low-end setup though), assuming one of two things.
- That energy gets decoupled from gas prices, and/or gets reduced to a non-stupid amount, so that I can keep multiple servers running without breaking bank.
- I can build a super efficient lab, probably with "mobile" hardware, and a little additional undervolting. This one is also a lead into wanting to be more self-sufficient, so it'd ideally pair with solar panels, etc. to keep the lab going.