Virtualising an existing FreeNAS install

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Jun 1, 2014
Hi all,

The Problem

Basically I realised that Bhyve is probably years away from being as polished as other hypervisors, I have some VM needs and I also want to have a go at dockers, so I'm looking at what I can do about it.

I don't particularly want to build another machine for hosting VMs due to space / noise / power consumption.

What I want

I want to have a proper hypervisor (mostly likely ESXi) and have my existing FreeNAS converted into a VM with passthrough and 16GB of RAM.

I will also run RancherOS, Debian/Ubuntu server(s), and Windows 10 VMs on the same host. And maybe eventually pfSense one day. These will share the other ~16GB of RAM.

I am hoping that these VM disks will be stored on the ZFS connected through NFS to the ESXi.

I will probably retire some of the jails and migrate them to docker containers.

What I have

I have FreeNAS 11.0 running on a 8-bay chassis with six (soon to be eight) 4TB drives on an LSI 9211-8i controller in IT mode, with an 8-core Atom C2758 and 32GB of RAM.

I will add a small SSD to store VM definitions.


First of all, any holes in my plan?

How do I go about virtualising the existing FreeNAS install? Can I do a dd on the USB drive then use a converter to convert it into a vmdk, then create a new FreeBSD-template VM guest and attach the vmdk to it?

When I set up the VM guest, I will need to passthrough the HBA of course. Is there anything else special that I need to set? Anything special I need to do to the virtual NIC(s)?

Anything else I should know before I dive in?

Many thanks!


Hall of Famer
Aug 16, 2011
How do I go about virtualising the existing FreeNAS install?
Don't bother. Download your config file, do a clean install of FreeNAS into an appropriately-configured VM, upload the config file. Done, much more simply than trying to hack around with virtualizing an existing OS.
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