Category Archives: Home Lab

Why I don’t have a lab

An industry mailing list I’m on recently had a conversation that started asking about Master Degrees but had some hiring managers chip in. They said a question they tend to ask is to have the candidate tell about their home lab.

I’ve been asked this question a few times in the past, and I’ve asked people this question in job interviews. I know it’s to find out what kind of passion the candidate has for the job, but I think it’s starting to become a bad question to ask.

Here is why I don’t have a home lab.

Continue reading

Home Lab – Changes

I’ve made changes to the layout of my home lab. This is the current plan, because I can’t afford the Cisco switch I want right now. I also don’t think it’s worth getting a second line to the house, since I plan on moving by October.

The new design is to have my home network and the lab network mixed. I do have one more wireless router I could put in place to isolate the lab, but not going to for right now. If I need to limit things for something, I can always change. It’s also split between 2 floors, which is why there are 2 switches.

Lab Design v2








The Single Board Farm is 6 Raspberry Pi B, 4 Raspberry Pi B+, 2 Raspberry Pi 2, and once I can get them, Odroid C1 (probably 2).

home lab – more pfsense work

Finally got time to pick up from where I left off last time. I’ve had a hard time getting to do lab work. Anyway. I connected my pfSense box to my AT&T U-verse Router Gateway, something I’ve been worried about, and it worked. I was worried because in the past, it would shut down the RG saying there was a network behind network, turn on DMZ Plus mode, and everything would be broken.

Continue reading

home lab – firewall installing pfSesne

There are lots of good howtos out there to get the system installed. I followed this one, since it was for the same hardware: Build an awesome APU based pfSense Router.

Issues were with the installer software. It took a few tries to figure out I needed to run it as admin, mostly because the screens are all in German (I think). I tried other software (the one I use for the Raspberry Pi stuff) didn’t work.

Booted off the console, used the installer (after I got the right image, can’t use the iso image), and installed it. Next up, getting it on a network to use the Web interface to configure the box. Or use SSH. Maybe just plug in the laptop and see what happens. That’s half the fun anyway, or so I think.

Home Lab – Firewall PC Engine APU1D4 DYI Build

Got the first firewall for the lab. It is a PC Engine APU1D4 D.Y.I Kit from Netgate. This hardware has been going out of stock constantly. I got the 30 gig flash drive from Amazon, for less. I should have taken pictures as I was building it, but was just excited to be building it.

The good:

  • easy open packaging
  • other than the heat spreader it went together really quickly
  • Online documentation available

The bad:

  • No Instructions in the box
  • The heat spreaders didn’t like to stay on the chips
  • the heat sink move pulling the spreader off with it while putting the bottom on. Didn’t cause problems, but had to stop and reline up the head spreader to the chips (stuck to heat sink).

Continue reading

Home Lab – Phase 1 – More annoyances

I got a free LCD tv recently, 32 inches. I was hoping to use it as the monitor for the VMWare box for a bit. Until I could save the money to replace it with something nicer / actual monitors (dual display ports).

Problem is, ESXi is designed to be a type 1 hypervisor. I never knew that’s what bare-metal systems were called. I’ve worked with Citrix Xen in the past. It was nice, but I hated to do the work over the network.

Continue reading

vmware problem trying to share bridged interface

I’ve spent the last 2 days trying to get Vmware Player on a Windows 7 host, to provide internet to any of the guests  using bridged mode.  I have 2 firewalls installed. Windows firewall, and Avast’s Firewall (part of the Internet Security Suite). I had both installed previously before I rebuilt my laptop in September, and didn’t have a problem or had to do anything.

If I turned off one of the firewalls it worked fine, for bridged interfaces. But with both on, it didn’t work. Even though there are rules in place for avast to allow vmware.

After digging I finally found a thread dealing with the same issue on VirtualBox. The fix is to turn on Internet Connection Sharing in Avast. This doesn’t turn it on for Windows but just Avast from what I can tell.

Home Lab – Phase 1, start with what I can.

As I said in the last post, I’m going to have to piece the lab together slowly. However that doesn’t mean I can’t do other things with the lab until then. The current plan for later phases is PFSense on the micorserver, Security Onion on a Microserver, the network switch, and a new network drop.

However, I have old PC hardware laying around and vmware player on my current laptop. I should be able to build and play with a couple of things.

  • VM for PFSense
  • Physical for Security Onion

Currently the old PC has Untangle on it. It  worked well. It was set up for a RuCTFe CTF a few years ago. It was fast and easy to set up. This time I want something a little different. First though, I need to reconnect the old drives and backup all the data off those. I also want to swap out the mother board with a newer one I got. I think the newer one handles 64-bit. It has multiple network cards.

Once it’s rebuilt, I’ll attach it to my existing network connection to monitor what is coming through that gateway. I’ll write those up in stages as I do them. Should be 3 posts.