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Hello everyone, my old cluster make with C.H.I.P. is going to die and it’s no more supported anymore, then I am looking for other alternatives. My use case is to create a new small cluster (3 nodes) running Docker Swarm to host several containers (around 15). Except Raspberry 4, that is quite common and supported but a bit expensive, do you have other suggestions? I saw an Odroid Kit with 4 nodes that costs around 220$ and it seems interesting. What do you guys are using for self-hosting?

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    Do not frown upon dumpster diving. A lot of decent computers are simply thrown out, especially in work environments.

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      I run OpenBSD on an apu4d4. I mostly use it as a router, but I’ve used it to self host in the past. It works really well.

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        An Intel NUC.

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          Because I’m still salty about mine dying after a year of not-particularly-heavy use, I’ve been urging caution on these. Search around a bit first if you’re thinking about it; there are quite a few “my NUC stopped turning / staying on” stories in circulation.

          Great formfactor though, even with the goofy skull on the top plate. I was pretty happy with it until it became a very expensive paperweight.

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          An old laptop falling apart physically but perfectly fine computing-wise, given to me by my brother. Intel Core i3-3217U with 4GB of RAM running Slackware-current. An internal SSD for the OS and 3 external HDD for storage. Running mainly Nextcloud and gitea, plus a bunch of small services. No desire nor need to “containerize” any of this.

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            ServeTheHome has a series on using small, used desktop computers, while a bit more expensive than $220 it’s probably some great performance to had there.

            The project is called TinyMiniMicro.

            I’m using some used enterprise gear for my own stuff. A X11SSL-F, E3-1220 v5 and used enterprise drives for storage. Got lucky with the components (~10 USD for each drive, ~50 USD for the motherboard, ~50 USD for the CPU…).

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              A small Ryzen PC, I had most of the parts lying around anyway so just needed the CPU+mobo. Originally it was a mini-ITX Intel Atom board. It’s steadily grown in storage capacity since being made, since I use it mainly for file hosting and backups.

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                I bought myself a Dell R720 on eBay for about $400. Sure, it’s a bit large, but it’s not too noisey when setup right (only at boot), and I really wanted to have a chance to play with some “enterprise-class” hardware. It came with a Xeon E5-2670v2 (10 cores) and 64 GB or ECC DDR3 RAM — plenty for what I’m using it for, and a really cool learning experience for me.

                So far, I’ve popped 4x8TB SATA 3.5” drives into it and I’m booting Proxmox off an internal USB stick. It has an integrated RAID controller with a battery that stores the write cache even if power fails, which I think is pretty fancy, but I decided to not use that and use ZFS instead because I figured that would make it easier to migrate the data later if I decided to switch to something else down the road. To do that, I flashed the RAID controller using this tutorial which is pretty painless and works like a charm so far.

                I’ve also popped a GPU in, a RTX 2080 TI, because I figured I might use it for machine learning or something. You can get get Proxmox to pass the GPU (or any PCIe device) through to a VM, which admittedly takes a little bit of time but once it’s set up, works surprisingly well.

                You can do a lot with these things, 64GB of RAM ought to be enough for anybody. Power usage at idle is 80W (as reported internally). I love that it has redundant parts so you can just pop it open and pull stuff out, like one of the power supplies or whatever and it just keeps chugging along. Great fun for the whole family.

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                  For now, I’m using a Dell Poweredge R260 with a hardware RAID card, which I got from an old hardware resaler.

                  Hosts a Proxmox instance, on which I containerize every one-process daemon (e.g. static websites) and virtualize systems (e.g. game servers, multi-process websites, etc).

                  Being in a network I do not own, I cannot simply request a static IP and NAT my way out of the network, so I instead got a cheap VPS (PulseHeberg) on which I setup Wireguard and a few utilities (NFTables, Fail2Ban, Caddy as HTTP reverse proxy, DNSMasq for ad blocking).

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                    Do you mean an R620?

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                      You’re right, typo.

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                    If you mean what my personal server is, it’s an IBM POWER6. I freely admit to being an outlier :)

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                      I’m interested, what specs? and what OS do you use?

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                        It’s a “baby” 2-way SMT-2, so four logical CPUs, 16GB of RAM, RAID, etc. I run AIX on it. Admittedly it’s starting to show its age on CPU-bound tasks, but as a server, it’s still doing well.

                        I like the fact I can install PCI cards in it while it’s running and powered up.

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                      got a LOT of old server gear that still runs fine… also on 100mbps syncronous fiber, the problem is no public ips, so i use an array of cloud instances, a cheap vultr, a couple oracle instances… things like that

                      use frp with the home server, some stuff is hosted in those cheap/free cloud instances

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                        I have two (different versions though) of the Intel Celeron combo boards. They sip power and are powerful enough for NAS + applications in docker.

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                          got a LOT of old server gear that still runs fine… also on 100mbps syncronous fiber, the problem is no public ips, so i use an array of cloud instances, a cheap vultr, a couple oracle instances… things like that

                          use frp with the home server, some stuff is hosted in the cloud

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                            Pimped HP Microserver gen8 … 2x gigabit ethernet, IPMI, 4 hotswap drivebays with 8TB drives each in raid5, boots from SD-card for kernel and ssd for root-disk. Runs enough vm’s to do what I need for home-server use. The rest is running in vm’s at Hetzner.

                            Edgerouter Lite (running openwrt) as router for the gigabit ftth, and 3 TP-Link Archer C7’s running openWRT in roaming mode to get decent 5Ghz wifi in all rooms of my house.

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                              Right now I’m using a Raspberry Pi 4 which works fine but is sometimes just too slow and not all packages are available for ARM. Over the past couple of days I’ve been researching some alternatives (always ending up in the 350-400 EUR range), but I’d get way more power out of these systems while still having a low power consumption device running at home.

                              I’m torn between the ASRock DeskMini X300 Series and Intel NUC 11 NUC11TNHi3. The NUC is more compact but I really like the two M.2 slots and support for 2x2,5” drives in the ASRock one.

                              I configured the DeskMini with an AMD Ryzen 3 2200G which also seems to be a bit faster than the Intel one

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                                I would avoid the pi4 based on its reliability (or lack thereof) alone.

                                I do currently use generation old mini-itx atom, with two drives on ZFS mirror.

                                If building today, I would aim at a small Ryzen board. I’d try for zen2.

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                                  You should check out ServeTheHome’s Project TinyMiniMicro series - they run through a bunch of usually old enterprise thin clients and review their usage as a suitable homelab node

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                                    I have 2 old macbook pro and macbook air. I used it to run a few docker containers and my CI/CD. Work great. I used SSH remote port forwarding to act as my exit node.

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                                      I usually use what I have “at hand”: Old laptops (mine or from people that would otherwise throw them to the garbage), Raspberry Pis and occasionally a cheap VPS.