Proxmox VE (Virtually Serving the Home User)

I have been a long time user of VMWare and have used the product extensively to run Windows on Linux or vice-versa.  In addition, I have used it to virtualize many of the services I use at home.  For instance, my Samba and FTP server is a virtual machine running Ubuntu 10.04 on an Ubuntu 12.04 host.  This has saved my ass in the past when I’ve had hardware issues and had to migrate from one computer to another.  Since the Samba and FTP server was a virtual machine I merely had to move it from the computer it was on and host it on a temporary computer while I repaired the hardware on the main computer.  Once the hardware was repaired I simply moved the virtual machine back.  I recently added Owncloud to my virtual server collection.  This has been very effective and I have been very happy with the decision to virtualize the server since moving it will now be very easy and making backups is as simple as stopping the guest, making a copy of the file and then restarting it.   The virtualized servers have been running on my fileserver which is mostly responsible for storing the 2 TB of data in a raid 1 configuration and making it available to the household users.  This has all been working quite well, but in the words of Tim Allen, I wanted to give it “More power!!!!”.  It was a simple enough decision to split the virtual server part off of the fileserver, let the fileserver continue to host its 2 TB of data and let a new computer do all the virtualization….  Enter Proxmox VE.  Proxmox VE is similar to VMWare ESXi in that it is installed on bare metal and runs virtual machines that you have to remotely access.  Proxmox supports fully virtualized KVM and OpenVZ or containers.  This was ideal for me since most of my home based virtual machines run Linux and containers are known to be much more efficient than KVM, but can not run Windows. With the platform selected the next step was to purchase the hardware.  I selected the AMD FX-8350 processor with its 8 cores feeling that this would be perfect for CPU hungry virtual machines.  I snapped this into an MSI 990FXA-GD65 which would unleash its power giving it 6GB SATA III ports.  I then added a Seagate Barracuda 1TB HD, but this failed after a week and I replaced it with a Western Digital Red 2TB for nearly twice the price.  Last I put in two 4GB sticks to take advantage of the dual channel memory, but planned to upgrade later.  As for video and case, these things are merely fluff on a headless PC, so any old one was fine.  In the end it came to about $630, a little more than I wanted to spend, but a lot less than if I had purchased something prefab.   Installing Proxmox was a breeze as everything is open … Continue Reading →


Worried About Dropbox? Get OwnCloud!

After using Dropbox for years, I finally hit the 5G free limit.  I looked at the prices and while they are fair, it hurts to pay for something I know I can do for free using rsync or a simple FTP.  In this case, I got lucky and found that ownCloud is even easier to use than ever before, and does all the same things Dropbox does and more. Since I do practically everything in a VM, the first thing I did was spin up an Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop, go to the http://www.ownCloud.org web page and following the links for installing the DIY server edition.  Thank you, OpenSuse for hosting the install packages!   http://software.opensuse.org/download/package?project=isv:ownCloud:community&package=owncloud   I drilled down and got myself to the appropriate version of Ubuntu (and don’t worry, I know everything says xUbuntu, but they don’t mean Xubuntu, they mean any Ubuntu flavour….LOL). From there, this website provided the best instructions for me, although it is written specifically for using a VPS on DigitalOcean.  Still, most of the instructions apply for someone hosting their own ownCloud server.   https://www.digitalocean.com/community/articles/how-to-install-owncloud-and-configure-owncloud-apps-on-an-ubuntu-12-04-vps   Once I got this up and running, the next thing to do was uninstall Dropbox on my laptop and install the ownCloud client.  I got this from www.ownCloud.org as well.  After I got the ownCloud client going, it wanted to sync the whole account.  I didn’t want this and tried to stop it and remove the default ownCloud folder, but it basically hung.  After doing some research I found that the best practice is to quit the sync client and then open it back up, then immediately go to settings and pause the sync.  THEN, remove the default folder and create the new one.  I chose my Dropbox folder.  Why not?  It’s already there and it’s already where I put all my stuff.   The last thing to do was set things up on my phone.  I have an Android phone and the ownCloud client is in the App Store, so again, no worries there either.  Once it was installed and I logged into my server, BAM! all the dropbox files were available.  And don’t worry, it doesn’t download the files to your phone unless you tell it to.   I finished things off by adding linked folders on my server to my fileserver, setting up SSL and configuring the automatic camera upload feature on my phone, but it was all downhill from there.   If you are looking for an alternative to Dropbox and want to be in complete control of your data, I suggest you try it.  Have fun!