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.
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.
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.
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.