Preface

A homelab is often a place dedicated to messing around with enterprise equipment and software in the home. A lot of people in the IT industry utilize a homelab to learn new technologies and others simply because it interests them. Homelabs are largely used for experimenting and while they are fun, they are often also expensive. Below you will find a list of what I consider to be the best homelab software. While many more software solutions exist out there, I decided to simply list the ones that I have personally had a chance to work with and configure, so if you're looking for a list of homelab must-haves, the list below should give you a general idea of what to look for or research.

Networking Software

pfSense - Usually the go-to software firewall as it includes many enterprise options and has very simple management that's great for majority of the users. pfSense is an open source firewall & router software based on FreeBSD. It gets installed on physical computers or virtual machines to make a dedicated firewall and router for a network. It is often regarded as being very reliable and offering features that you'll usually only find in expensive commercial firewalls.

Sophos UTM Home Edition - Sophos UTM 9 Home offers enterprise-grade Firewall protection and other features for free. It features full network, web, mail and web application security with VPN functionality and protects up to 50 IP addresses.

Sophos XG Firewall Home Edition - Sophos XG Firewall Home offers the 'Next-Gen' enterprise firewall protection and is the successor to UTM 9 mentioned above. Much like UTM 9, this is actually a free tool as well and features full protection for your home network including anti-malware, web security, URL filtering, IPS, traffic shaping, application control, VPN, reporting / monitoring and more.

Update on 10/26/2019:

I am currently running the following network devices on my home network:

UniFi Security Gateway 4P

Unifi Switch 8 POE-150W

Unifi AP-AC-Pro

All these devices are managed through a self hosted Unifi controller running on VMware ESXI.

Storage Software

unRAID - A network-attached storage (NAS) operating system that can be run from a USB stick to share hard drives. The newest versions enable dual-parity drives, caching and allow for up to 24 assignable hard drives.

FreeNAS - FreeNAS is an operating system that can be installed on virtually any hardware platform in order to share hard drive storage over a computer network. They maintain a hardware recommendations thread on their forums that you should take a look at if you're looking to get this going without running into any issues.

ownCloud - A self-hosted file syncing and sharing server solution.

Monitoring Software

Nagios - A powerful monitoring system that is used inside of organizations and can help identify and resolve IT infrastructure related problems before they affect critical business processes.

PRTG - A network monitoring software that's super powerful and extremely ease to use. Free for 100 sensors.

Configuration Management

Ansible - An open source software that fully automates software provisioning, config management and application deployment. It utilizes SSH, PowerShell and other remote API's to connect.

Media Software

Plex - This is a media server software package that organizes all of your media and can allow you access to it anywhere in the world on nearly any devices. It supports multiple file formats with files such as movies, music and photos and also support transcoding media to devices that don't support it.

Emby - A personal media server for streaming movies, TV, music and photos in mobile apps or browsers for all sorts of devices including Android, iOS, windows phones, AppleTV, android TV's and more.

Kodi - An award winning free and open source software media center for playing videos, games, pictures, music and much more. It runs on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS and Android and has a 10 foot user interface for use with TV's and remote controls.

Sonarr - Sonarr is a PVR for Usenet and BitTorrent users. It monitors multiple RSS feeds for new episodes of your favorite shows and can grab, sort and rename them. Has support for windows, linux, macOS, Raspberry Pi and much more. I've actually covered the installation of Sonarr inside of a docker container before, you can find this blog post HERE.

Radarr - A fork of Sonarr up above that works with movies similarly to Couchpotato.

VoIP Software

Asterisk - An open source framework for building communications applications. It turns an ordinary computer into a communications server.

FreePBX - A web-based open source GUI that controls and manages Asterisk PBX.

3CX - A windows based VoIP system. Free for 16 sim. calls.

Backup Software

Veeam Endpoint Backup Free - A simple solution for backing up Windows-based desktops and laptops.

FOG - A free and open source computer cloning solution.

Unitrends Free - Virtual appliance-based backup for ESXi and Hyper-V with enterprise features such as cloud integration and instant VM recovery. Protects up to 1 TB of data for free.

Documentation Software

DocuWiki - A simple to use and feature-packed open source wiki software with no database requirement.

Confluence - A feature rich wiki software. It has a one-time cost of $10 and can be integrated with all the other Atlassian software offerings such as Jira and HipChat.

MediaWiki - A free open source software wiki package written in PHP and originally for use on Wikipedia.

Network Diagrams

Draw.io - Free online diagram creation with exporting/saving functions.

Misc.

PiHole - Pi-Hole is a DNS sinkhole that protects all of the devices on your local network from unwanted content such as advertisements and malware-infested domains without installing any client-side software. It's super easy to install and configure and is extremely responsive and lightweight. It includes a one-step automated install to make things really easy.

I will continue to update this page of the best homelab software as time goes on.

This page was last updated on October 26th, 2019.