Tuesday, February 2, 2016

PXE boot on a home network

I have several home routers which I tend to swap around as I need various services or features. But now comes the hardest of all. I work from home and while I use different virtual servers, digital ocean(DO), google compute engine(GCE), amazon web services(AWS); the problem is that in order to enable enough headroom in my compute instances requires considerable cash outlay. On the other hand when you consider capital outlay, depreciation, sound polution, and the cost of residential power running my own hardware may not be an ideal option. (there is something to be said about lights out operations and continuous deployment from the outset).

Jumping into things... my Dell C6100 does not boot to USB or iPXE. It only supports PXE. Now that I've forked a CoreOS PXE installer project, upgraded it to the latest CoreOS image and fixed a few bugs I'm ready to test PXE booting a raw VM image.

Trying to PXE boot a VMware instance using a PXE server running on another VMware instance means that the instances need to be (i) bridged to the network so that the services are not hiding behind a NAT. But it also means that there can be (ii) only one DHCP server in the network. I'm not certain how the PXE client locates a DHCP server but it's probably something like UDP or port scanning. In either case my client is not locating the right DHCP server. (and a google search resulted in similar findings)

** I suppose I should mention that the machine in question is a Dell C6100 and when all 4 nodes are running a production workload they are working at 962 watts. Depending on the actual cost of electricity it could be between $400 and $1100 a year. Plus the original cost of the hardware.

Considering how much effort has already been put into this endeavor I think the project should be cancelled and look for a VPS bargain instead.

Ooops; I forgot to mention that my C6100 includes 96GB or memory. Just matching the memory needs with Digital Ocean at a cost of $1000/mo. Maybe it's a bargain to run these from home after all.

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