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New Daily Driver for Retirement


I’m less than two years away from retirement and looking for advice on building a new “Daily Driver” system for home for retirement.

I’ve been working in Tier 3 support for Firewalls and IDS systems for the last 10 years and previous to that worked in Networking and briefly in Front-Line support.

I’ve been playing around in Linux since Slackware in the mid 90s, was heavily into SuSE in the late 90s and early 2000s but went on a bit of a hiatus when the kids were young. Our oldest is away at University now and the youngest will be finishing High School … eventually …

At home I went from a Linux box (P166 with 128MB RAM :slight_smile: as a DSL Router/SMB Server/ DNS Server/Squid Cache but migrated to appliances (Tomato on Asus AC66U, Synology -> 24TB FreeNAS) and have a Cisco Small Business Gigabit LAN in the house (5 VLANS- Lan/Guest/DMZ/Mgmt).

My “Web Server” (LAMP) is a dual-core Atom with 4GB DDR2 and 160GB or spinning rust that I’m in the process of moving to …

I have an i7 NUC running ESXi 6 with an iTunes VM (Win 7 Pro), Zabbix Server (Ubuntu LTS Server), MineCraft Server (Ubuntu LTS Server) and a LAMP Server (Ubuntu LTS Server) for some WordPress Sites I host at home for hobbies (Photography & Genealogy)

My current daily driver is:

  • Super Micro X10-SL7-F
  • Corsair TX750 PS
  • Xeon e3-1231v3 3.4GHz Haswell
  • 32GB Crucial DDR4 ECC
  • AMD Radeon Pro W4100 connected to 3 Asus Pro Art 24” 1080p Displays
  • 4 3TB Seagate 3TB NAS Disks in RAID 10 on the Integrated LSI 2308
  • 2 256GB Samsung EVO 850 SSD in RAID 1 (OS & Apps)
  • 2 256GB Samsung EVO 850 SSD in RAID 0 (Scratch)
  • Fractal Design Node 804
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

What I do mostly on it:

  • Genealogy (30-40 tabs in FireFox opened over 3 displays)
  • Photo Editing – Adobe Photography CC Subscription I’m working on ditching
  • The odd bit of video editing (1080p)
  • System Administration (I have 3 Ubuntu rigs running [email protected])

I really want to get off Windows but have a few legacy apps that I must still run (Genealogical dB Software).

I’m looking for advice for the new build. I’m thinking 2920X Threadripper on X399 with Linux as the base OS running Win10 Pro on top for when I need it.

    • Which flavor would I be able to ease into best for the base OS (RedHat, Ubuntu …) and would be of most benefit in my use case? Please, no flaming, I know this is almost a “Which Religion is Best?” type question
    • I’ll re-read Wendell’s recommendations on which Board will work best for ECC support and for pass-through.
    • Video Card Suggestions for Base OS (I’m thinking AMD Radeon Pro WX5100 or its replacement)?
    • Video Card Suggestion for Pass-through Win 10 Pro (NVidia RTX 2060 or GTX 1660Ti)?
    • Storage suggestions? Currently all my Data is Local and rsync’ed to the FreeNAS which is, in turn, rsync’ed off-site. The FreeNAS has our movie and audio Libraries on it (hence the iTunes on the VM for the wife) So I’m either stuck using a RAID Array for local storage or I need to fork-lift my LAN and FreeNAS to 10G. Alternatively, could I run a 2nd FreeNAS on the new machine and use that to abstract the local storage (iSCSI vs. NFS seems a little unstable from what I’ve read in the past)?
    • I’d like to keep the NUC for “important” VMs that require Uptime but I’m open to suggestions.


Uh… that sounds ominous…

As for your questions it really depends on your use case but I’ll try to respond as succinctly as possible.

  1. Ubuntu is the obvious front runner in terms of bleeding edge support and wide use on many different types of systems but this all boils down to what are you comfortable with. Sometimes Debian is the answer or maybe CentOS but the great thing about Linux is “you do you”. Pick something you like and stick with it don’t mess with it too much and find a happy place to call yours. Oh and if you decide to run Arch don’t tell everyone you run Arch. It’s annoying.

  2. Wendell’s breakdown is really a great one for Threadripper but if you wait a little while ASRack just released a new AM4 board that you can use with the new Ryzen 3000 chips that are going to be released sometime this year. So you could save a few shekels that way. I’m planning a new Plex server around it because my E3-1231 system is really starting to show it’s age. Threadripper is amazing but I find it complete overkill for workstation for me but here is the thing, “you do you.”

  3. I know the Radeon drivers are much better for Linux in terms of stability and usability. The WX cards are some of the best you can get so I think it’s a fine choice. I’m personally running an R9 Fury because it was on sale for $250 a few months after it was released and have been very happy with it.

  4. If you must go with Nvidia on the VM passthrough then going with a RTX 2060 isn’t a terrible idea. You get more bang for your buck than a 1660Ti or a 1000 series card. You can get them pretty much anywhere.

  5. Sounds like you already have a decent setup and if you do wind up going with 10G then bootstrapping isn’t an issue because the system is already built. FreeNAS generally has pretty great driver support for most NIC cards so it should just be plug in and configure. Also the more space the better but you probably already knew that…

  6. I have a few servers in my house that are used exclusively for outward facing services. Plex, nextcloud, minecraft, etc., so if your NUC is running VM’s now it makes no sense to replace it. Just keep it tucked in a corner somewhere and out of the way.

Let me know if you have any questions!




Youngest kidlet is “dually gifted” meaning they have their dads ADHD and their grand father’s Disgraphia as well as intellectual giftedness. So they have been using a chrome book to write on since grade 2 and have to take a reduced course load. At least this one, unlike their older siblings, music and theatre arts students, is interested in STEM and so might be able to repay their parents for post secondary education :slight_smile:

I’m not in a hurry, I have a couple of years so I’m just starting to think about it. I’ve been spoiled at work using workstation class hardware so reliability is important. I was considering Threadripper as if I integrate ZFS as the storage layer into the system and run a Windows guest I’d still like to be able to throw up other hosts to try stuff out and have the resources to not be bottle necked.

With respect to the networking I’d like to go 10Gig but the price is still a little steep. It’s almost there with inexpensive 8 port copper 10G switches with a couple of SFP+ ports starting to appear at reasonable prices but after playing in the enterprise space I need (want) proper 802.1 VLANs, SNMP support and a decent GUI (preferably a CLI, but that’s crazytalk) at a reasonable price.

I asked abut Distros as Wendel seems to refer to RedHat a lot in his testing and I didn’t know if that was personal preference or based on having the best package integration for virtualization.

Honestly I went with Ubuntu after running OpenSuSE for years as the new LEAP was not familiar enough to warrant the learning curve and there were lots of canned tutorials for Ubuntu for what I needed it for (new LAMP server for WordPress and headless [email protected] systems). But I did find it rather bloated till I tried the minimal server install.

I’d even retry Debian though that left a bad taste in my mouth years ago as it seemed to trade ease of management for ultimate flexibility. Hopefully that’s changed.

Still have my SlackWare CDs from 1995 … somewhere. Ah the good old days, having to write custom Modelines to get X up on a knock-off AGP GPU on my 486DX2/66.



Yup. Have been looking for 10G switches to be core switches at a relativly big LAN.
I think the most inexpensive switch in the not-crap category is the Netgear XS512EM, wich still comes in at 900€ (~$1000).



Your thoughts are basically on point. I would even stick to 1G networking with 1080p video dabbling as a thing you do, as long as the editing rig has some storage on it.

Video card wise well AMD has given us all blue balls and we have to see mid year what comes out and Nvidia’s come back.

While stupidly named Nvidia 16XX series cards are great game cards and not open source for linux. There solid buys for now. You can be sure Nvidia will screw over 16xx buyers if Navi is good.

Threadripper 2920 is super expandable and well, at the end of the year will be interesting with the Threadripper 3K lineup in light of chiplets. Back to that what AMD launches and Intel’s response.

This is a year of consumers will have competition again :slight_smile: (hopefully if navi pulls its weight). It’s going to run into 2020 as a great buyers year as well I believe.



I like the AMD Workstation cards as they give me 10bit colour for Photo Editing at a nicer price point than Quadro and there driver stability has been great.

I have many nvidia GPUs running Folding at Home and though the 1660Ti would work the 2060 is a much better bang for the buck.

On rethinking things I’ll likely just run two AMD cards and likely recycle my W4100 for the system I’m not photo editing on.

The first Cisco 10G modules we bought at work were a few thousand dollars each so the price has come down quite a bit. I’ll likely just stick with local storage and gigabit.

Picked up a Ryzen 3 1200 The other day on sale so my first AMD build for a folding system is on the way. I was using the Intel Pentium G5x00s but there nowhere to be found these days.

Glad to see Intel getting undercut on the low end and squeezed on the high end as well as pinched in the middle.



For places where a 4-port or 8-port 10Gig switch will do, check out the MicroTik products. 8-port starts at around $250, plus the cost of SFP+ modules for fiber or Cat6/7 if not using SFP cabling.

Short review here.



Distro choice IMHO depends… on your hardware and your hypervisor of choice.

If you want a reliable base host OS for VMware workstation i’d say Ubuntu. Officially supported as a VMware host platform, LTS releases are well supported, etc. Plus you already have a bunch of Ubuntu VMs that you are already familiar with.

If you’re happy with rolling release and OK with KVM as a hypervisor i’d suggest Fedora. Because it has redhat behind it, has commonality with RHEL/CentOS (if you want to run that on servers), etc. It is also more up to date with kernels, mesa, etc. than Ubuntu generally, and performance is better on newer hardware. With KVM, you also have one less bill (workstation pricing from vmware is taking the piss lately, KVM is free). Which may be a consideration with retirement.

But it’s close, and Ubuntu is not that far behind.

Disclaimer: I was a Debian and then Ubuntu fan for over a decade and recently switched to Fedora for more up to date in-default-repo hardware support (primarily because Vega 64 and X470 board).

You’ll likely have better “in default repository” support for X399 and other recent Radeon hardware on Fedora as well (open driver stack for Radeon now - which is making great strides and Fedora tracks updates to it faster than Ubuntu).

  • I’d rule out CentOS because of hardware support for late model/recent/AMD hardware (it works, but not as solid stability wise as Fedora - you’re still on kernel 3.1x in CentOS 7 for example!). Pretty sure CentOS 7 even still warns if you run it on Ryzen that the kernel is not regression tested on Ryzen hardware!
  • i’d rule out Arch/Gentoo/Mint/etc. as too fringe to bother with. More hassle than they’re worth.

But YMMV. If you like tweaking a base OS and are more worried about the default choice of window manager or package manager, go nuts. But i get the feeling you’re likely past that sort of thing given you’re retiring, and ran Linux way back (much like myself).

For you, Ubuntu is the logical choice, but you may want to give Fedora a spin to see how it performs on your hardware vs. Ubuntu.

By “redhat” i guess you mean fedora?

vs. Ubuntu as above it definitely seems to have better KVM support (i had display bugs running Windows under KVM on Ubuntu LTS this year, Fedora - no issues) and it tracks kernel/core OS updates faster.

If getting hardware support improvements and VM improvements ASAP is a concern, in my recent experience Fedora wins vs. Ubuntu hands-down. The flip-side is you get the drawbacks of fast package updates as well. Third party commercial software like VMware Workstation (VM modules for example) sometimes breaks and needs remediation. But if you run KVM and your third party proprietary software is in VMs - no problem.






So RHEL then…

“Redhat” as a distro hasn’t been a thing since the 00s…

Don’t think i’ve seen @wendell use RHEL at all? I’ve only seen mention of Fedora, Ubuntu or Arch for the most part.




OK, Got it

Fedora = OpenSource; RedHat = $

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