In 2005, Olivier Cochard-Labbé brought an open-source Network Attached Storage appliance, known as FreeNAS, to the world. Originally based on version 6.0 of the open source operating system, FreeBSD, FreeNAS was a slimmed down version tailored for unified storage. With an easy to use web interface based on m0n0wall and compatibility with older hardware, FreeNAS gained popularity among DIY and FreeBSD enthusiasts.
"In mid 2005, I wanted to transform one of my old PCs into a NAS server for my home... I didn't find an open source project that filled my needs so I chose to build my own... I never imagined that my little customized M0n0wall to NAS would become so famous."
-Olivier Cochard-Labbé (Founder of the FreeNAS Project) *source is Feb 2010 BSD magazine article
Development continued until 2009, when the project leader at the time, Volker Theile, announced he would no longer be able to continue on the project on FreeBSD. At this point, FreeNAS was relegated to maintenance-only mode and was slated to be ported over to Debian Linux. This would have been a blow to the FreeBSD community and would have caused FreeNAS to lose it’s native ZFS support.
As an open source advocate, proponent and contributor to the FreeBSD project and a user of FreeNAS, iXsystems wanted to see what it could do to prevent FreeNAS from moving off of BSD. On December 2nd of 2009 Matt Olander contacted Olivier on behalf of iXsystems and offered to keep FreeNAS on BSD. The offer was graciously accepted, and in 2010, iXsystems began the long road to re-working and modernizing FreeNAS.
The iXsystems development team then determined that in order to modernize FreeNAS it would need to take it off of m0n0wall PHP and replace it with an easy to use, yet full featured WebGUI based off of Django and the Dojo toolkit. After thousands of painstaking hours of code-work, FreeNAS 8.0 was released to the world in May of 2011.
"As long-time users and advocates of FreeNAS, I felt that it was important to both the FreeBSD and FreeNAS communities to keep the project moving forward. FreeNAS served as a rock-solid fileserver at iXsystems since it's initial release and we wanted to continue using it as well as sharing any innovations we made with the rest of the FreeNAS community."
Since then, iXsystems has worked to further develop the FreeNAS codebase and add new features. In 2012, the FreeNAS team implemented a plug-in system for FreeNAS utilizing FreeBSD jails so that users could install ports, packages and PBI’s on their FreeNAS systems. The FreeNAS team at iXsystems continues to work to bring a free, open source and robust storage operating system to the world.