Michael Sage

IT, Digital & Culture

Yummy, yummy Pis – June 2022 Update

Yummy, yummy Pi's - June 2022 Update

I’ve decided this will become a running update of the Pi’s I am using and what I am doing with them. Updates will be posted to the top of the page.

Pi Board and spare Pi

June 2022 – Update

Even more has changed, you can now run proxmox and OPNSense (both limited) on pi’s. I hope both these projects mature, as OPNSense Pi at the caravan would be amazing and a proxmox quorum pi at home would help a lot!

Ironically the Pi shortage has got worse and isn’t likely to improve for another year or so, I no longer us Pi’s behind TVs so I have managed to get some back into rotation

So here we go:

    • Pi 4 2Gb – OctoPi
    • Pi 4 2Gb – Pi Sync
    • Pi 4 2Gb – Pi KVM
    • Pi 4 2Gb – Caravan HA
    • Pi 4 2Gb – Caravan Pi
    • Pi 4 2Gb – Frame Pi
    • Pi 4 4Gb – CCTV Pi
    • Pi 400 – Study Pi
    • Pi 3b + – Wildlife Cam

Spare Pi’s

    • 2x Pi 2
    • Pi 3+
    • Pi 4 8Gb 
    • Pi 4 1Gb
    • Pi Pico
    • 2x Zero WH 
    • Zero
    • Zero 2

May 2021 – Update

A lot has changed in home Pi world… ESX for ARM has been released and I’ve been testing this, it works and is stable. Hopefully OPNSense will come to the Pi natively and then there will be some interesting opportunities to run Pi firewalls, I have looked at OpenWRT on the Pi, but prefer the completeness of the xSense ecosystem. I’ve upgraded a couple of Pi’s due to performance issues. I have also migrated the Pi 400 to SSD and it’s a lot quicker. I have been keeping an eye on SD card performance and have settled on Samsung Evo Plus and SanDisk Ultras / Extreme.  There appears to be a shortage of 2Gb Pi’s at the moment, I need an additional one to replace the Pi in the kitchen which I am currently using for the CCTV Pi.

A full list below:

    • Pi 4 1Gb – CCTV Pi (upgraded from a Pi 3+ for more streams (including 3D printer and new Eufy Cams)
    • Pi 4 2Gb – OctoPi (3D printer control)
    • Pi 4 2Gb – Pi Sync
    • Pi 4 2Gb – Pi KVM
    • Pi 4 2Gb – Caravan HA
    • Pi 4 2Gb – Caravan Pi
    • Pi 4 4Gb – Bedroom Kodi
    • Pi 400 – Study Pi

Spare Pi (s)

    • 2x Pi 2
    • 2x Pi 3+
    • Pi 4 8Gb (currently testing ARM ESXi)
    • Pi Pico
    • Zero WH
    • Zero
  • December 2020 – Update

In addition to the Pi’s below, I now have two more in use

    • Pi 2 – Backup Pi – Using rsync and rclone to manage all my backups locally and to sync to OneDrive for Business.
    • Pi 4 2Gb – Pi KVM – Find out more in this post 

I have also managed to purchase a Pi 2 v1.2 to go on the Pi versions board. This completes my collection of historical Pi Bs. When the next version of Pi’s come out the Pi 4’s will slowly be retired to the board!

I am also working on a project with Pi Zero WH’s to create a multizone audio system using Volumio, this project will make use of HifiBerry’s popular DAC Hats as well as some custom integration work. I currently have 3 Pi “audio zones” and am awaiting the hats to begin testing.

Spare Pi(s)

    • Pi 2, Pi 3+, Pi 4 8Gb
    • Pi Zero WH
    • Pi 2 1.2 ready for mounting

Retired Pi(s)

    • Pi 3+ – First home assistant server migrated to new proxmox host

Why no love for the Pi A or Compute module? Although I have a good collection of old Pi’s you may notice that I don’t have any Pi A or Pi Compute modules on the list. This is because I don’t use them! I’ve never had a use for the compute modules. I do have a Pi A in a wildlife camera, but this currently isn’t being used. I love the Pi B and Zero form factors which is why I use them the most, if I have a project that ever uses the other form factors, I may well collect the back catalogue of those too!

Original Post – November 5th

From the moment they were announced I knew that the way I did computing at home had changed. Ideal as test boxes, development, media players and now even mini ESX servers! I’ve used them for many things…

The Pi’s I currently have in use are:

    • Pi 4 1Gb – Kitchen LibreELEC 
    • Pi 4 2Gb – 2nd Device in Lego Room
    • Pi 4 4Gb – Bedroom LibreELEC
    • Pi 400 – 2nd Device in Study 
    • Pi 3+ – CCTV Viewer
    • Pi 3+ – Garage
    • Pi 3+ – Home Assistant 

I have used them for other projects in the past including getting started with Home Assistant, mini ESXi Server, custom automations, OSMC media player, Plex Server, learning things with Ali, Wildlife Cameras, the list goes on. I hope they are around for a long time to come!

In the gallery below you can see the latest Pi 400, my display of Pi’s from the original Pi to the Pi 3 B+ (with space for the Pi4 1, 2, 4Gb version… the 8Gb version will start a new board). Next are my Pi’s ready for use (Pi Zero WH, Pi 3 B+ and Pi 4 8Gb), I also have a Pi 2 in the cupboard should I need something older to play with and yes that is a ZX Spectrum +2 behind them. Finally my Pi Zero Board up to the latest Pi Zero WH. 

Proxmox Nagios Monitoring

Using the excellent check_pve.rb script I have setup comprehensive monitoring for proxmox servers, both locally and remotely.

In case the script disappears, here are some useful bits

pveum useradd monitoring@pve -comment "Monitoring User"
pveum passwd monitoring@pve
pveum roleadd PVE_monitoring -privs "Datastore.Audit,Sys.Audit,Sys.Modify,VM.Audit"
pveum aclmod / -user monitoring@pve -role PVE_monitoring


check_pve v0.2.5 []

This plugin checks various parameters of Proxmox Virtual Environment via API(v2)

    cluster         Checks quorum of cluster
    smart           Checks SMART health of disks
    updates         Checks for available updates
    subscription    Checks for valid subscription
    services        Checks if services are running
    storage         Checks storage usage in percentage
    cpu             Checks CPU usage in percentage
    memory          Checks Memory usage in gigabytes
    io_wait         Checks IO wait in percentage
    net_in          Checks inbound network usage in kilobytes
    net_out         Checks outbound network usage in kilobytes
    ksm             Checks KSM sharing usage in megabytes
    vm_cpu          Checks CPU usage in percentage
    vm_disk_read    Checks how many kb last 60s was read (timeframe: hour)
    vm_disk_write   Checks how many kb last 60s was written (timeframe: hour)
    vm_net_in       Checks incoming kb from last 60s (timeframe: hour)
    vm_net_out      Checks outgoing kb from last 60s (timeframe: hour)

Usage: check_pve.rb [options]

    -s, -H, --address ADDRESS        PVE host address
    -k, --insecure                   No SSL verification
    -m, --mode MODE                  Mode to check
    -n, --node NODE                  PVE Node name
    -u, --username USERNAME          Username with auth realm e.g. monitoring@pve
    -p, --password PASSWORD          Password
    -w, --warning WARNING            Warning threshold
    -c, --critical CRITICAL          Critical threshold
        --name NAME                  Name for storage
    -i, --vmid VMID                  Vmid of lxc,qemu
    -t, --type TYPE                  VM type lxc or qemu
    -x, --exclude EXCLUDE            Exclude (regex)
        --timeframe TIMEFRAME        Timeframe for vm checks: hour,day,week,month or year
        --cf CONSOLIDATION_FUNCTION  RRD cf: average or max
    -v, --version                    Print version information
    -h, --help                       Show this help message

Proxmox P2V Migration

Windows Physical Server to Proxmox

I am fortunate enough that even with my main job, I am allowed to take side hustles. These are normally technical in nature, something that my primary role doesn’t involve so much any more, and I only take the ones that give me an opportunity to learn.

Just before Christmas a friend got in touch, one of their customers was being charged a huge amount for colocation of a single server (as it turns out protected by a woefully under powered firewall). I hadn’t done a physical to virtual migration (P2V) in about 10 years so I quoted for the job and we won the business. 

As part of the quote we suggested a trial migration, as the customer was wary of virtualisation, their current provider had actively discouraged it. It was time to find a P2V solution… In the past I have used the vmware convertor tool, there were two issues with this, firstly it hasn’t been updated in years (and has now been pulled) and secondly I wanted a proxmox compatible disk at the end.

Looking for new tool proved harder than I expected, until I stumbled upon Disk2vhd, a tool provided by Microsoft’s sysinternals “brand”. This tool will create a VHDX (or VHD) file for a physical drive and yes you can save it to the same drive! 

Disk2vhd GUI

As you can see the GUI for Disk2vhd is incredibly easy to use.  I learnt a couple of things, the first is to make sure you create the image at a disk level not a partition level else you end up with a confusing set of VHDs. Also don’t create one VHD and then disk2VHD that partition (because the image gets huge).

Once you have the VHDx images copy them to your proxmox server and convert them to qcow2

qemu-img convert -O qcow2 /var/lib/vz/harddrives/XXXX.vhdx /var/lib/vz/images/xxx/vm-xxx-disk-X.qcow2

That’s it, Disk2vhd is such a great tool and it’s available for free and appears to be updated!

Now you have the qcow images you can add them to your target VM. You will need to do a little prework to the VM before you can get the best performance. 

What I did:

– Create an empty 1Gb disk with the virtio controller (this forces the virtio driver install)
– Add the converted disk(s) to the VM as IDE
– Boot the server off the IDE disks
– Install the latest virtio drivers
– Change the IDE disks to virtio and remove the empty disk
– Boot and check

The live migration has been booked and I will update this post once this is complete with any further information.


Backing up a Pi (with USB HDD)

Pi Backup

Time for another text based pi article.. sorry!

Attach the USB disk to the pi.

Next download pi shrink

sudo chmod +x
sudo mv /usr/local/bin

Next check for the correct paths


Now run a dd copy to create the image

sudo dd if=/dev/mmcblk0 of=[mount point]/myimg.img bs=1M

Finally shrink the image

sudo -z myimg.img

You now have a size optimized image that you can restore using the “official” pi image writer software. You can stick this in a cron job to create a regular image backup of any pi.


If you are cloning to test or deploy into another Pi, you will need to delete the VNC config or you will get a “cloned” error in the VNC client and it could stop working. Luckily it’s simple to fix, on the cloned machine do the following:

sudo systemctl stop vncserver-x11-serviced
sudo rm -rf /root/.vnc
sudo systemctl start vncserver-x11-serviced

ZFS Expand with new disk

I realised that one of my 3Tb drives was very, very old. It wasn’t failing yet, but it would probably be best to proactively replaced it. The other drive in the mirror is a 4Tb drive, so I took the opportunity to buy another 4Tb drive and add it to the ZFS mirror… This was so simple it’s scary. Firstly I removed the old drive from the mirror.
#zpool detach <Pool Name> <Device to Remove>

i.e #zpool detach SATAPool sdd
Then I shutdown the machine removed the old drive and put the new one in. When the box rebooted I added the new disk to the mirror.
#zpool attach <Pool Name> <Existing Disk><New Disk>

i.e #zpool attach SATAPool sdc sdd
I let it resilver… but it didn’t auto expand. The main reason for this was I didn’t have autoexpand turned on.
#zpool set autoexpand=on <Pool Name>
This didn’t fix the issue, but it did show the space was available.  The next thing I did was to use the online -e on every disk in the mirror.
#zpool online -e <Pool Name> <Disk Name>

i.e. #zpool online -e SATAPool sdd
And then I had an extra Tb to play with!

Hyper-v to Proxmox

This one is going to be word and code heavy.

Firstly shutdown the hyper-v gen2 VM.

Copy the VHDX to the proxmox server, remember you will need twice the space of the VHDX available temporarily to completed the move.

Create the VM on Proxmox, you will need to create it using a OVMF (UEFI) BIOS. You will also need to create a 1Gb virtio hard disk (again this is temporarily)

Make a note of the VM ID (i.e. 103), you’ll need this to import the hard disk.

Once the VHDX is copied across you need to import the disk

 qm importdisk VMID SORCEDISK.vhdx DATASTORE --format qcow2

i.e. qm importdisk 103 /tmp/data.vhdx SATA –format qcow2

This will then import the disk to the VM.

Next you need to head over to the VM in proxmox and attach the disk in the gui, you will need to install it as SATA or IDE (not virtio yet)

Boot the machine up into windows, install the latest tools, the temporary 1Gb disk we installed earlier will mean the virtio drivers are installed.

Shut the VM down, remove and reattach your windows drive as virtio, remove and delete the temporary 1Gb drive and turn the machine back on. If your machine had a static IP you will need to readd it, you may get a warning about it being assigned to another NIC. You can ignore this, however, I would recommend removing it at some point!

You can now delete the VHDX file you copied to the proxmox server

Job done!

Pi Rack & Pi KVM

Pi Rack

I decided that I wanted to tidy up my lack rack and put my two Pi’s rack mounted and out of the way. 

The first pi is a backup “server” it runs rsync and has a 3Tb USB drive, it is a staging server between my backups and OneDrive sync. This was easy to do, I printed one module and one pi rack module, works great! I am thinking I might PoE my rack mount Pi’s but this would mean two HATs and a PoE switch for the study.

The second Pi is my Pi KVM, this Pi is slightly more complex as it has some external components, these are mounted in a case, this case was too big for the module, so I 3D printed cases for the individual cases for the rack module. This has tidied it up and it now fits snuggly in the module.

I have done a lot of 3D printing to support the Pi Rack and Pi KVM components, you can see them on the media carousel, links are below.

The printed components are; Modular Pi Rack, USB power splitter case and HDMI to CSI-2 case.

A Couple of PDFs…

Over the last couple of months I have relied on a couple of web articles to get me through particularly specific issues. I hope these sites will remain available forever… However, I have “printed” the sites to PDFs to make sure they are available should the sites disappear / migrate / melt… etc

pfSense - Mikrotik Open VPN

The key piece of information in this one is around the client specific override!

Unifi CK2+ Backup

How to backup a Unifi controller / CK2+ using the amazing rclone.

Proxmox vTPM Win 11

A guide for setting up vTPM for virtual machines running on proxmox 7 (NB: This is no longer needed as proxmox 7 now has vTPM built in)

SES – SNS -Lamdba – Dynamodb – Alllll the AWS

I’ve been using SES for a while for sending email from servers.

A few months ago one of my servers was compromised and I discovered there is no such thing as good logging in SES…. whooops… Amazon suspended my account and this lead me to investigate how I could get some visibility of SES logging. This was considerably harder than I would have thought. There are no SMTP logs, not real recording of any information and no diagnostics. I nearly left SES for this, then I decided to use it as a learning opportunity to understand more about AWS & SES.

I used this guide to get it all working:

Hopefully this site never goes down, if so I will need to write my own guide! 

It’s easy to add extra fields to the database. These are all the objects available

Finally this docker image allows you to connect to dynamodb easily

The only thing I haven’t managed to do is find out which IAM user actually sent the email… I need to do more research on this to try and enhance my logging further.

Emergency Pi Zero

I have had a couple of requirements recently where I have needed to leave a device onsite for remote access. I initially thought that the best way to handle this would be to put a pi onsite that joined my VPN and then I could connect to all the machines on the remote network and do my troubleshooting like that…

I looked at my pi shelf and there looking all little and shiny was a Pi Zero… At this point I thought to myself… what do I actually need from this device.



I have a couple of Emergency Linux VMs on dedicated servers that run a lightweight GUI with pretty much just a web browser. These emergency VMs work with VNC, but VNC isn’t running all the time. You SSH into them and as part of the login it fires up a VNC session and when you log off it tears the connection down. So you SSH in with 2FA, this starts the VNC Server (with a password), when you finish you log out and it clears down the VNC session. I also installed a cron job that checks the devices external IP address and emails you when it changes (for when it goes into a residential setting).

Here’s how it’s setup

  • Install Raspberry OS (with desktop)
  • Enable SSH
  • Add to .bashrc

if [[ -n $SSH_CONNECTION ]] ;

  • Add to .bash_logout

 vncserver kill :1

When you arrive onsite, connect the pi zero to the network, add a port forward for port 22 and 5901 to the pi. Check the IP emailer works (see link above).