HP ML150 G6 – The start of my first homelab!

I’ve planned doing this for a while but I just never got around to doing it. Building myself my first homelab with a new to me HP ML150 G6.

I’ve thought about this long and I’ve tried to make sense of why I do in fact need a homelab.  Well for a few reasons.

  1. Replicating a lot of stuff I do for work, in a lab will help me grow and learn. Working in a 24/7, 365 day environment is extremely difficult. I need to be able to work on certain projects in my spare time and practice so that I can deploy them in a live environment.
  2. I need more practice and experience with Hypervisors.  During my day job, I have access or our Vmware ESXi infrastructure but there really isn’t a whole lot to do in our environment.  We do have two other Hypervisor’s in use (Microsoft Hyper-V and Xenserver), which will be decommissioned over the span of a few months and the servers moved onto ESXi.
  3. Building a home network would help me work on skills that I lack in and need to improve on. Working on a proper firewall, such as PFsense or Sophos for home would allow me to step away from the typical consumer grade software/hardware and deal with it on a daily basis at home.
  4. Hosting a game server or two for friends is important for me.
  5. Lastly, I will be preparing to write my CCNA so I’d like to create some kind of working lab (GNS3 or physical) in home home office.

Now as this is my first homelab, I don’t have high standards for the hardware.  I know I don’t want a rack or a rack mounted server. I don’t have the space for it. My house is old and small and I need something much smaller.  A tower server would suite me well.
Tower server’s tend to be a bit quieter as there is much more air flow, thus the fan’s don’t necessarily need to be extremely fast, powerful nor loud.

I have a friend that was selling a tower server I helped him acquire a year ago. It’s an HP ML150 G6. This is a pretty basic server for me but looks like it will work fine.  Looking at the specifications from HP, it was an entry model unit, so it doesn’t have all the higher end components on it. Not a problem.

HP states that this server can take up to 48GB of memory, with both CPU’s occupied. This is a bit of a bummer as I do plan on having a bunch of Virtual Machines and I don’t like being limited by such an amount.  Reading up on the forums regarding this server, many people have been able to surpass the 48GB limit.  Reading this, I test installed 6 sticks of DDR3 ECC server memory.  I currently only have one processor (Intel Xeon E5504 but I have two E5540’s on the way!) installed so I can only use 6 memory slots of the 12 available.

With 48GB of memory installed in the 6 memory slots, I turned on the server and it fired up as normal.  Checking BIOS, it reads the memory just fine. WUNDERBAR!

So now for me to utilize 96GB of memory, I need the following:

  1. 2x Intel Xeon E5540 CPU’s
  2. Second HP ML150 G6 Heatsink
  3. Third system fan for the second CPU installation

I ordered all the components and now I’m playing the waiting game for all the items to arrive.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten with the server. With a hectic personal life and a busy work schedule, I don’t have a whole lot of time.  This will change soon!

The HP ML150 G6 comes with SATA 2 (3Gbps) speeds.  As I would like to run an enterprise Samsunsg SSD or possibly a few SAS drives, I will need to look into a RAID controller which will give me faster drive speeds.  This server came with the built in HP Smart array B110i SATA Raid controller, which can do RAID 0, 1, and 10.

So the next step is to look into a storage solution.  I don’t want to run an external data store. I need to  keep power consumption as limited as possible for the server. I plan to have a few hard drives in a raid fashion, stored inside the server.

For personal data, I do have an older HP EX490 server (not stock) that I use for storing images, videos and personal data. The data is saved and replicated to a total of 4, 2TB drives.  It’s a older server but it’s worked great for my needs at home.

That’s about it. It’s time to sign off and get some sleep before digging into deploying Bit Locker at my workplace.

Once the components arrive, I’ll create a follow-up post and will document my journey from start to finish.

 

Thanks for reading 🙂

ThinkPad T430s WQHD Upgrade – Part 1

ThinkPad T430s WQHD Upgrade – Part 1:

I’m a huge ThinkPad supporter. Ever since the purchase of my X220, I’ve fallen in love with these black, basic looking laptops with their red trackpoint.

What’s so great about them? well, let me give you a quick rundown…

  • Durable
  • Professional looking
  • Business grade
  • Excellent hardware maintenance manuals and support
  • Easily upgradeable and serviceable

Now they do have some cons about them, but in my opinion the worst one being screen resolution.
I’m writing this in 2018 and some laptops are still deigned and sold with 1366×768 resolution.

I have a few ThinkPads but we will focus on my T430s for the purpose of this post.

The T430s doesn’t have a terrible resolution, being 1600×900 but it could be better. A well known user on ThinkPads.com forum, by the name of RMSMajestic and a partner (Javi-Jie) created a WQHD upgrade kit for the T420s/T430s ThinkPad model.

This upgrade kit does not require any soldering, which is fantastic news and one of the main reasons I was sold on it.  The kit arrived a few weeks ago and I’ve been on the hunt for a reasonably priced screen to use.

Just a few nights ago, I pulled the trigger on a AUO B140QAN01.5 display panel.  This is the same panel that was sold on the ThinkPad T470s line not long ago.  The review’s were pretty good for the WQHD display  and based on the panel specs, seems to be a bit better than the LG LP140QH1-SPB1 panel.

The LG panel uses IPS technology while the AUO uses AHVA and the brightness is a bit better on the AUO panel but will use slightly more power (5.49W vs 3.76W).

IPS (In Plance Switching) are generally considered the best overall LCD Technology for image quality, color accuracy and viewing angles.

AHVA (Developed by AUO, Advanced Hyper-Viewing Angle) also considered one of the best all around panel type.

Regardless of that, either panel would be a complete upgrade over what was planned and installed by Lenovo initially.

The panel is on it’s way and I’m eagerly waiting to get it and install it. I can’t wait for the laptop to be transformed and have a much better display and resolution to experience.

Stay tuned.