Monday, April 15, 2024

Unlocking Raspberry Pi Potential: Navigating Network Booting Challenges for Enhanced Performance and Reliability

I've set up several Raspberry Pis around our house for various projects, but one recurring challenge is the potential for SD card failure due to heavy file system writes. To mitigate this, I've transitioned some of my Raspberry Pi 4s to boot from USB drives, but this limits compatible cases.

Backing up these SD cards or USB drives can be cumbersome, yet essential in case of failure. Recognizing that Raspberry Pis since the 3 B model can boot from the network, I decided to utilize my Proxmox server to host the boot server.

Initially, I explored Piserver, the official solution from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Setting it up involved creating a VM and booting from the Raspbian distribution iso. While it provided a straightforward interface for booting devices from the network and selecting distributions, it fell short of my needs.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Empowering Your Home's Power Protection: A Deep Dive into UPS Monitoring and Integration

Our household relies on several Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPSs) to safeguard our network equipment and computers. A crucial aspect of maintaining these UPSs is monitoring their batteries to determine if they need replacement.

For UPSs located near desktop PCs, monitoring battery status is straightforward. These UPSs can typically be connected via USB, allowing us to use monitoring software to check battery health.

However, monitoring UPSs situated in network racks is more complex. Some UPSs only offer serial or USB ports, requiring a computer to directly connect and retrieve battery status. Alternatively, certain UPSs feature a network port and cloud connectivity, enabling them to upload status data to the cloud for remote viewing.

We have an APC UPS with cloud connectivity, which facilitates notifications for significant status changes through their Smart Connect service. Despite its benefits, this solution has drawbacks for our specific needs. Firstly, there's no integration with Home Assistant, preventing us from automating devices based on UPS status, such as shutting down devices during power outages when battery levels drop below a certain threshold. Secondly, reliance on a cloud connection means that if our internet goes down, the automations wouldn't function.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Empowering Family Legacy: How I Transitioned to Self-Hosting with Gramps Web

For several years now, I've been maintaining a genealogy website containing information from both my and my wife's family history. One of my main objectives has been to ensure this wealth of information is readily accessible not just for our extended family, but also for our children whenever they want to look into their roots.

 Initially, I hosted this website through a paid hosting service, utilizing TNG. While this setup served its purpose adequately, my recent acquisition of a Proxmox server prompted me to explore the possibility of self-hosting. Given this shift, I decided to transition to open-source software, as it would grant me greater flexibility in making adjustments as needed.

In my search for suitable open-source genealogy software, I came across Gramps Web. Its user-friendly interface and compatibility with the Gramps genealogy desktop software caught my attention.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Mastering NAS Storage: Unveiling Hidden Challenges and Solutions

Today, I'm diving into a little adventure I recently had with our trusty 6-drive Synology NAS, boasting a whopping 73TB of storage space. Now, who wouldn't be excited about that, right? But there are some challenges.

I couldn't help but notice that our storage space was getting full. Curious, I delved deeper into the matter. One of the primary functions of our NAS is serving as storage for our Plex DVR. However, despite our occasional recordings, the storage was filling up faster than I expected.

So, I decided to do some spring cleaning, starting with deleting some recordings. But here's the kicker - the space wasn't budging. I decided to peek into the file system, and there it was: a bunch of files in the #recycle folder within our shares.

Turns out, there wasn't a default schedule for emptying the recycle bin on our Synology NAS. This meant all those recordings, along with any other files, were being kept indefinitely.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Unlocking Seamless Integration: Navigating Unexpected Hubitat Device Queries and VLAN Challenges for a Smoother Home Automation Experience

During my network debugging efforts, I came across an intriguing observation related to the two Hubitat devices on our network. The logs below illustrate the unexpected mDNS queries they generated:

1. Query for Airplay Devices
    12 0.788177995 → MDNS 130 Standard query 0x0000 PTR _airplay._tcp.local, "QM" question PTR Hubitat._hubitat._tcp.local
2. Query for web servers:
14 0.791018733 →  MDNS 127 Standard query 0x0000 PTR _http._tcp.local, "QM" question PTR Hubitat._hubitat._tcp.local

Surprisingly, the Hubitat devices were seeking Airplay and web server devices, even though I only utilized them for Z-Wave and Zigbee devices, and have not installed the Airplay application. This behavior caused issues, as the queries and responses were transmitted across VLANs, leading to a flood of broadcast packets during high query volumes.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Dazzling DIY Hexagonal LED Accent: A Budget-Friendly Alternative to Nanoleaf Lights with WLED Magic!

I recently completed a wood hexagonal accent piece with LED backlighting for my office. My inspiration was the Nanoleaf hex lights, but I aimed to achieve a similar look without incurring the high cost associated with Nanoleaf lights. Additionally, I saw this as an opportunity to explore and learn about WLED.

To start, I sourced hexagonal wood panels in multiple tones. I deliberately chose multiple-tone panels to ensure the accent piece looked appealing even when the lights were off.

Unlike Nanoleaf panels, my wooden panels don't allow light to shine through. Therefore, I planned to position the LEDs to shine out the top, bottom, and sides of the panels. This necessitated offsetting the panels from the wall to provide space for mounting the LED strips behind the hex panels.

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.

Unlocking Raspberry Pi Potential: Navigating Network Booting Challenges for Enhanced Performance and Reliability

I've set up several Raspberry Pis around our house for various projects, but one recurring challenge is the potential for SD card failur...