For years now my homelab has been a single Dell Precision T7500 host, with a total of 24 GB RAM and a few TB of locally attached disks. I also had a small Synology DS216play and a very old HP MicroServer N36L that I ran FreeNAS on. A few months back, the MicroServer decided to call it quits after many, many years of service (it was released in May 2010!). To replace it I got ordered a new Synology DS920+, which again forced me into have a proper look at my entire home lab environment. The conclusion was very clear; My home lab environment was in dire need of a complete overhaul!

To make a long story short, I ended up with a pretty odd choice of new hosts for my home lab!

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Back in November 2021, VMware vSphere Update 3 was released and then ultimately retracted again due to critical issues with the code base and upgrade procedures — For details, see KB article 86398.

As of January 27th, VMware vSphere 7 Update 3c is now available for download!

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Heard of Caddy 2? If not, here’s a quick intro on how I currently use it. Note that I am barely toucing the surface of what it can do, but after I have a couple of simple, yet very handy use cases for it:

Reverse Proxy and Static File Server.

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I recently bought a Google Nest Hub 2nd gen and wanted to use it as a dashboard device for Home Assistant (HA). Now. the Google Nest Hub is not really meant used like this, as there is no real way of installing 3rd party apps on it, such as the Home Assistant app. Thankfully there are ways to get it to display Lovelace Dashboards from HA, and here is how I solved it with local network access only.

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I have been running Pi-Hole since 2018, and I’m still amazed as to how much ads it actually blocks. It’s simply incredible, and I often run my VPN client on my phone to connect to my home network, just to get DNS filtering no matter where I am.

Due to some recent changes to my home environment, I have now moved to a dual Pi-Hole setup, utilizing Michael Stanclift’s excellent Gravity Sync to keep the Gravity blocklists syncronized between instances.

I am also a heavy user of Home Assistant, so natually I have statistics from Pi-Hole visible in a Dashboard there as well, utilizing the Pi-Hole integration, which works very well. However, with two Pi-Hole instances, I would like to see some combined statistics, instead of them being seperated out by instance.

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This is a guest post by Stine Elise Larsen: I recently had a case of “go with your gut” when we added some new NVMe disks to an existing VMware vSAN solution at a customer.

Normally I'm very cautious and will put hosts into maintenance mode, no matter how small the hardware change I’m doing is, but against my better judgement this time I decided to hot add some disks (which of course is supported). However, I fumbled and managed to insert it and quickly remove it again before inserting it again, and ended up with a dreaded Purple Screen of Death (PSOD) on the host.

Naturally this freaked me out and I was eager to figure out what the problem was. Searching through the KBs at VMware didn’t give me any clues, but a quick Google search took me to the

ESXi 7.0u2c Release Notes.

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In the ongoing saga of SD-Card/USB-boot device support in ESXi, VMware has just published a new KB article named Persistent storage warnings when booting ESXi from SD-Card/USB devices (85615) outlining that from 7.0u3 (at the time of writing, not released yet) onward support for such boot devices is deprecated.

They also list the workarounds for this as either install to a non SD/USB device, or to add a persistent storage device.

Note: As of 03. September 2021 the Persistent storage warnings when booting ESXi from SD-Card/USB devices. (85615) KB article has been removed from for unknown reasons. Hopefully it will be back soon.

Additional information can also be found in Boot device guidance for low endurance media(vSphere and vSAN) (82515), which somewhat contradictory states that upgrades will still be supported in 7.x.

Just like everything else, plan accordingly. I do applaud VMware for being transparent about this, and even publishing the new KB article before ESXi 7.0u3 is released. Everyone still running production on SD-Card/USB devices needs to take action as soon as possible to ensure support going forward.

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Well, not directly related to the new ESXi 7 U2c build, BUT if you’re one of the lucky ones (like me), you’ve been experiencing big issues with SD/USB device since ESXi U1/U2, hence the vCenter <> ESXi (at least the configurations, tokens, etc.) has not been working for a while. I mean, last time vCenter talked successfully with my host was back in May 2021, when the USB dropped. That’s like four (4!) months ago. Today, VMware finally released the ESXi 7 U2c, which has included an updated module for the vmkusb. Hopefully this will fix the previous experienced SD/USB device issues, but before that - let’s talk patching!

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As timings will have it, two podcasts I’ve been a guest on has been released this week. This time it is On The Line with Cohesity — Episode 42: Back to Travel and VMworld 2021 with Christian Mohn.

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I’ve recently had the opportunity to join the The On-Premise IT Roundtable Podcast for a discussion about storage and bottlenecks, titled It’s Time to Embrace the Bottlenecks in Storage.

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About the author

Christian Mohn Profile Picture

Christian Mohn works as a Chief Technologist SDDC for Proact in Norway.

See his About page for more details, or find him on Twitter.