Starting From Scratch | My Journey Building a Secure Homelab with Proxmox, Docker, and Portainer


Embarking on the exciting and educational journey of setting up a home lab, I documented my experience creating a Proxmox Virtual Machine (VM), installing Docker for containerization, deploying Portainer for container management, and setting up Heimdall for centralized service management. Join me as I share my insights, lessons learned, and future steps to enhance security.

Proxmox VM Creation

Starting with creating a Proxmox VM tailored for an Ubuntu Server, I allocated 4GB of RAM, 4 cores, and 80GB of disk space to ensure optimal performance. After downloading and mounting the latest Ubuntu Server ISO, I configured the network adapter for NAT connection, initiated the VM boot process, and confirmed a successful login.

Docker Installation

With my VM ready, I proceeded to install Docker for efficient containerization. Adding the official Docker APT repository to Ubuntu sources, updating the package list, and installing the “docker-ce” package laid the foundation. Verifying Docker service activation via “systemctl status docker” ensured a seamless installation.

Portainer Deployment

My next step was to deploy Portainer, a powerful container management tool. I encountered unexpected conflicts when attempting the Business Edition via a community script. Adapting quickly, I uninstalled and switched to the Community Edition. After downloading and executing the latest Portainer Community Edition container image, I accessed the web interface at http://<ubuntuServerIP>:9443, configuring an admin user for secure management.

Heimdall Setup

To centralize the management of home lab services, I deployed Heimdall. Creating a new container using the official image, I mapped the necessary port 80 for container access. After deployment, I accessed the web interface, adding links to existing home lab services for convenient centralized management.

Next Steps

My journey continues with a focus on enhancing security measures and exploring the creation of a vulnerable virtual machine. Here’s what lies ahead:

  1. Exploring Additional Security Measures: I plan to delve into the hardening of Docker and container security configurations. This includes fine-tuning access controls, implementing network segmentation, and adopting best practices to fortify my infrastructure.
  2. Researching VLANs for Network Isolation: To expose a vulnerable virtual machine to the world while safeguarding my home network, I intend to explore the implementation of VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks). This network segmentation approach allows me to isolate and control traffic between different parts of my home lab, ensuring that the vulnerable virtual machine remains contained and doesn’t pose a threat to the overall network security.
  3. Creating a Vulnerable Virtual Machine: In the spirit of hands-on learning, I plan to set up a purposely vulnerable virtual machine. By intentionally introducing vulnerabilities, I can better understand potential security risks and test various security tools and configurations in a controlled environment.
  4. Exposing the VM Safely: Using VLANs, I aim to expose the vulnerable virtual machine to the external world while keeping the rest of my home network secure. This approach allows for a controlled and isolated environment for testing and experimentation without compromising the overall network integrity.

By taking these next steps, I aim to not only strengthen the security posture of my home lab but also gain valuable insights into practical cybersecurity concepts. Stay tuned as I share my experiences and discoveries in future blog posts.

Lessons Learned

Through this experience, I’ve gathered valuable lessons:

  1. Prioritize Proper Docker Setup: A solid Docker foundation is crucial before diving into advanced container management tools.
  2. Document Each Step: Comprehensive documentation ensures future reference and troubleshooting ease.
  3. Stay Updated on Security Practices: Regularly updating knowledge on container security best practices is essential for maintaining a secure infrastructure.


Building a home lab with Proxmox, Docker, and Portainer opens up a world of possibilities. From efficient virtualization to seamless container management, my journey has been both educational and rewarding. By sharing my experiences and lessons learned, I hope to inspire and guide fellow enthusiasts on their path to creating a secure and efficient home lab.