TrueNAS CORE makes ZFS Easy


July 20, 2020

The merger of FreeNAS and TrueNAS into a unified software image and new naming convention is well under way. FreeNAS is becoming TrueNAS CORE. TrueNAS is becoming TrueNAS Enterprise. The schedule for TrueNAS 12.0 was made available on the forums and we released the BETA1 version on June 30. There are already over 1,500 TrueNAS CORE users and testers.
We were very fortunate to have Jim Salter of Ars Technica review the TrueNAS 12.0 BETA1 release as the “easy mode for ZFS”. Jim is a prolific reviewer of IT technology, a podcast host (2.5 Admins), and a serious ZFS developer in his own right. We expected a tough and thorough review of TrueNAS CORE and that’s what we got. It’s also a very educational review, so we heartily recommend it to both existing FreeNAS and new TrueNAS users who are looking to use TrueNAS CORE.
Some of the highlights of the review identified areas where TrueNAS has improved significantly over the years:

    • The first-boot phase of a TrueNAS CORE installation is the simplest OS installation we’ve ever seen.


    • Assuming you have all those things, the [Active Directory] domain join process in TrueNAS Core works lightning fast; it’s enormously faster than joining an actual Windows PC to the domain.


    • Creating a new share mapped to our dataset exposes some of TrueNAS’s best “easy mode” functionality—Windows ACLs (Access Control Lists) work right out of the box, meaning that adjusting file and folder permissions from File Explorer on Windows Clients will just work. Trying to get this right on a Linux system is just plain painful, so this is an important feature and a positive differentiator for TrueNAS and other systems which offer it.


    • FreeNAS, and now TrueNAS CORE, have come a long way in the past several years. TrueNAS CORE is an easy way for a home admin or hobbyist who’s a little nervous about the command line to maintain a truly robust, feature-rich ZFS storage server. It’s also good for potential TrueNAS Enterprise customers to get their feet wet with a free edition that looks just like what they’ll be working with if they pull the trigger on a commercial license.


TrueNAS CORE is still BETA

While the general quality of TrueNAS 12.0 BETA relative to 11.3 is still good, it is still BETA. Jim identified two bugs (NAS-106638, NAS-106665 – both have been resolved in the NIGHTLY images) and suggested several places where we could improve the web UI. We’ll be incorporating that feedback. He also highlighted that we added the new ZFS pool feature flag called log_spacemap.
There were some ACL challenges identified: “it’s not entirely clear which parts of the dialog apply to the global Unix permissions and which side apply to the inside of the actual ACLs—the two are entirely separate in reality but are jumbled together in a single dialog here.” On review, this happened because the dataset was set up as “generic” type which is Unix-style and not “SMB”. To avoid the issue, make sure datasets are created as “SMB”.
Pointing out the log_spacemap addition is very useful to the community. TrueNAS uses this feature to ensure performance is relatively stable as a ZFS pool fills up. The log_spacemap makes it easier for ZFS to find free disk space for new writes in a full and fragmented pool. As with any new ZFS feature, enabling this feature flag does not cause any replication issues, but may restrict the ability to import the pool on an older ZFS environment. The feature is optionally enabled on upgrade to 12.0 and should only be enabled once you’ve determined you will not be rolling back to a previous version of ZFS.
Some slight performance issues were identified which could be improved. Again, being BETA, we plan to address performance more systematically in the next version of TrueNAS 12.0 (BETA2) with some significant SMB and ZFS improvements.

Progress toward TrueNAS 12.0 RELEASE!

TrueNAS 12.0 is still on schedule. The TrueNAS 12.0 BETA1 stage has had relatively few and minor issues and almost 10X more testing than 11.3 BETA. However, there are some significant ZFS and SMB performance changes being made that deserve another test cycle and so the next version will be called TrueNAS 12.0 BETA2 and will be available in mid-August.
The TrueNAS 12.0 sub-forum on the Community forums is the best place for Community information and feedback.
The new TrueNAS 12.0 documentation is more modular and expandable. The Community is invited to edit and contribute. Please check out the documentation even if you don’t upgrade today.
TrueNAS CORE, formerly “FreeNAS”, will still be the Best Free NAS. If you need additional information on how TrueNAS can streamline, accelerate, and unify data management for your business, email us.
For those with FreeNAS 11.3 installed on your system, you can upgrade to TrueNAS 12.0 BETA with a single click! Otherwise, download TrueNAS 12.0 BETA and get started. Onward to BETA2!

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