iXsystems Starts De-emphasizing FreeBSD for TrueNAS Scale Out Project

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IXsystems TrueNAS Scale Github
IXsystems TrueNAS Scale Github

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.

You can read more about the new project here. You can check out the source code for the project on GitHub.

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.

Final Words

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.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Wowza. Buh bye FreeBSD.

    Why didn’t ixsystems just fork proxmox? With all the issues they’ve had recently you’d think they’d want to build on a more stable platform. Yea I got bit by the SMB bug and said f-this so I’m leaving Truenas core next month for either Unraid or proxmox

  2. It seems like storagreview is non stop plugging Truenas now. I don’t read their stuff but I’ve been seeing more headlines.

  3. May be now ProxMox will finally introduce some more common sense container support. LXC is cool but it get more and more niche and few management tools work with them out of the box.

  4. With common sense you mean Docker? Overlayfs doesn’t work on top of ZFS. So will probably never make it into proxmox.

  5. Two features Proxmox needs in my mind are the user and share management as one. You can do it today but it sucks compared to Truenas. The other is k8s support. Do those 2 and Truenas scale is unnecessary

  6. Glad I have my own FreeBSD ZFS based NAS server. No f*cking way I will ever run GNU/Linux for that or anything that isn’t an appliance.

  7. @Alex. I was about to post the same thing but I went to the link and saw this:

    * ZFS is not supported on Docker EE or CS-Engine, or any [non Ubuntu] platforms.

    That’s a little disconcerting.

    BTW, further down one can read:

    “The /Single Copy ARC/ feature of ZFS allows a single cached copy of a block to be shared by multiple clones”

    What is that Single Copy stuff? I cannot find any mention of it. I thought blocks in the ARC are immutable (they are separate from the page cache) and are naturally shared between clones – it’s the nature of CoW filesystems. Or is /that/ what they mean?

  8. @Nikolay,

    cached blocks in the ARC are shared between clones. You are right about that. But only since end of 2012 or so. Before that time, ZFS implementations cached the same block separately for each clone (or some similiar ARC behavior). Most if not all ZFS implementations implemented “single copy ARC” around the end of 2012, and -i believe- since then it is standard ARC behavior.

  9. “Reading between the lines” – come now, this is pure speculation. Scale-out software means Linux; scale-up as in TrueNAS Core and Enterprise is staying on FreeBSD. Why read more into it than is there?

    @Kelper You are leaving TrueNAS Core – so you’re running nightlies? Those aren’t stable. That thing isn’t even in Beta1 yet. Nothing wrong with kicking the tires on a nightly, and really, it’s unpaid beta-testing. In my testing, SMB broke a few times with the nightly, and is stable now. It’s been stable on FreeNAS (release) for the 1 1/2 years I’ve been running that.

  10. IMO, one of the things that is persuasive about pfsense and FreeNAS is that they’re on FreeBSD. If they’re going to base these on Linux then they become just one more firewall or NAS distro or appliance.

    I also like to see some variety in terms of OSes and platforms that I use. A monoculture isn’t good.

  11. @Stuart, lets start with counting to three: Linux, macOS, Windows. How many more OS would be required for you to stop seeing a monoculture?

  12. It’s nice to have an honest site that doesn’t take vendor BS. They’re clearly looking to ditch FreeBSD. They stayed FreeBSD this long to keep ZFS. Now that ZFS is Linux, they’re no longer on the primary platform. Linux is a healthier ecosystem. They’re trying not to let the FreeBSD people all know that they’re leaving. It’ll take time, but if you’re looking to grow in Linux your good people are going to that effort. Nobody wants to support the old product. It happens at every product company. It sucks to be a FreeBSD dev and see this.

  13. This is exciting. I just hope they have a good way to backup VMs which has been a big gap with Proxmox.

  14. Linux is NOT a healthier ecosystem with systemD eating everything. Linux is becoming a monoculture based around SystemD…Linus has not excised systemD fromt he ecosystem..he doesn’t have an issue with it…yet as systemD has not taken over the kernel….yet.

  15. Healthier ecosystem ? It is and always will be chaos town ! How many out-of-band patches does RH, Debian, Gentoo, SuSE, Ubuntu use for base software x.y.z ? The BSDs don’t have those headaches … On the other most third party dev happens on Linux and will require substantially less porting and patching up.

  16. Well ixsystems has confirmed most of what is in this article:
    https://www.ixsystems.com/blog/truenas-multi-os/

    So they converged the codebases of Free/TRUeNas to ‘speed up development”:. However they now have another codebase to maintain in SCALE>

    Considering the past two releases of Free/True(or whatever they clal it now) have had SERIOUS regressions that have required emergency patching…it looks like the days of solid code for freenas are gone…and scale is now also going to be a bug ridden mess….

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