Finally, the Netboot Raspberry Pi series concludes with this post. I will be going over both, what figuring out the actual netboot and blogging about it was like.
If you’ve followed this series, I’m hoping that you’ve learned a lot more than “just” how to produce an image that can netboot a Raspberry Pi 4. For me, the information on the side, like how the initramfs works in the Linux boot process, was more interesting than then netboot itself.
If I ever need to do something else than using a Ceph RBD as my root device, I already know that it’s not more difficult than writing a bit of Bash scripting.
This netbooting Pi setup was the trigger for me to finally get into blogging. There were a couple of comments in the Turing Pi 2 community about how netbooting Pis always felt a little bit like weaving a couple of arcane incantations and suddenly it worked. When I finally figured out how it all fit together, I wanted to share that knowledge, but Discord is not exactly the right place for long form content. So I decided to finally get started with technical blogging. That it was another thing I could self-host also helped. 😉
And I like it. Writing these articles was interesting and fun. I’ve got a lot of experience with technical writing, e.g. for JIRA tickets at work. I really would have liked for somebody to tell me beforehand that becoming a technical lead would mean I would become more familiar with whatever Atlassian calls their JIRA markup language than any actual programming language. 😅 But with these blog posts, writing felt a lot more relaxed. There was no pressure to get the posts written until a future deadline so that they could be groomed in time for the next sprint. There was no need to take into account the possibility that total newcomers would get the tickets and need an explanation of absolutely everything.
But there was one thing which was nagging me: I’ve done a CS degree at university. And while that included a lot of writing, it was that special beast that is academic writing. Not the style I wanted to go for with this blog. So is there some sort of “tech blogger style guide”? Something more substantial than “Here are 12 points each blogger should heed”? Some good book perhaps, on technical writing? I would be grateful for any and all pointers.
And I definitely need help in this area. I’ve not been thinking a lot about style in these posts, but I have already realized I committed some no-goes. For example, I’m often switching between “Next, I will…”, “Next we should…”, “Next you should…” in one and the same article. If I remember correctly, this is a bad thing. I’m hoping this hasn’t grated too much on my readers up to this point.
So what to expect in the future? I will definitely keep the blog up. As said above, writing is fun. I will be continuing with these tutorial style posts about things I’m doing in my homelab.
One important goal: Write posts about things right after I have finished them. I’ve already got a list of articles I want to write about things I have set up in the homelab since I started the netbooting Pi series, but did not start yet because I forced myself to first finish this series. I believe it is going to be more fun to write a blog article right after I have finished implementing something new, instead of keeping a long list of potential articles and writing them months after the fact.
One article I have already started is about the Udoo X86 II Ultra I set up last weekend. This machine is also netbooted, but in contrast to the Pi, it has a more “standard” PXE boot. I also had to go a different route when preparing the Packer image, so I think it will make for an interesting article.
Then I will follow up with some more generic pieces on my homelab. First, on the setup I’m currently running with, and then also one on the 10 year history of my homelab. I want to describe each stage of my homelab, why I made those decisions at the time, and what worked there and what did not.
Finally, a request: If you’ve been reading a couple of posts in this series, shoot me a short comment, for example on Twitter or, preferably, Mastodon. I am especially interested in comments on style.