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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/

FreeNAS 9.2.1.8 – New: FreeNAS Minecraft Server Plugin, Shellshock Patch & Tutorials

Written by Annie Zhang on .

Hello FreeNAS users,

Happy fall! By now you’ve probably heard of the Shellshock bug. Although FreeNAS was not affected, we decided to proactively close the vulnerability with FreeNAS 9.2.1.8 just in case. We also have a couple of tutorials for you this month including a bunch of user-created content. After several months of hard work, we’re very close to releasing FreeNAS 9.3—expect a special in-depth update from Jordan Hubbard, Director of the FreeNAS Project and iXsystems CTO, in the next newsletter.

Cheers,
The FreeNAS Team

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New FreeNAS 9.2.1.8-RELEASE

It’s time for another FreeNAS release! FreeNAS 9.2.1.8 closes the Shellshock security vulnerability. Although FreeNAS does not use bash as the default system shell, we thought it was still worth addressing. Some of the other changes in this release include:

  • Fixed bug where use of NONE cipher in replication erroneously reported an error on a successful replication.
  • Don’t enable LZ4 compression on replication by default if upgrading from a pre-9.2.1.7 release.
  • Improve performance of viewing snapshots when replication tasks are set up.
  • Allow binding CIFS to specific IPs.
  • Fixed LDAP bind URL when using TLS.
  • Fixed a bug in the mail sending routines used by FreeNAS. With some mailserver configurations the To: address could’ve been set to root instead of the address specified in the root user.
  • Fix a bug that prevented the system from showing the replicated status of a snapshot if the remote path differed from the local path.

The full list of bugs fixed in 9.2.1.8 can be found here. We hope everyone enjoys this release of FreeNAS and as always, thanks for the support.


MeetBSD California 2014 – Last Call for Registration!

The stage is set for MeetBSD California 2014 at Western Digital’s San Jose headquarters on November 1-2. With only two weeks left, be sure to register for your spot if you haven’t done so already.

Some of the notable speakers this year include Kirk McKusick, Jordan Hubbard, & Rick Reed. BSD Now will also be conducting interviews at the conference. Check out the schedule for more information. As this is an unConference, many aspects of the schedule are left up to the attendees to determine. There will be plenty of opportunities for breakaway groups and hallway tracks for impromptu discussions. We expect this year’s MeetBSD California to be the biggest one yet—don’t miss it!



Transmission on FreeNAS

We have a new, official tutorial video about installing the Transmission plugin available on YouTube. Transmission is a fast, easy, and free BitTorrent client available on many platforms. Setup is pretty straightforward and the video runs through FreeNAS volume creation, user creation, and permissions before demonstrating how to install and configure the Transmission plugin. If you find the video helpful, be sure to take a look at the rest of our YouTube channel for more tutorials.


Obsessed with Minecraft? MineOS on FreeNAS

The name “Joshua Parker Ruehlig” may sound familiar to some of you—he’s responsible for writing several FreeNAS plugins including CouchPotato, Sick Beard, and Maraschino. Recently, he uploaded a video detailing how to install, set up, and update the MineOS plugin on FreeNAS. The MineOS plugin gives you the ability to use a web interface to create and manage Minecraft servers and also has some backup and restore features.

He’s also started a support thread to help those installing the plugin. If having your own Minecraft server sounds like fun, be sure to give this a try.


Turn FreeNAS into a Mumble Server

One of our community members posted a tutorial video showing how to install Murmur (the server side of Mumble) on FreeNAS. Mumble is an open source voice chat software that allows for encrypted communication between users and is primarily intended for use by gamers. The video demonstrates how to install the server on a FreeNAS jail and how to set up the database and superuser accounts.


Mid-range FreeNAS Build

One of our readers sent in a write up that he did of his build. Brian Cunnie built a mid-range, high-performance FreeNAS server for himself at a cost of about $2600. The write up is in-depth but easy to follow. It also runs through the installation process & basic setup with plenty of screenshots and photos of the hardware. The build itself is probably overpowered for most homes, but it’s interesting to see the different use cases people come up with for FreeNAS and the article is definitely worth a read.


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”!

October 22-23All Things Open in Raleigh, NC

October 24-26Ohio Linuxfest in Columbus, OH

November 1-2MeetBSD California in San Jose, CA

November 4-6Cloud Computing Expo in Santa Clara, CA


Tech Tip #10

If you encrypt your FreeNAS pools, make sure you keep 2 copies of your encryption key in safe places. If your boot drive dies, even the NSA won’t be able to access your files without the encryption key.


Links of the Month

Episode 59: Have You Heard of BSD? via BSD Now

Travel Grants for MeetBSD California via FreeBSD Foundation


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.

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