It started with an idea…

I started out with the idea that I would be better off in the long run building myself some sort of virtualization server rather than just trying to run all of the new things I wanted to try off of Raspberry Pi’s. Although they are awesome piece of hardware, they just don’t have the capabilities to support everything I wanted to do.

I next came to the conclusion that I wanted something small in footprint, and quiet. I don’t have any crazy set up or place to store an actual server, so I had to come up with a solution that would provide me enough performance while still staying within the size and noise constraints that I set for myself.

A decision was made

Not too terribly long ago, a decision was made to move my home office out of the small room it was in, into a bigger room. I knew this would be my chance to go ahead and set up the hardware I wanted for myself, so a decision had to be made. After some compatibility checks, a platform was decided upon, and my search was over.

At this time, my home virtualization server consists of:

  • Intel’s BOXNUC7I3BNK NUC – 7th Generation i3 NUC – a beautifully small footprint!
  • Mushkin DDR4 16GB SODIMM – The NUC supports up to 32GB of RAM, and has two slots so I wanted to pick something that would allow me to take advantage of this in the future.
  • ADATA SU800 M.2 128GB SSD – I don’t need a ton of storage on the NUC, as I will be utilizing my homebuilt NAS (Blog post coming soon) for mass storage.

The Build

Or I guess lack thereof. Un-boxing all 3 components and screwing them together took a matter of minutes. No part of it was difficult at all. These NUC’s would make a great project for someone looking to start out building their own computer, but did not want to have a lot of variables. The fact that I was able to have a fully boot-able computer as quickly as I did made me very happy.

For operating system, I chose to load Proxmox. It is a great open source virtualization software that runs on top of a very small install of Linux (Debian based). It offers a lot of the features you have to pay for in other hypervisors, for free. See my write-up on Proxmox here(coming soon).

Conclusion

The price point & flexibility of the NUC computers Intel has been producing is hard to beat. These computers can accomplish a whole heck of a lot without breaking a sweat. As I type this now, my NUC is currently running 5 Linux VMs for various tasks/software & it is using about 5-6% average CPU, and about 8.5GB of 16GB of RAM. Not too shabby.