Someone the other day asked on Slack how people manage their home labs. I said I had a system and that I might write about it, or do a VMUG session on it as I quite like it. Then someone said they wanted me to do that, and then I realized today I had an afternoon off. So here we go.
The idea of my management system is to make sure I do not forget things that are important, but also so that I can argue nicely with an ISP, or city office (electricity people). It also means I can do updates better as I have more info more easily accessible. I have a very busy job, so not having to remember about lab maintenance is pretty nice. But when I have time I have the info easily found of where to start.
I must admit I like the fact I know more easily what is so in the lab.
I use Evernote but this would work in other notebook apps. The important thing is it is a notebook app so that means indexing and printing works good.
Notebook 1 – ServerAdmin
In this notebook each VMware host, VM, UPS, Internet connection, and switch has a page. If a page fills, you can add archive to the name and start a new page. What do you have on the page? Here is some samples from my Horizon View server. At the top of the page would be the server name and IP address.
MW – 4/14/19 – PCoIP would not connect from my hotel in Prague, but Blast would. Check firewall.
MW – 4/11/19 – MS Updates to today.
MW – 3/29/19 – View updated to 7.8 with no issues.
It is similar entries even if it is a switch, or UPS. Maybe no MS update but when firmware is done instead.
Notebook 2 – Home Lab
This notebook is a bit different. It has a Lab work page. It looks like below. And instead of bullet points it has checkboxes. Some items in the list have more or less detail. Sometimes I just put a single line in and when I go to do the work then I add to it. Definitely before I start work I build out the list.
- Update VMware Hosts – new patches downloaded today.
- check release notes
- old build
- new build
- Do I have any non-native drivers on my hosts?
- As per this article https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2019/04/what-is-the-impact-of-the-vmklinux-driver-stack-deprecation.html
- If no then happy days.
- If yes, research and see if I can upgrade or something.
- vRA 7.6 upgrade
- read release notes
- see if I can find upgrade articles for extra help
- old version
- new version
- Log Insight 4.8 upgrade
This notebook also has Lab Work archive documents too. When the above Lab Work doc gets unwieldy I copy stuff from it to an Archive doc.
As well, for big projects, like installing vRA, I would have a line item in the list above, and it would say:
- Install vRA
- in separate doc – Installing vRA
But I would have a dedicated page for that project – titled vRA Install. I would add to the front of the title Done when it was done and in the Lab Work main doc I would check the checkbox. And yes, when things are complete I also add a brief blurb in the ServerAdmin doc for the hosts that were impacted.
I often have my iPad beside me with Evernote open and so it is easy to keep things current. I may print out a dedicate project page so I can have it beside me, but I do not always do that. I can do a search on a hostname and find all of the pages from both ServerAdmin and Lab work so I have a quick easy way to review things for that host.
This system is low impact, meaning it does not take much time to put a note in, and yet I can search and print as necessary. And with Evernote it means I can look things up / or update on Macs, PC, iPads, and iPhones quite easily.
If anyone has questions or comments, let me know.
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