Monday, February 26, 2024

Empowering Privacy: Unveiling the World of Affordable VPNs through Shared Bandwidth Projects and Proxmox Efficiency

In an era where digital privacy is a growing concern, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become indispensable tools for safeguarding online activities. However, the cost of premium VPN services can be a deterrent for many users. Fortunately, a new wave of projects that leverage shared user bandwidth has emerged, offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional VPNs. In this blog post, we'll explore the benefits of such projects and discuss how setting them up as Linux containers on a Proxmox server can be a resource-efficient solution. 

Shared Bandwidth VPN Projects:


Mysterium is a decentralized VPN network that operates on a peer-to-peer model. Users can share their excess bandwidth in exchange for MYST tokens. By becoming a node in the Mysterium network, users contribute to the overall infrastructure and, in return, gain access to affordable VPN services. Setting up Mysterium nodes as Proxmox Linux containers ensures efficient resource utilization and easy management.  I set this up following the instructions for Linux nodes.


EarnApp takes a unique approach by allowing users to earn money by sharing their internet bandwidth. Users can convert their earned tokens into VPN services, creating an innovative system where the community contributes to the network's growth. Proxmox's virtualization capabilities make it straightforward to deploy and manage EarnApp nodes, making it an attractive option for those seeking a low-cost VPN solution.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Cracking the Code: Navigating Network Nightmares with Home Assistant, LibreNMS, and Wireshark


Hey there! Ever found yourself scratching your head over a quirky network issue that just won't quit? I recently had my fair share of head-scratching moments when network broadcast storms started causing serious disruptions in our switches and wireless access points. In this post, I'm breaking down the steps I took to unravel this persistent, network mystery.

Setting the Scene:

Picture this – network switches and access points dropping off the radar every few nights. To get to the bottom of it, I needed to gather some intel without losing sleep, especially as these problems seemed to occur in the middle of the night.  First move? Configuring Home Assistant to ping, with the Ping integration, a crucial switch and give me a notification on my phone when things go south. It became my silent night watchman, marking the time when the broadcast storm kicked in.

The Quest for Network Clarity:

LibreNMS, a network monitoring system, was my next stop. Although it did show spikes in network bandwidth, the specifics were elusive. SNMP logs lacked the juicy details needed for a deep investigation.

Enter rsyslogd:

To beef up my data game, I brought in rsyslogd on a Proxmox server. This Linux container was configured to capture logs from the admin VLAN, where switches and access points were. This did capture a lot of data, however, drowning in logs was not my idea of fun.  It was too hard to find the root cause of these issues.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Mastering Home Network Security: A Step-by-Step Guide to Fortify Your DNS with Pi-Hole and Raspberry Pi Across Multiple VLANs

Recently, I delved into the realm of setting up secure DNS for our home network, aiming to encrypt DNS requests en route to the name server. Unfortunately, Unifi lacks support for secure DNS (neither DoH nor DoT). To address this, I decided to explore the installation of Pi-hole on a Raspberry Pi at home.

However, the standard Pi-Hole install for Raspberry Pi required additional setup steps on my network. Firstly, Pi-hole lacks built-in support for secure DNS, necessitating an additional configuration. Secondly, the default Raspberry Pi lacked VLAN support, prompting me to configure it to function seamlessly within our network.

Raspberry Pi and Pi-hole Setup

I began by installing the Raspberry Pi OS Lite 64-bit on the Raspberry Pi, intending to use it as a headless device on the network. Once the operating system was installed and updated, I proceeded to install Pi-hole. This was a straightforward process, thanks to Pi-hole's automated installation script.

curl -sSL | bash

Setting up DNS over HTTPS for Pi-hole

To ensure secure DNS, I followed the instructions on the Pi-hole site to configure cloudflared, allowing DNS requests to be made over HTTPS. Once configured, Pi-hole forwards requests to cloudflared, which handles DNS requests securely.

Enabling Support for Multiple VLANs

While Pi-hole successfully handled requests for the native network, extending its support to other VLANs posed a challenge. Instead of opting for solutions involving firewall rule modifications to permit VLAN requests to the native network, I chose to ensure the Raspberry Pi could seamlessly join the VLAN networks I intended to use Pi-hole on.

Following the instructions on this page for enabling VLAN support on the Raspberry Pi, I configured an interface for each VLAN I wanted the Pi-hole to respond on.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Revolutionizing Air Quality Monitoring: How I Upgraded Our System with Mila Integration for Smart Home Automation

In this blog post, I explained how I set up an air quality monitoring system for our neighborhood. With this setup, we can keep an eye on the air quality outside our home. However, this monitoring system is somewhat passive because I need to manually check the air quality and take actions accordingly, such as turning on the HVAC fan to filter and circulate the indoor air.

I considered using the standard Home Assistant integration for Purple Air, but it shares the same drawback as the Magic Mirror integration in terms of API usage limitations. I wanted to avoid an integration that might eventually become unreliable due to API quota limits.

Recently, we purchased Mila connected air filters. These filters not only measure the air quality in the rooms where they're installed but also allow you to select a sensor for neighborhood air quality in the Mila application. Within a month of setting up our Purple Air monitor, I was able to choose it as the neighborhood air quality sensor in the Mila application. This feature enables the Mila filters to determine the relative differences in air quality between the indoors and outdoors.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Silencing the Breeze: Upgrading Legion Network Racks for Whisper-Quiet Performance

In our home, we utilize a couple of Legion 18 network racks. These particular 18U network racks are designed to be compact, making them suitable for placement in closets or offices. Additionally, they come equipped with built-in cooling features, specifically two 120mm fans located at the top of the rack.

However, while the built-in cooling is a valuable feature, I couldn't help but notice that the noise generated by the fans can be quite noticeable, particularly in quieter environments. One of the main reasons for this is that the fan speed is fixed; there's only an on/off switch available. Consequently, you can either turn the fans off entirely or run them at their default, relatively loud speed. This limitation led me to seek out replacement fans for the rack.

Stock fans from the Legion 18 network rack

After conducting some research, I decided to opt for the AC Infinity Rack ROOF Fan Kit. This kit includes two 120mm fans that can be connected to a provided fan controller, which, in turn, connects to a power source. The fan controller offers precise control over the fan speed, allowing for quieter operation.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Unveiling the Air We Breathe: A Journey through Air Quality Monitoring and Insights

In light of the California wildfires over the past few years and our recent move to the Midwest, I've developed a strong interest in monitoring the air quality at our home. The same curiosity was sparked by the presence of smoke from the Canadian wildfires. To fulfill this interest, I've been utilizing PurpleAir, a platform that provides insight into the current air quality around our residence. One of the notable features of PurpleAir is its ability for community air quality monitors to share their data with a broader audience.

Upon relocating to this new area and wanting to stay informed about the air quality in our neighborhood, I delved into the data offered by PurpleAir. Unfortunately, the nearest sensor is situated more than a mile away and operates within a different micro-climate, which could influence the accuracy of the air quality measurements.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Unleashing Home Automation Magic: From Zigzagging with SkyConnect to Soaring with Hubitat

In a previous blog entry, I delved into the fascinating realm of leveraging SkyConnect to interconnect my Zigbee devices with my home automation system. While it seemed like a walk in the park to incorporate Zigbee devices into my Home Assistant setup, I'm here to shed light on some rather unfortunate downsides that cropped up during this experiment.

The crux of the issue lay in the somewhat petite antenna housed within the SkyConnect. This pint-sized component led to a rather finicky connection experience with my Zigbee devices. You wouldn't believe the number of times my sensors and switches decided to take an impromptu leave of absence from the Zigbee network. The result? Automation hiccupped, leaving me high and dry without the expected triggers. And on those rare occasions when triggers managed to sneak through, the devices decided to play hard to control.

Now, let's talk about compatibility woes. The SkyConnect supports just Zigbee and Thread protocols. That might not be a deal-breaker, but here's the rub: I've got a fair share of Z-Wave devices I'm not ready to part with. The grand plan was to simplify my smart home's intricate web, and adding yet another system into the mix for handling the Z-Wave network just didn't tickle my fancy. One system to connect the low-powered wireless devices—that was the dream.

But wait, there's more! Compatibility gremlins struck again. A number of devices I attempted to pair with the SkyConnect ended up being flaky, where they periodically dropped off the network. It's like the functionalities were playing a game of hide and seek. Here's the kicker—I yearned for a system where either the company had its act together or a thriving community would come to the rescue, waving magic wands in the form of drivers to unlock those missing functions.

Introducing Hubitat

Now, hold onto your seats, because after some serious deep diving, I stumbled upon a hero in the home automation arena—Hubitat. Picture this: an automation hub that flaunts wireless radios tuned in to not just Zigbee, but also Z-Wave and a bunch of other protocols. Say adios to the single-protocol constraint; Hubitat had my attention.

Empowering Privacy: Unveiling the World of Affordable VPNs through Shared Bandwidth Projects and Proxmox Efficiency

In an era where digital privacy is a growing concern, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become indispensable tools for safeguarding onlin...