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/