Grumpy Letter to the Community


Server Wrangler
Feb 15, 2014
For those missing the reference, click here.

Once upon a time, in a room not at all far away, a thousand souls cried out in tears, horrified by the upcoming grumpiness, bad jokes and hot takes. It was the dawn of the Ericloewe era, where freedom, innovation, and community were entirely optional. My user account was born.

Today, the sun has set. That shouldn't be news to anyone, happens every day. Then light comes back. Unless you're too close to the poles, in which case I can only urge you to employ your collective wisdom to collaborate and get the hell out of there and into some sunlight. Vitamin D is important, folks. All of you (however sunlight deprived) have emerged as mostly-okay people. A couple of years ago, iX asked me to be a mod, so I just banned everyone who wasn't at least mostly-okay. Champion of progress? I don't think I've ever been called that. Problem solver, sure. Maniacal despot, yeah. Architect of change, most people agree applies, then violently disagree on the direction of the change.

Ten years later, one thing has become abundantly clear: I wouldn't be here all this time later if it weren't for the community. That's twenty thousand posts worth of my time that you've all wasted, it's incredible that a community can cause such a waste of someone's time!

So have a happy Ericloewe day. This mine post #20 000 is dedicated to all the jerks who baited me into researching something, all the clowns who made me go off on a wild tangent about god-knows-what-the-hell-I-was-ranting-about, all the chumps who figured that this one guy on the internet (me) could rescue them from whatever crap advice they got from ChatGPT, all the bozos who complained enough to make me do something about whatever their complaint was. I hope it was worth it.

With grumpiness,

In all seriousness, please don't read the above literally. Tongue firmly in cheek.

A huge Thank You to everyone who at one time or another helped out in any way - answering silly questions of mine, answering good questions from others that I just did not have the energy to tackle, preemptively addressing topics I did not even realize would matter, and of course providing the seeds of information that let me figure out how to navigate the waters of storage, build my first server with FreeNAS, and everything from there.

It's pretty crazy that after ten years, I'm at 20 000 posts. It's even crazier that the last boring lecture I attended was in 2016, for most of that time I was not even regretting my life choices that led to me being in a terrible lecture everyone else had already given up on! Yeah, if the details of pulse-doppler radar were getting too boring, the then-FreeNAS forums were my escape into something more immediately useful. Fast forward a few years, and despite my general lack of interest for fancy radar stuff, I accidentally ended up working with radar satellite images.

"Ah ha!", you say, "You regret not paying more attention, you filthy philistine!"
Nope! As it turns out, that part of the work has been done by people who are into radar, to me it's just an image, delivered in TIFF format. Around my second week, my manager was commenting during a coffee break how we needed a new NAS. As the only person on the team who could claim any sort of storage experience, naturally I ended up being the one in charge of that. And of course I immediately torpedoed any talk of Synology or QNAP (italics for disgust) - we would buy a shiny Supermicro NAS that would run FreeNAS!

A few years later, the least-troublesome part of our infrastructure was the cold storage, thanks to FreeNAS, later TrueNAS, and ZFS. Everything just worked, humming along with no problems. So obviously the next step was to ZFS all the things, all new servers would be root on ZFS, all new workstations would be root on ZFS. If the RPis were to stick around for much longer, I'd set them up with ZFS, too.

So yeah, what started as a desperate search for something that could take over from Windows Home Server 2011, after Microsoft abandoned it - and that was after they gave up on what became Storage Spaces in WHS - ended up leading to me acquiring knowledge and skills to cut down on the misery at work.

Plus my data is a lot safer than before. WHS v1 is terrifying to think of in hindsight. WHS 2011 is not as terrifying, but my box ran Intel FakeRAID. In RAID5. Yeah, it sucked.