Today iXsystems, the company behind FreeNAS and TrueNAS introduced a new project that was notable for a number of reasons. iXsystems TrueNAS SCALE is the company’s new project that is designed to fill a major gap in the iXsystems storage portfolio. While ZFS is designed to be a great scale-up solution, a lot of the market is moving to scale-out and the company needs an offering. This marks the second major step the company is embarking on this week to start de-emphasizing FreeBSD which is important since it is a major FreeBSD project contributor.
iXsystems TrueNAS SCALE
The quick overview here is that TrueNAS Scale is a Debian Linux-based solution that brings capabilities that the company’s current TrueNAS (soon to be formerly FreeNAS) offering cannot. This includes scale-out storage, Linux containers, and converged infrastructure.
While iXsystems has added FreeBSD features over the years for jails and virtualization, there is little denying that KVM and Linux containers are a much larger ecosystem. Further, scaling-up storage in a pair of nodes is good, but many organizations are running converged virtualization and scale-out storage which is a different model. We have players such as VMware, Microsoft, and Nutanix operating under this model in the enterprise space. For an open-source parallel, it seems iXsystems has goals aligned in the future to what Proxmox VE has had for years. It is a little interesting that this is not simply a PVE fork.
Reading Between the Lines
If we read between the lines here, iXsystems is making a major push to de-emphasize FreeBSD this week. Dropping “Free” from “FreeNAS” and replacing it with “True” and “TrueNAS” is a development we already covered. See FreeNAS is Dead Long Live TrueNAS CORE. It is little coincidence that FreeBSD and FreeNAS have such a strong association. The names are very similar. If iXsystems decide in a year or two down the road to leave FreeBSD for Linux in TrueNAS that association will no longer exist.
As of now, we have the future of iXsystems platforms being built upon Debian Linux, just like Proxmox VE has been for years. With ZFS on Linux being the base now for even the company’s FreeBSD-based storage solutions, the company is likely questioning the need for FreeBSD at all.
Clearly, the move by iXsystems is a shot across the Proxmox VE bow. iXsystems is creating a project that offers many of the same features, built on the same underlying Debian Linux base. Of course, Proxmox VE has been used for years so the big question is whether team Proxmox will respond and round out their solution’s features to take away the primary benefit of FreeNAS/ TrueNAS today: easy user and share management.
In either case, it is a sad day for the FreeBSD community. With iXsystems, one of FreeBSD’s biggest supporters, effectively saying that it cannot build its next-gen solution effectively on FreeBSD, that is not a good sign. Further, we are seeing Netgate, the company behind pfSense, also feel the need to leave FreeBSD in favor of Linux for higher-end products such as the company’s TNSR. FreeNAS and pfSense have been some of the best-known FreeBSD projects, yet the organizations supporting them are signaling a shift to Linux.
There are still plenty of organizations using FreeBSD, but the roadmap for two of the OSes most well-known supporters moving to Linux is not a good omen.
Officially, we expect iXsystems to state that it fully supports FreeBSD. At the same time, the company’s actions are now clearly aligned to a future where FreeBSD support is de-emphasized, albeit to a degree we are unsure of. To our readers, it is worth being aware that the stalwarts of FreeBSD are creating their future platforms on Linux.