Spring 2024: Self-Hosted Update

Spring has arrived in the UK! I can tell because the Canadian Geese are pairing off and getting territorial. A charging goose will put a spring in your step.

This also arrived:

Top-down photo of the ZimaBlade sitting on its hard drive enclosure
ZimaBlade NAS Kit


It’s the crowd-funded ZimaBlade single board computer. I gambled on the quad-core NAS kit. Specs include: 4 core CPU, 16GB RAM, 32 GB eMMC, PCIe 2.0 x4, SATA 3.0. Hard drives are not included. The PCIe and SATA ports make it unique.

I pre-ordered the ZimaBlade for $203 USD including taxes and shipping not long before the Raspberry Pi 5 was announced.

Raspberry Pi 5

Last year I managed to get a first batch Pi 5 along with accessories:

  • Pi 5 + power supply + fan case - £104
  • NVMe Base - £14
  • Crucial P3 Plus 500GB NVMe - £36

That’s a total of £154 GBP (~$194 USD). Similar cost to the ZimaBlade for a “usable” setup. Pi’s are expensive unless you’re prepared to tank performance with SD card boot.

Close-up photo of the Pi 5 case modification
Raspberry Pi 5 with NVMe Base

I hacked the Pi 5 case to fit the NVMe underneath. I literally used a tiny hack saw through the SD card slot to make space for the ribbon cable to flow. Quite a tidy mod! An SD card still fits if needed — I used that to prepare the bootable NVMe. The PCIe is officially rated Gen 2 speeds but can run at Gen 3 — that’s faster than the ZimaBlade. Check out Jeff Geerling’s blog for a guide.

I’ll be using these alongside my current devices:


In my last self-hosted update I was playing around with Proxmox on a 2018 MacMini. I’m using it to run containers and virtual machines for all my self-hosted services. Although Proxmox runs fine it was taking minutes to boot. An uncomfortable wait. I managed to build a custom kernel based on this project and t2linux. I didn’t actually fix things like Bluetooth — don’t need it anyway — but I did get it booting faster. Unfortunately I still have repeated issues with every Proxmox update.

My Beelink is now a router running OPNsense. It’s incredible. No more network issues. I’ve tried a few WiFi/router combos but even the expensive ones are prone to issues. Beelink + switch + WiFi access point has been perfect. The Beelink also runs a VPN exit node using Tailscale and DNS with AdGuardHome.

New Uses

I want to rebuild the Mac Mini and see if I can fix Proxmox permanently. Or maybe just retire and sell it. That means moving all my containers and VMs onto other devices. It’ll be a slow process.

For the ZimaBlade the obvious choice is a mini NAS. I’ve installed Proxmox on it too. I’m going to try out both TrueNAS Scale and Unraid. I expect Unraid to be more suitable at this size. With only 32GB eMMC storage I’d have to run most VMs from a NAS share. It should make a great download and media server. I’d also like to try PCI passthrough with a graphics card if I can find a suitable one.

The Pi 5 has a slower CPU and only 8GB RAM but has the much faster and larger 500GB NVMe. This would be a good home for my Gitea server. The Pi doesn’t run Proxmox but everything is Docker-ised. I’ll probably house a lot of services here.

I’ve shelved my older 2014 Mac Mini. It’s basically an antique now.

That’s all for now!

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