Responses to my new homelab server


People like reading about new server hardware! I’ve had more than a dozen emails, some from the usual suspects among you, and a few from people who’ve never posted. There are common themes in all of them, so I’m aggregating them into the following:

Why not Ryzen/Epyc?
I’m over the moon that AMD are smashing it again; I used their kit almost exclusively in machines I used to build myself. I went with a Xeon because I got an unreasonably good deal on a motherboard, and because they still have a slight—albeit shrinking—edge in hypervisor compatibility.

Why not a second-hald Dell rackmount unit, etc?
I could have got one, and then have had iDRAC etc. But I live in a studio apartment, and a desktop tower is already pushing space and accoustic limits. I’d have absolutely considered a LACK rack with one or more of these if I had a loungeroom or basement.

Why FreeBSD?
New readers may be unfamiliar, but FreeBSD has been my preferred server OS for a long time. I detail why on my software page. It’s OpenZFS integration is the most pertinent for this build; it’s the only file system I trust with my data. I also run Debian VMs to keep a foot in the Linux world, and because we run it at work.

Is ECC memory worth spending that much extra?
Yes, especially when refurbished ECC-capable hardware is less than new memory without error correction. Allan Jude has quipped that ZFS without ECC is still more trustworthy than regular file systems with ECC. But why not go all out.

Integrated graphics are terrible, use a GPU!
It’s mostly a moot point for a server that’ll only ever been SSD’d, Plex’d, or Minecraft’d into. I have no idea how offloading works, but potentially I’d be up for getting a GPU if I could do transcoding on it, or if its feasible.

Noctua are fine, but they’re overpriced. Get XYZ instead
First, too late! And second, as I mentioned, this was the one component I splurged on because I love their engineering. Noctua’s used to be aspirational devices I never thought I’d justify or own, but with all the money I saved elsewhere, and given how shambolic this year has been, I thought why not.

You could get an Adaptec SCSI PCI card for those Iomega drives
People cottoned onto why I wanted this specific board :). I’m not sure if that’d be remotely feasible, but it’d be fun. My machines have always a bit of nostalgic pointlessness in them.

Will it run Emacs?
Okay Dave, I took the bait! No, Emacs is for local hacking. Remote config files on this machine will be edited via Ansible, or the built-in nvi editor. I like keeping my servers as sparse as possible, and use tools provided by the system.

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