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What’s Improved in FreeNAS 9.3-BETA | State of the Union Video | In-depth OwnCloud Tutorial Video

Written by Annie Zhang on .

Hello FreeNAS users,

In case you haven’t heard the big news, FreeNAS 9.3-BETA was released earlier this week. We’ll let Jordan Hubbard, Director of the FreeNAS Project, explain more about it in his new State of the Union address:

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Cheers,

The FreeNAS Team

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FreeNAS 9.3-BETA is Now Out

We know you’ve all been eagerly anticipating this. Some of the major changes in the FreeNAS 9.3-BETA include:

  • New configuration setup wizard available during and after installation.
  • New update manager makes it easier to apply patches and updates.
  • Interface tabs removed completely.
  • FreeNAS now uses ZFS for the boot device—this allows selection and mirroring of one or more boot devices for greater reliability.
  • The features of ZFS are also utilized to provide cloned “boot environments” which allow the system to be rolled back (or even forked) to different OS versions.
  • The boot process now uses the GRUB boot loader which supports multiple boot environments and makes it easy to recover from a failed upgrade, system patch, or configuration.
  • A boot-time menu is provided for selecting and booting from a specific boot environment.
  • New boot UI allows the user to create, rename, delete, and select boot environments as well as run diagnostics on the boot pool.
  • And much more…

We have a quick video summary of some of the changes in FreeNAS 9.3. For the full list of changes or more details about a feature, check out the release notes. We highly encourage the FreeNAS community to try out the beta and give us feedback so we can make the release even better. For our brave betatesters, we
are committed to making sure that you’ll be able to upgrade seamlessly to FreeNAS 9.3-RELEASE once it is available.



The Ultimate Guide to Buying a New Server for Open Source

If you are in the market to purchase new servers or will need to in the future, then download this free server guide. The knowledge you gain from this guide will ensure you avoid common pitfalls including:

  • Inaccurate and/or over-inflated quotes
  • Being sold the wrong hardware for your project
  • Poorly built servers
  • Missed deadlines
  • The frustrations of outsourced tech support

Install OwnCloud on FreeNAS From Scratch

DrKK, one of our more prominent forum members, created a video tutorial for installing OwnCloud on FreeNAS. As he points out in the corresponding forum thread, there are multiple ways to install OwnCloud on FreeNAS including the ownCloud plugin. His tutorial is
focused on installing Owncloud in a FreeNAS jail from scratch using lighttpd. This method gives people a bit more control over the configuration and the tutorial itself is designed to be educational. If you want to refine your BSD skills and learn, give the video a watch.


Mid-Range FreeNAS Build Pt II: Performance Tuning

In the previous newsletter, we featured a high-performance, mid-range FreeNAS build sent in from one of our readers. Brian Cunnie wrote a follow-up article about performance tuning the system for iSCSI. The post describes in detail the steps he took to benchmark the build and how he ran the
tests. It includes screenshots and charts of his results. For people looking to do something similar, this is definitely worth a read.


MeetBSD California 2014

A big thanks to everyone that came out to this year’s MeetBSD California. If you missed it, you can view photos of day 1 and day 2 on our Facebook page. We’re still in the process of editing the speaker videos and those will be
posted soon. Keep a lookout for them on the iXsystems YouTube channel. In the meantime, the slides for the talks are available online—check them out!


FreeNAS Training Classes

Have a burning question about FreeNAS? We now offer free Intro to FreeNAS classes that run every day. Classes are taught by Linda Kateley, a software educator with over 20 years of experience and a specialization in ZFS and Storage. For those of you interested in learning more than the basics, you’ll be happy to know that we also offer paid, advanced FreeNAS classes in the following
subjects:

  • FreeNAS Admin
  • FreeNAS Sharing Deep Dive
  • FreeNAS Hardware Architecture & Performance Basics
  • Fault Analysis Workshop

As of now, we offer a complimentary registration with every new purchase of a FreeNAS certified system. This free registration is good for any advanced class of your choice. The classes are fully interactive, so attendance is limited to 15 people per class, allowing for thorough Q&A with the instructor. Make sure to sign up
early—with over 6 million FreeNAS downloads, we expect these spots to fill up fast.


Upcoming Live Events

We’ll be at the following conferences. If you’re in the area, drop by and say “hi”!

November 17-20SuperComputing 2014 in New Orleans, LA

February 19-22SCaLE 13x in Los Angeles, CA


Tech Tip #11

FreeNAS 9.3 will allow you to boot from an old version of the operating system if you make a critical mistake configuring FreeNAS and don’t have time to troubleshoot.


Links of the Month

Episode 63: A Man’s man via BSD Now

How Open Source Saved an External HD via Plagtech Blog

AsiaBSDCon Call for Papers via AsiaBSDCon 2015

FreeNAS Box ECC memory upgrade via Tech Uploaded


Join the FreeNAS Team!

If you’ve been reading about all the great things we’ve been up to and thought to yourself, “Hmm, I wish I could be a part of that”, well…now you can be!

iXsystems, the company that sponsors FreeNAS, is looking for a few good developers and QA testers to join our team. We offer competitive salaries, health benefits, stock options, a 401k, and access to a fancy-schmancy coffee maker as some of the benefits. We’re a very prominent
company in the world of FreeBSD; in fact, we employ more FreeBSD developers per capita than anyone else you can think of.

Interested? The full job descriptions can be found here. If this sounds like your cup of double-shot espresso, email Jordan Hubbard at jkh@ixsystems.com with your resume. Cover letters appreciated but not required.


Send Us Your Content

Got a FreeNAS hardware build you’re proud of? Come up with a tech tip while tinkering around in the GUI? Have a link or picture you think we should see? As long as it’s not something you wouldn’t send to your boss, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line at FNsubmissions@ixsystems.com. We’re always on the lookout for FreeNAS and storage related content to feature in the newsletter and on our social
media channels.


Connect with Us

If you need help with your FreeNAS setup or would like to show off your configuration, share your plugins, or just talk with like-minded people, join the conversation on our community forums. For video tutorials, check out our YouTube channel.

Want real-time updates as they happen? Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or add us to your Google+ circle!

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FreeNAS 9.3-BETA is Now Out!

Written by Annie Zhang on .

Today, we are very proud to announce the BETA release of FreeNAS 9.3!

This FreeNAS update is a significant evolutionary step from previous FreeNAS releases.  It features a simplified and reorganized Web User Interface, support for Windows 2012 clustering, better integration with VMWare, a new and more secure update system with roll-back functionality, and hundreds of other technology enhancements. To encourage use of this BETA, we are also committed to making sure that every FreeNAS 9.3 BETA install will be able to upgrade to FreeNAS 9.3 RELEASE seamlessly!

A key feature of the FreeNAS 9.3 BETA release is its revamped user interface. It has been redesigned to place only the most common configuration options first in ‘Standard’ menus, moving the more esoteric options to ‘Advanced’ options, and this design pattern as has been used throughout the UI so everything is essentially more streamlined and less cluttered for novice users who essentially just want to use the defaults.

The interface tabs have also been completely removed, a number of features have been rearranged or combined for added fluidity and ease of use, and the whole UI is simply more self-consistent throughout.

Updating and applying patches (updates) to the system is now much simpler. A secure update server supplies a regular stream of package updates, which are available both as “deltas” from previous release versions and as full packages, rather than the “one large release” model in place for previous FreeNAS versions. The update server can be checked manually, or automatically at intervals, and any available updates downloaded in the background. The user will receive an alert when new updates are available and be given the opportunity to apply them whenever they wish. Users will also be able to choose what kinds of updates to receive, depending on whether they want to use the most recent versions, test future versions, or stay on a single stable branch.  For a demo of that in action, please see my FreeNAS state of the union video!

From the “long-requested feature list”, a configuration wizard has finally been added to FreeNAS. On a new install, this wizard will run at the first login, making it easy to quickly create a volume, its associated share(s), and set various options.  Users who still prefer to manually create their volumes and shares can exit the wizard and create these in the usual way, but the new set-up wizard can handle the most common types of configuration at installation time, or, as desired, later in the set-up process.  We also anticipate that the Wizard will continue to grow functionality as time progresses – this is simply the first version!

FreeNAS 9.3 now NFSv4 support, including Kerberos integration, and allows configuration of NFSv4 from the UI, another long-requested feature.

Perhaps the most significant feature of FreeNAS 9.3 is the fact that it now formats the boot device as a ZFS pool instead of the more limited UFS filesystem we used before, allowing a number of new features to be supported.  One such feature is that the boot process now uses the GRUB boot loader and provides support for multiple boot environments, allowing easy recovery from a failed upgrade or configuration change.  Being a ZFS pool, the boot device can also now be mirrored and scrubbed periodically to ensure that no impending hardware failures are present.

Finally, FreeNAS 9.3 also changes the default iSCSI target from the userland-based istgt to the in-kernel Cam Target Layer (CTL). This adds a number of features, including compatibility with Windows 2012 clustering, support for additional VAAI primitives, and increased performance in most use cases.  The snapshot UI has also been enhanced to coordinate snapshots with VMWare so that VMs using associated datastore(s) can be restored to a stable state if needed.

This is only a sampling of all the new features in 9.3, and since our last release, we have fixed over 725 tickets in the 9.3 branch and have even more enhancements in the pipeline.  This is a great FreeNAS release, and we look forward to being able to use the new update mechanism in delivering more timely and granular updates, the ZFS boot, clone and roll-back options giving users even greater confidence in applying them!

Again, please check out my state of the union video if you’d like a “live demo” and walkthrough of the new UI and features, and by all means please read the 9.3-BETA Release Notes for an even more exhaustive list of new features. Those who have been following the documentation will also be pleased to see an entirely revamped “live HTML” version of the FreeNAS 9.3 documentation which is being kept up-to-date using the same source code management tools that the source code for FreeNAS itself uses, allowing everything to be much better coordinated and in-synch.

Enjoy this release!

Jordan Hubbard
FreeNAS Project Manager and iXsystems CTO

iXsystems Unleashes FreeNAS 9.3-BETA Unto the World

Written by Annie Zhang on .

Simplified and revamped Web UI, automated updates, new set-up wizard, ZFS boot environments, and a commitment that all users will be able to upgrade through to 9.3-RELEASE.

iXsystems today announced the BETA release of FreeNAS version 9.3. This FreeNAS update is a significant evolutionary step from previous FreeNAS releases, featuring a simplified and reorganized Web User Interface, support for Windows 2012 clustering, better integration with VMware, a new and more secure update system with roll-back functionality, and hundreds of other technology enhancements. To encourage use of this BETA, iXsystems has committed to making sure that every FreeNAS 9.3-BETA install will be able to upgrade to FreeNAS 9.3-RELEASE seamlessly.

Jordan Hubbard, CTO of iXsystems and Director of the FreeNAS Project, says, “This latest release demonstrates our ongoing commitment to making FreeNAS as secure, reliable, and easy to use as possible. From the reorganization and cleanup of the UI, to the improvements in the update system, and the use of ZFS cloned snapshots for the boot device, the 9.3 version offers many features and enhancements of importance to both the hobbyist and the more technical FreeNAS user. We don’t often make much ado about our BETA launches, but this one is a big step forward for this software. We’re really encouraging the world at large to try this one out and give their feedback so that we can make sure the 9.3-RELEASE is our best ever.”

Updating and applying patches (updates) to the system is now significantly simpler. A secure update server supplies a regular stream of package updates, which are available both as “deltas” from previous release versions and as full packages, rather than the “one large release” model in place for previous FreeNAS versions. The update server can be checked manually, or automatically at intervals, and any available updates downloaded in the background. The user will receive an alert when new updates are available and be given the opportunity to apply them whenever they wish. Users will also be able to choose what kinds of updates to receive, depending on whether they want to use the most recent versions, test future versions, or stay on a single stable branch.

Furthermore, a configuration wizard has been added. On a fresh install, this wizard will run at the first login, making it easy to quickly create a volume, its associated share(s), and set various options. Users who still prefer to manually create their volumes and shares can exit the wizard and create these in the usual way. The new set-up wizard can handle the most common types of configuration at installation time, or, as desired, later in the set-up process.

In addition, FreeNAS 9.3 introduces NFSv4 support, including the use of NFS with Kerberos, and allows setting various NFSv4 and Kerberos options from the UI.

Most significantly, FreeNAS now formats the boot device as a ZFS pool rather than a more limited UFS filesystem, allowing a number of new features to be supported. For example, the boot process now uses the GRUB boot loader and provides support for multiple boot environments, allowing easy recovery from a failed upgrade or configuration change.

FreeNAS 9.3 also changes the default iSCSI target from the userland-based istgt to the in-kernel Cam Target Layer (CTL). This adds a number of features, including compatibility with Windows 2012 clustering, support for additional VAAI primitives, and increased performance in most use cases. The snapshot UI has also been enhanced to coordinate snapshots with VMware so that VMs using associated datastore(s) can be restored to a stable state if needed.

Steven Sedory of Vertical Computers says, “We’ve been using FreeNAS for about three years, and in that time all our production boxes have continued to function as designed. If that weren’t enough, iXsystems’ amazing and dedicated team of developers have been very responsive to the feedback of the FreeNAS community. As a result, we now use and recommend FreeNAS for provisioning Cluster Shared Volumes in Microsoft’s Failover Cluster Environment, as well as for large storage arrays that we build for surveillance and other specific applications.”

FreeNAS 9.3 BETA is available at download.freenas.org/9.3/BETA/