BYOB – An Expensive Podcast

One of the podcasts I listen to regularly is the BYOB podcast (BYOB = Build Your Own Box). The podcast is free, but there’s rarely a show that goes by that doesn’t trigger some techno-lust which will consume my time or money. True to form recent shows have triggered one project and one hardware purchase. The project has been consuming my time, while the hardware consumed a couple hundred dollars along with my time.

HP MicroserverThe favorable coverage on the podcast tipped the balance and I bought a HP Micro Server. It was already on my radar as a nice compact, low power server.  I’ve installed Windows Server 2008 R2 and Citrix XenServer on it successfully. I’m still deciding what I want to do with it. I’m leaning towards installing Ubuntu server on it and using it as a test & file server. I haven’t tested it myself, but from what I’ve read it will support 3 TB drives.

I’m still debating how I want to use this box. At least for awhile I’ll be testing different OS’s and hardware on it. So deciding what to do with it has become a mini project in itself.

The bigger project is what the BYOB guys called a “Super Router”. I’ve been keeping track of possible home network changes for awhile, and it got more intense when I bumped against my bandwidth cap and added DSL to my cable ISP. When they talked about the super router on episode 34 a light bulb went on and I slapped my forehead. It really was the solution I wanted.

I ended up rebuilding my old PC now that all it’s parts were in the parts bin since everything has been upgraded. All I had to buy was a couple new network cards so at least the expense here won’t be money, just time.

I did install Citrix XenServer on the box and created a pfsense virtual machine. Unfortunately I couldn’t get pfSense to work with my DSL. It did work with the cable connection but I really want to use the slower DSL for testing. So I’ll eventually return to the problem and try to get it to work. But at least I know I have the necessary hardware.

I want to keep it virtual so I can easily swap configurations and test different software. For this I want to use bare metal virtualization software as I would expect better performance and reliability.

The router project will keep me busy for awhile. Besides pfSense I want to look at alternatives. Luckily I have a several months before my DSL promotional pricing ends. I should get this running and get a better handle on my bandwidth usage before regular pricing kicks in. While the DSL problem is frustrating (it should work!) and may be something obvious I’m missing it’s an otherwise enjoyable project. I can easily get lost in the settings and testing for hours.

As for the HP Micro Server, it’s going to be a nice compact test box that doesn’t take much shelf space. While I could add external drives that defeats the purpose of it being compact. I broke with tradition by not having a specific purpose in mind when I bought this. Despite that, I don’t have any buyer’s remorse.

Hopefully the BYOB guys will stick to general tech discussions until I get these projects done. If they can’t do that then they can stick to graphics cards. I’m not a gamer and can’t get excited about graphic cards, so it’s a safe topic. Of course, after their latest episode I’m now fighting a urge to upgrade my SSD drive.

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