FreeNAS is Dead Long Live TrueNAS CORE

IXsystems TrueNAS Core
IXsystems TrueNAS Core

Yeah. I feel like that title is akin to telling someone they lost a car full of loved ones. When I first heard about this over lunch with Brett Davis EVP at iXsystems my reaction was twofold: 1) It is probably the right move. 2) I do not envy your position having to break the news to the community. Brett assured me the name was the big change, and that they are going to keep a free and open-source version.

Why FreeNAS is Being Re-branded to TrueNAS CORE

In chatting with Brett, he told me that the big driver is cost. Keeping TrueNAS and FreeNAS separate doubled a lot of effort within the company. In the end, that increases costs and means they are not moving as fast as they can be. Over the years we have gotten new pieces of hardware in the STH lab, only to find that FreeNAS did not support a driver because it had yet to make its way into FreeBSD. Once FreeBSD got it, there was a lag until FreeNAS had the driver. An example of this is that TrueNAS Core 12.0 will bring enhanced AMD EPYC and Ryzen support which many of our readers will want. If unifying that base means we can test hardware on TrueNAS Core faster, then that can be a good thing.

My sense is that TrueNAS Core is going to stay a free piece of software. This is a lot like how many open software platforms have a free tier, then higher-tiered commercial options. I asked why it is not just called TrueNAS community edition, and I was told that internally engineers were not fond of calling it “community” because that makes one think of severely constrained features.

By unifying the stack, that also means that iXsystems is going to need to decide which edition of TrueNAS new features fall into beyond underpinnings and UI upgrades. Hopefully, that is a line they can navigate.

FreeNAS Mini XL Plus Cover
FreeNAS Mini XL Plus Cover

Another interesting aspect is that by unifying into TrueNAS Core and a single platform with licensed features, we can imagine a day where one installs TrueNAS Core in a proof of concept, then has an option to upgrade to additional features and support via a license key upgrade. While the idea of paid and FreeNAS is fairly opposite, I do think this is will save a number of folks a lot of time because they can migrate a POC solution to a production solution instead of having to re-install and re-setup.

Final Words

This is one of those decisions that on one hand, I personally wish we could keep FreeNAS. On the other hand, I understand why the change is being made. I was at least happy to chat with Brett and get the sense that this was not a decision taken lightly by someone in marketing.

FreeNAS branding will go away in future versions, but iXsystems is leaving a FreeNAS theme that one can use.

FreeNAS Mini XL Plus Management Dashboard
FreeNAS Mini XL Plus Management Dashboard

TrueNAS Core is scheduled to replace FreeNAS starting with version 12.0 which should go stable around Q3 2020. That is still some time out so we may see changes here. It also gives our readers and users of FreeNAS some time to acclimate to the adjustment. It was strange editing the iXsystems FreeNAS Mini E+ Launched and 2nd Gen Mini Retired article last week after I had heard about the change coming.

One thing is for sure, even after my discussion with Brett, I do not wish to spend the day in his shoes today.

You can read the iXsystems blog here.


  1. I didn’t even know they had a business model where they actually sold software for about a year, so the renaming makes sense.

  2. They could keep FreeNAS alive by making it the upstream of TrueNAS, kind of like how Fedora and CentOS (eventually?) are the upstream of RHEL. Canonical gets into trouble because the product they charge for, Ubuntu, is the same as their freebie, Ubuntu, and everyone thinks Ubuntu is free.

    Red Hat keeping its products separate from the upstream projects they’re derived from is smart. People associate $$$ with the brand name, and they associate free with the project. Ex: JBoss costs money, and WildFly is free.

  3. I’ll fondly miss using FreeNAS after 10 years even if it’s just a name change-a-roo. I think I’m with the author. It’s not happy feels but they’ll be something missing that I’ll get over.

  4. Guys, you will only miss FreeNAS if you will refuse using the FreeNAS UI theme. Much ado about nothing, me thinks…

  5. I prefer to stick with original code of FreeNAS, now developed under name XigmaNAS. It’s low on resources and has no delay in releases compared to FreeBSD. Nothing fancy, but it contains every feature needed for NAS and small server.

  6. My concern is once this gets a big enough adoption, they will abandon the free version and make it commercial only. This is has been repeated over and over. This is the business model.

  7. Anyone who needs a solid and free apppliance that does ZFS well can just go with the original FreeNAS (obviously developed and improved upon a lot since then) that this FreeNAS forked from and got the name from. For a while, they went with NAS4Free, but these days it’s called XigmaNAS. It’s not as pretty as FreeNAS but it gets the job done and had a quite lightweight GUI. If Ixsystems start to play a bit fast and loose with what is and is not included in the free “core”, there are viable options out there that aren’t watered down.


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