FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots, and Some Suggestions

freenas-ixsystems-new-logoFreeNAS 9.1 has been released. We have read the blog posts, the press releases, and we probably all agree that this FreeBSD based NAS is becoming better and better with each release. FreeNAS is still ‘growing up’ and new features are added to each new version.

Since FreeNAS is still changing so much, maybe be developers can do something about the GUI side of things, i.e. the Web Interface.

The goal of FreeNAS is to simplify complex admin tasks in the underlying FreeBSD (nanobsd) base through a poin-and-click Web Interface: volumes can be created, permissions changed, data sharing turned on/off, music/video streaming set up, and most, if not all, ZFS features are included.

All this makes FreeNAS a powerful network attached system (NAS), especially if you consider it is open source and free to download, but I think the Web Interface can still do with some TLC as it can be confusing and is not always newbie friendly.

  • There are 6 menu buttons (top left) linking to “System”, “Network”, “Storage”, “Sharing”, “Services”, “Plugins” and “Jails”. In the Menu tree, under this bar, you will see the same (and more) links, unnecessary duplication. If “Account” is one of the main menus, why is this then one on the right hand top side, and not on the left with the others?
  • When you close / log out of the FreeNAS Web Interface and go back in, the menu tree is left expanded as it was left. It looks nicer if the tree was collapsed each time you open up the GUI.
  • Every time options are saved or when you cancel a screen, the whole menu tree is reloaded/refreshed, which takes about 1-2 seconds. This could be due to some settings or limitation in the Django framework, but it is annoying.
  • When you go into some of the (sub)menus and make changes, a tab gets added to the tab bar (top right), next to “Reporting” | “Settings” | “System Information”. What is the point of this? You’re not going to use your NAS GUI for hours (usually). You make the changes and come out of it. There’s no need for these shortcuts.
  • For new users of FreeNAS, it would be helpful if there was a short introduction with some step-by-step instruction on the first screen to help them set up the basic things (User, Volume, Privileges etc). Yes, there’s the FreeNAS handbook with everything set out step-by-step, but judging from questions on the FreeNAS forums I guess there are more users that don’t read through the manual than those who do.

Conclusion

Personally, I prefer the old FreeNAS 0.7 horizontal menu. It was, and is now in NAS4Free, easy to use and straightforward, with no duplication. The other thing I like in NAS4Free, is that you can make all changes on the opened screen, i.e. there are no pop-up windows with yet more settings. 

I appreciate a NAS GUI is not something you need every day. In an ideal world you install and set up your NAS and let it then run (headless), but there are still some areas where FreeNAS should improve to avoid confusion and duplication.

 

Screenshots

If you have no need to install or use FreeNAS, but are still interested to see what it looks like, have a look at the screenshots below (click on the pictures to magnify).

Main Screen

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Account Information

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

System Information

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Network Information

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Storage Information

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Sharing Protocols

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

FreeNAS Services

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Plugins Administration

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

FreeNAS Jails

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

System Processes (Running)

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Add Duplication Task

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

ZFS Volume Manager

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Add Replication (rsync) Task

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FreeNAS 9.1.0 released

freenas-ixsystems-new-logoiXsystems has announced the availability of FreeNAS 9.1:

“The FreeNAS development team is delighted to announce the general release of FreeNAS 9.1.0. This release offers massive improvements to the usability, extensibility, stability, and performance of FreeNAS. Everything from the web user interface, plugin management system, base operating system, ZFS file system, and even the source control used to manage the project have been substantially improved. “

There are many new features and upgrades in this new release which is based on FreeBSD 9-STABLE, some of which are:

  • User interface overhaul
  • (ZFS) Volume creation wizard
  • New encryption interface
  • Revamped plugin system
  • Multiple jails and jail types
  • Support of PC-BSD PBI packages
  • ZFS feature flags
  • LZ4 compression
  • TRIM support
  • Enhanced failed drive notifications
  • Improved memory use
  • Performance and stability enhancements from the yet unreleased FreeBSD 10
  • Code available on Github

You can download FreeNAS 9.1 from the FreeNAS download page. Make use you select the correct tab as FreeNAS 8.3 is selected by default.

PC-BSD rolling-release updated and 9.2-BETA1 Released

PC-BSD LogoKris Moore has announced new images for PC-BSD 9.1-RELEASE (Isotope Infusion) and PC-BSD 9-STABLE (Based upon FreeBSD 9.2-BETA1)

These releases are among the first in our new “Rolling-Release” model, and will allow you to easily keep your system updated with bi-monthly package set updates along side your regular PBI updates. In addition the images now include support for creating and booting from ZFS boot-environments. Due to the nature of implementing ZFS boot-environments, users on previous installs of 9.1-RELEASE will need to perform a re-installation in order to take advantage of these ZFS features. With the upcoming release of 9.2, currently in BETA, existing users may opt to wait for its release in order to migrate to the newer version. Many additional new features are also listed in the notes below.

Highlights for 9.1-RELEASE

* FreeBSD 9.1-RELEASE

* Bootable ZFS Boot Environments
- Using GRUB2, any new ZFS boot-environments created via the “beadm” command will be added to the boot-loader and available at boot-time

* PNGNG support
- In addition to PBIs and the AppCafe, system admins and power users will now have access to a full PKGNG repository with frequent updates

* Switched over to CDN for downloads
- No more having to hunt for a closest mirror, downloads will automatically pull from our CDN service hosted by ScaleEngine

* New version of AppCafe
- New streamlining and PBI management functionality

* GitHub Migration
- All PC-BSD / TrueOS sources are now available via GitHub (https://github.org/pcbsd and https://github.org/trueos)

* Warden Updates
- Support for setting various jail options via the GUI
- Option to create jail “templates” based upon different versions of FreeBSD
- Support for VIMAGE jails
- Jails without any IPV4 or IPV6 address assigned

* Graphical PKGNG manager
- GUI supports basic or advanced mode, which allows full package management / upgrades

* Home directory encryption
- PEFS based encryption, allows users to encrypt their home-directory contents with their login password, which is only unencrypted while logged in

* Boot times improved substantially

FreeNAS 9.1.0-RC1 is now available

freenas-ixsystems-new-logo

Alfred Perlstein has announced the availability of FreeNAS 9.1.0-RC1.

This is the first release candidate for FreeNAS 9.1.0. We have passed a great alpha and rolling beta cycle with many bug fixes and regressions fixed. At this point, only bug fixes and regressions will be addressed.

Release Notes for FreeNAS 9.1.0-RC1:

  • The image size increased in FreeNAS 9.1.0-ALPHA. The new size requires a 4 GB storage device.
  • The GUI upgrade can be used to upgrade a system from BETA3 or BETA4, but upgrades from earlier releases can only be done from the CD. The other option is to save the config, reinstall the new version, then restore the config.

Some of the major changes:

  1. Version 9.1-STABLE of FreeBSD with performance improvements, bug fixes, and updated software packages.
  2. Many improvements to the ZFS filesystem, including feature flags,TRIM support, enhanced drive removal notification, LZ4 compression, improved ARC memory reclamation and reliability improvements. 
  3. Improved Plugin Jail subsystem which supports multiple jails and an enhanced UI including enhancements from PC-BSD Warden.
  4. Improved Volume manager including auto optimization of volumes for performance.
  5. Improvements to the encryption subsystem.
  6. Documentation enhancements.
  7. Increased base image size to 3.7GB.
  8. GUI UPGRADES FROM FREENAS 8.X ARE NOT SUPPORTED (due to image size #7)

Check the forum post for all the details.

Interview with PC-BSD Kris Moore at Texas Linux Fest

pc-bsd logo 100x100Petescan321, a freelance computer technician, had an opportunity to interview Kris Moore, founder of the PC-BSD project, at the recent Texas Linux Fest.

In this short interview they mainly talk about PC-BSD’s package management and window managers.

Kris was asked the following question.

  • Who are you and what do you work in?
  • What are the main advantages of using PC-BSD, especially for someone who comes from a Linux background?
  • It’s different in Linux, where you get a tarball, and then it’s like how do I install it? Yet having everything organized and one way to download it, [is much better].
  • What do you think about the Desktop wars that have been going on lately? Like GNOME 3.
  • So being a rolling release its always up to date. And it’s very stable?
  • Kris Moore: ZFS will change your life. (thanks sg1efc)

Read Kris’ replies in Interview with Kris Moore at Texas Linux Fest

 

FreeNAS 9.1.0 BETA images available

freenas-ixsystems-new-logoThe FreeNAS development team has announced the availability of FreeNAS 9.1.0-BETA images.

Images can be downloaded from freenas downloads section. The best improvement, I think, is that the jail plugin for any plugins you want to download is now included in the install image and does not need to be downloaded and installed separately.

FreeNAS 9.1.0-BETA has many major improvements:

  1. Version 9.1.0-STABLE of FreeBSD with performance improvements, bug fixes, and updated software packages.
  2. Many improvements to the ZFS filesystem, including feature flags, TRIM support, enhanced drive removal notification, improved ARC memory reclamation and reliability improvements.
  3. Improved Plugin Jail subsystem which supports multiple jails and an enhanced UI including enhancements from PC-BSD Warden.
  4. Improved Volume manager including auto optimization of volumes for performance.
  5. Improvements to the encryption subsystem.
  6. Documentation enhancements.

As always, beta versions are for testing purposes only. Feel free to notify the FreeNAS team of any bugs you may find.

Download FreeNAS 9.1-BETA | Announcement | FreeNAS website

PC-BSD Status Update – the future

PC-BSD LogoKris, the PC-BSD founder and lead developer, has set out his plan on the PC-BSD Developers mailinglist for the upcoming version(s) of PC-BSD.

In a nutshell:

  • PKGNG repos will be updated at a set day in the month
  • PC-BSD will come with the GRUB bootloader
  • ZFS is going to be the cornerstone of PC-BSD
  • PC-BSD is going to be release as 64bit only (drops i386 platform)

make ZFS the cornerstone of the PC-BSD/TrueOS experience. This will bring features such as ZFS “Boot-Environments”, including the ability to boot directly
from them at the boot-loader. [...] Re-focusing on solely on ZFS as our default file-system [...]

… we’ve decided to drop the i386 builds going forward, and instead
focus on a single 64bit architecture.

I understand Kris reasons for moving on (ZFS, 64bit only), but I can see that a number of current PC-BSD users with slower and/or i386 systems will feel left behind.

Will this affect you?