What homelab do you want?

This will hopefully be the first post in a series, probably spread out over a long time about my home lab.  I’m going to start of with a bit of a discussion as to what kind of homelab you might want.  I’ll talk a bit about what the considerations you might need to take into account.  Then I’ll talk about what I’ve gone with.

Just Virtual Machines

If you’re on a budget, starting out or just have fairly limited requirements the easiest and cheapest way to get started is to go fully virtual on your desktop.  If you’re a bit short on RAM or storage, then simply upgrading your desktop (or laptop) will allow you to run plenty of VMs.  If you’re stuck with Windows, then you can run virtualbox.  If you’re running Linux then KVM would be prefereable, but you can use virtualbox as well.  There’s also plenty of options for running networks.  If you want to try out containers or clustering, again it’s totally possible to virtualise all of these things, if you’ve got a suitably powerful machine.

Single physical host

This is probably the next step up from running VMs on your desktop.  These can be as cheap or as bling as you see fit.  You can spend a small amount of money and get a cheap box which can run a decent amount of VMs.

Multiple physical hosts

There’s a lot of options with multiple hosts, so I’ll talk about each of them a bit.  But broadly, this is probably the ‘gold standard’ of labbing.  Even if you mostly work in the cloud having a solid knowledge of physical infrastructure will always be useful.  At this kind of level, you probably want at least two network ports, as then you can start dabbling with lots of different failover scenarios.  Also having three nodes is pretty important.  You can do plenty with two and obviously it is easy to add more later on.  But at three nodes (and above) you can start playing with various kinds of clustering, which is very useful.

NUCs

NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing.  But basically they’re very small PCs  with an embedded CPUs.  The mother board is roughly 10 cms by 10 cms.  Mini ITXes are a bit bigger, around 17 cms by 17 cms.  Surprisingly hard to get dual ethernet NUCs.  When you do get them, they’re not cheap.  However you do get a lot for your money.  NUCs come with CPUs and power supplies, so you just need to chuck in a hard drive and some RAM.  They’re great if you’re limited on space.  They’re normally pretty powerful.  You can stack them up nicely.  You don’t have to build anything, so if you’re happy to pay a bit more and want a neat little box, then NUCs are great.

Build your own

This is also often a relatively expensive option, but there are plenty of cheap Mini-ITX boards out there, which provide plenty of ports and it is possible to get ones which have server features like management interfaces and ECC RAM.  There are also plenty of Micro ATX server boards as well.  If you want to build an ATX node, you can, but to be honest when you get to that point, I’d probably just buy second hand servers.  If you want the

Second Hand Servers

As most places work on a 5 year refresh cycle, there’s often plenty of cheap physical servers out there.  These are often very powerful and you get a lot of bang for your buck.  For example, you’ll get powerful CPUs, ECC RAM, fast hard drives and the like.  On the downside, most servers sound like jets when they power up.  They’re also normally fairly large, so a few nodes will take up quite a bit of space.  Finally, as servers normally have fairly steep power requirements to run, you’ll spend more in electricity.  Homelabs aren’t normally demanding on kit, so you can often make second hand equipment last for a long time.

Single Board Computers

Backups

Safety when sport climbing

Here are a couple of useful posts on UKC to think about.

The first one is a video of a nasty fall where the leader had his foot behind the rope, causing him to invert when falling and a fairly harsh belay causing him to slam into the wall upside down.

http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=69790

A chap at the cuttings in Portland decked out the other day, when his belayer gave him to much slack. He’d leant back to be lowered off and his belayer thought he’d said slack and given him slack and let go of the rope.

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=619337

There’s lots of good sensible comments on both, but to roughly sum up (and yes, I know we all know this and I’m teaching lots of folk to suck eggs here, but still):

– Where possible make sure the rope doesn’t run behind your legs
– Wear a helmet!
– If belaying, try and give a ‘soft’ catch (obvious caveat, if a soft catch means they slam into a ledge, feel free to be harsh), i.e. don’t have a very taut rope and go with the momentum of the fall. If you’re not sure how to give a ‘soft’ catch, practise in a safe environment.
– When at the top of a route, make sure you know what your belayer is doing (for leaders)
– When the leader is at the top of a route, make sure you keep them on belay all the time, especially when they’re threading a route. If they ask for slack, give them a bit and then lock off the plate.

Finally, the following article is also worth a read – http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=4727

June 2014

Year start grades:

  • Bouldering – V2
  • Sport – 6a
  • Trad – HVS

Month start grades:

  • Bouldering – V3 (Sent)
  • Sport – 6b+ (RP) 6a+ (OS)
  • Trad – HVS (OS)

Month end grades:

  • Bouldering – V3 (Sent)
  • Sport – 6b+ (RP) 6a+ (OS)
  • Trad – HVS (OS)

Weight end – 11st 9lbs

Core sessions – 0

Fingerboard sessions – 1

Indoor Climbing sessions – 0

Outdoor climbing sessions – 6

Bouldering grade the same.  Sport grade the same.  Trad grade the same.

Weight start – 11st 9lbs

As you can kinda see it was June when I sort of gave up on this.  I had managed to get my weight down to quite a nice low point.  However once I got it there (briefly) I slacked off on the diet front, so it was only ever 11st 10lbs for a few weeks, before bouncing back up to 12st very quickly.  Since then I would say that my grades have not changed over the last year.  However I’d quite like to restart this as I was finding it useful.  After a fashion.  I could also backfill most of the entries from UKC Fitclub if I felt like it.

 

May

Year start grades:

  • Bouldering – V2
  • Sport – 6a
  • Trad – HVS

Month start grades:

  • Bouldering – V3
  • Sport – 6a+
  • Trad – HVS

Month end grades:

  • Bouldering – V3
  • Sport – 6b
  • Trad – HVS

Bouldering grade the same.  Sport grade up to 6b (red point).  Trad grade the same.

Weight start – 11st 12lbs

Weight end – 11st 9lbs

Core sessions – 0

Fingerboard sessions – 2

Indoor Climbing sessions – 0

Outdoor climbing sessions – 2

Managed to bag a 6bish.  Spent a lot of time digging a big hole in the garden.  Which has helped fitness.  Weight has come down a bit.  Still more to go.  Hopefully I’ll get to 11st 7lbs by the end of June.  Also got an outdoors V0+, which I’d never done either.

April 2014

Year start grades:

  • Bouldering – V2
  • Sport – 6a
  • Trad – HVS

Month start grades:

  • Bouldering – V3
  • Sport – 6a+
  • Trad – HVS

Month end grades:

  • Bouldering – V3
  • Sport – 6a+
  • Trad – HVS

Bouldering grade the same.  Sport grade the same.  Trad grade the same.

Weight start – 12st 1lbs

Weight end – 11st 12lbs

Core sessions – 9

Fingerboard sessions – 4

Indoor Climbing sessions – 1

Outdoor climbing sessions – 3

Crap month really.  Need to get the weight loss going properly.  Also need to actually get two climbing sessions per week.  It’ll come, just got to focus.

Kitchen Fitting

Been a long fun day, finally got round to fitting the worktop today.

So here’s a few pictures.

March 2014 Stats

Year start grades:

  • Bouldering – V2
  • Sport – 6a
  • Trad – HVS

Month start grades:

  • Bouldering – V3
  • Sport – 6a+
  • Trad – HVS

Month end grades:

  • Bouldering – V3
  • Sport – 6a+
  • Trad – HVS

Bouldering grade the same.  Sport grade the same.  Trad grade the same.

Weight start – 12st 2lbs

Weight end – 12st 1lbs

Core sessions – 8

Fingerboard sessions – 0

Indoor Climbing sessions – 4

Outdoor climbing sessions – 2

Elbows are still pretty iffy.  Weight has fluctuated quite a bit, so overall it’s not down by much.  Which is frustrating.  Need to nail the weight and get the sessions in.  Haven’t been climbing enough.  Haven’t been loosing enough weight.  However I have a new kitchen, so that’s a plus point.

Feb 2014 stats

Year start grades:

  • Bouldering – V2
  • Sport – 6a
  • Trad – HVS

Month start grades:

  • Bouldering – V2
  • Sport – 6a
  • Trad – HVS

Month end grades:

  • Bouldering – V3
  • Sport – 6a+
  • Trad – HVS

Bouldering grade the same.  Sport grade the slight increase.  6b/+ is very close.  Trad grade the same.

Weight start – 12st 5lbs

Weight end – 12st 2lbs

Core sessions – 11

Yoga sessions – 0

Fingerboard sessions – 2

Climbing sessions – 4

Shoulders are now fine.  It was just a heavy few yoga sessions.  Elbows aren’t great.