I’ve been using an i5 Intel NUC at home as a home server.
I initially installed ESX on the NUC and ran an ubuntu VM with iptables, DNS, DHCP etc. However, I wanted to put the firewall between the home network and the LTE router, so I needed two network interfaces. The NUC only has one, so I thought I’d use VLANs to split the network. That turned out to be pretty complicated to manage so I ended up buying a USB3 ethernet adapter (AX88179) for the NUC instead.
Getting that to work with ESX was a pain (I tried pass-through, but couldn’t get it to work reliably), so in the end I replaced ESX on the NUC with KVM. Worked great – the USB ethernet adapter installed out of the box with Ubuntu and the whole configuration only took an hour to set up.
Like with ESX, I still need an extra VM on my macbook (Ubuntu desktop under Fusion) to run virt-manager to manage KVM (instead of the Windows VM where I used to run the vmware client to manage the ESX installation).
I used to backup the VMs with ghettoVCB to a Synology via nfs (which worked completely reliably). Now I’ll use LVM snapshots and and file copy to backup the KVM VMs to the same Synology.