FreeNAS 11.1: welcome new UI!

A few months ago we talked about the troubled release of the last two FreeNAS versions, which involved a new graphical interface, the premature dismissal of Corral and finally the development of the 11.0 version with the return of the classic UI.

But IXSystems didn’t discourage and kept on developing its NAS system and eventually released the all-new 11.1 version.

Not just a new appearance, but also new features

Let’s start with the aspect that usually draws most of the attention of a system, otherwise quite traditional in terms of features: the new graphic interface.
The dark and edgy theme portrayed in a previous review, developers chose a more comfortable theme based on light colours with a tidier and neatter graphical organization. The overall design resembles the one on latests generations Android systems, quite flat and with icons and volumes characterized by circular contours and vivid colours.

Free11 dash

The upper horizontal menu finally disappears, replaced by a lateral float-out unit which contains the usual features. The organization of voices has been revised and rearranged too, still being coherent with the classic one we’re used to. Another new feature of the UI is a proper visualization on mobile devices too, something the previous releases didn’t accomplish well.

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FreeNAS: creation, usage and useful applications of snapshots with ZFS

We’ve already talked in deep about the features and the advantages of FreeNAS as storage resource: in this article we focus on how to create, use and restore snapshots in a very easy and practical ways.

A snapshot can be described as a “photography” of the storage state in a certain point in time that allows the so called “roll-back” to a previous situation. Thanks to the Copy-on-Write method of ZFS, described in the a previous article, snapshot operations are quick and take a few space. Starting from a functioning FreeNAS installation with a configured storage, the most common situation we encounter is a ZFS volume which is mapped to one or more shared network folders. Such shares can be attacked by a ransomware or can be simply accidentally or partially deleted. In a situation like this, the presence of properly configured snapshots can be a life-saving solution.

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Proxmox 4.1: the challenge to vSphere goes on

In the December 2015 issue of GURU advisor, we covered Proxmox Virtualization Environment with an in-depth review of version 4.0 of the Open Source virtualization platform developed by the Austrian Proxmox Server Solutions. Let’s analyze the new features of the 4.1 release that make it a reasonable competitor to the renowned solutions by Microsoft and VMware.

Proxmox VE vs. vSphere

A comparison with the market-leading hypervisor might seem unfair at first glance, but a careful analysis of the feature of Proxmox VE can let you reconsider it as an alternative, in particular in situations where the budget/performances ratio is the main choice parameter.

Proxmox VE (Proxmox from here onwards) is based on the Debian operating system and brings with itself all pros and cons of this renowned Linux distro: a stable, secure, widespread and well-tested operating system with a very large choice of software packages -albeit sometimes not updated to the latest version in order to guarantee a perfect compatibility and stability- and the “Social Contract” which guarantees all the advantages of the Free Software (https://www.debian.org/social_contract). Other advantages include a well-founded community which is very active in code management and a rich and detailed documentation. For it is an open source project, the source code repository is available to whoever wants to implement new features or adapt the existing ones to his/her own needs. Moreover, the GPL license allows commercial use.

proxmox installazione esxi

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FreeNAS: ZFS in action

FreeNAS is a FreeBSD-based Operating System whose development began in 2005 thanks to Olivier Cochard-Labbè and whose main function is to transform the computer or server where it’s installed in a NAS (Network Attached Storage). The system was conceived to require a limited use of hardware resource, apart from storage, so that it can run smoothly also on old or performance-wise limited machines.

The development of FreeNAS went on with the years and reached the actual 9.3 stable version and 10 “Alpha” version (the support to the 32-bit UFS file system was abandoned in 2014). In 2009 iXsystems (a company dealing with servers and storage solutions) showed interest in the FreeNAS project in order to avoid the migration of the system on Debian and the subsequent loss to the support for ZFS, after the then project leader. After an important revision and update by the iXsystems’ team, in May 2011 FreeNAS 8.0 was released.

FreeNAS is based on the OpenZFS implementation of the Sun (then Oracle) system called ZFS, so it takes advantage of all the code base of this project to manage ZFS volumes, disks and devices.

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Discovering ZFS - Pros and cons comparing to a traditional file system

Here’s qualities and flaws of the file system developed by Sun, highly appreciated for its reliability in the storage sphere.

ZFS is an open source File System originally developed by Sun Microsystems. Announced in September 2004, it has been implemented for the first time in the release 10 of Solaris (2006) under the CDDL License (Common Development and Distribution License). It was born as a file system capable of overcoming in dimensions the practical storage limit: this feature is because of the 128-bit architecture. The original name was “Zetta File System” indeed, to indicate the storage capacity in the order of a trilliard (10^21) bits, way higher than classic 64-bit systems.

Let’s try and understand together why ZFS promises to solve several of the problems and limits of traditional Raid systems, offering a significantly higher level of data protection and a series of particularly interesting advanced features, like creating snapshots on a file system level.

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