Home Assistant SSD

One of the things I like about blogging to myself is that the process tends to motivate me to do other things. This is one good example! I blogged a little about moving my Home Assistant server from a FreeBSD jail to a Raspberry Pi 4 (Pi) in my New Year blog here. In that, I also mentioned upgrading the OS from the micro SD (mSD) card to a more robust Solid State Drive (SSD). This is about how I created my Home Assistant SSD.

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Another New Year TrueNAS Update

Although this is going to be similar to my New Year update at the beginning of 2020, this New Year TrueNAS update feels very different!

I’ve been working from home since March 2020 and for at least some of the year had a little more time to play around with things.

Similar to the beginning of 2020, I start 2021 with most things up to date.  Midway through December, I upgraded my FreeNAS machines to the latest version of TrueNAS Core, which I blogged about here.  Although there were a few bumps, everything has been running well since, and I’ve also upgraded all of the jails without too many issues.

FreeNAS0 has performed fantastically during 2020, and while I did have an issue with one of the HDD in the pool. it was replaced with the cold-spare and the RMA process with WD worked flawlessly, which I blogged about briefly here.

I also replaced my UPS during 2020, although this was a simple return process through Amazon and an identical replacement from eBuyer.  The old one had been shutting down randomly, which kind of defeats the object, and Amazon’s solution was to return it for a full refund.  They couldn’t provide a replacement, so I picked one up from eBuyer, saving about £30 and that’s run 24×7 since it was switched on, as you’d expect from a UPS.

 

From a VM perspective, very little has changed.  I still have Ubuntu VMs running ONLYOFFICE, CrashPlan and Docker, although I have a new one configured with Docker just for running Pi-hole.  I also had a VM running NGINX Proxy Manager although that’s been moved across to my Hass.io Raspberry Pi now.

I still have a couple of VMs for playing with Windows and TrueNAS, although they spend most of the time switched off.  Other than a couple of sharing issues, which were easily resolved, the TrueNAS update for the VMs was excellent.

In terms of the iocage jails, here’s an update on those, in ‘jail-name’ alphabetical order:

Airsonic

This is a new one from last year which I built in June and blogged about here.  Given I’ve spent most of 2020 at home, it’s not really been all that useful but I imagine I will use it a little more when things start to return back to the new normal.

emby

emby is still my media server and there’s no going back to Plex. It’s running 4.5.3.0, which is the latest stable release.

MediaWiki

Another new one, which I’ve blogged about a few times in 2020.  I’m not really using it for anything, but hope to find something at some point.

Nextcloud

This is probably the jail I’d be most lost without, although the WordPress one might put up a strong case.  I use this for syncing files across all of my devices (iMac, MacBook, iPhones, etc.) 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 up to date running the latest 20.0.4, PHP 7.4.13 and can only see my use of this continuing to grow in 2021.

(Lime)Survey

This was my newest jail last year and has been used again this year to run a couple of small surveys for my daughters Out Of School Club again. It’s updated less regularly now as I tend to do it manually rather than paying for the privilege of using the built-in Comfort updater.  It takes a little longer but is saving me £80-90 a year.

(Open)VPN

Still working well for connecting back into my network securely whilst away from home, although again it’s had less use this year given I’ve spent most of my time at home! Having just upgraded all of my jails with TrueNAS, it’s also surprisingly up to date running 2.4.9.

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 5.6, although my test instance is a little behind on PHP 7.3.12 while the live system is running 7.4.13.

And that’s it, so a few haven’t made it to the end of 2020! 

I replaced the SSL Proxy jail in June when I was running NGINX Proxy Manager in a small VM.  Around October this move to my Hass.io Raspberry Pi.  It’s a much cleaner tool for managing this, but I’m glad I ran things manually for a little while and have some understanding about what this is doing in the background.  I moved all the old config and deleted the jail, but I can’t imagine ever going back to doing things manually.

The Home Assistant jail was moved to a Raspberry Pi as there’s so much more functionality available running Hass.io and Home Assistant Core than you can via the virtual python environment used to power things on FreeBSD.  I didn’t blog about this at the time, but I perhaps will sometime this year as I really need to move the OS onto an SSD rather than the default micro SD card.

I switched to running Calibe-web in a Docker container almost straight after my 2020 update, which I blogged about here.  It’s so much better and is running the latest 0.6.9 version.  I still have the calibre jail, although it’s switched off and is another one to delete this year.

And lastly, my DNS jail.  This was replaced with a VM running Pi-hole in February and has again proved to be a much nicer solution.

So as with 2020, almost everything is up-to-date and running well, and in many cases better than it was 12 months ago.  I still have over 18TB of storage capacity on FreeNAS0 and the jail SSDs are still running less than 50% capacity.  FreeNAS1 on the other hand is approaching 80%, 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.  At some point, I will replace the 4TB drives with 8TB drives from FreeNAS0, but I shouldn’t need to do that this year. 

Anyway, that was my New Year TrueNAS update!  Have a prosperous New Year and hopefully, 2021 will be a much more normal year.  If you didn’t get around to playing with FreeNAS in 2020, makes 2021 one to check out TrueNAS…

Random Update

I’ve often finished a blog staying I’ll come back with an update after some use and experience, but I’m conscious that I rarely do, so thought I’d try and do a random update blog which touched on a few previous blogs with some more detailed thoughts!

 

Logitech Keyboard and Mouse

I blogged about this here when I was actually planning on blogging about the next thing on this list, the Portable Monitor.

I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with Logitech, as I love some of their products, but generally hate the customer experience they provide. I use one of their Harmony Elite remotes every day to control my TV, and it’s brilliant. Logitech has abandoned the macOS support on it though, which is rubbish.

I also backed a Kickstarter campaign a few years ago for some wireless headphones, Revols. At one point it looked like these would never come to fruition, and I was lucky to have the option of jumping ship and getting a refund some 18 months into the project. The company eventually got bought by Logitech, and they delivered a product, but by all accounts, it was pretty rubbish, when Logitech should have had the resources to make it a success.

So what about the Keyboard and Mouse I bought this year? Well, to begin with, I really liked it and felt it was a great upgrade from my Apple Wireless Keyboard and Mouse. After about 3 months though, I was having some problems using it across multiple devices. Reaching out to Logitech proved to be a complete waste of time, but I eventually resolved the issues by resetting the device and using the USB receiver with my iMac, which is what it connects to 90% of the time.

Overall they are both Logitech products I like and would recommend if it wasn’t for the atrocious support that you have to expect from Logitech. Just imagine how good they could be if they could just offer a decent level of support?

Portable Monitor

This has probably been one of the best purchases of 2020, and at the time I bought it I really wasn’t sure exactly what I’d use it for. It’s become a permanent fixture on my office desk, propped up with a pretty cheap and cheerful Amazonbasics tablet stand, connected via a small HDMI switch (another great purchase from Amazon).

By day it’s switched to my work HP Elitebook as a 2nd monitor, and by night to my Raspberry Pi 400 as a desktop computer, and potential replacement for my 2011 iMac which will die at some point and need to be replaced.

The only issue I had with this, was the settings being lost when it was connected only by USB-C as it won’t remember the brightness settings and defaults to 30% which isn’t really bright enough. I suspect this is a power-saving thing, as when it’s just connected by USB-C, it’s drawing power from the device it’s connected to, but it was a problem when I was using as a second monitor with my MacBook Air.

It’s not a problem how it’s currently configured, as it’s powered by USB-C and then connected to the two devices via HDMI and keeps the settings when powered off, even disconnecting the USB-C cable. I’d happily buy another as the picture quality is excellent and other than the settings issue it’s worked perfectly, It’s not really been used much as a ‘portable’ monitor, but at some point, it will and I fully expect it to continue doing a fantastic job.

Raspberry Pi 400

Given how strange this year has been with COVID-19, it doesn’t seem to have impacted on the quality of tech? The Raspberry Pi 400 is another device I’ve fallen in love with, that I really didn’t need, but I now use daily.

Is it perfect? No! They redesigned the board to fit the keyboard, but in doing so removed one of the USB ports so it only has one USB 2.0 and 2x USB 3.0 ports. The USB-C port is just for power, so you need an adapter to use any USB-C devices. They also removed the 3.5mm audio jack, which sounds fairly insignificant, but it’s surprising how much I’ve missed it.

But the form factor brings back such happy memories of computing from years gone by which I blogged about here. It runs faster and cooler than a standard Pi 4 and generally maintains the compatibility, although I’ve not had any success running Windows for Arm on the Pi 400 when it works perfectly fine on a Pi 4. I’ll blog a little more about that in 2021 I’m sure.

So there’s a random update on a few blogs from either in the year. The picture below shows them all in action and includes the Raspberry Pi HQ Webcam from this blog. I’ll be covering FreeNAS in much more detail in another New Year blog. Where last year most of the big changes were hardware related with the FreeNAS0 build, this time it’s much more of a software update, so watch out for that next week…

 

Blogs that never made it

I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I’ll often create blogs with just a title with the good intention of coming back to write and publish a blog post. Some times I don’t, and end up deleting the draft, so here’s just a quick paragraph or two on some of those blogs that never made it in 2020…

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TrueNAS

TrueNAS

A major FreeNAS upgrade to TrueNAS has been on the cards for most of 2020. TrueNAS 12.0 was released in October, but I’ve waited until the first U1 release before attempting my FreeNAS upgrade. How did it go? Well, there’s some good and bad…

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