I've long hosted my personal blog as a static site on waylonwalker.com. It's all markdown, converted to html, and shipped as is. It's been great, I've moved it from GitHub Pages, to Netlify, tried Vercel for a minute, and have landed on Cloudflare Pages. Each migration has not really been that hard, it's just pointing ci to a different host after the site has built.

screenshot of https://pages.cloudflare.com/

What about server side

Now the part that I have struggled with is how to cheaply host a server rendered application that can just live on forever without me paying for it. This is a harder problem as it costs more to keep servers spinning, memory, and disk all ready for you to use at a moments notice.


screenshot of https://heroku.com

I never really deployed anything that useful on heroku, but it seems like the klenex of the bunch that's why they are in the title. I've moved between digital ocean and fly.io, and have had some great experiences with both. I just don't want to build something that is going perpetually cost money, I'm cheap and dont want to feel the burden of paying for something that I might not be using all the time.


screenshot of https://fly.io

fly is absolutely amazing to get off the ground. Their cli is top notch. They have servers all over the place and have a great interface to get your application deployed close to your users. You just can't run all that much on it before you end up off the free tier.


These platforms so far have just not felt right for me, again, I have to pay for them, many of them I have to worry about how hard they would get hit, and often they are focused on javascript.

What I am looking for

  • easy to deploy
  • cheap to host
  • free to use
  • generous free tier
  • no chance of big bills
  • reliable, not 9 9's, but mostly up.
  • allows me to run a bunch of stuff that I lightly use
  • that buttery smooth cli that I get out of fly.io
  • runs containers

The last one is probably the most important. I don't get tons of time to work on side projects, and they are mostly ideas I just want to get out there and play with, the idea may flop quickly, but I want that DX to be easy to go from nothing to publically deployed.

What about going back to self hosting??

I have a Gateway FX6860 built in 2011, and was gifted to me around 2016. She doesn't have much power to her, but she does have more than free tier power. I have 8 dedicated cpu, 16GB RAM, 500GB boot disk, and a 4TB hard disk.

Cloudflare tunnels

screenshot of https://www.cloudflare.com/products/tunnel/

Cloudflare Tunnels allow me to route traffic to my own server sitting right next to me and have it publically accessible. They take care of ssl certs, they support wildcard routes, and configuration is pretty easy. I can map addresses to a port on the machine, wildcard to a reverse_proxy, and end with a 404.

I'm missing that buttery smooth cli

At this point I'm hosting a few things that I use frequently, but I don't have that buttery smooth deploy experience that I get from fly.io. I have to log into the machine, edit some files, and docker compose up every time I want to deploy.

I was certain there was a better way

I knew there was something better out there that was not a complex pain in the ass to setup. I know small companies run their own infra with a small team. There has to be tools that don't take an enterprise to manage.

What about kubernetes

screenshot of https://kubernetes.io/

In my search I keep seeing kubernetes as the solution, just run k8s, k3s, k0s, minikube, or kind. But EVERYTHING I have heard about kubernetes is that its a pain in the ass to deploy, takes a team to manage, and if you don't have a $1M problem to solve don't bother cause k8s will create a $1M problem for you. For this reason alone I turned my nose up to k8's and nearly didn't even give it a chance. Everyone jokes about blogs and simple sites running on k8s, and how rediculous that must be.

If you don't have a $1M problem to solve don't bother cause k8s will create a $1M problem for you.

Let's jump on k3s

screenshot of https://k3s.io/

I've never ran kubernetes myself, but after seeing it so many times in my searches for a fly.io replacement, I decided to give it a shot. I chose k3s as it seems like a nice balance of easy to setup, maintain, and feature complete kubernetes service.

# install and start k3s
curl -sfL https://get.k3s.io | sh -
# check to see if your nodes are started
sudo kubectl get nodes

My main hiccup so far was the machine I am running on runs a fairly new ubuntu install with zfs on root, and it would not start the master node. Rather than figuring out how to make zfs play nice I just pointed k3s to a drive that is not zfs.

# manuallly
sudo k3s server -d /mnt/vault/.rancher/k3s
# without editing systemd service
sudo ln -s /mnt/vault/.rancher/k3s /var/lib/rancher/k3s

Next I needed to be able to completely manage my k3s cluster form my main machine while this one sits far away in a closet.

# from the server
sudo cp /etc/rancher/k3s/k3s.yaml ~/.config/kube

# from my local machine
scp falcon@falcon:~/.config/kube/k3s.yaml ~/.config/kube/falcon-k3s.yaml
sudo cp /etc/rancher/k3s/k3s.yaml /home/waylon/.config/kube
sudo chown -R waylon:waylon ~/.config/kube
export KUBECONFIG=~/.config/kube/k3s.yaml


Since everything I was running prior was in docker compose, I found kompose.io to be a fantastic tool to help me start converting my docker deployments into kubernetes.

screenshot of https://kompose.io

A Month Later

I started this post a month ago, and I am still enjoying k3s. For clarity, I did have a bit of k8's experience going in, but zero experience running it by myself. k3's seems to have made it pretty straightforward so far. My worst issues have been with ingress. Docker registries were a bit of a pain due to their large blob sizes, and a service I wanted to try to self host (sshx) required grpc, which is not supported by cloudflare tunnels.


Don't believe everyone's pre-conceived notions about tech you have never tried. Most of these things come from the echo chamber that is twitter anyways. Create your own opinions by trying new things, learning for yourself, and forming your own opnions.