Proxmox Project Update – Part 2

It’s been a while since the last Proxmox project post, and this was because of actually executing the plan – getting all the parts and playing around with it all.

Hardware Gathering

Many hours were spent looking at eBay listings and browsing local classifieds. The 9020 I wanted from eBay was relisted with a higher price, and ended up being taken down. The other options I had were Sandy bridge based Xeons that would need a full U-based rack chassis, and a motherboard & CPU combo I found from Kijiji. It was by far the best option as it would fit in an mATX case and offers compatibility with the power supply (where the 9020 actually failed to meet both those compatibility needs).

I ended up messaging the guy for the CPU/Motherboard combo and ended up getting a great deal for the used hardware. The CPU was an Intel i5 4430 with a Asus B85 motherboard. The only differences to the 9020 was 200MHz in clock speed. The limitations to this setup compared to the other offerings were PCIe lanes. According to the Intel ARK website, the B85 chipset only supports 8 PCIe lanes. But this works as the PRO1000 NIC is based off 4 PCIe lanes. Theoretically it will work, but it would mean I can’t install a GPU for hardware passthrough to a VM – or at least, it wouldn’t have full performance.

The system is currently installed in a Rosewill SRM-01 that I bought three of (oops) for $20 each. RAM is 16GB (2X8GB Kit) by Corsair and I do plan on upgrading to 32GB with the extra 16GB kit by Gskill that came in right after the Corsair kit. Sandisk U110 for the boot drive and a 500GB for a local VM/ISO storage. The majority of VMs would be stored on the FreeNAS server connected using iSCSI. Powering this all is a 520 watt Seasonic SII power supply. The fan is making a slight clicking sound, so maybe I’ll be swapping that out but it isn’t too urgent since it’s stored in the basement.

Proxmox installation

The main issue I had with installing Proxmox was booting it off a USB. Turns out the ISO needs to be installed to the USB using DD mode. This allowed me to get pass the “cd rom not found” error.

Lack of patience

Lack of patience got the better of me since I was rushing to get Sophos UTM up and deployed in my network. I ended up getting a cheap dual gigabit Realtek based NIC from Amazon. Don’t do it – a lot of headaches to come.

The goal was to install Sophos UTM as a VM and have all network traffic passthrough the dual Gigabit NICs. You can read more about that here.

VMs

With 16GB of RAM, I’m able to host a Windows 10 VM, Sophos UTM, a FreeNAS installation, and a PFSense test environment. It does seem to be poor at memory management – VMs take up as much RAM as you specify (after ballooning) and don’t free up memory for other VMs to use. It seems to be capping at around 95% memory usage afterwards and is going to start using swap.