Most of the time I’m tinkering with something technology-related that is interesting to me. I started playing around with setting up servers when I was 13-14 and only got more into it from there. My passion for productive and effective use of technology led to me discovering the world of libre software and self-hosting. Eventually I realized that it was something I could do all day and never be bored and thus began my studies in the field. Up to this point I’ve tried many technologies including but not limited to linux, zfs, qemu+kvm+libvirt, proxmox, openstack, pfsense, git, ansible, terraform, lxc, lxd, docker, docker-compose, kubernetes, freenas/truenas, glusterfs, ceph and more check out what else is on the site by clicking here.
I’ll make an attempt to document my journey as far as programming and sysadmin experiences. This will have missing and slightly inaccurate information as I’m doing this all in one go. My contact information is available on the contact page so feel free to ask me about anything and I’ll do my best to answer. The source code for most if not all of the following things (where applicable) is on my github or gitlab so take a look there. With all disclaimers out of the way, let’s get into it.
Over the years, I’ve used quite a few programming and scripting languages. I have a soft spot for Go, YAML (pretty much a programming language nowadays) as well as shell scripts since that’s what I write most of the time. Initially, I started out with shell scripting when I was 15-16 and that was most of my experience with programming until university. There I found out that despite the negative opinion of the wider programming community, I liked Java. After making a couple silly programs with the language, I decided to try tackling a more “modern” stack. This took form as me diving into spring boot without any real end goal in mind. Unsurprisingly I ended up enjoying it but leaving it to the side as there was no project to work on.
After that little bit of dipping a bit into just backend stuff with java, I decided to give a “modern” full stack a chance. To that extent, I tried reactjs and nodejs and ended up making an incomplete (as of now) messaging site. The ecosystem as well as the language was not very pleasant to work with although there were a lot of tutorials and ready-made modules. All in all, I left that in the backburner with the intention of possibly trying it again some time in the future.
Apparently I liked tinkering with microservices in general. Later on, gRPC came into the picture and it was very nice to work with so I made the decision to keep using it in my microservices. The 12-factor model as well as a hexagonal design pattern is something I found useful during both development and running in production.
Enough about programming, time to get into system administration. There are few things I find as enjoyable as figuring out how a system works and setting it up. Everything from a small Raspberry Pi running an NFS share to an older desktop with a couple virtual machines to multi-master kubernetes clusters is interesting to me. Understanding what parts need to fit together and in what way is a puzzle-solving exercise familiar to most technology enthusiasts. For me it’s an ever-expanding hobby, always more to learn, new approaches to try and that’s what keeps it exciting.
Currently, all of my knowledge has come out of using things at home. It all started with installing and trying out Linux when I was 13 because of a random article I read online. A year or so later, I was already setting up an old 32-bit computer as a router using pfsense. Somewhere in there I tried vmware esxi for a couple months before moving to proxmox (was using OpenVZ instead of LXC back then). It wasn’t long before I was using Linux on every computer I had and inside virtual machines. Playing around with setting up LAMP stacks, FTP servers, configuring secure SSH access with keys, nextcloud, dokuwiki and more. I’m always reading about something, always learning more.
My homelab hasn’t stopped expanding and evolving, in a constant state of flux yet always present. There is no reason to stop setting up and configuring more applications and services, writing ansible playbooks or improving existing infrastructure. Invariably, it’s an endless amount of fun no matter the difficulty and frustration. However, this wasn’t always the case, I had “settled down” to using one VM for each application or service that I wanted to run. Then at some point I started noticing a trend of newer technologies, a more efficient way to self-host.
This Docker thing was really catching on so I installed it and started tinkering. Not more than a couple months later I was running my website using docker-compose using traefik as a reverse proxy. However, I knew I wasn’t going to stop there. How do I keep all my stuff running reliably? Kuberentes was a natural fit for the task.
By now my experience with it is somewhat limited but in an effort to run everything on it, I’ve written YAML manifests, set up a continuous integration and continuous delivery pipeline on a test cluster and deployed several services to it. To not waste any more time let’s just say it’s been very fun tinkering with all of this and also very educational.
One can never be sure of the future but I’ve documented some of my future plans on this page as a list of short to medium term goals.