home lab

Proxmox Homelab: First 5 Basic Configuration Steps

Discover 5 essential steps to set up your Proxmox homelab from repository configuration, network configuration, and cluster setup

Proxmox VE is becoming a favorite among home lab enthusiasts or those who want to easily stand up a hypervisor host at home to play around with different types of technology. After you install Proxmox VE, what are the basic steps to get up and running so you can start playing around with VMs and containers? This post will cover the first 5 basic steps you will want to consider.

First 5 Proxmox homelab configuration steps

Note the following first 5 steps for building your Proxmox home lab:

  1. Update the subscription repository configuration

  2. Add VLAN tagging

  3. Add additional storage

  4. Pull down container images and create VM templates

  5. Setup a cluster

1. Update the subscription repository configuration

Starting your journey with Proxmox in your homelab, the first important step is updating the subscription repository configuration. Most who run Proxmox in their home lab will not have an enterprise subscription. Rather you will want to take advantage of the community repositories.

It is important to update your “update repository configuration” in Proxmox since it comes pointed to the enterprise repositories out of the box. Updates are extremely important from a security perspective and make sure you have the latest patches for known vulnerabilities and stability updates.

Steps Overview

  • Install Proxmox: Begin by installing Proxmox VE on your server.

  • Update Repository Configuration: You can change the repository configuration within the web interface or the command line. The repository configuration sets the source of updates for the correct subscription repository, for either a paid support subscription or running the free version of Proxmox.

You can read my full write up in more detail on how to do this step here: Proxmox Update No Subscription Repository Configuration. However, for the quick notes, the files listed in comments below and the changes you need to make. This is both for Proxmox itself and Ceph, which changed a bit in Proxmox 8. Before you didn’t have to update the Ceph repository.

#/etc/apt/sources.list.d/pve-enterprise.list

From: deb https://enterprise.proxmox.com/debian/pve bookworm enterprise
To: deb http://download.proxmox.com/debian/pve bookworm pve-no-subscription

#/etc/apt/sources.list.d/ceph.list
From: deb https://enterprise.proxmox.com/debian/ceph-quincy bookworm enterprise
To: deb http://download.proxmox.com/debian/ceph-quincy bookworm no-subscription
Configuring proxmox community updates
Configuring proxmox community updates

2. Add VLAN tagging

Adding VLAN tagging is important for creating a segmented and secure home network. It allows for the isolation of network traffic, which enhances security and allows carving up traffic for virtual machines and managing your Proxmox server.

For instance, creating VLAN tagging in Proxmox allows you to run VMs in a DMZ, LAN, Servers, or other VLANs as you see fit.

Steps Overview

  • Configure Network Interface: Use the Proxmox web interface or command line to configure the network interface and add VLAN tagging. Define the VLAN ID and assign it to your setup’s respective virtual machines or docker containers.

  • Test Configuration: After configuring, it’s important to test and ensure that the VLAN tagging is working as expected, with traffic being isolated and routed appropriately.

Read the full detailed post on how to configure Proxmox VLANs here: Proxmox Management Interface VLAN tagging configuration. Below are a couple of the steps.

Configuring the linux bridge interface
Configuring the linux bridge interface

Checking the box for VLAN aware on your Linux Bridge.

Making the bridge vlan aware
Making the bridge vlan aware

3. Add Additional Storage

Storage is the backbone of your Proxmox homelab. With many storage options available for Proxmox like local, shared, and HCI with Ceph, and ZFS pool configurations, you can have plenty of space, flexibility, and redundancy.

Generally speaking, you will want to create some type of bulk storage aside from the Proxmox installation for your virtualization host, to keep these separated.

Local storage is fast, shared storage offers accessibility and supports clustering, which we will talk about below.

HCI with Ceph provides scalability and redundancy, making your homelab resilient and versatile. So, it depends on your preferred storage technology.

Ceph storage status for the cluster
Ceph storage status for the cluster

Read my write up of configuring HCI storage with Ceph here: Mastering Ceph Storage Configuration in Proxmox 8 Cluster.

Watch my video on Proxmox Ceph here:

Overview of steps

  • Identify Storage Needs: Evaluate your storage requirements based on the virtual machines and data you plan to handle. Do you need fast and redundant storage? What resiliency level do you need?

  • Add Local and Shared Storage: Integrate additional local and shared storage units to the Proxmox server. Configure the added storage through the web interface, making it accessible for VM creation and data storage.

  • Implement HCI with Ceph: For those requiring advanced solutions, implement Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) with Ceph, enhancing your lab’s storage capabilities with scalability and redundancy.

  • Provision an iSCSI LUN or ZFS mirror configuration: Provision an iSCSI LUN to your Proxmox server and add storage that you may already have configured via a Synology NAS or TrueNAS configuration.

Learn how to configure a Proxmox iSCSI LUN here: Proxmox iSCSI target to Synology NAS. Below are a couple of screenshots of adding an iSCSI LUN on a Synology NAS.

Add a new iscsi target in proxmox
Add a new iscsi target in proxmox
Add a new lvm in proxmox
Add a new lvm in proxmox

4. Pull down container images and create VM templates

Having a repository of container images and VM templates drastically cuts down on the time for deployment of virtual environments, whether these are running Ubuntu Server or Windows Server VMs. This approach is time-efficient, reducing the redundancy of configuring virtual machines and docker containers from scratch every time.

Steps Overview

  • Pull Container Images: Using the Proxmox interface, you can pull down container images from public or private registries.

  • Create VM Templates: You can build virtual machines with designated memory, CPU, and storage configurations. Templates are like blueprints for rapid deployment of VMs in your Proxmox environment. They save all the work that you have performed on a single VM and carry this work forward into the template so you don’t have to “reinvent the wheel” so to speak.

Navigate to your Proxmox storage that is configured for storing CT templates. Click Templates. It will launch a dialog box displaying the available LXC containers you can pull down. Click the template you want and then click Download.

Container templates available in proxmox
Container templates available in proxmox

Creating a virtual machine template is easy. Power off an existing virtual machine that you want to use as your VM template. Then right-click and select Convert to template.

Convert a virtual machine to a template in proxmox
Convert a virtual machine to a template in proxmox

What can you do with a virtual machine template? You can clone new VMs. After you have created a VM template, right-click the VM template and select Clone. It will launch the dialog box below. You can create either a Linked Clone or a Full Clone:

  • Linked Clone – The linked clone is faster to create since it uses the base disk of the parent VM template.
  • Full Clone – It creates a completely standalone virtual machine in Proxmox from the VM Template.
Creating a clone of a virtual machine template
Creating a clone of a virtual machine template

5. Setup a cluster

Setting up a cluster brings high availability to your home lab environment built on Proxmox. A Proxmox cluster creates a “pool” of Proxmox servers that function as a single logical entity, allowing your VMs to move back and forth between them and providing redundancy in case of failures of a single Proxmox homelab datacenter node.

It also provides for a measure of load balancing, improved performance, and high availability of resources and services.

Steps Overview

  • Planning: Figure out how many nodes will be in the cluster. What are their roles?

  • Cluster Configuration: Through the Proxmox VE interface, initiate the cluster creation process. Add nodes to the cluster, ensuring they communicate and operate together as a single unit.

  • Verification & Testing: After setup, verify the cluster’s functionality. Conduct tests to move resources between your cluster hosts and ensure data and resources are efficiently distributed and accessible across the cluster. The step of testing helps make sure the cluster meets your homelab needs.

Read my full write up on how to create a Proxmox cluster here: Proxmox cluster installation and configuration.

Creating a proxmox ve cluster using the web ui
Creating a proxmox ve cluster using the web ui

Frequently Asked Questions

What storage technologies work best with a Proxmox homelab?

Many prefer ZFS as the storage technology of choice with Proxmox due to its advanced features, including snapshots, cloning, and data integrity assurance. For fast and redundant storage, many consider setting up a ZFS pool or a ZFS mirror.

If you require bulk storage, additional hard disks, and SSD disks can be easily added. ZFS pools can be created natively in Proxmox, or you could use the ZFS functionality of TrueNAS, etc.

Which operating systems are supported on Proxmox VE?

Proxmox supports many different guest operating systems: Linux distributions like Ubuntu Server, Windows Server, and LXC containers. You can also run Docker containers directly on your Proxmox host, which isn’t supported but works.

How does Proxmox facilitate virtualization on the homelab server?

Proxmox primarily functions as a virtualization host. With Proxmox installed, your server can host multiple virtual machines (VMs) and containers, each with a distinct operating system and application set.

How is data managed within a Proxmox setup?

Proxmox provides many options for data management and storage. Data can be stored on local storage devices attached to your Proxmox server or in shared storage accessible to all nodes in your cluster setup. Advanced users may also explore HCI with Ceph for a scalable, redundant data storage solution.

How do I access and manage Proxmox in my homelab?

Most users when they get started will want to manage Proxmox using the web interface. Using the web UI you can create and manage virtual machines, adjust storage configurations, set up clusters, and other administrative tasks. However, there is also a command-line interface (CLI) for system management for those who may want to automate certain tasks.

Can I expand my Proxmox homelab in the future?

You can add additional NICs for network expansion, integrate more storage (whether local or shared), or even add more Proxmox servers for a multi-node cluster setup. These expansions allow your homelab to grow and adapt to changing learning, testing, and development needs.

How secure is a Proxmox homelab setup?

Security with Proxmox is like layers of an onion, as it is with other hypervisors. It involves a combination of network security measures, and regular system updates to name a couple. Secure installation practices include using strong passwords, configuring firewalls, and disabling unused services. Regular updates and patches are crucial to maintaining a secure Proxmox environment, safeguarding your homelab from potential vulnerabilities and threats.

How do I get started with installing Proxmox?

Starting with Proxmox installation, you’ll need a clean server with adequate hardware resources to host the virtual machines and other resources you want to serve. For installation, prepare a USB drive with the Proxmox install ISO image, insert it into the server, and boot from it.

The installation process involves selecting the hard disk for installing the Proxmox VE, configuring the system’s network, and setting the admin password to commence further configurations and setup.

Wrapping up

Proxmox is an excellent hypervisor for hosting your homelab environment. It has many features and capabilities and you can install it for free. As shown in the post, there are certain steps you will want to go through when you first install Proxmox and get it ready for hosting your home lab services. These include configuring your update settings, enabling the VLAN configuration on the bridge interface, adding local, shared, or HCI storage, creating VM templates, and finally, setting up a Proxmox cluster.

Are these the only tasks you will want to complete? No, there are certainly other things you may want to do, but these are the basics and will allow getting a general configuration on your Proxmox host up and running.

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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at Virtualizationhowto.com and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, Brandon has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family.

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6 Comments

  1. Thank you for the article! But why go into the file to change the package server, if in the web gui you can immediately select the pve-no-subscription server?

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