FreeNAS Corral Canned – Development Essentially Halted for Now

27
FreeNAS Corral Finished
FreeNAS Corral Finished

I know a large portion of STH readers use FreeNAS for their storage needs. For those who need a bit of background, FreeNAS is a wildly popular FreeBSD NAS OS supported by iXsystems. FreeNAS Corral launched about a month ago. Since then, Jordan Hubbard the lead on the project departed the company. It seems like that vacuum has had some consequence. The FreeNAS team after over a year of development on FreeNAS Corral decided to essentially call it quits on the new release.

You can read the full announcement here, but I am going to provide you with the highlights and some observations.

FreeNAS Corral “Stable” to “Technology Preview”

There are very few times that a company comes out with a new release after multiple betas, calling it the new Stable, only to downgrade it to a Technology Preview four weeks later. That seems to be what happened.

Here is a summary of the announcement’s description of what happened:

  • FreeNAS Corral was the project of a now departed project lead
  • When the lead left, the team supporting the old 9.10 codebase won an internal discussion of whether to support the new platform or to integrate features into the old system
  • The UI was based on a niche kit instead of a widely used standard so that was seen as a major hindrance as well as some items under the hood
  • A decision was made to essentially abandon Corral and instead build on the legacy code base.

For users that is bad. Having done large go/no-go decisions in consulting (e.g. one where I watched a ~$6B divestiture get canned due to commodity pricing as an example) these are very emotional decisions that are not taken likely. For the iXsystems team, I am sure the process was gut wrenching.

Why This is Killer

FreeNAS Corral Finished
FreeNAS Corral Finished

In the last two hours since the announcement, I have already received over a dozen e-mails asking if we could explore other NAS OSes. Our initial read is that we have a lot of readers spooked by trusting storage that is reverting after a month.

The next FreeNAS 9.10.3 release is expected to be out next month. For users actively utilizing VMs and Docker functionality within FreeNAS Corral, you are essentially stuck. Rolling back means losing those VMs. In fact, Cliff’s guide on Ubiquiti UniFi on FreeNAS STH published today we can no longer recommend undertaking.

Also, as of now, we can no longer recommend FreeNAS for any type of hyper-converged appliance. We know many of our readers were using VMs/ Docker functionality. At this point, we are going to say it is time to halt those ambitions for a few quarters. The move from FreeNAS 9.10 to Corral saw the depreciation of jails for running workloads a month ago. Four weeks later, the VM/ Docker functionality now has an ETA of May with FreeNAS 9.10.3 version until we get some of that functionality back. For those considering doing work in the meantime, this warning is in the announcement:

“This also means it is unlikely you will be able to migrate configuration settings from Corral -> the next FreeNAS Corral product (however, your data will always be importable).” [emphasis added]

What STH Will Do

We hear your comments and are taking feedback as to how STH will proceed in terms of coverage. We did have a series about FreeNAS Corral coming out soon and will likely shelf that and use resources to explore potential alternative storage options. FreeNAS is still a great system that we really like, however, the idea of having time in limbo we know is scary and having weeks of essentially throw-away work building VMs in Corral is painful.

Alas, FreeNAS still provides a ton of value for its users and is still the best free option out there. You should be able to roll-back to FreeNAS 9.10 with a major caveat. The great features like bhyve VMs and Docker containers we know many folks have been using will not stick.

Head to the STH forums if you are looking for alternatives, help to migrate or want to share what you are doing moving forward.

27 COMMENTS

  1. “Also, as of now, we can no longer recommend FreeNAS for any type of hyper-converged appliance.”
    How about you don’t recommend Hyper-convergence in the first place. It’s marketing hype that people have bought into as the next great thing.

  2. Loving more and more my humble Ubuntu Server + Docker. Wish the best of luck to all new and old Freenas users.

  3. That`s what I had before FreeNAS and that`s what I`ll go back to. I was loving the FreeNAS Corral UI though, wished I had something similar in Ubuntu.

  4. Totally incredible, this is what happens when you don’t listen to people filing bugs and posting on your forums TELLING YOU it’s got problems.
    (in this instance, the FreeNAS forum members, myself included)

    What a joke, thank god I didn’t upgrade.

  5. I upgraded my production box broke everything. Found out nothing in new ui worked correctly. Had to reinstall 9.10 to go back since it jacked up my datasets. Then installed 10 on test system it was not even close to being ready for release. Sad I had high hopes being a fan of 9.10

  6. I am going g to move to unRaid. I can’t go back to that 9.10 interface. I love the docker integration, have already moved my unifi controller, pihole and few other tiny VM’s into docker. This is very disappointing.

    That they were selling hardware with 10 preinstalled, is horrible.

  7. UnRAID does not have a ‘main dev’ leaving the company problem. Tom at Limetech owns the company and is actively supporting, upgrading, and running the business. Developers come and go but Tom remains the same.

    Now you don’t have the enterprise level of support as you would from iXSystems with unRAID as LT does not offer support types like that. If you were a SMB UnRAID is just fine, for enterprise? Never.

    Also most of the docker images come from the community as a whole vs LT so if there are updates you are relying on others to update and validate your images instead of a company.

  8. I still think they are using GPL code that hasn’t been released, or that was the case last I checked

  9. im very disappointed about that.
    we have started with freenas corral last december with nightlies, spent some thousands euros in enterprise hardware. and spent some hundreds of hours to configuration etc,
    after the corral stable release we have started migrating all production data to corral.

    we have some production ERP + CRM mssql servers running on corral docker containers + mailserver as vms etc.

    and now have to start from scratch with everything ?
    no way.

    will stay on corral 10.0.4 till we find some alternatives to freenas.

  10. From talking to people FreeNAS Corral is not dead, it has been downgraded from release to tech preview. It looks like they are back-porting what they can from 10 to 9.x to avoid the loss of speed and stability that some saw and then moving forward with small progressions instead of a big jump. Docker and VMs look to be back-ported along with doing something with the UI to migrate away from a dead framework. This looks like it has been handled quite well, accepting the problem and attempting to mitigate with minimal impact. I see nowhere that Corral is dead. I do think releasing Corral was a bad call and more should have been done to solve these issues before but hindsight is 20/20.

    ‘Important announcement regarding FreeNAS Corral’ on the FreeNAS forum seems to explain things reasonably well.

  11. Thank goodness I hadn’t updated yet. Was waiting for the first dot release to come out before considering it… still on 9.10.2

  12. All of you miss the point of freenas. It is an open source project. We should be encouraging people to putback and fill the voids. IX doesn’t have to drive or own it. Others can contribute.

    FreeNAS is not a enterprise release.

  13. Now this would be a great crowd/cloud funded project (kickstarter, …). Raise a pool of money for forking.

  14. For once in my technology life I made a wise move. Moved my home server from Freenas 9 to Corral and seeing that the new structure was a little more complicated I decided to go to a raw debian solution.

  15. Contributing Code = Hard
    Complaining Online = Easy

    If people would live by the premise of ‘put up or shut up’ things would be better all around, but most people would rather armchair quarterback open source projects instead of putting in the hard work themselves. It’s rather funny to see people bitching about how a free product doesn’t work 100% the way they personally want it to — if they want a solution that’s perfectly tailored to their needs — they need to code it themselves or pay someone else to code it for them.

  16. I played with many of the complex NAS builds and ‘hyper-converged’ systems before settling on Proxmox. I am shocked at the failure of FreeNAS, from what I saw v10 was what I was hoping for in FreeNAS, it looked to resolve my hangups about FreeNAS. But I fear FreeNAS is more about tinkering than usability going forward.

  17. I’m still running Corral 10.4 which is vastly improved over 10.2. I don’t have interest in VMs or Dockers on my NAS at the moment and frankly I applaud iX for pulling back. I LOVE the interface of Corral and hope that they port over new functions to 9.10.x and stabilize there while they continue to work on Corral being production ready.

  18. IX makes money from Enterprise; Enterprise gives no f*s about hyper-converged; only consumers do.

  19. And still NAS4Free the original FreeNAS OS functions way proper over the years than FreeNAS by IX ever did.
    Always something with FreeNAS. I switched back to NAS4Free after Corral release and wish i did do sooner.

    NAS4Free stays to the roots of NAS storage.

  20. As John J. points out: “All of you miss the point of freenas…FreeNAS is not a enterprise release.”

    That is, FreeNAS is, and will always be (for all intents and purposes) the beta version of TrueNAS. If you want Enterprise class stability and support, use TrueNAS. If you want something that works darn well, but is officially unsupported and could potentially have experimental features and/or problems, use FreeNAS.

    In my book, bhyve is nowhere near KVM, VMware, or even Xen. So it would be my last choice on anything but experimental stuff anyway (that said, I have several bhyve hypervisors).

  21. Those complaining about FreeNAS Corral are a bunch of punk A#% Bit@$S. Now LOOK WHAT YOU HAVE DONE!!! I love this blog, where I can use four letter words.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here