Author Archive

Handmade NAS

Written by James T. Nixon III on .

What you will learn…

  • FreeBSD setup with ZFS as root filesystem
  • Basic file sharing with smb, afp and ftp server
  • Use these as building blocks for a full fledge NAS

What you should know…

  • FreeBSD installation
  • Network configuration
  • Port installation & configuration


In the past, the term NAS (Network Attached Storage) was used to be associated with large expensive network and enterprise grade luxurious fileserver. At that time, who would have thought that hard disk and RAM becomes a common commodity that usual folks like us will posses.

From Reading to Real Life

Written by James T. Nixon III on .

When I’ve heard that the next issue of BSD Magazine will be dedicated to FreeNAS, the idea came to my mind. I thought that we need a demo!

NetOpenServices ( gave me the opportunity to do it. Opportunity not only in terms of hosting but also in terms of security. I’m aware that giving out the admin account has it consequences. The demo is hosted like a professional one, so there should be no problems with keeping up the host, even if it will appear popular among BSD Magazine readers.

The FreeNOS is a name for a FreeNAS 8.3.1 demo host, that you can find at There is no catch – you can play with all the stuff freely and you can even destroy all of the data! Everything can be done with no consequences for the rest of the hosting, since every two hours a kind of refresh of all the components is done automatically. So, every two hours all the data is erased. That’s what I call a real demo.

To play, you have a full VM with 8 Go of RAM, and 12 virtual HD of 40 Go.

Figure 1. System

The plugins system is up, with two plugins: Firefly and Transmission.

Figure 2. Plugins

For the demo, you have a user called ‘bsdmag’ to test the ‘shell’ for example.

Figure 3. Shell

I’ve put the maximum number of services up.

Figure 4. Services

I’m really impressed by the work done by FreeNAS on ZFS, so I have divided the disks into encrypted ZFS. During your tests you can change it, erase, or do whatever else you want.

Figure 5. ZFS

All who want to test it, need to send an e-mail to only, with ‘FreeNAS – BSDMAG’ in the subject of a message to receive all the login/password details.

The demo is for all April and I’m working on extending its validity. Don’t hesitate to e-mail with a subject “FreeNAS demo” to explain that you would like it to be available longer.

I wish you enjoy the reading and let the show begin! Come and play with FreeNAS!

FreeNAS: a Migration Story

Written by James T. Nixon III on .


In 2010 I was employed as system administrator, and one of my aims was to administer the file sharing service. After having tried a few different solutions, all based on Linux and well known protocols (CIFS and Netatalk), I decided to switch to FreeNAS. And while it was an old version, and therefore without all the today’s gadgets, the choice was the right one and even years after I left the company, the other admins are able to run the machine without any problems.

This article briefly summarizes the migration process and what advantages the usage of FreeNAS provided. This is not a technical article, it is just a “tale” of how I’ve managed the migration. Please note, that the way described here could not be the best one or the one, that applies best to other scenarios.