Our Home Server

It's come up a few times recently that we run a home server.

I don't recommend it to most people, but if computers are your career or your hobby, it might be interesting to you.

The cheapest way to buy one is to go on ebay and search for terms that sound right. "2u supermicro" netted me a 16 core box with 32GB of ram for $200. The problem with this approach is that its easy to buy way too much computer and then you have to power it all of the time. I once got a computer for $75 that was a killer deal at the time, but consumed 300w at "idle" all by itself. Sizing your computer is probably out of scope here, but buying too much has a real energy and dollar cost.

What do we do with it?

Philosophically, I'd like to be more digitally self-reliant, and that requires some hobby-sysadmin time.

Roughly ordered by "Number of times I use it in a week"

  • Mattermost - Chat - Think "self hosted slack". It's even API compatible in many ways. Used for free chat with my immediate and extended family. For long-running chat groups, slack wants to convert you to a paid plan to get your history or to have a certain amount of storage, this is a fine alternative. No complaints.
  • HomeAssistant - Runs our lights and thermostat
  • Grafana - Plots things that are important like energy use and air quality. This is the best interface to a time series database, and it's pretty passable for other tabular data.
  • Reading - RSS, Read it later (TTRSS and Wallabag respectively)
  • Odd Projects - I have some random projects that having a dedicated server for is nice. I fetch transit times, I have my own redirects service
  • Wiki - Replaces google docs for some family stuff like insurance cards
  • Backups - I have nearly 30TB of redundant spinning rust at my service. Most recently I found a backup from an apple from 2013 that had a dogecoin wallet worth $2500. We bought a cheap electric bike with the proceeds.
  • Plex - All my ripped mp3s, and all the sesame street I could find.

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Issac Kelly