TrueNAS CORE is the new FreeNAS


April 15, 2020

TrueNAS CORE is the New FreeNAS

We have previously announced the merger of FreeNAS and TrueNAS into a unified software image and new naming convention. FreeNAS is becoming TrueNAS CORE. TrueNAS is becoming TrueNAS Enterprise. We’ve appreciated all of the positive feedback tremendously but noticed there were a few common questions from some of our more skeptical community members or ones that haven’t yet worked closely with iXsystems:
Will TrueNAS CORE still be open source and free?  
The answer is 100% yes.
Will TrueNAS CORE have fewer features than FreeNAS?  
The answer is 100% no. In fact, TrueNAS CORE will have MORE features than FreeNAS does today.
Will any “free” features now only be made available in TrueNAS Enterprise?
Nope. We have no intention of removing features from TrueNAS CORE. Hopefully, we’ve eased your minds. 🙂
TrueNAS Open Storage
Before we dive in and illustrate further the points above by comparing the features of FreeNAS, TrueNAS CORE, and TrueNAS Enterprise, let’s first do a quick recap of the benefits the FreeNAS/TrueNAS Unification plan delivers for all users and contributors:

  • Rapid Development: Unified images accelerate software development and releases (for example, 12.0 is a major release that would normally have taken 9-12 months to release, and with these new efficiencies, we are bringing that closer to six months)
  • Improved Quality: Reduced development redundancy and unified QA increases software quality and allows us to streamline testing
  • Earlier Hardware Enablement: Staying in-sync with upstream OS versions will be easier, allowing earlier access to newer hardware drivers. For instance, 12.0 brings improved support for AMD EPYC / Ryzen platforms and enhanced NUMA support for more efficient CPU core handling.
  • Simplified Documentation: Unified documentation eliminates redundancy such as separate user guides
  • Reduced Redundancy: Unified web content and videos refer to one software family without the need for duplication
  • Flexibility: Unified images enable simpler transitions or upgrades between editions
  • Resource efficiency: Frees up developers to work on new features and related products
  • OpenZFS 2.0: The planning for the “unified” 12.0 release began over a year ago and included the major investment in the development and integration of what will soon be released as “OpenZFS 2.0”. This effort is fast-forwarding delivery of advances like dataset encryption, major performance improvements, and compatibility with Linux ZFS pools. 

In a nutshell: huge efficiency gains equal higher quality software, released faster.

TrueNAS CORE Features

FreeNAS 11.3 has a very rich set of features, and TrueNAS CORE adds incrementally and significantly to that list. Again, no features are being harmed in the transition to TrueNAS CORE :-). In fact, “CORE” is an acronym that makes a commitment to our community that all the core functionality that FreeNAS users love will always be included in TrueNAS CORE, the best free NAS software (see what we did there?). 
TrueNAS CORE acronym
The comprehensive feature list for TrueNAS 12.0 is actually quite enormous. To make it manageable, we’ve created a master feature list below. The features in black were existent in FreeNAS 11.3 and are shared by both TrueNAS CORE and TrueNAS Enterprise. The features in blue are new features being added with TrueNAS 12.0. The column to the right displays features that are available in TrueNAS Enterprise only. As you can see, no existing FreeNAS features have been moved over to the Enterprise column.
TrueNAS 12.0 features
TrueNAS Enterprise has additional features that are needed for deployment in production applications. Many of these features are tied to the ability to support High Availability (HA) systems. 
By default, all new TrueNAS 12.0 features are included in both TrueNAS CORE and Enterprise. The feature additions for TrueNAS 12.0 can be summarized as:

Metadata on Flash: Special SSD vdevs can be used for Metadata acceleration. This can include both file systems metadata and dedupe tables. This is one of the core features of OpenZFS 2.0.
Fusion Pools: The special SSD vdevs can also be used for data based on I/O write size. This is configurable on a per dataset basis.  Users can accelerate database datasets or special VMs.
SSD Wear Monitoring: Any SSD (Boot, L2ARC, slog or vdev) can be monitored for wear and alerts created.
Dataset Encryption: Specific datasets can be selected or deselected for encryption with a user-provided key. When replicating the dataset to another TrueNAS, the key does not have to be provided and so the data can be transmitted and stored in the original encrypted state.
Asynchronous ZFS Trim: Trim commands free up space, particularly within SSDs. By making these Trim commands asynchronous, they scale and perform better. This is particularly useful for deduplication of flash storage and can significantly reduce costs.
Faster ZFS Boot: OpenZFS 2.0 includes a more parallel process for importing a ZFS pool with many drives. This reduces boot and failover times.
ZFS Linux Compatibility: Linux and FreeBSD are peer operating systems for OpenZFS 2.0. Compressed, deduplicated, and encrypted data can be efficiently replicated from a Linux host to a TrueNAS system for backup and archive. It is also possible to import a pool (drive set) from Linux to TrueNAS.
Accelerated ZFS: Several performance improvements have been made to reduce both drive IOPS and the CPU cycles required. More features and higher performance together is a big win for ZFS users :-).
OpenVPN Client and Server: VPNs provide security for remotely accessing storage services, such as SMB or NFS, across the Internet. This feature enables the OpenVPN Client or Server to be included in the NAS for simpler administration and lower costs. The other end of the VPN connection can be any OpenVPN client, such as another NAS, Firewall Device, or Personal Desktop/Laptop.  
Two Factor Authentication: For increased security, two factor authentication is highly desirable. TrueNAS ensures that a compromised root password cannot be used by itself to gain access to the administrator interface.
API Keys: Access to the REST / WebSockets API can now be done by API key. Keys can be created and revoked directly via the WebUI for additional security.
KMIP Support: Key Management Interoperability Protocol (KMIP) is an enterprise-grade approach to securing systems and data through a centralized key management system. This feature will be available in TrueNAS Enterprise to secure drives or datasets. 
TrueCommand Dataset Management: TrueCommand is joined at the hip with TrueNAS and will provide some exciting features, including snapshotting, replicating, and migrating datasets between systems.
There should be something for everybody in this list. We hope you’re as excited by the increase in productivity as our devs are!

Onward to TrueNAS CORE!

TrueNAS 12.0 will go through the same NIGHTLY, ALPHA (Internal), BETA, RC1, RELEASE, UPDATE states that FreeNAS has gone through. There will be no changes to the software update process or the information available. There is a TrueNAS 12.0 sub-forum on the community forums for this unification process and community feedback. 
The TrueNAS CORE 12.0 nightly builds have reached a stage where they are largely “feature complete”. Some UI polish and a lot of testing is needed to get to RELEASE deployment quality. We appreciate developers and testers who work with these early images. Bugs that are caught and reported early are going to have less impact on the final schedule.

Still the Best Free NAS

Still open, still free, just with more features and a new brand. Nothing much will change in the UI dashboard. However, TrueNAS CORE will have the option to use a FreeNAS theme for those as attached to the FreeNAS name as we are!
FreeNAS UI dashboard
TrueNAS CORE pictured with the “FreeNAS theme” for diehards and nostalgists alike!
We hope you are sharing in the excitement for TrueNAS CORE & Enterprise as we move closer to our release date. If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear them on the forums or in response to this blog. If you need additional information on how TrueNAS can streamline, accelerate, and unify data management for your business, email us. In the meantime, download FreeNAS 11.3 today in preparation, and you can later upgrade to TrueNAS CORE 12.0 with a single click!

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