Expert Opinions on Tech Gear (and Software)
Our hands are on a lot of hardware – routers, switches, hard drives, NVMe drives, RAM, pre-built servers, whitebox servers, cables, keyboards, laptops, monitors (the list goes on) as well as software. Here’s a list of some of our favorites that we like to use either in our home offices, main office, data centers, and anywhere else. The hardware and software listed here is not an endorsement, but a recommendation. Also, not all software listed here is FOSS. While we try to use as much FOSS as possible, it’s not always possible. We strongly prefer to use FOSS over a proprietary alternative, but sometimes, there isn’t a choice or even a usable option. This is why we try to give back as much as possible to the FOSS software we use so it doesn’t go away.
This page will always be a work in progress and will always change. Please keep coming back to see what we’re using, what we like, and what we think you’ll like, too.
If you have been looking for a CentOS-replacement, this is it. When Red Hat announced that CentOS 8 was going EOL on December 31, 2021, far sooner than the original 2029 date, CloudLinux stepped up and pledged a free replacement to CentOS 8 called AlmaLinux.
AlmaLinux is officially supported by cPanel which makes it great for web hosting, features bug-for-bug compatibility with RHEL 8, and is non-profit and community supported.
Whether you are looking for git in the cloud or git on-prem, GitLab is a great choice. It’s a powerful suite of tools that gives you git version control, CI/CD, project management, and more. When compared to the other alternatives such as Gitea, GitLab is a great choice when you need the features. Although nothing against Gitea! We just needed the horsepower that GitLab offers!
We have been using Proxmox VE for a really long time as our primary virtualization hypervisor. We found it over 10 years ago when we were looking for a VMware ESXi alternative that wasn’t going to break the bank. We love Proxmox VE so much, we use it to host VPS servers on as well as for our internal infrastructure. Built on top of Debian, Proxmox VE is a powerful alternative to many Type 1 hypervisors by utilizing KVM as well as LXC (Linux Containers).
One of the best benefits about Proxmox VE, is that it’s far less picky about what hardware it can run on. A server with a Xeon 5520 can still run the latest version.
When you’re looking for a great NAS option that is open, stable, and flexible, we love TrueNAS Core. It powers our central file share for our Team Members, as well as some of our internal NFS shares. TrueNAS Core is built on top of FreeBSD so it’s rock-solid. It is also extremely flexible. You can run it from a VM or bare metal. It will also handle ZFS like a pro, automatically running periodic scrubs so you know your data is good. There really is nothing better! Of course, if you need a little more, purchase a hardware appliance from iXsystems and enjoy extras like high availability, white glove support, and more.
This is a mechanical keyboard like no other! It’s a space saving 75% mechanical keyboard. You can order it with Blue, Brown, or Red switches – we opted for Brown. It can be used as either a wired or wireless keyboard and it also features bluetooth connectivity and you can pair it up to 3 different devices. Back lit for those late nights or just for ambiance, it also has several different lighting patterns.
Battery life can be kind of iffy – there is a sleep mode which can help you prolong the battery, but waking the keyboard up after it drifts to sleep can be a several second delay. We use ours wired, but if we’re using them with a tablet, we’ll use wireless. This has easily become one of our favorite keyboards!
Supermicro hardware is some of the best to work with. The majority IPMI functions are available without a license (unlike Dell’s iDRAC or HPE’s iLO), which means it’s easy to manage the system out of band. The pit fall is that Supermicro doesn’t like to update older boards, so while you can get an X9 at a great price point (and we actually have some X9 boards in production), IPMI requires Java. The newer X11 boards do offer an HTML5 IPMI console.
Unlike HPE servers which are notoriously picky about their hardware components, Supermicro is much more forgiving. While they still have certified hardware, throwing in the wrong disk drive won’t cause your system to think it’s in thermal runaway.
Buying Supermicro is the only thing we don’t like. They’ve only recently started selling direct, but for most systems you have to buy the parts and assemble yourself (though, this is one of our favorite reasons as we love working with hardware). You can buy refurbished systems on eBay or barebones kits on Newegg.