Can I please have a small footprint TrueNAS?

Can I please have a small footprint TrueNAS?

The NAS marketplace is filled with small appliance NAS devices, often built on an ARM device platform. These small devices, such as 2009's iomega StorCenter IX2-dl (2x 3.5" HDD) and 2019's Synology DS419slim (4x 2.5" HDD) are handfuls of modest network storage joy.

iomega-storcenter-ix2-nas-1.jpg DS419slim.jpg

My companies own and use a number of these devices. They're small and practical for certain use cases.

We've had numerous discussions over the years in the FreeNAS forums about why this seems difficult to duplicate with FreeNAS, and in one thread, I went to a little extra effort to talk about it, which @Ericloewe ended up trashing for unrelated reasons. We agreed that this is nevertheless an interesting topic, and I wanted to not-lose this information. I don't know exactly what is going to happen with this. I am kinda hoping people discuss the ins and outs of any solutions they find.

The fundamental problem is that you're going to find it extremely difficult to build a competent small form factor system out of generic parts.

Companies like HP put significant effort and customization into designing things like the HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus, which at 10"x10"x5" is about 500 cubic inches.

Compare that to your Bitfenix Phenom M at 13"x15"x10" or about 1950 cubic inches, nearly 4x as large.

Or the Supermicro SYS-5029S-TN2, the SC721 chassis, similar to the FreeNAS Mini, at 10"x8"x11", or 880 cubic inches, which is one of the most compact things you can easily get made out of at least somewhat generic standards-compliant parts.

The reason that the HP MicroServer is 500 cubic inches is because they started out from the beginning with a blank slate and no requirement that they conform to any standards. Ditching standards and just doing their own thing is how they make those tiny EliteDesk thingys too.

Trying to compete with this with a homebuilt is difficult. You have obvious issues and problems with things such as excess cable slack, and most people building a NAS do not have the supplies on hand to do stuff like customizing the length of PSU cabling to get rid of excess cable. This does indeed, as you note, make cable management very difficult.

Just look at how compact that HP box is. There's nothing there but drives, board, and fans... the astute reader will note that they've cheated by externalizing the PSU. :smile:


Now just to be clear, I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade here. I'm actually circling around to make a point. And the point is that you probably shouldn't obsess too much over space efficiency. It's really hard to do well, and the big PC standard components do not work out too well in any of these.

Previous threads such as this one:

haven't come to any particularly happy conclusion. There are a few suggestions in the hardware guides such as over at

But in general, small footprint systems are hard to come by. I am happy to spotlight any good solutions that come along. We've had a number of bad solutions appear over the years, usually with cooling-related problems.
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It this point, supporting Raspberry Pi4 should be expected of a broadly available system like TrueNAS. There are other, good, 64bit arm boards, but the RPi does dominate the market and it is 'easy' to build a complete system around it. This would easily fit into the space recommendations in this article.
TrueNAS requires a minimum 16GB RAM, though it can run on 8GB in a somewhat limited mode.

I have a specialized FreeBSD variant that works on ARM, and runs at least as a VM on ESXi ARM Fling (I haven't tried bare Pi lately). I can say that there's some differences between AMD64 and ARM64 especially around bootloader and device support, but it is probably not an insurmountable challenge to get TrueNAS running on ARM.

However, "should be expected" would appear to misunderstand the nature of TrueNAS. The developers are not actually developing this so that it will run on any platform ever. It is intended for the TrueNAS Enterprise systems that iXsystems sells (which in turn fund development), a very specific platform. However, unlike Apple and MacOS which is locked to Apple platforms, iXsystems allows TrueNAS to be used by anybody on random platforms, even though it is really targeted at a specific hardware platform. They'd probably accept patches to make it more compatible with ARM as long as it didn't interfere with AMD64.

There is an extensive but slow moving discussion online at