An Ode for a Home Server

Here’s to my home server. An HP Microserver N36L that is running ESX 5.5 and hosts my media, web, NAS and OpenVPN servers:


All the data disks are passed through using raw device mapping to FreeNAS which then treats them as JBOD for RAIDZ1. This is fine given that I don’t think of RAIDZ as a backup solution, but rather a solution for fault tolerance in the event of one of the disks failing. Once a week, I backup the data on the NAS to an external WD drive (not very reliable I know, but its cheap). All of the data is available to the media server over NFS and since this is intra-host VM network traffic, I expect it is comparable to a 1Gbps connection.

Personally, I am quite happy with Plex as a home media server solution. Its easy to setup, the management console has a nice UI and a good range of configuration options for a free solution. Plex has apps for most platforms and also supports our Samsung Smart TV. I tried using mediatomb for a while which had a terrible user interface and was quite agonizing to setup.

I run ownCloud on my web server to access my documents on the go. Its a bit tricky to set up since the files are shared over NFS and I would prefer to not allow write access over it. I decided to have a read only interface since the use case is for being able to access them, not modify them really. I also have a USB printer passed through to a VM and have CUPS setup to mediate access to it and give it print jobs remotely.

I am always connected to my home VPN on the phone so all my data is routed through the home server; this also means I can check on all my VMs on the go so that’s great. This little box makes for a great home server 😀



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