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"Home Lab" concerns

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Quote from haplopeart on August 27, 2019, 9:52 am
I do this kind of stuff for a living, I'd get crucified (I have, and learned from it for that matter) if I released things in this manner.

Yes! I couldn't agree more. I also write software for a living, and it frustrates the heck out of me with the edgeLinux releases. Very little in the way of details, no roadmap, no input (other than just making suggestions), poor after-release support, etc. I overlooked it because edgeLinux is/was still in limited release, but it's no way to run a product.

That last set of minor upgrades (around 0.12/0.13) were horrendously painful. I still can't believe that happened.

I've been asking Antsle to minimally produce "Release Notes" (a novel concept!) with their releases for over a year. Nothing. In fact, I think the last few releases didn't even say what was in them, let alone true Release Notes.

Quote from bbergman on August 27, 2019, 9:06 am
Quote from haplopeart on August 26, 2019, 11:16 am

I'm told by some others who lost faith that UnRaid and Proxmox run real well on the hardware. <img class="emoji" src="data:;base64," alt="🙂" data-lazy-src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/12.0.0-1/svg/1f642.svg" />🙂
I'm trying to stick with it.

Yes, I'm in a similar boat. I've been a big proponent of edgeLinux and Antsle (I own the physical box as well as run multiple edgeLinux installs on custom hardware configurations), I've been an active and frequent contributor to both forums, and I've referred people to Antsle and been responsible for sales of their products and many downloads. I don't know that there is a bigger fan and supporter of Antsle out here...

I was super excited to see 2.0 be introduced, and I watched all the videos as they came out. It was quite a let down to see that this is essentially just Antman, under a paid plan, with some new UI features. I could be wrong, but it appears that Antsle owners map into the Home Lab plan, unless they wish to now start paying yearly for the Essential plan.

As a Home Lab plan user, I would even LOSE functionality because advanced networking is now gone, and it seems like I'll only get upgrades every 9 months. It's not clear, but I'm guessing that I'm still going to be limited in the number of antlets I can create and modify as an edgeLinux user. I fail to see how this is anything but a step backwards for existing owners.

The new "D" hardware looks nice, but I have yet to see specs comparing it to the XD or Avoton, so it's unclear what bump I'm getting. I am tempted by the D, but that feels like a slam that the old Avotons just weren't as great as Antsle kept touting they were.

The Essential plan seems like the equivalent of our old world, but the "catch" for me is that it's $29/CPU, which bumps up the price considerably, now on an annual basis. And I still don't get clustering or advanced networking. Again, a step backwards.

Honestly, I am on the edge of just abandoning Antsle completely and selling off everything I have. It's super sweet and cool, but this money grab is not sitting well with me. As early adopters, I think we deserve to be treated better. I don't see that happening.

It's time to bring out the Proxmox stick and wipe some hard drives... 🙁

Hey bbergman,

First of all, thanks for all your contributions. Let me explain some of your points to clear up confusion:

With your current Antsle on a Home Lab plan, you don't lose any functionality. You gain functionality, like the 10GB of backup space for example. All networking capabilities that were in the Antsle before will remain in the home lab plan. We've been developing more robust networking functionality that will be part of the Business Plans.

About the upgrades every 9 months, what do you feel would be a win-win for people using Antsle in their Home Lab and Antsle as a company? We're open to proposals from you. I'm not familiar with too many companies that can provide all the functionality their customers want, for free, in perpetuity unless they're making money from ads. At the end of the day, we're working on creating a better product for our customers and that comes at a cost. So I'd be open to hearing any ideas.

Re edgeLinux:  The current limitation is 3-3-3 for the free download, nothing has changed there. The limit is something we're evaluating of course.

Re Antsle one D: The Antsle one D models are definitely a step up compared to the Avotons in performance, but generally lower than our XD series. Hence the price point. The Avotons are no longer available and we decided to replace with the Denvertons. Happy to go into more detail how they fare side by side, not something we've gotten to yet. Feel free to reach out directly though.

Happy to discuss further and hopefully keep you an Antsle fan. While more and more businesses start adopting Antsle as well, we have been developing business features that will be part of our business plans. Appreciate the feedback and happy to discuss!

Quote from bbergman on August 27, 2019, 9:06 am
Quote from haplopeart on August 26, 2019, 11:16 am

I'm told by some others who lost faith that UnRaid and Proxmox run real well on the hardware. <img class="emoji" src="data:;base64," alt="🙂" data-lazy-src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/12.0.0-1/svg/1f642.svg" /><img class="emoji" src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/12.0.0-1/svg/1f642.svg" alt="🙂" />
I'm trying to stick with it.

Yes, I'm in a similar boat. I've been a big proponent of edgeLinux and Antsle (I own the physical box as well as run multiple edgeLinux installs on custom hardware configurations), I've been an active and frequent contributor to both forums, and I've referred people to Antsle and been responsible for sales of their products and many downloads. I don't know that there is a bigger fan and supporter of Antsle out here...

 

That's kind of my thought, I think many of the early adopters are similar to you and myself.  Enthusiast Class/Home Lab/Hacker, this is an interesting concept types.  Rather than shoving us down in the priority cue, "you don't pay monthly fees" we should actually be at the front of the line.  To some extent we are willing to take risks as long as there is a clear road to recovery. ex. I was willing, but the 0.13.x upgrade did NOT have a clear road to recovery.

Rather than putting us down, we (I at least) who are willing to be the Beta Testers/Crash Test Dummies/Canaries should be able to get to the front of the line.  I participate is similar programs with Microsoft (Insider previews of Windows, Office, Edge) and Unifi (Purchasing Early Adopter hardware, and letting all my installed hardware install Beta/Test releases of their software and firmware)

Honestly blow my stuff up before you blow anyone else's stuff up, I'm willing to take the risk (I run a bleeding edge Windows Insider Preview machine as my daily driver production machine at work).  Give me the updates faster NOT slower.  All I ask is that for a failed update there is a road to recovery clearly spelled out, or even a forum where I can reach out.  A lot of pain and heartache could have been avoided with the messy 0.13.x updates that failed for so many people if they had just had a published article explaining how to fix a borked machine.  The fix was time consuming, but actually relatively easy once support provided it, basically blowing away and reloading the entire 0.12.x OS.  That information should have been right there in the knowledgebase (not that they really have one) not something I had to pursue support for weeks to get an answer.  We'd also give support an opportunity to learn from the failures without being overly needy.

Quote from Johannes Dietzel on August 27, 2019, 10:05 am

About the upgrades every 9 months, what do you feel would be a win-win for people using Antsle in their Home Lab and Antsle as a company? We're open to proposals from you. I'm not familiar with too many companies that can provide all the functionality their customers want, for free, in perpetuity unless they're making money from ads. At the end of the day, we're working on creating a better product for our customers and that comes at a cost. So I'd be open to hearing any ideas.

Not to put too fine a point on it, BUT this is exactly what Microsoft has done with Windows 10 $249 and that OS install along with every change, added feature, upgrade...etc is free for life.  Microsoft makes the money on these things elsewhere admittedly, BUT for the average user they don't really understand those matters.  This is more or less what you are up against here.

I already stated that the community of "Hackers" (I think earlier in this thread) I belong to using your product, its not a lack of desire help monetize the product.  There is a middle ground myself and others of our class is likely willing to pay for support of the product, BUT it isn't hundreds of dollars a year.  Not $29/Month.  I'm talking Backblaze levels of money, not HBO.

To state the frustration in a different manner perhaps, when myself and others purchased the product we could run it, have all the features, contact support if there was a problem, experiment all for not more than our initial investment.  Now every announcement comes with a dollar amount attached to it.  And its a recurring dollar amount, and its prohibitively high for something that many of us bought as an appliance.  My TV and various other things in my electronics pile get software and firmware updates, these don't cost me.  You've got a great product, but honestly at this point it still hasn't (IMHO) truly differenced itself from other similar Virtualization setup ups, nor has it fully proven itself. There have been some spectacular failures, in the set it and forget it, just do this simple thing to upgrade, space.  More than once I've had to stretch my personal Linux skills to diagnose and get the device back on track My anstle has a really bad habit of filling up the root partition, with logs files and other junk that it doesn't seem to flush on its own.  I then need to SSH in and clean up, the product (really the base Linux config) should so this on its own, but I'm afraid to make any of my own changes because "its an appliance" and I'm afraid of messing something up that an update might be dependent on or will just revert.  Additionally it was marketed to me at least initially as an appliance, I therefore should by nature really not have to be concerned about such things.

All that said, I really am a supporter and generally happy user of the product.

Quote from haplopeart on August 27, 2019, 10:54 am

To state the frustration in a different manner perhaps, when myself and others purchased the product we could run it, have all the features, contact support if there was a problem, experiment all for not more than our initial investment.  Now every announcement comes with a dollar amount attached to it.  And its a recurring dollar amount, and its prohibitively high for something that many of us bought as an appliance.

You've got a great product, but honestly at this point it still hasn't (IMHO) truly differenced itself from other similar Virtualization setup ups, nor has it fully proven itself. There have been some spectacular failures, in the set it and forget it, just do this simple thing to upgrade, space.  [...]

Very good points, but that paragraph in red is really the key thing for me. The bottom line, I guess...

To me, that bottom line (thanks @haplopeart) is that Antman isn't breaking any ground here. The hardware device (the "appliance") was truly special: an out of the box experience that came pre-configured, with a slick UI, and a fanless sit-on-my-desk box that I could use at home or literally on my desk at work. It was powerful. It was unique. It was cool. The vast majority of the interest I got from my peers was about the box and the promise inside it.

The promise inside was Antman. Antman made common tasks easy, but it shifted the complexity into the command line. If I wanted to get my virtual environments working as I truly needed, I had to drop down into shell and make a bunch of changes. That's fine with me, because I've been running Unix on my own boxes for 25+ years, so I'm very comfortable there. But was it ground-breaking? No. In fact, after the initial wow factor of folks looking at the box, the next question I would get is "Well, this UI is pretty and all that, but how is it truly different?" And I'd go into my speech about how easy it is to pull up a template, kick an antlet in gear, do a snapshot, etc. I'm standing there, putting on my marketing hat, trying to sell Antman to developers and business types, and show them why I think it's different.

Sometimes I was successful, and sometimes not. It's definitely not a clear win.

Again, the basic Antman features are kinda cool, but not ground-breaking. Proxmox does this, and yes, you may have to jump through a few more hoops on some things, but then I get a ton of other "dashboard" info and stats that I don't get from Antman. I could just as easily bring up Proxmox and show them how I could spin up a VM and take a backup too. Antman was just a few clicks less, and maybe a little more focused on the immediately interesting items.

edgeLinux was an awesome addition, and allowed me to move it to my own hardware, with a few more configurations, and again, that was cool and my peers liked it, but I had the same problem truly selling it to the business folks. You're doing, for my desk, what Digital Ocean did for AWS. You're giving me a quick, fast, and pretty interface to getting to my VM's. Digital Ocean == Antman, and AWS == Proxmox. Or something along that line. But Digital Ocean didn't nickel and dime me, and as an early adopter of Digital Ocean, I actually continued to get really good value from their products, and they added things like pre-built templates, and more memory and CPU for the same buck, and so on. In other words, I continued to be a customer because the value continued to be there.

In your new Antsle 2.0, I don't see that I'm gaining anything. Yes, there is the 10GB backup, but you and I BOTH know that 10GB is a pittance when you're talking about a decent sized 20GB antlet, or two, or four, or 15. Although nice of you, 10GB of backup space won't get me too far. There's a reason I have a 2TB HDD available on my Antsle servers, and that's because I just copy my stuff over there. 10GB in the cloud is really nothing. I get 10GB for free with box.net or yandex, and I don't need to do anything for it. So what am I gaining, except a newer UI?

The alternative, as pointed out above, is a rather expensive ~ $400/year subscription that gets me 100GB of space, and 3 tickets a year, and um, might get rid of the 3-3-3 model if I was using edgeLinux (assuming I read the pricing sheet right). Proxmox costs me $80/year. Granted, no backup space, but still.

I'm getting swayed by the argument that we early adopters should really be the ones who get MORE bang for the buck. It used to be that alpha and beta testers always got better deals than the commercial customers, and in return, we contributed information back to the company to help them improve the product. I'm quite certain that if you go back to the old edgeLinux forums, you'll find many posts from myself and others that have helped improve Antman. That seems like a fairly equitable contract, but you're essentially asking me now to pony up more money just to stay in the game. That's a tough pill to swallow. All those times I argued in your favor with my peers are coming back to haunt me now, since I'll be telling them "well, they started charging now for similar service, and I just didn't want to pay $X, and so I've gone back to Proxmox, and ..." and I will hate myself for having to say it, but it's true.

Sorry for the ramble. I'm trying to work through my feelings on all this, but I'm definitely disappointed, and nothing that has been said so far makes me feel any better about it. I just feel like this a very typical and common money grab, where I've been invited in with the promise of free or low cost offerings, but over time, I'm going to be charged more and more for what I had before. It's not something that sits well, sorry.

 

 

I was talking this out a bit more with an associate.  Its a bit about expectation.

To put it in real world terms.

I run Windows machines in both my professional life and in my personal life.  However the level of support and expectations of both of these situations is different.

At work if something blows up ultimately I call Microsoft leveraging our support contact with them.  I say ultimately because I'm the companies OS architect.  When something blows up various levels of support take on the problem, but when no one else knows the answer to the problem (thankfully not often) it lands on my desk.  I take to Google and leverage my knowledge and experience to correct the problem. If I'm in the weeds I call Microsoft, and usually they scratch their heads for a few days too.

In my personal life all I get is my knowledge, experience and Google if something isn't right.  I'm not going to call Microsoft because my home machine blew up.  Ultimately if its all in the crapper my only recourse is start over, which thankfully I don't have to do often.

There are a lot of us users  (I think) of the Antsle/Edgelinux that bought (or licensed...I think that's more or less what I've done with edgeLinux) the product to be that self supporting home user.   However there is a lack of published knowledge of the product directly to do so at this point.  There isn't much of a knowledge base for the product.  We can take some good guesses.  And I have done so, for examples: Knowing that the antlets live in a ZFS file system I figured out from ZFS support docs how to expand the disk space on my own.  Using general Linux knowledge I figured out I could mount more storage to the box over iSCSI.  I'm however basically a total newb when it comes to Linux based virtualization.  I'm VMWare and Hyper-V certified so I get the concepts, but when it comes to the behind the curtain stuff on the Antsle other than knowing kind of what its doing with the qcow2 files and that the VM config is encapsulated in domains and some rather unreadable XML I can't find my way clear to do anything manually.  Even then the way Antsle seems to use these technologies seems a little different than a straight out libvirt and maybe some other stuff I don't fully understand from what I can figure.

All I and I think others want is enough knowledgebase (and support forums) to deal with ourselves under many circumstances. Tell me how to be self supporting as an individual user.  Part of that knowledge however is to understand how to "reset" if it all goes wrong.  Perhaps enough breadcrumbs to solve our own problems.  However much like the Microsoft world if we are comfortable on our own then we bring these solutions to the job, and get them to pay for the "OH Shit we need a solution to this right now" support contracts.  However to build that kind of support and make those inroads we need to be able to say to the boss, "Great product, I have a good handle on it, I can deal with MOST stuff that comes up".  In my (its my job after all) Windows OS architect example the knowledge and experience I bring to that job is built in running the stuff for years (decades now) at home.  If I was locked out of features, or delayed in playing with them for months before we prepared to roll them out at work I wouldn't be of much use in my job.

As an aside, have you considered a rack mountable model?  I'm actually trying to make some headway in using Antsles for a use case, but I know they are eventually going to ask if the thing can be racked in a closet or datacenter. EDIT: I make that statement but then realize … oh yeah that's probably the point of edgeLinux come think of it. 🙂 Install it on a rackable server.  I guess I'm just envisioning a slick looking antsle box in the rack, like a Google appliance or some such, rather than a boring looking Dell/HP server.

I concur with @bbergman and @haplopeart

Also, the worst part for me isn't really "how things are" but "how things have changed".  I recall earlier this year, Community Repos were going to be available every quarter, but now it's every 9 months.

And the subscription model is also aggravating for features that don't require "upkeep" (advanced networking, clustering).  I pay the yearly subscription for Microsoft office, but that's only because of the OneDrive space (which I understand requires upkeep on Microsoft's part).

I can accept paying a subscription for the backup space and support tickets (but I wouldn't as I'm content fixing things myself). I'm not to keen on the "Business License".  If I'm using it in a business but aren't paying for the support tickets, that's obviously on me and there's no expectation of liability to Antsle for losses in my business.

When I first bought an Antsle last November, I was under the impression the cost of the O/S was "built-in" to the total amount (much like a Windows Server you buy).

Especially when the O/S is still version 0.x

@haplopeart, @bbergman, @lancem - I think you guys have brought up some very well thought out points. I head up Product Marketing at Antsle and the topic of pricing and features for Home Lab vs Business is something that's really important to me. We want viable ideas that work for everyone.

Something you mentioned that resonated with me is that although we can't give support and unlimited free capabilities to everyone, we can have a community of "personal" users who want more functionality, are ok with getting beta releases, and would provide feedback to develop the product.

@bbergman, I believe somewhere in the thread you both mentioned it as being a "crash tester" but then getting the latest and greatest features to use in return for providing feedback.

I want to put it out here for you and others reading this thread that if you're just using Antsle for personal use, you want to have more capabilities, and contribute to the product with feedback, please shoot me an email at daniel@antsle.com. Having a home lab community as "canaries in the coal mine" to spot bugs before they get out is something great to try out. If it can work and helps us both, I see no reason why we shouldn't do it.

Thank You for the response and hearing the concern.  I have followed-up via email.

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