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.

FreeNAS Plugins (Everything You Ever Wanted to Know)

Written by James T. Nixon III on .

In this article, we will look at the FreeNAS plugin architecture from the perspective of a programmer, how to develop a plugin, and review the transmission plugin.

What you will learn…

  • How the FreeNAS plugin architecture works
  • How to make FreeNAS plugins

what you should know…

  • Basic understanding of FreeBSD
  • Some programming knowledge

When FreeNAS entered the 8.x series, many people were not happy that functionality that previously existed was no longer included. Such functionality was mainly multimedia focused and targeted at the home user. Services such as bittorrent, DLNA and iTunes media services are the primary examples. Beginning with FreeNAS 8.2.0, a plugin architecture was introduced. This architecture allows FreeNAS systems to be extended in any way that the user sees fit. The purpose of this paper is to describe the technical details of how the architecture works so that plugin authors have the knowledge to create new plugins. As a working example, the transmission bittorrent client plugin will be reviewed.

FreeNAS is a very powerful open source operating system based on FreeBSD. However, once you get beyond all the great capabilities it offers, your options for extending it become limited. Your choices are using FreeBSD’s built in package management system, or modifying the source code and building your own image.