Help with server configuration - TrueNAS Scale as OS or as a VM?

So I’ve gotten myself in a bit over my head.

I have been planning a home server build to upgrade my current mini-rack of Raspberry Pis. I’ve been looking at either using an old desktop I already have or buying a low-end enterprise castoff (something like a 1U Dell Poweredge or HP ProLiant). I am also planning on building a pfSense router out of another older desktop system based around a 6600K on a Z270.

The desktop I was planning to use as the server is a Dell XPS 8930 with an i7-8700, Dell GTX 1060 6GB, 64GB RAM, a 1TB NVMe SSD, and 10TB bulk storage. It is currently kind of fulfilling that home server role as a repository of a basic Windows network share, a Plex server, a Minecraft server for the kids, and occasional game servers for my wife and I (mostly Valheim and Empyrion).

The 4 Pis between them run PiHole (which also functions as my DHCP server), and they also run OpenVPN, a web server, a OctoPi instance, a couple random Slack/Discord chatbots, and my nascent explorations into Home Assistant.

My plan was to move as much off the Pis as possible by setting up TrueNAS Scale and running some VMs or Docker containers to do PiHole, OpenVPN, the web server, and also Plex and Navidrome. If the desktop ended up being the server, it would get a new non-Dell motherboard and PSU and would still handle game servers either way.

I have a friend who is a cybersecurity engineer at Cisco, very smart, CCIEx2 etc etc. I was asking her some questions about servers and she offered me one she had laying around in her lab. Of course I said yes. But it’s a big step up from what I was considering previously.

So I have UCS C240 M4 on the way. It’s got dual Xeon E5-2600s of some sort and something like 500GB or 1TB of RAM. It can probably run 10s of VMs (or possibly more). This is a lot more machine than I planned on using and it is making me rethink my plans. Honestly I feel like this server is overkill for my current plans and I can’t escape the feeling I am “wasting it” with my piddling media server and etc. but I am somewhat the dog that finally caught the car here.

So my question is this: Given the large step up in hardware from my previous expectations, should I still use TrueNAS? Is TrueNAS still a good choice as the base OS for something this “big iron”? Or, would it be better to run the server with something like Ubuntu and do TrueNAS as a VM along with the other planned VMs? I saw in the TrueNAS documentation that it can be virtualized readily but is that the best solution?

Suggestions and advice welcome.

Once you have the dual Xeon E5-2600s running make sure to sit down before looking at your next electricity bill. You can likely run dozens of pis in the power envelope of this thing. Also, find a kind space in your garage - it’s likely too loud to have anywhere in the house.
Don’t get me wrong - I’m sure it’s sweet if you know what you want to do with it, but I’m not quite getting that vibe from your post.

Whatever your doing, you probably want to keep your PiHole running separately. It kinda sucks when it goes down with the home server for mx. Similar advice may apply to the OpenVPN and the other services - you know best.

I have been reusing old desktops and given them a second life as home servers for many years now. I see that as gratified upgrade path for them. On the flip side I have been noticing their shortcomings - typically old tech (older PCIe gens, lower memory speeds, few open slots for expansion into their new role) and relatively high power consumption for the performance especially when run 24/7. This is less of a problem for old desktops than it is for old rack mount servers, but still noticeable.

I’d say find a good place for your UCS C240 M4 and run your desktops as home server until you have found out why the UCS is better in that role. It sure is a fun beast to play with. Great catch!

Thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it.

The power bill concerns me less than the noise. I have a garage but it isn’t currently, ah… dressed to receive. It’s detached and currently has no power, no HVAC, no networking. I have a closet in another bedroom I’m hoping I can soundproof to some extent. If not, then I have a laundry room that’ll have to do. I fully expect and don’t mind it wailing at me when it boots but I am hoping it quiets down after that unless I am absolutely slamming it, which tbh it is hard to imagine doing.

You’re right that I really don’t know what to do with it, but the only solution for that I can see is to start doing and figure it out. That’s kind of the goal here.

Right on.

Wish I knew someone to throw a UCS 240 at me :wink:

1 Like

She’s been an awesome friend and mentor. I’m basically her e-waste disposal service, lol. She’s given more more tablets, computers, hacking gadgets, cameras, monitors, than I can count…even a Firepower appliance.

But really I value her career advice and technical knowledge more than anything. If it wasn’t for her, I would not be about to finish my master’s in cybersecurity and I would not have just gotten a good raise at work. Idk if you ever watch David Bombal on YT but she did an interview with him once, her story is crazy. From homeless and working nights as a security guard to a CCIEx2 engineer at Cisco. Big goals.

This topic was automatically closed 273 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.