As I have been playing with my Pi I have been introduced to a bunch of new concepts and terminologies. The first is Homelab. Apparently it is a thing to build a your won server and set it up wth some high powered stuff. If you watch the YouTube videos you get the sense that these tare might powerful systems but reading between the lines you realize that’s just because they are YouTubers and need to keep ahead of the curve. My Pi and Shaw’s router qualify just fine as a homelab. It seems all I have to be doing is installing shit, breaking shit and adding even more shit. Check.

The next one, and more relevant to this post is dashboard. After you get your home server all set up you start to realize that most fo the services are web-based and it get to be a lot of book marks for things you go back to again and again. So the idea of a custom start page was born (reddit even has one of those reddit forums thingees dedicated to it: Taking the idea further a bunch of developers have made apps to manage the underlying code as the whole idea of a homelab is that it changes pretty often and hand-coding a new webpage every time would get monotonous.


Homer was the first dashboard I encountered and frankly, IMHO, still the best. I will look at some of the others later. Homer is a project developed by Bastien Wirtz and is available as a docker container.

Out of the box it is pretty basic and frankly ugly:

But it does come with a bunch of easy configuration options to make improvements pretty quick. And if you dig deeper you can tweak it pretty significantly. I came across walkxcode’s modded theme and immediately started stealing some of his settings to get it the way I wanted.

The config is all based on yaml (yet another markup language) which I learned for my Hugo web pages so I was already pretty familiar with the format. Adding or deleting items on the page is simply a matter of editing the config file.

- name: "Awesome app"
logo: "assets/tools/sample.png"
subtitle: "Bookmark example"
tag: "app"
url: ""
target: "_blank" # optional html a tag target attribute

It features colour-coded tagging, as many categories as you want 2, 4, 6 or 12 column layout, a link/menu bar, optional header and footer, additional pages and a list view. You can add in a custom background, use light or dark mode and a few cool applications like hooking up to a Open Weather api to display your local weather.

Homer does have a few major downsides. Although there is a search function it only searches the startpage. Many of the other dashboards integrate google or duck duck go searches into the search field so you can use it as your browsers’ default page. And it uses vue.js (which is Greek to me) and scss (which is more Spanish—I understand some of it, but wouldn’t dare try and speak it) so making changes is not as straightforward as I might like. Hence the borrowing of walkxcode’s work.

But all in all after I got it where I wanted to be. For now 🙂


The Competition

If you look in the fourth column you will see Flame, Heimdall and Dashboard, which are all other dashboards you could use and I tried them all to one degree or another.


Dashboard ( is the simplest (and I think the oldest). It works from json files which I have played with but is harder to parse than yaml and much more visually complex which makes it harder (for me) to make quick edits without screwing up the format. Other than that I didn’t like the lack of custom icons and the strict layout format.


As far as I can tell Flame ( is mostly a fork of Dashboard…at least visually. It added in a web interface so you could add icons and links using a browser rather than having to edit a config file. Which put it ahead of both Dashboard and Homer, but, in the end I didn’t like the restrictions imposed on the way info was displayed and was frustrated with what kind of info you had to show.


The last dashboard I tried was Heimdall ( which seems to be pretty popular and much more professional. My big issue with it (and indeed with Homer but there I could fix it) was the size of the app “buttons.” I still run a 1920 x 1080 screen and you just can’t fit many buttons onto one screen. Add in a search bar (disabled in the screen shot) and it just looked bloated. But it did have the web interface, lots of custom tags and categories and would probably look way better on a higher resolution screen.