little home network services box

Discussion in 'Other CPUs and chipsets' started by Aetherone, Apr 6, 2016.

  1. Aetherone

    Aetherone Member

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    Ready to pull the trigger and build up a dedicated box to run network services.

    What I want it to do seems pretty simple - starting with DHCP, DNS, NTP & most importantly - serving up TFTP/HTTP based PXE boot images. From there, whatever I feel the need to bash together.

    Some form of SBC would seem to fit the bill nicely. Currently I'm browsing around E14's RPI section and hoping for any tips/tricks/suggestions..

    Everything I've read suggests its as simple as grabbing an RPI+power+sdcard, loading up my favorite Linux, dropping in various configs and then forgetting about it?

    No point going odroid for a headless cmd line server?

    Any particular SD card? Currently eyeing off a Sandisk "high endurance" model hoping for extra set'n'forget-edness.

    cheers :thumbup:
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2016
  2. wintermute000

    wintermute000 Member

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    1.) DD-WRT or similar firmware will let most high-end consumer routers do a lot of that. In fact HTTP/TFTP server is the only thing I'm not 100% sure on, and I'm 90% sure LOL. Defo run all that on a cisco/juniper etc.
    2.) If you run any file servers, HTPCs, lab boxes, NAS etc. then odds are you will be able to virtualise something and not have to run a separate box. Even NAS boxes now offer virt and/or docker via GUI (at least QNAP and Synology do).

    If you don't intend on running a file server/download box/NAS appliance/ESXi or custom firmware on a decent router (Nighthawk/RT68U etc.) then yes RPi is the easiest answer.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
  3. OP
    OP
    Aetherone

    Aetherone Member

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    I checked DD out when I bought my nighthawk. Need to check my notes as to exactly why it didn't work (think there was kerfuffle with large image HTTP-PXE booting?) so gave up and wound back. T'was almost a year ago now. Maybe its fixed.

    Currently running these roles virtualised on a NUC, but I want to redeploy the NUC elsewhere which means finding a new host.

    I like the idea of one little low power box/board that does one (or two or three) jobs *really* well for almost invisible power, heat and noise. Days gone by I always had some big box running somewhere but skyrocketing power prices means fook that!

    I'd been thinking about hacking up a spare WD MyBook Live I've got around here but then its either spinny disc or buying an SSD for it. Plus single core 800mhz is soooooo 2008 :lol:
     
  4. wintermute000

    wintermute000 Member

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    The easy option is probably just get a Pi then, though you MAY run into issues with certain software not available on ARM. I know for example Docker is not straightforwards.

    My suggestion: trawl the For Sale forums here and pick up the first Haswell/Ivy i5 or i7 system that comes up which runs ESXi/HyperV/KVM. Pick up some second hand RAM if the opportunity comes along. By far the best bang/buck for virtualisation and will absolutely flay any NUC.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
  5. OP
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    Aetherone

    Aetherone Member

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    This is absolutely true, although I'm not sure they'll idle along at 4.8 watts like the NUC does. :shock:

    As long as we've got SSHd, DHCPd, BIND, tFTPd & httpd, I'm set for a start. Its headless so no need for any GUI either. :thumbup:
    A GbE interface would be nice for faster boot image streaming but its merely "nice" and not essential.

    cheers for your thoughts :thumbup:
     
  6. decryption

    decryption Member

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    Only issue with the Pi as a server is the 100mbit ethernet and slow SD card storage/USB ext HDD. Might not be as snappy as other machines for those PXE boots.
     
  7. Smokin Whale

    Smokin Whale Member

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  8. OP
    OP
    Aetherone

    Aetherone Member

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    Really don't want w10 and already have a 6TB quad tuner HTPC, but that's a very nifty looking box.
    Not a whole lot more $$ than an equivalent Pi3 kit and x86-64!
    I presume it shouldn't be too hard to nuke the W10 and install linux?

    Only downside seems to be linux support is a little lacking yet, not that audio or wifi nonfunction will bother me. As long as the ethernet works, I think its golden. Thanks for the suggestion!

    There's also this: http://up-shop.org/up-boards/19-up-board-2gb-32-gb-emmc-memory.html
     
  9. kogi

    kogi Member

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    You can just run some virtual linux instances under hyperV
     
  10. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    As others have said, if you don't need gigabit, an RPi is a trivial solution to this problem.

    Rotating backups to a USB thumbdrive would be trivial. At most you'd only need to back up your config (the /etc directory) and whatever custom stuff you put in your PXE boot folder.

    I also cron up a job to dump out my package list ("dpkg -l" or "rpm -qa" or whatever your package manager prefers) out to a text file in /etc , then if I have a complete SD card failure of my RPis, a backup of typically less than a megabyte compressed is enough for me to rebuild whatever the RPi was doing.
     
  11. Smokin Whale

    Smokin Whale Member

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    Couldn't you just copy the files to a network share on a regular basis? Linux is just a bunch of files after all. Then just copy them onto an SD card if the original one dies.
     
  12. OP
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    Aetherone

    Aetherone Member

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    I could, but wouldn't that stop the system from sleeping when its not doing anything?

    That's what I thought, but it almost seems too easy *looks suspiciously*. Has to be a gotcha there somewhere :lol:
    Then we got onto the 2 watt quad-core x86-64 and the shiny factor came out to play. :D

    Yup, should be simple.
    I figured that once its up and running the easiest way is just grab an image of the FS and stash that somewhere safe.
     
  13. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    That's what I said. :)
     
  14. kogi

    kogi Member

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    Isn't your htpc on and awake 24/7 anyway?
     
  15. OP
    OP
    Aetherone

    Aetherone Member

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    Feck no. Sleeps whenever its not doing anything.
    Wakes, records & goes back to sleep. :thumbup:
     
  16. Smokin Whale

    Smokin Whale Member

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    Uhm... :confused:
     
  17. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    The second bit. "Back up /etc somewhere". Thumbdrive, network, who cares.

    Typically if the device in question *IS* your network device (router/firewall/NAS), then backing it up to another network device isn't as useful as backing it up to a USB drive of some sort.

    I've seen folks get all clever and do cloud backups of the firewall/router boxes, then struggle to remember how to get to their cloud hosted files via their private key which was on the network device they were backing up. KISS. :)
     
  18. theSeekerr

    theSeekerr Member

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    If you've got anything that's running 24/7 anyway (file server?) then spinning up a little Linux VM is pretty painless.

    I went through it yesterday because I needed a reliable DNS solution at home - I've been using a service that's great at Netflix unblocking, but absolutely terrible as an everyday DNS server.

    BIND let me fix that, and now that I've got that working I may as well move DHCP off the router too.
     
  19. OP
    OP
    Aetherone

    Aetherone Member

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    Exactly, which is what I've been doing with my NUC. 4.8 watts 24/7 I can afford to live with.
    Now I want to shift the NUC off to desktop duties, I might as well spool up a tiny Arm solution. Although the x5-Z8300 solution brings a whole new world of possibilities into the same idle power envelope.

    As a bonus, the x5 runs on 12v - so it can plug into the large 12v PSU I already use to power router/modem/switch/cameras.
     
  20. theSeekerr

    theSeekerr Member

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    If I were going to bother spinning up a new machine for these duties, I'd probably pick something with dual NICs and move routing onto it as well.

    The Intel route gets more and more attractive the more work you give it.

    Putting a little switching regulator in front of an RPi to convert 12V to 5V isn't exactly difficult. A 5 Amp UBEC (Universal Battery Eliminator Circuit) from an RC hobby supplier would do the job admirably for an RPi3, and the earlier Pi's would be fine with the more common 3 Amp UBEC's.

    For what it's worth, I have a Pi2 on my network, but not doing this particular job, because the Pi is a terrible file server. The ethernet port is actually a USB peripheral, so it shares bandwidth with the USB ports. That would be fine, but the Pi doesn't have SATA, so you end up sharing bandwidth between ethernet and USB hard drives, and that's a recipe for a dog slow file server. For the same reason, it also makes a dreadful torrent box.

    How much that applies to your PXE boot images I don't know - if they're small, it might not matter much.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016

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