FreeNAS® vs Ubuntu Server with ZFS on Linux

FreeNAS and Ubuntu Linux are Open Source operating systems that support many of the same features like ZFS, SMB, copy-on-write, and snapshots. Both operating systems offer a robust feature set capable of handling NAS and SAN applications.


This Open Source project was started in October 2005 by Olivier Cochard-Labbé and quickly grew as a popular network-attached storage operating system. By September 2009, the development team realized that FreeNAS would need to be completely rewritten in order to incorporate modern features like a plugin architecture, updates to the base system, and a modern User Interface. To carry this out, the original FreeNAS Team transferred the project to iXsystems, who moved from a m0n0wall and PHP-based architecture to one based on FreeBSD’s NanoBSD embedded build system, the Python programming language, the Django CMS, and the Dojo JavaScript toolkit.

Ubuntu Server

Ubuntu Server is an operating system based on Debian Linux that offers a full range of server features. Development is funded by Canonical, which offers professional support services. Ubuntu Server differs from the desktop edition as it runs in a screen mode character-based environment, though an X Window desktop environment can be added manually. The Server edition is certified to work with VMware ESXi Server, VirtualBox, XenServer hypervisors, Microsoft Hyper-V, QEMU, Kernel-based Virtual Machine, or any other IBM PC compatible emulator or virtualizer. Ubuntu Server utilizes a linux module for kernel security by default.

Overview FreeNAS 11.1 Ubuntu
Ease of Use Graphical User Interface Defaults to command line
Documentation User Guide, How-To Videos, Training Videos Server Guide, Tutorials, Training
Certified Hardware Available Yes Yes
Open Source Licence 2-clause BSD GPL
Base Operating System FreeBSD 11.1-STABLE Linux
File System OpenZFS ZFS on Linux
Architecture 64-bit 32-bit, 64-bit, ARM, POWER8, LinuxONE
Downloads Over 10 million Unknown
Development Language Python, Angular C, C++
Open Source Repository
Core Developers 33 Canonical
Forums 62,500+ users and over 434,000 posts
YouTube Community Videos 61,800+ results 83,300+ results
Social Media 25,000+ Facebook likes, 10,300 Twitter followers, 3,400+ Google+ members 1,334,900+ Facebook likes, 291,000+ Twitter followers, 284,900+ Google+ members (note that these are not Server specific)
Restorability Download/Upload configuration file, default settings restore, boot environments none built-in
Built-in Visual Reporting CPU, disk, memory, network, processes, uptime, iSCSI, ZFS none built-in
Supported Disk Configurations Stripe, mirror, RAIDZ1, Z2, Z3, hot-swap RAID0, 1, 4, 5, 6, 10
Third Party Application Support Plugins, Jails, Bhyve VMs, Docker VMs dpkg, Apt, Aptitude
GUI Configurable File System Features Compression, deduplication, instantaneous snapshots, remote replication, disk encryption none built-in
Alert Services GUI and email alerts, integration with AWS-SNS, Hipchat, InfluxDB, Slack, Mattermost, OpsGenie, PagerDuty, VictorOps none built-in
Built-in Sharing Protocols SMB, NFS, AFP, WebDAV none built-in
Built-in Block Protocols iSCSI none built-in
Other Built-in Protocols rsync, FTP, TFTP, LLDP, SSH, DDNS, SNMP rsync
Built-in Cloud Synchronization Amazon S3, Azure, Backblaze B2, Google Cloud none built-in
Built-in Directory Services Active Directory, LDAP, Kerberos, NIS none built-in
Built-in Hardware Protocols S.M.A.R.T., UPS none built-in
Built-in Virtualization Bhyve, Docker none built-in

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