EPIC Roadtrip

Before we begin

Right, this is going to be a long one so buckle in for the ride!  I’m going to try and blog over the next couple of weeks while we travel from Scotland to Austria, stopping at some hopefully interesting places along the way.

Before we begin, it’s probably worth mentioning a few updates related to previous posts.  We now own Lexee!  What, I hear most of you say?  Lexee is the name of our Tesla Model 3 Long Range which we leased from Lex back in 2021.  The lease expired last month, and we had the option to buy her, which we did.  She will be transporting us from Scotland down to London for a day at Wimbledon to watch some tennis, and then down to Dover before catching the ferry across to Calais.  From there we plan to travel through France, Belgium and Germany to Austria, specifically Salzberg to explore some of the places where The Sound of Music was filmed, before heading back through Switzerland (possibly), Luxumberg and France, to catch the ferry back to Dover and then drive home to Scotland.  If that sounds like a long way, it is!  About a 2000 mile round trip, so a good test of the car and passengers.

They will be me, my partner of 22 years and our 11 (soon to be 12) year old daughter.  No dog for this trip, who will be enjoying her own holiday staying with family at Culzean Castle.  So that’s about it.  We’ll be leaving for London on the 5 July and I’ll blog where I can along the way, hopefully with some interesting stories, pictures and video from my new drone.  Wish us luck and enjoy the adventure…

In Bruges

So we’ve already made it to Belgium and this is the first time I’ve found some time to provide an update on our adventure, so perhaps the blog won’t be as EPIC as the road trip!

The drive from down south was fairly uneventful although I think I’m getting too old to be driving between the Scottish and English capitals! We stopped at Tebay Services on the M6 for some lunch and electricity before continuing south. Lexee was suggesting another stop at Keele Services but by the time we got there nobody really needed to stop so we thought we’d crack on. P came up with the great idea of stopping in Stratford-upon-Avon to visit the birthplace of Shakespeare and found a charger at the Morrisons for Lexee. We grabbed some supplies and plugged in the car before wandering into Stratford where we took a few photos and headed back as the heavens opened. Not the first time we’d get wet on this holiday 🌧️

The Premier Inn at Wimbledon was fine and we found an on street charger to plug in Lexee. It wasn’t clear if it was for residents only, but we thought we were ok while the car was charging and I slowed things down to make that longer than required. I got up at 5:20 the next morning and walked up to the All England Lawn Tennis Association aka Wimbledon to join The Queue. I probably need to do a separate blog about the whole experience, but needless to say it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I’d hoped to get a ground ticket before 11am and then head back to the hotel to checkout with P & K before finding somewhere to park and go enjoy the tennis. I was still in a very long queue by 11:20 when P & K found me to switch places so I could check out and sort the car before joining them back at the tennis. It has been a long 5 hours and I was almost ready to go back and just watch films in Lexee, but they did managed to get a ticket fairly shortly after I’d left (well, about another 90 minutes) by which time I’d checked out of the hotel, packed Lexee who hadn’t managed to get a parking ticket and find somewhere to park for the rest of the day. I made it back to Wimbledon and enjoyed some tennis and football before driving down to Dover for a night in the Travelodge before our early morning ferry to Calais.

We stopped in Dunkirk en route to Bruges checking into the Radisson Blu just after 3pm. We were all pretty exhausted and needed a rest before exploring, but the hotel was a big improvement on the previous and cheaper to boot, so we called reception and extended our stay for an extra night giving us a full day to explore Bruges before heading on to Brussels. We did head in for some dinner and caught the end of Belgiums largest flea market before enjoying some food and drinks at Heavenly Pizza after a short walk around the tall spires in Bruges. The next day we headed back for a breakfast of waffles before a short boat trip along the canals. We headed back to the hotel for lunch and to recharge our batteries (Lexee had been topped up again the day before in the car park under the hotel!) before a final walk into Bruges for some dinner at the Frites Bar.

We’d struggled to find a reasonable priced hotel in Brussels for the following day so ended up booking something a little outside. The plan is to visit the Atomium on our way in and then drive into the centre for a few hours. I’ve registered Lexee so she can drive in the ULEZ and we’ll head out to the hotel after a brief visit. No plans beyond that but will provide another update then. This blog might look a bit of a mess for a while as I’ve typed this on my phone using the Jetpack App! It wouldn’t let me edit the Divi blog I’d started the blog with, so I copied and pasted that into here. I’ll sort it out when I have a bit more time to fire up the laptop. I’m sure I’ll have some spelling to fix and can add some links and pictures too!

Charging across Europe

I’m still on the Jetpack App, so excuse the spelling mistakes 😂 We’ve now reached Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany 🇩🇪 having passed very briefly through the Netherlands 🇳🇱 stopping for some lunch in Maastricht. Tomorrow we are planning to make it to Salzburg in Austria 🇦🇹 where we will be staying for 3 nights and will give us chance to relax a little from the EPIC road trip.

Not having a plan does offer lots of flexibility, but you also tend to spend a fair amount of downtime planning the next day or two in advance, including driving, accommodation and fuelling the body. Luckily we haven’t had to give too much thought to charging Lexee, which is what is was really referring to in my ‘Charging across Europe’ heading!

I was a little worried about how things might work across Europe having not tried it before and knowing that the UK isn’t as easy to navigate as North America, which we’d done on a road trip around the New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Toronto, Montreal and Boston last year. I neednt have been as we’ve been fortunate enough to find destination chargers at most of the places we’ve stopped for the night, and there’s been plenty of Tesla Superchargers and other destination charges enroute. We’ve not needed to go out of our way once, and the only real challenge has been the multitude of new Apps I’ve needed to install, accounts to create and payments to make. Some of them have been toward the prices I’d normally drive away from in the UK, but the approach has been to charge to full when we can overnight and start each day at 💯%

The Tesla chargers have all been super fast (some pushing the 250kWh max), the cheapest (around €0.33 or £0.28) and easiest to use (simply connect and you’re off). The destination chargers have been a bit more complicated, more often than not requiring an app to be downloaded and an account created to use. Some just require payment on a webpage, some using Apple Pay which is probably the easiest. There was only one that wouldn’t work with either method (after frustratingly downloading the app and creating an account) but the hotel had a RFID card that could be used instead. That also happened to be the most expensive, almost completing with gasoline ⛽️, at €0.71! I’m sure we’d have found a Tesla charger, but the convenience of starting the day with ‘a full tank’ was worth the extra cost, and was probably only about £7-8 in the context of a £?000 trip!

I’ll try and pull together some more detailed stats once we’ve made it back home. I have a Teslamate account connected to Lexee which tracks her every move, and a Grafana Docker container where I can access lots of wonderful information about trips, charging, costs, efficiency, etc. When I eventually get some time with a laptop rather than a mobile phone I’ll add some screenshots with some details.

Anyway, that will do for now. We’re about to go and eat at a traditional German restaurant, which I’m not sure my Daughter will approve, but we had take away pizza last night watching the Netherlands v England EURO2024 semi final as my parter wasn’t feeling too good. It’s great to see lots of the world on a road trip, but it does take it out of you! A new country for all of us tomorrow though and a few days in the same place so should get some time to relax a little….

Raspberry Pi 5

I had drafted a blog called ‘Android 11 on Raspberry Pi’, but it was just a title. That was back in 2021! What’s quite funny is that I am running Android 14 on a Raspberry Pi 4 with a 7″ touch screen as a console on my desk for monitoring Home Assistant. I set this up at the end of last year after receiving one of the new Raspberry Pi 5s, and it was this I intended to make the focus of this blog.

So, let’s start with the Pi 5.  This was launched back in September 2023, and there was a mad scramble to pre-order a device.  I’d managed to get an order through Pimoroni, which had just made their first batch cut-off, although I still didn’t receive one until November 15!  I’d ordered a Pimoroni case and the Raspberry Pi 5 fan, which is a super neat configuration, but shortly after launch, things were still a bit limited in terms of what you could do with it.  You could obviously run the latest version of Raspberry PI OS, and it was noticeably quicker than a Pi 4. However, you’d expect that given that those were first launched in 2019 and other than an 8GB version, not much really changed.  One of the biggest benefits of the 5 was the inclusion of a PCI connector, which allows things like NVMe SSD to be connected, and this probably improves the user experience more than the bump in processor performance.  I managed to pick up a Pimoroni NVMe base and have been using the Pi 5 with that and Raspberry Pi OS with the KDE Plasma desktop on and off for a few months.  While it does work fine as a small desktop PC, the likelihood is that you have other devices that are far more capable and offer a better desktop experience than you’d get from a Pi 5, even with a NVMe SSD.

I was super pleased to see RetroPie support for the Pi 5 and found an excellent retro gaming build online.  It took some time to get this working as I was initially trying to connect it to my 4K monitor, which it didn’t like, but once I’d solved that by using a small 1080p monitor, I managed to configure the build to use my 4k monitor at 1080p!  There’s marked improvement for retro gaming on the Pi 5, with support for even more consoles, including the PS2, which is very exciting.  I’ve not really had as much time to play as I might like, so I suspect this might be something I need to return to.  I’ve currently got this running from a microSD card, as the Pimoroni NVMe base has the SSD installed between the Pi and the base, so switching drives requires a tool kit.  I’ve seen a number of cases recently that make this much more straightforward, so I might investigate one of those.  I was considering buying another Pi 5 as they are widely available now, and Amazon even had one discounted to £70, but then I did a quick inventory and realised I already have far too many Pi devices I’m not even using:

DeviceLocationUse
Raspberry Pi 1bGarageI haven’t used this for a long time, and I never really found a use for it when it was launched all the way back in 2012
Raspberry Pi 3aJr TrakThis is in a Big Trak-like remote, controlled vehicle I blogged about here
Raspberry Pi 400OfficeI also blogged about this here, and it’s probably still my favourite Pi device.  Will we see a Pi 500 later this year?
Raspberry Pi 4b (4GB)LoungeThis was the first Pi 4 I bought, and it’s mainly used to plug into my TV in the lounge.  I’ve done lots of Scratch coding with my daughter and used it as a media device.
Raspberry Pi 4b (4GB)OfficeThis was the Pi 4 I used in my office as a small desktop replacement, but it can never really replace a desktop computer when you have a more powerful one!
Raspberry Pi 4b (2GB)OfficeI think I bought this as it was on offer and initially played around with it running Pi-hole.  At the time, I was running an NGINX Proxy in jail on my TrueNAS server, but that’s switched roles as I’m now running Hass.io on this Pi, which also runs NGINX Proxy Manager, and I have Pi-hole running in a VM on my TrueNAS server.  I’m sure you’ll find blogs about both of those if you look 😉
Raspberry Pi 4b (8GB)OfficeI bought this for a retro gaming boost, but it’s now running Android 14 and mainly acting as a Home Assistant monitor (see below)
Raspberry Pi 5 (8GB)OfficeRunning Raspberry Pi OS and KDE Plasma desktop from an NMVe SSD but also as a microSD card partially inserted with a RetroPie build (see above)
Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W (no pins)OfficeI have this in a small metal case, thinking it could be thrown in any bag and used as a tiny Linux device. It’s running a version of Ubuntu, but it’s been so long since I used it that I can’t remember what.
Raspberry Pi Zero W (no pins)OfficeI blame Jeff Geerling for this, as I used it with the HQ Camera to build a webcam.  It works, but not as well as either of the two Anker webcams I use.
Raspberry Pi Zero W (within pins)OfficeThis was also connected to a camera and used with MotionEye as a dog monitor for a while.  It’s now in a box!

 

I’ve probably spent as much time playing with an old Raspberry Pi 4 as I have the Pi 5! It is hooked up to a WIMAXIT Raspberry Pi 4 7″ TouchScreen Monitor, which I picked up on Amazon for £45!  I’ve ended up using it as a Home Assistant monitor, and the best OS I found to do that was Android 14!  You can find some excellent YouTube guides and instructions to do this using a Kostakang build, which isn’t overly complicated and works beautifully.  While I’m using it 95% of the time to run Home Assistant, it’s capable of so much more.

Having written all that, it’s just dawned on me that I probably have a similar number of other computer devices, most of which are more functional and probably powerful than any of my Raspberry Pis.  Perhaps that’s a topic for a future blog?  What it reminds me, though, is just how great my MacBook Pro still is, which is still my go-to device when I need to get anything done.  I probably spend more time using my work HP EliteBook 830 these days, and I’ve been playing with an HP x360 Chromebook I was sent to test. I really enjoy the 360/touch screen form factor, but neither would replace the MacBook if I had to choose just one.

I also love the Raspberry Pi Foundation and will support everything it releases, regardless of how useful it might actually be to me.  Playing with a Pi always takes me back to the 1980’s, when I first discovered the home computer and fell in love.  I blogged about some of that here, so take a stroll down memory lane with me before going and doing something more interesting instead!

 

 

To buy or not to buy

Or more accurately, to buy or to lease again, that is the question!

Back in May 2021 I blogged about a Tesla Model 3 test drive, which very shortly afterwards became a Tesla Model 3 delivery day and led to a Tesla road trip blog later that year.  Almost 3 years later, our Tesla Model 3 lease is almost up, and we must make some future motoring decisions.

We’ve done 17,747 miles in Lexee (yes, you get to name your Tesla and it was leased through Lex and my daughter is called Katee).  Other than some inconsiderate Mercedes driver putting a large dint in the rear wing in a car park (which was repaired at the beginning of this year) we’ve had almost 3 years of trouble-free, and incredibly cheap motoring.  Lexee was serviced by Tesla after 2 years, but that was done exactly as shown in the picture, on our drive, where a Tesla Service Technician visited and replaced the pollen filter and carried out some minor checks.  The tyres are still fine, although I’m hoping we might get them replaced before the lease ends if we do decide to buy.  We’ve spent around £600 on electricity, which is crazy compared to how much we spent on petrol in the previous car(s).  Some of that is down to free charging, both locally and at work for the first 18 months.  We also have a home charger, and an ‘agile’ tariff which allows us to pick and choose when to charge based on the cheapest rate, so only £130 of the total.  Most of the £600 is when we’ve taken Lexee on holiday, travelling down to the Northeast of England quite often, down to London and Yorkshire a few times, and around Scotland more frequently.  During the last 2+ years, we’ve had countless software upgrades, which have added new functionality to the car and fixed some minor issues.  I can honestly say, that the only thing that still irritates me about Lexee is the automatic windscreen wipers, which are hopeless, but given some of my previous cars didn’t even do this, it’s a small price to pay.

I’ve owned cars (I blogged about them here) that have all done one of two things better than Lexee (apart from perhaps the acceleration) but as an overall package, nothing comes close.  The Tesla Model 3 is an incredible car and one I’m more than happy to continue driving.  We had another test drive in a Model Y back in 2022 when they first came out, and it’s a very similar driving experience.  My conclusion was that from a driver’s perspective, the Model 3 is a better car, but from a passenger perspective the Model Y probably edges it.  We also hired a Model Y on a road trip around the Northeast of America and Canada last summer.  We flew in and out of JFK, and travelled down to Philadelphia and Washington DC, before heading up to Niagara, Toronto, and Montreal, swinging back via Boston and Stamford.  We (I) drove almost 2000 miles and the experience couldn’t have been better.  We never waited for a charge.  We generally needed to stop before the car, and it cost $140 including tolls (excluding the $1,200 for the car)

As you might know, Tesla has just updated the Model 3 (the aptly named ‘Highland’ project) just in time for our lease ending in June.  After reading and watching far too many reviews, there was only one thing for it.  Another Tesla test drive!  It was just me and Katee last weekend when we headed down the M9 to Edinburgh trying to take in all the noises and bumps, so we could compare on the test drive.  We had the choice of a red or grey standard-range version.  Katee picked red before I’d even had a chance to think!  She drove in the front for the first half of the journey and then switched to the back for the return leg, although was a little disappointed the rear screen wasn’t working.

 The biggest difference is the lack of stalks behind the steering wheel.  My Model 3 has 2 stalks – the left one for indicating and a wiper button, the right one for selecting drive and cruise controls.  The Highland version has these controls on the steering wheel and the drive controls on the screen and above your head by the courtesy lights.  Selecting drive wasn’t a problem as we did this once on the trip.  I think you can set it, so it tries to select this automatically too.  The indicators were more of an issue, and while I’m sure it’s something you’d get used to, I can’t help feeling it would alienate some non-Tesla drivers from switching.   Every car I’ve owned had stalks for indicators, so it does feel strange and unnatural, even though it never felt much of a problem.  The only area where the Highland model didn’t feel ‘a little better than my Model 3 was the acceleration, although given that the test car was a standard-range single-motor version and we have the long-range dual-motor version, it’s a bit of an unfair comparison.  The standard range is still more than fast enough for a family saloon, but the ~4-second 0-60 time of the LR model never tires.  

But yes, everything else was just a little better.  It was a little quieter.  It was a little more comfortable.  The screen and responsiveness was a little faster.  The interior trim felt a little better and the seats a little more comfortable.  It has a nice interior light around the car (which you can change the colour) and the seats are heated AND ventilated.  The screen in the back would have perhaps sold it for Katee, but even she felt it wasn’t a compelling enough improvement to retire Lexee.  And she is absolutely right!

I’m hoping we might get to buy Lexee for around £25k.  Similar spec and mileage cars are selling on Autotrader for over £28k, so it seems like a reasonable offer, and we know the car has been looked after (I clean it every 2-4 weeks). Leasing a new one looks like it would cost more than the previous deal, which worked out around £500/month after the salary sacrifice and tax implications.  Another long-range would be at least £125/month more and even a standard range would be around £40/month more.  We’d have to factor in things like insurance, road tax, maintenance, etc. if we bought Lexee (they were all covered in the lease) but it’s probably not that much more than the monthly lease costs when you add in the cost of the car.  We’d still own Lexee in 3 years, whereas we’d be back in this same solution if we leased again.

We still have another few months to decide, and a few longer trips to do.  I’m heading down to Banbury in a few weeks to see friends and we’re back down to the Northeast for Easter.  We’re also considering a European road-trip holiday for the summer, which might be more difficult in a new lease car than it would our own Tesla.  I’ll let you know what we decided to do over the summer, probably as part of a road trip blog…

Long time, no blog

Well, it really is a long time since the last blog, which was at the start of 2022! Life just seemed to get in the way as things started to get back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic, but that’s really quite a poor excuse. I did start a new permanent job, something I’d last done all the way back in 1995, although I just missed the 20 years working as a Contractor by less than a handful of months.

So why am I back? To be honest, I’ve missed blogging and thought I needed a New Year’s resolution, so what better than to restart this blog? And why not start as we ended, with a TrueNAS 2024 update?

The first thing to comment on is the version of WordPress, which has jumped from 5.8.2 to 6.4.2, and the block editor already feels somewhat alien! It’s going to take some time to get back into things!  The Divi theme has also seen some updates, so you’ll have to excuse some of these early blogs as I get back up to speed!

TrueNAS has received a few updates and is now running 13.0-U6, although feature-wise, it’s very much the same. IXsystems seems to be focusing their development on their Linux-based SCALE product rather than the long-serving FreeNAS-based CORE product, but I’ve not been tempted to switch and still love the flexibility of running both FreeBSD jails and Linux-based virtual machine.

I’m going to keep this first blog reasonably short, so let’s start with a table for the jails:

Jail20222024Comments
Airsonic???10.6.2This might be the only thing that hasn’t changed in this entire blog, but it still works and is up and running.  I still don’t really use it much and tend to listen to music using Apple Music or occasionally via emby.
emby4.7.6.04.7.14.0I’m still running emby as my Home Media Server, although it’s been through some bumpy times with a fairly major security issue and a pretty slow development/release cycle. I wasn’t directly affected and think I have things reasonably well locked down via reverse proxy, but I’m hoping some extra security is coming in the product’s next release. I’ve dropped Plex and no longer have a jail or lifetime account.
Nextcloud22.2.327.1.5It feels like there have been lots of Nextcloud updates, and the version numbering would support that. It’s still one of my most heavily used services, and I’d be lost without it. The PHP stack has also been updated and is now running 8.2.7, although I’ll look to bump that to 8.3 early this year when version 28 is released.
Limesurvey???6.4.0+I don’t update this as often as I should (I did update it over the holiday though), but I’m also not using it much. It got quite a lot of use over Covid running surveys for both charities my partner and I helped to run, but we’re both less involved now.  It hasn’t run a live survey in well over 12 months.
OpenVPN2.5.32.6.6This is updated regularly, and it just ticks along in the background, letting me access my network remotely whenever required. It’s used less often than it was pre-Covid, but it still comes in handy occasionally.
WordPress5.8.26.4.2It’s another one that is updated regularly but hasn’t been used. I ran my company site and blog from this, but my company was wound up when I took the permanent job, and as you know, this blog has been dormant. It’s running PHP 8.2.11.

And another one for the VMs:

NameOS 2022OS 2024Application(s)
cplanubuntu-desktop 18.4.6ubuntu-desktop 22.4.3This runs Crashplan exclusively, and I kind of forget it’s there, other than the weekly e-mail to remind me it’s backing up my TrueNAS server and the monthly invoice for $11.99!  It’s still the cheapest I can find for offsite backup, which is especially important as my onsite backup no longer runs 24×7, given the rising electricity costs and a remodelled home office with no space for two large workstations/servers. It does get updated every few months, but it’s nice to know that Crashplan has a much more up-to-date backup.
mattermostubuntu server 20.4.2ubuntu server 20.4.2I should upgrade the OS for this one, but it is still supported until 2025 and will be updated whenever I update the LTS release of Mattermost. It was running 6.0.3 and is now running 8.1.0. 9.5 is due next month, so perhaps I will upgrade both simultaneously.
oedocsubuntu server 18.4.5ubuntu server 22.4.3I should have called this oodocs, as it’s running ONLYOFFICE Document Server, which I use with Nextcloud, but it just works, so I have left things alone. I’m getting wiser in my old age! It’s updated every few months and is currently running 7.5.0-125.
piholeubuntu server 18.4.5ubuntu server 22.4.1Another one I update regularly, and it’s worked brilliantly to hide most advertising when web browsing, but also speed up DNS searches using unbound.
portainerubuntu server 18.4.5ubuntu server 20.4.4It’s another with the wrong name, as it’s running all my Docker containers, although one is Portainer. It is hard to cover them all in detail here. Still, the main ones are Bitwarden, Calibre-web, Teslamate/Grafana, Uptime Kuma, WordPress (a development version), and other web tools (LEMP stack, phpmyadmin, etc.)

I have a few dormant VMs running ONLYOFFICE Suite, a test version of TrueNAS Scale and Windows 2016 Server, but none are running, and I can’t remember the last time I started them up.

I’m still running a Raspberry Pi 4 from an SSD running a pretty up-to-date version of the Home Assistant Operating System (11.2) and an equally up-to-date version of Home Assistant Core (2023.12.3). As well as providing all the home automation for my Philips Hue lighting and TP-Link switches, I have various integrations for my Tesla and Octopus Energy. Still, the most important is probably the Addon for NGINX Proxy Manager, which controls all access to my network and the Certbot certificate renewals every three months. This has worked brilliantly since I switched from doing this semi-manually in a jail, which I think I blogged about here!

So that’s about it. My TrueNAS system main pool uses 70% of its capacity but still has over 12TB of storage, and the SSD pool is 62% with ~340GB of storage. Both should be good for another few years, and the server performance is still fine even though it’s now four years since I built it and blogged about it a lot here.

I will try to blog once a month, so this covers me for at least 50 days! I’ve got much more to say about Whisky than I did in 2022, and I have built up a small collection of about ~75 bottles in the loft! A Raspberry Pi 5 arrived last month, too, so there might be some blogs about that. And the Tesla I’ve been driving since this blog is due to return in June, so there might be something to say about that. And perhaps something about my new Office, which I mentioned earlier, and some of the new things displayed? I’ll let you know before the end of February….

HAPPY NEW YEAR 

TrueNAS 2022

This has now become a regular annual update, but I really didn’t think after the crazy year of 2020 (blogged about here), that we’d be in a very similar situation at the end of 2021.

I’ve spent the whole of 2021 working from home, working for the same customer, which might become more permanent in 2022, but that’s for another blog.  Before starting to write this blog, my impression is that not much had changed, but let’s see…

As with my 2021 update, I start 2022 with most things up to date.  There was a TrueNAS Core update in December which I still haven’t applied yet, as once again it’s broken some of the reporting functionality on the dashboard.  Nothing major, but frustrating nonetheless, especially as this has been an ongoing issue with quality control for much of 2021.  I’m still running 12.0-U6.1, so not too far behind.

There hasn’t been a major update to TrueNAS during 2021, so no need to upgrade the version of FreeBSD running in any of the jails, although I’ve tried to keep them reasonably up to date.

I’ve had no hardware issues with my main FreeNAS machine, and only replaced one of the case fans on my backup machine which was causing the others to run too quickly and noisily!

Given the increasing cost of electricity, I’ve switched to running my backup server once a week (rather than 24×7) and only backup at the weekend, which I’m sure is saving me some money, although you wouldn’t tell from my ever-increasing utility bill!  The UPS replaced in 2020 has continued to work perfectly, and helps with keeping an eye on the energy used.

 

At the beginning of 2021, I had one VM running Docker that had several services running as containers within that.  I’ve split some of those out, so have a few more VMs running fewer things, but with pretty much the same services:

  • Ubuntu Server 18.04.6 LTS running ONLYOFFICE Docs Community Edition (updated around the middle of the year) for integration with Nextcloud
  • Ubuntu Server 20.04.2 LTS running Mattermost Team Edition 6.0.3, so pretty up to date!
  • Ubuntu Server 18.04.5 LTS running Docker/Portainer which is mainly used for Bitwarden and Calibe-web, although does have a few other containers for testing things (this was the main one at the start of 2021)
  • Ubuntu Server 18.04.5 LTS running Pi-hole which I update every few months
  • Ubuntu Desktop 18.04.6 LTS running Crashplan

I still have a Raspberry Pi running Hass.io for all my home automation, which also runs NGINX Proxy Manager, and that’s been upgraded to run from an SSD rather than an mSD card.

And I still have a couple of VMs to run Windows Server 2016 and test different versions of TrueNAS, although if they’ve been started more than a couple of times this year I’ll be surprised.

I should probably think about updating some of the 18.04 systems in 2022 given standard support finishes for these in 2023, but I’ve not had much luck with upgrades in the past, so might end up rebuilding them at some point with a 22.04 LTS version when it lands. 

In terms of the iocage jails, this list is identical to last year, with just jail and application updates:

Airsonic

It’s rarely used or updated, as I don’t think Airsonic is well supported anymore, or at least not the Java version I’m running.  I used iTunes at home for listening and cataloguing music until a few months ago, but I am now tending to listen using Spotify, Apple or Amazon Music.  I can also access my library through emby, so this might not see the end of 2022.

 

emby

 

emby is still my media server of choice and something I would be lost without. It’s running 4.7.6.0 (from 4.5.3.0) which is the latest stable release.

 

 

Nextcloud

 

It’s a close call between this and emby as the jail I’d be most lost without, although the WordPress one might put up a strong case too.  I use this for syncing files across all of my devices but also for accessing files remotely when I’m not on my own devices.  The integration with ONLYOFFICE just adds the cherry on top!  I’m almost up to date running the latest 22.2.3, PHP 7.4.22 and am now using this for a charity I help out with IT.

 

(Lime)Survey

 

I’m still keeping this up to date manually, and although it’s not used heavily, it’s handy to have an online survey tool.  My partner ran a survey for the charity she helps out with and I’m sure we need to run a few more for my daughter Out Of School Club in 2022.

 

(Open)VPN

 

Working from home means this gets used less frequently, but it’s still really useful to have when I’m away from home.   I think it’s a version behind on 2.5.3, but that’s not bad for this one which I tend to avoid updating unless I really need to!

 

WordPress

As with last year, I’ve still got the same WordPress jail for my company website and this blog, and a Docker container running another version of testing.  They are both up to date running 5.8.2, although my test instance is a little behind on PHP 7.3.12 while the live system is running 7.4.22.

 

I have jails for Bitwarden, Calibre, MediaWiki, Minecraft, Photoprism and Plex, but none are running.  Bitwarden and Calibre are covered by VMs.   Minecraft and Photoprism were just to test what was possible, but are too resource-intensive to run 24×7.  I’m not sure why I keep my old Plex jail running as there’s no going back from emby, and it’s not been updated at all this year.

 

So I was right at the start.  Very little had changed, other than keeping most things up to date!

And as with 2021, almost everything is up-to-date and running well.  I still have around 17TB of storage capacity on FreeNAS0 and the jail SSDs are still only running around 60% capacity, although probably a little higher than I’d really like.  FreeNAS1 on the other hand is approaching 90%, although given that’s really just a backup target, I don’t think I need to worry about that limit.  So long as I don’t hit 100% everything should be fine, and I can always be a little more selective about what I backup.  I had planned to replace the 4TB drives with the 8TB drives in FreeNAS0 when I upgrade them, but I suspect I’m more likely to retire it all together and rely on Crashplan.

Anyway, that was my New Year TrueNAS update!  Have a prosperous New Year and hopefully, 2022 will see the world return to ‘normal’ and start like that when the end of the year comes around again.