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"Random techie stuff I've been doing during the lockdown" thread

"Random techie stuff I've been doing during the lockdown" thread

Old May 24, 20, 2:56 am
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"Random techie stuff I've been doing during the lockdown" thread

Having been made redundant and currently serving notice, I've been doing a few techie things to ensure I don't get bored... anybody else doing the same?

1. Deployed a Linux server - I had a Raspberry Pi 3 that was acting as a bit of a network server. This worked well, but I was always a bit suspicious that something so cheap my be liable to break. I was about to throw out an old mini-PC (Acer Revo RL50), when I realised that it would probably make a good replacement for the Pi, and I could just keep the Pi as a backup. So, I installed a new 250GB SSD into the Revo (that was a bit of a challenge!), and installed the latest Ubuntu 20.04 Server LTS. The only issue I had was trying to find a wired keyboard - as the wireless keyboard I use wasn't picked up during the installation routine - so I couldn't select anything The wireless keyboard worked fine after the install.

2. Installed Pi-Hole - This is an advert blocking system that was originally designed for the Pi. Once installed, you set your router DNS to point at the IP address where Pi-Hole is installed, and all adverts are then blocked before they actually get to your PC. So, no need for ad-blockers. Having checked, it seemed that Pi-Hole works just fine on Ubuntu (at least the 18.04 version). I downloaded the software and installed on my new Linux server, and 5 minutes later it was all up and running. Perfect.

3. Installed PiVPN - This is a VPN server solution for, you guessed it, the Raspberry Pi. Originally it was an implementation of OpenVPN. However, it now also supports WireGuard - which is a more "modern" VPN (so I'm told). I went for the OpenVPN install as it's what I'm used to, and I have OpenVPN clients on my Macs & Android devices that I know work fine.

One recent enhancement to the PiVPN installer is that it detects if you have Pi-Hole installed. If so, it sets the VPN up so that any requests go via Pi-Hole. This means that you get the added advantage of ad-blocking when you're at a remote location connected to the VPN. You used to be able to set this up manually, but it could be a bit tricky.

4. Installed Caddy 2 Webserver / Proxy - I currently have a NzbGet / Sonarr / Radarr setup on a Windows server. I've also got Jenkins / Nexus, and a personal website. All of these can be set up to use SSL - but it's a bit of a nightmare, and you have to sort out your own certificates etc. Rather than do this, I've deployed Caddy 2 to act as a reverse proxy. I point ports 80/443 on my router to the Caddy, and it then routes to the appropriate server port based on the HTTP domain (sonarr.mydomain.com, radarr.mydomain.com etc.). The beauty of it is that Caddy automatically downloads SSL certificates from LetsEncrypt for each domain, so everything is secure. When the certificates are due to expire, Caddy will automatically request replacements.

Now, if I try and hit http://radarr.mydomain.com it automatically redirects to the secured https://radarr.mydomain.com. It's an amazing piece of software, simple to setup and configure and it's free for personal use!

Any other recommendations?
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Old May 24, 20, 3:15 am
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Very interesting. The only two sentences I understood in your post were the first and the last!
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Old May 24, 20, 3:59 am
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
Very interesting. The only two sentences I understood in your post were the first and the last!
I was reading the post and thinking the same thing

Then realised that I also understood something about a Raspberry pie, but it is too early this far north for our raspberries. The rhubarb is excellent at the moment though


Sorry to hear about your redundancy though.
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Old May 24, 20, 9:36 am
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Opened up all my PCs and laptops to clear them of dust and redid any thermal paste older than two years.
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Old May 24, 20, 11:26 am
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Was about to say media server for the 'fun', but then googled Sonarr...

Commiserations on the redundancy (unless it's what you want) - from an IT early-retiree.
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Old May 24, 20, 11:36 am
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1/ Installed a flavor of Debian Linux on an elderly, failing MacBook Pro (2010). Was fun and I was slightly surprised how fast a 2020 distribution runs on a 10 years' old hardware. Unfortunately it seems there's actually a hardware failure (I suspect the voltage on the power rail) so the next step is picking it apart, taking aside the SSD, RAM, HDD and the newish battery to transplant them into a slightly newer MacBookPro (2011) before final retirement.

2/ Had the mobo replaced on a 2017 Macbook Air - under warranty, so it's not very "techy"

3/ Had first contact with Android, in the form of our new TV set. Upgraded the OS and spent some time going through all menus to deny phone-home wherever possible.
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Old May 24, 20, 12:08 pm
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I added my daughter to our family sharing account!
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Old May 24, 20, 2:05 pm
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I downloaded GTA V for free last week and have explored the world of external drives and second screens, the latter for WFH. A far cry from the OP’s level! 🙂

Sorry to hear about the redundancy, hopefully there are some silver linings.
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Old May 24, 20, 3:12 pm
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This is making spending time brushing up on HTML and CSS feel like a lot less of an accomplishment...
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Old May 24, 20, 3:35 pm
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Originally Posted by kimberlyrose View Post
This is making spending time brushing up on HTML and CSS feel like a lot less of an accomplishment...
Ha! That's the other thing I've been doing. Attempting to create a website app using Angular. I've not done much front end coding, so it's slow going... But it's getting there. Using the Material design plugin, so it actually looks quite good with very little code.
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Old May 24, 20, 6:30 pm
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I was quarantined twice so I got up to all sorts of stuff.

I replaced the ancient Mac mini I have used as a server for Apple stuff and the UniFi controller with a Raspberry Pi 4. I also moved Pi-Hole from a flaky Pi Zero to that Pi 4. Since I was doing Time Machine backups to a USB hard drive attached to that Mac mini I moved that 4TB drive into an old Apple Time Capsule. A device that was clearly never intended to be disassembled by anybody.

I moved my UniFi Video security setup from an old Dell I picked out of the garbage at work to a new 1U PC running Debian.

I bludgeoned macOS Catalina on to my ten year old Mac Pro tower which ran surprisingly well.

I replaced the logicboard in my pfSense system which had a proprietary fan that was just howling.
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Old May 24, 20, 6:52 pm
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Nothing big for me. I have been using Pi-Hole for a while now and have had a Linux server in the basement for maybe 12 years. The Linux server is also the Unifi controller, file server, Torrent server, etc.

NOt sure what else there is to do!
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Old May 26, 20, 3:47 am
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Your world is ready! “On the seventh day...”
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Old May 26, 20, 3:49 am
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I know I can google it, but what is a Pi-Hole and will it likely play an important role in my life?
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Old May 26, 20, 4:30 am
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
I know I can google it, but what is a Pi-Hole and will it likely play an important role in my life?
Read the OP...
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