Refreshing my Home Server/NAS

I’ve been running a little home server for probably close to twenty years. Originally, it was driven by my desire to learn Linux and run a whole-home MythTV setup. I still think that was an amazing setup for the time, but of course things change and broadcast TV just isn’t what it used to be. About five years ago, I decommissioned my server and moved my media library to a Helios4 by Kobol. My media frontends are now mainly built into our TVs, Fire TVs, or phones/tablets. The NAS was definitely a cool unit and helped my electric bill some, but ultimately the performance left a lot to be desired. ….using it for ostree commits the past few years was painful.

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Adding HTTP Boot to OPNSense

A few days ago an electrical storm took out my trusty APU 1d. At first I thought that it was only the power supply that died, but the WAN NIC is not recognized ~80% of the time. I thought I could simply just use the OPT1 port instead, but no. Randomly the WAN port will reappear and wreak havoc with the system and basically stop all traffic on my network until it would again randomly disappear. It was an amazing piece of equipment, as was my trusty Alix 2d3 before it. ….even though I love these systems, it’s time to move on.

I wanted to try OPNSence instead of pfSense for this install. The only real hiccup I ran into moving over was around DHCP support for HTTP Boot. The pfSense team added a UI option for this not too long ago and it’s been super helpful for some of the Red Hat related provisioning testing I’ve put together. Anyway, my RFE was justifiably declined due to the deprecation of ISC dhcpd. No worries because it was pointed out that it’s super simple to add dhcp configuration drop-ins manually.

Adding dhcpd config outside of the UI

The project documentation does a great job of outlining how to do this. Basically just SSH to the system, create a file under: /usr/local/etc/dhcpd.opnsense.d/ and paste in the following w/ the correct IP & path for your environment:

class "httpclients" {
option vendor-class-identifier "HTTPClient";
match if substring (option vendor-class-identifier, 0, 10) = "HTTPClient";
filename "http://[webserverip]/path-to-efi-nbp";
}

That’s it! Once this file has been written, just reload/restart the DHCP server and the config will take effect. If you’re using a RHEL or Red Hat derived distro you’ll want to load the shim for grub as the NBP (network boot program). This is typically /EFI/BOOT/BOOTX64.EFI on the boot media. If you want to move out of the stone ages w/ PXE/TFTP, HTTP booting straight from the firmware is awesome. Basically, just copy the boot media to a web server, modify the grub menu as needed (you’ll likely need to adjust the kernel & initrd paths to align w/ your web server path), and finally pass the desired NBP. If you’re coming from the PXE world, there’s a good chance you’re using pxelinux.0 or some flavor of ipxe, that will get replaced with grub. Easy peasy!

Rabbit-proof Raised Garden Bed

Raised garden beds are fantastic because they drain well, are relatively easy to build, and are capable of producing an impressive yield of food. Amanda and I have built a couple of these based on the Pioneer Woman’s blog post on this subject. These worked really well for us, but we wanted to step up our garden and needed to solve two problems: 1) more space 2) protect against rabbits and our crazy dog. Other geographies will need different adaptations to protect against different pesky critters, for example burrowing animals. The design shown here should lend itself fairly well to various types of adaptations. If you come up with something neat please share it with us!

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Using UEFI HTTP Boot with pfSense

About a year ago I started working with HTTP boot. It’s great that we no longer need a TFTP server for network booting, but there are also a few less than ideal challenges with the newer method. The biggest one is lack of documentation and simple configuration with DHCP servers. There are some examples available for the isc-dhcp-server used in many Linux/Unix systems, but if you’re using something like Ubiquiti or pfSense, good luck! It’s been a while since I’ve looked at an enterprise IPAM setup, but I fully expect support to be lacking there as well.

I opened a bug on this issue and was really impressed with how quickly the team jumped on it. Now if you’re running the 2.6.0 release, which is the latest as I write this, it’s pretty simple to get this up and running. Basically they added a field for UEFI HTTPBoot. It sounds simple enough right?

But adding it wasn’t working on either of my systems. I did a little packet sniffing and compared the response I was getting from my pfSense system vs a working dhcpd config in RHEL. In short, pfSense wasn’t sending option vendor-class-identifier “HTTPClient” with the response so my systems weren’t responding to the URL. Luckily it’s super simple to add this in the UI. Basically just add an additional option w/ the number 60, Type Text, and HTTPClient in the Value section. As seen here:

And that’s pretty much it. My network now offers up both PXE and HTTP boot to clients and it works really well. Hopefully this will help someone until this option is provided by default when the “UEFI HTTPBoot URL” is used.

Now all that’s left is to come up with a menu system that’s as powerful as syslinux that works with HTTP Boot. To date, I’ve only used GRUB and ……it really makes me miss the menu system from syslinux. It’s superior in every way IMO.

How to Recover a Barwa Chair

Recovering your Barwa chair is totally possible and we’ll help you do it!

Barwa chairs are amazing. It’s a mid-century modern chair that features two sitting positions; both are incredibly relaxing and comfortable IMO. The design is incredibly smart yet simple and elegant in the execution. The chair pictured here belonged to my father’s family and is approximately 70 years old. In April of 2021, Amanda and I restored it and documented a fair amount of the work here on youtube. Covers are incredibly difficult to come by, but the good news is you can make your own! Start by watching the videos and I’ll detail as much of the process as possible here. Also, please leave comments with your tips, suggestions, etc. I’ll keep this page updated based on feedback, and hope that it becomes a valuable resource to help others maintain these wonderful chairs.

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UEFI HTTP Boot with Libvirt

Background

I’ve been a big proponent of network based provisioning pretty much my entire career. My second job out of college involved imaging ~800 computers multiple times a week. When I was hired, my predecessors used floppy disks to load a small OS, matching NIC driver, and imaging client (remember Ghost?!). The bottom line was it was very time/labor intensive and a horrible process. Imaging a group of systems took about 30-60 min. Long story short we reduced that time to about 5 min after we leveraged a combination of PXE, wake-on-lan, UNDI drivers, vlans, and IGMP snooping. My second iteration of the solution took the total attended time to less than 30 seconds. Anyway, it’s amazing technology for provisioning, and I even got hired at Red Hat by giving a presentation on PXE. Needless to say, I’m a huge fan!

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Hacking Warmoth: Tips for getting the most value with a partscaster

I’m going to share my thoughts and opinions for how I get the most value with a Warmoth parts guitar. This isn’t necessarily a how to save money post, although I’ll inlcude some thoughts along those lines as well. I’ve been really happy with my Warmoth builds and it’s my hope that some of you will find my thoughts helpful. Enjoy!

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New Warmoth Tele: Part III The Assembly

While waiting for the pickguard to arrive from Canada I decided to knock out some detail work. Shielding can be a controversial topic, but I recommend doing it and I much prefer using copper foil over some of the conductive paint products I’ve tried in the past. This is the cleanest job I’ve ever done. Tracing and cutting out pieces the exact size of the pickup routes worked really well. During my last build I also learned that it’s not a good idea to shield the route for the input jack. Skipping that also sped up the process.

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New Warmoth Tele: Part II The Finish

I’m a huge fan of the legacy of a company from the 90’s called Stephen’s Stringed Instruments. Stephen Davies and team created some really unique guitars and they are becoming increasingly difficult to come across these days. The old website is still up and I love reading the specs page. I really like his comments around finishes and this meshes well with my experiences.

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New Warmoth Tele: Part I The Goal & Sanding

While I very much enjoyed my first Warmoth tele, it was my first attempt at putting a partscaster together. Compared to some of my other guitars, it wasn’t holding up any more. I played the hell out of that guitar and felt pretty comfortable giving the neck & body away. I wanted a similar Nashville tele, but with a similar finish to the last one I built. I was so happy with the N4-ish Warmoth I put together, I wanted to see if I could recreate some of the magic with that guitar on a new one. I decided to hang on to the hardware and pick up a different neck & body.

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Pickups & Conventional Wisdom

I love 3 single coil strats, but like many, I’ve never really loved the sound I get from my bridge pickup. I’ve been able to get by alright with a dedicated tone knob wired to it (I often set it to 7 or 8). Even still, I fine myself longing for a better sound that’s less harsh and brittle. Last year I had an idea to address this and ultimately abandoned that after posting a thread on the gear page. I got a number of thoughtful responses, and my take away was that increasing the pickup output the closer to the bridge is pretty important. The reasons for doing this make sense as the strings vibrate under the bridge pickup. I believe this was one of the main reasons why Gibson added volume pots per pickup. Many of the tried and true combinations follow this rule (think Duncan JB & 59) and also many models will tweak the output and offer a neck and bridge version. Anyway, I let conventional wisdom stop me from trying out my favorite single coil pickup in the bridge position.

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Using cgroup v2 w/ Containers on Fedora Silverblue

I’ve been really interested in the potential behind the unified cgroup hierarchy, aka cgroup v2, in the kernel for a while now. I even helped out with a talk on this subject earlier this year. It’s worth listening to Tejun’s part of the talk if you’re not familiar with the value behind v2. While a lot of user space, for example systemd, has really solid support for v2, there have been historic gaps around virt and containers. On the virt side, initial v2 support went into libvirt 4.9 or 5.0, and it’s continuing to be improved. For containers, we’re tracking the OCI progress here and here, and Giuseppe Scrivano has done some great v2 enablement with an alternative runtime he wrote called crun. crun is basically runc re-written in C, and while there are pros and cons on the language side, it’s ridiculously fast at instantiating containers compared to runc.

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Filling the Floyd Route on my Warmoth

Warmoth will now, by special request, offer a proper NFT Floyd route. This wasn’t an option when I purchased this body and the person I spoke w/ on the phone flat out refused. Anyway, I enjoyed filling the route w/ a single coil cover for about a year; it always made me laugh and confused people. I never wanted to commit to it and glue it in place, and it eventually became problematic at a gig. I managed to bump it loose while performing and it got in the way and that’s no way to go through life. I decided I needed to come up w/ something better.

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Rediscovering the Original ADA MP-1

There’s no question that the ADA MP-1 is an iconic piece of gear. I’m not entirely sure if it’s the ability to create ridiculously saturated distortion, or to program 128 settings and instantly recall them, or the aesthetics of the blue vinyl, membran buttons contrasted with the large red LCD screen. Regardless, the MP-1 was, and still is, an amazing preamp and the tones it creates still hold up today.

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Floyd Rose Push-in Style Tremolo Arm

Floyd Rose tremolos tend to be polarizing with guitarists. It’s a love/hate thing, and I’ve gone back and forth on these myself. I spent almost a decade depending on them and then another decade avoiding them like the plague. Now I’m at the point where I can appreciate them for what they are, and the company is doing some really cool things that makes me like them even better. 

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Taylor 814CE First Impressions

Early one Saturday morning I found myself searching for “taylor acoustic” on dallas.craigslist.org. Little did I know I would stumble on a lot of guitars that a guy was needing to sell quickly. He had three Taylors I was interested in, but only two were in my price range: 814CE (2017) and 712CE (2012). They were both amazing instruments, and I would have been happy with either one. I chose the 814 because it was larger and was more of what I was originally looking for. It was crazy clean; not a mark on it and still had the factory strings. It was basically a new guitar that was $1,200 less than the going price. How could I not buy it?!

What a beauty! I love the rosewood pickguard
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