Thursday, October 15, 2020

Running Openshift at Home - Part 1/4 Homelab Hardware

Part 1/4 - Homelab Hardware

Part 2/4 - DIY Silent Server Cabinet
Part 3/4 - Installing a Two-Node Proxmox VE Cluster 

Part 4/4 - Deploying Openshift 4 on Proxmox VE

This is a series of post from building the hardware infrastructure that you can run from the comfort of your home to running you first application in Openshift 4.5/OKD4.5.


About a month ago I decided to build a homelab. All I wanted was to run my own Openshift cluster at home so that I can build and deploy applications to rapidly test ideas but also to develop my expertise in Openshift. I was shaving yak and ended up building a homelab and a IKEA server cabinet from scratch. 

Previously, I have been running my experiments on the cloud and it has cost me quite some $$ with monthly bills ranging from $80 to $250. This is another motivation factor. So if I could run my experiments on a homelab that cost's less than the price of iPhone 11 pro, with only additional $20 a month on electricity bills, I would call it a success. 

Disclaimer: I am not a systems engineer. My day job is a Software Architect, I design and build software solutions.


Some homelab setup of folks I know cost thousands of dollars using Intel NUC computer or some desktop grade computers using multi-core AMD Ryzen CPU. This is beyond the budget my wife has agreed for this project :). So I did some google search and learned about this Reddit forum where people are mostly using old servers discontinued and no longer supported (EOL) by manufacturers and have been disposed off data centers. There is quite a lot of these listed on ebay. For less than $300, you'll get an enterprise grade server with 8 to 12 physical cores which is amazing!

There is just one caveat. These servers are not designed to be run at home. They are designed to sit in data centers away from people. Therefore, noise was not taken into consideration in their designs. These servers are very loud. But this did not stop me as I am already thinking of a solution to the noise problem. In the above photo, the entire homelab infrastructure is enclosed in an IKEA BESTA cabinet which I will talk about in more details in another post.

Being in Singapore, ebay or amazon is not really an option. These servers weigh up to 25kg. Shipping cost would have been more expensive than the item itself. Thankfully, we have Carousell in Singapore. When I searched for "used server" i got a few results and this is where I bought all my servers.

I used 3 servers for more compute power plus redundancy but it's not mandatory. It's totally fine to start with one server. The 3 servers and the network switch were sourced from Carousell. A quick search for "server" keyword in Carousell gives you this kind of result.