Container Server

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Container Server

This is a PC with a little bit of a story behind it and is likely a bit different than most of the builds posted here. I hope some of you find this as interesting as I do.

At the time I'm posting this build, I'm in the process of trying to get a new business started. With starting a new business there is (not surprisingly) a lot of work to do - websites to develop, software to write, business plan to create, infrastructure to procure, etc ... and as a part of this I was using my desktop PC to run a number of containerized systems (LXD containers, actually, not Docker as some might assume). I also had a (different) FX-6300 based system I pulled together from some spare parts that I was using for testing some storage setups.

The birth of the system you see pictured here begins the day that I thought I had selected the terminal that was connected to the storage system with the intent of wiping out the LXD container packages from that system as I no longer needed the one I was using there for experimenting. Once this was done, the box would be setup to store backups from the containers that were running on my desktop. The problem - I wasn't in the right terminal and accidentally wiped out all of my containers off my desktop PC. I lost weeks of work that day. Good times!

It was at this moment I realized it is too dangerous for me to host important containers on my desktop system and that they needed a dedicated box. The problem? I really didn't have a whole lot of extra cash to spend on this. That night, I decided to check out Craigslist on a whim to see if maybe there might be something there. I've never had a whole lot of luck with finding what I need there but I figured it would be worth a look at least. I start scrolling through and come across a very recent listing from a guy not too far from me who was looking to sell off his AMD FX-8350 with ASUS motherboard, Wraith cooler, and 16GB G.Skill DDR3-2133 memory - he had recently upgraded his desktop PC.

Now, anyone who knows me personally knows there are certain spare parts I tend to have handy - mostly fans and cases, because well I have a thing for PC cases and over the years I've picked up a number of fans while in pursuit of quiet fans. I also happened to have a couple spare sata SSDs handy at the time (some cheap 120GB Kingston ones that I could at least use to get the ball rolling) and my old AMD Radeon HD5670 GPU that I've had for over a decade.

I then took stock of what I might possibly have to offer as a trade in order to try to keep my cash for other parts for the system I would need. I didn't have much but I had 16GB of DDR4-3000 (Corsair LPX), spare fans, spare cases, not much else. I emailed the guy asking if he'd be interested at all in doing a trade or if he was only interested in cash. The next morning I got a reply that he might be interested in a trade with a list of things he was looking for himself. On that list I see DDR4 memory and a multi-port network adapter. I had recently picked up a 4 port NIC that I knew that I could part with if I had to so I reply back to him and he agreed to make the deal. SCORE! I order a PSU immediately so it would arrive ASAP.

That afternoon I swing by his apartment and make the exchange. I get home and start piecing the system together in a Corsair 220T case that I had used for a bit as my primary desktop's case. My other-half uses the same case for her PC so I was already familiar when I bought mine - I just didn't want the RGB fans that came with it but she was happy to take them from me in exchange for the Noctua Chromax fans that I had put in the system at the time I built it. She didn't care that they'd be louder than the Noctua - she just wanted it to be pretty! The PSU arrived after about 2 days and I finally power the system on. It wasn't what it is now but it was a start and enough to at least get things running. Since then as I was able to recognize my needs a bit better and as my work has advanced the build has adapted into what you see here today.

First let's start with the CPU ... the FX-8350 that I traded for worked for a couple weeks before it gave up the goat so I needed to replace it to get the system running again. I don't need maximum CPU power for this system so to keep the cost minimal, I turned to Ebay to pickup a FX-6300 which cost me about $30 US. Even with the now dead CPU, I still don't feel like I got a bad trade from the guy on Craigslist. The new CPU has worked great for me since I picked it up - in fact I'm running a modest overclock of 4.0GHz on it.

Storage - after a while I realized that the simple ssd mirror I was using wasn't going to quite work as well as I needed long term. I picked up 4x Crucial MX500 500GB Sata SSDs from Best Buy. This would give me plenty of storage for the containers I'm running as well as a really nice performance boost running the drives in what can be thought of as a RAID10 configuration - though ZFS doesn't technically do RAID10 (yes, I manually installed Ubuntu Server on top of a ZFS pool for this system). To serve as ZFS write cache for these drives, I also picked up 2x 256GB TeamGroup NVMe drives and adapters from Sabrent to allow me to slot them into PCIe slots. Rounding out the storage configuration - I had a 2TB 3.5" Toshiba HDD in my storage box that I could spare to store backups of the containers - then those .tar.gz files would be backed up to the cloud. For a while I was using 2x 128GB TeamGroup NVMe drives similar to the other pair for the purpose of being a write cache for the 2TB HDD but those didn't stick around long.

To that end, in order to have 4x NVMe drives in this system I would need to replace the GPU to free up it's PCIe x16 slot. I picked up the Matrox Millenium G550 GPU that uses a x1 slot off Ebay for $25. Seeing as this system doesn't *need* to be hooked to a display at all times, the GPU only really needs to allow for a command prompt. The Matrox card was a perfect solution to this problem.

Next let's talk networking. As time progressed I have added some containers to the system that I felt needed their own dedicated network connections. My options here were either to pickup a 1 port PCI (not PCIe) card for the only available slot (which would have poor system bandwidth and not enough ports for my needs) or to remove the write cache drives for the 2TB hard disk. I opted for removing the drives and once again turned to Ebay where for $20 I picked up an old 4 port adapter from Dell.

Bringing this build to a conclusion, with the additional SSD capacity and the additional network ports I was able to temporarily decommission my other FX-6300 system. Plans for that box are to turn it into a proper NAS box with 6x HDDs and lots of memory for ZFS. With it being decommissioned, I moved the 8GB of DDR3 memory that it was using to this box bringing the total up to 24GB (running at DDR3-1866 CL9).

The system is running containers for HAProxy, Nginx, Nextcloud, Pi-hole, Gitea, Syncthing, Uptime Kuma, Ubuntu Landscape, Akaunting, and Minio - with additional containers likely as time goes on.

There are a lot of haters on the old AMD FX chips - and I get they weren't that great for heavy computation or gaming - but for situations like these they make pretty decent home lab boxes. Eventually, once I'm able to pickup the $800 in parts I need for the storage system (mostly drives) I'll get it posted up here as well.
Color(s): Black Blue
RGB Lighting? No
Theme: none
Cooling: Air Cooling
Size: ATX
Type: General Build


$ 44.47
AMD - FX-6300
Socket: AM3+
Cores: 6
Chipset: 990FX
CPU Socket: AM3+
Size: ATX
G.Skill - Ripjaws X (2133MHz) (Blue/Black)
Type: DDR3
Capacity: 16 GB
$ 23.99
G.Skill - Sniper (1866MHz) (Black)
Type: DDR3
Capacity: 8 GB
Matrox - Millennium
Chip Manufacturer: Matrox
Chip: G550
Interface: PCIe x1
$ 195.96
Crucial - MX500 (4x)
Form Factor: 2.5 Inch
Interface: SATA 6 Gb/s
Capacity: 500 GB
$ 51.98
TeamGroup - MP33 (2x)
Form Factor: M.2
Interface: PCIe x4
Capacity: 256 GB
$ 94.00
Toshiba - P300
Form Factor: 3.5 Inch
Interface: SATA 6 Gb/s
Capacity: 2 TB
$ 61.35
EVGA - 100-BR-0500-K1
Wattage: 500
Form Factor: ATX
Efficiency: 80+ Bronze
Corsair - iCUE 220T Airflow (Black/RGB)
Type: Mid-Tower
Side Panel: Tempered Glass
RGB: Yes
Case Fan
$ 53.90
Case Fan
$ 24.75
$ 258.02
AMD - Wraith (FX-8350)
Type: Air Cooler
$ 41.69
$ 35.96
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