Amazon Web Services (AWS) Deployment

How to create a TrueNAS image and deploy it on Amazon Web Services.

  6 minute read

Process Summary

  • Requirements
    • FreeBSD system
    • AWS Account
    • S3 Bucket
    • User with permissions for EC2
      • Download the user key to the local working directory and modify
    • Install bhyve and bsdec2-image-upload
    • Patch bsdec2-image-upload if needed
  • Create TrueNAS image file
    • Download TrueNAS .iso
    • Create blank image file
    • Load virtualization module
    • Create tap and bridge interface
    • Load image and iso into bhyve
    • Install TrueNAS
  • Upload image to EC2
    • Description and region name are required
  • Launch EC2 instance
    • Select name created with image
    • t2.large is the recommended instance type
    • Add HDD/SSD volumes as needed
    • Step 6: add new rule
      • Type: http
    • Launch the instance
  • Wait for AWS to finish status checks
  • Paste Public DNS or Public IP link in browser to access TrueNAS web interface

Using Virtualized TrueNAS with Amazon Web Services (AWS)

These instructions demonstrate how to create a virtualized TrueNAS image on FreeBSD, configure it with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), and access the TrueNAS web interface. There are a few things that must be prepared before building the image. The FreeBSD system needs two applications to create, configure, and upload the virtual machine image: bhyve and bsdec2-image-upload. The most recent version (>=1.3.1) of bsdec2-image-upload is required, otherwise an SSL error will occur when attempting to upload the image. If not available on the ports tree, the utility will need to be downloaded from the GitHub.

NOTE: Currently bsdec2-image-upload will fail on images whose file size is not 10GB. An issue has been created, but in the meantime a patch may be needed to correct this error, which involves editing main.c, replacing:




Following the size required for TrueNAS. To build, ensure either libressl-devel or openssl-devel, as well as ca_root_nss, are installed and run “make install”. Additionally the utility only builds on FreeBSD, but another patch is underway to build on Linux.

Create an AWS account with an S3 bucket. Record the region associated with the S3 bucket. It is also recommened the bucket have a lifetime policy which deletes data after 1 day, as bsdec2-image-upload will not delete files from S3 and the files are no longer needed after the AMI is registered. A user with permissions to EC2 and S3 will also be required with the following permissions:


Alternativly you can just give full access to S3 and EC2.

After creating the IAM user, download an Access Key to the working directory on the FreeBSD system. The file should look like this:

Access key ID,Secret access key

Open a new file called KEY.pem and copy the information contained in the csv file as such:


Create TrueNAS Image

When all the prerequisites are ready, download a TrueNAS .iso file. Any version from FreeNAS/TrueNAS 11.2 and later will work. Open a shell and go to your local working directory. Create an empty raw image file with truncate -s 16G {TRUENAS}.img. Replace {TRUENAS} with your name for the new image file. We’ll use this empty image as the installation target for the TrueNAS .iso.

Next, load the virtualization module and create a tap and bridge interface:

kldload -n vmm
ifconfig tap0 create
ifconfig bridge0 create
ifconfig bridge0 addm re0 addm tap0
ifconfig bridge0 up

Use bhyveload -m 4GB -d truenas.img vm0 to load the image into the hypervisor and create virtual machine vm0 with four gigabytes of memory. To install TrueNAS into the image, load both the image and TrueNAS .iso file into bhyve: bhyve -c 2 -m 4G -H -A -P -g 0 -s 0,hostbridge -s 1,lpc -s 2,virtio-net,tap0 -s 3,virtio-blk,{TRUENAS}.img -s 31,ahci-cd,{TRUENAS-VERSION}.iso -l com1,stdio vm0. Replace {TRUENAS} with the name of the image file and {TRUENAS-VERSION} with the TrueNAS .iso file name.

NOTE: If the following commands fail, for instance an error concerning “boot.lua”, then try the following command which uses a shell script included in the bhyve installation combining the two pervious commands:

sh /usr/share/examples/bhyve/ -c 2 -m 4GB -t tap0 -d {TRUENAS}.img -i -I {TRUENAS-VERSION}.iso vm0

When the TrueNAS installer opens, make sure booting with BIOS is chosen and start the installation. Power off the device when the installation is done. Do not load the completed image into bhyve and boot after installation as TrueNAS will create invalid network settings (this may only be true for 12.0 onward. If network issues occur in previous versions, boot the image and create a DHCP interface manually named xn0).

Upload Image to EC2

Now that the image has been created and properly configured, it’s time to upload it to EC2. Use bsdec2-image-upload with the image file: bsdec2-image-upload --public {TRUENAS}.img TrueNAS {description} {region} {S3 bucket} KEY.pem Replace {TRUENAS} with the image file name, {description} with a unique identifier for the Amazon Machine Image (AMI), {region} with your Amazon region, and {S3 bucket} with your AWS image storage location. KEY.pem is the IAM user access key that was downloaded earlier. All of these elements are required for the upload to start.

bsdec2-image-upload sends the image to the AWS bucket in 10MB segments. The upload can take several hours, depending on connection speeds and other factors.

When the S3 bucket upload is complete, the script will create a snapshot, register the AMI, and copy the AMI to all regions for mirrors. The upload command can fail for various reasons; for example, using a description that already exists. If this happens, fix the error and rerun the command. When successful, the upload simply finishes.

Accessing AMI TrueNAS Interface

With the Amazon Machine Image (AMI) created and uploaded to AWS, an EC2 instance needs to be activated before the TrueNAS interface is accessible. Log in to your Amazon Web Services account and click the EC2 Compute service.

Find the Launch instance section, open the Launch instance drop down, and click Launch instance.

The instance launcher follows several steps:

  1. Click My AMIs and select the name that was uploaded by bsdec2-image-upload.
  2. Any instance will work, but t2.large is recommended for TrueNAS given an 8GB memory recommendation.
  3. Skip this step.
  4. Add EBS volumes according to your TrueNAS use case. It is reccomened to add at least a couple of Cold HDD volumes for a storage pool. General Purpose SSD volumes can be used as L2ARC or SLOG devices.
  5. Skip this step.
  6. Add a rule with http. This allows you to connect to the TrueNAS web interface.
  7. Review your settings and press Launch.

The running instance is added to the EC2 dashboard or can be seen in the Instances menu. When the image has fully started, AWS performs two status checks. The first checks for AWS uptime, and the second makes sure your instance is in a functional state. When both checks have passed, you can paste either Public IP or Public DNS link in a new browser window to connect to the TrueNAS web interface.

TrueNAS Community AMI

Starting with 12.0-BETA, an AMI will be created each release and is available in the Community AMI section. When using this AMI, login with the default credentials:

Username: root Password: abcd1234

WARNING: Please change the password as after initial login.

Last modified July 21, 2020: Update (07cd7ee9)