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FreeNAS Corral is being relegated to “technology preview” status (freenas.org)
59 points by tachion on Apr 13, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 45 comments

So I have a FreeNAS mini. I upgraded and it did not go well. I was worked with someone from iXsystems to get things working again (they are a great company to work with). Everything was fine until the box just rebooted the other day. It came back up fine but I had enough and reverted to 9.10. The funny part was I had ask my contract should I upgrade to the 10.04 release the day before. The answer was strange, "no, I can tell you more tomorrow." Now I know why.

It is brave of a company to just kill something like this and say we got it wrong. Good for them. Thankfully the way FreeNAS works it was simple enough to revert.

Just in case FreeNAS people are lurking around here, all the talk about jails support does not speak to me in the slightest. Utilizing jails has been one of my #1 pain points with FreeNAS. The quality of user-supplied jails was so poor in my experience, I got out of the practice of using pre-build jails and just had to start wiring up my own.

The docker switcharoo in Corral had me excited and I was able to spin up my existing FreeNAS 9.x workflows very easily, but if you're going back to jails thinking that it'll solve problems, let me be at least 1 person to say -- the jails infrastructure has been abysmal for my experience, and I give a hearty thumbs-down to doubling-down on it.

I strongly disagree. Jails have been fine for … forever on FreeBSD. Looking at tools like ezjails etc., I'd even consider them truly superior to containerizing all the things.

The problem probably lies in the toolset that shipped with FreeNAS up to this point. So doubling-down on it might actually make a difference and make people utilize one of (Free)BSDs biggest strengths properly in FreeNAS.

I was really looking forward to having Docker available. I run 5 or 6 jails at home and they have been the absolute biggest pain point for me. At some point, the jail booter image was shipped with a broken version of pkg that didn't start misbehaving until later, and I haven't found any solution but to manually recreate each of my jails.

Docker would be such a breath of fresh air at this point.

"I was really looking forward to having Docker available. I run 5 or 6 jails at home and they have been the absolute biggest pain point for me."

Can you elaborate a bit ?

I have done a bit of work with FreeBSD jails and have some sense of their pros and cons ... were you using pre-built jail userlands that you got from some third party (ie., you did not build or replicate yourself) ?

Genuinely curious ...

On the one hand, I have to give credit to IX for realizing they made a mistake, admitting it openly, and changing course. On the other, as someone who very painfully upgraded their home/lab devices to Corral, the idea of rolling it back is a miserable experience. Also, the idea of moving forward with it was impossible considering the crippling performance issues I experienced with it.

I was hoping this latest release could be used as a reliable backup target in my enterprise, but now I will use this as an opportunity to look at every other possible alternative. At this point I don't trust that Freenas or IX will be here for the long haul. So, what alternatives are the rest of you considering?

I _just_ built a FreeNAS box, and was relying on Corral to let me do virtualization. The box is overbuilt for home NAS use, and the plan was to use Corral to spin up docker and/or Debian VMs to give me a more familiar base in which to spin up other useful services.

Now that Corral isn't happening, would it be better to just virtualize the system and then have Debian VMs as needed? I wonder if I can migrate to a virtualized system without losing the data already in the ZFS pool :/

`zfs export` is your friend. Its very easy to move a zpool to another machine so long as it has zfs support and you haven't enabled any incompatible feature flags. I recently moved my zpool from FreeBSD 11 to ubuntu 16.04. It was as simple as:

    sudo zfs export pool
    sudo shutdown # RIP freebsd machine
    # install ubuntu...
    sudo zfs import pool

That is:

(I do it all the time, too.)

If you can properly passthrough your storage controller to a FreeNAS VM, then virtualization works and you won't even lose your current pool. I have ESXI installed on a PCIE SSD running a FreeNAS 9.10 VM with my SATA controller passed through to it. I can switch between that and natively booting a FreeNAS USB drive without any issues.

For what it's worth, the FreeNAS folks strongly discourage running FreeNAS virtualized.

I think you should be fine just creating a jail and manually installing Virtualbox in it...I'm looking into that myself. For a Debian VM you should be fine using iohyve even on the current release.

Strongly discouraged without understanding the nuances and having server grade hardware to do it. Basically, if you can passthrough your storage controller directly to a FreeNAS VM, then there shouldn't be issues.

You might want to read until the end of the announcement, it seems VMs are still there in 9.10.3.

I run several FreeNAS installations on HP MicroServers.

What I want is not some fancy UI but help with running FreeNAS with Apple clients. Which is currently hard to do (this is partly due to FreeNAS and partly due to Apple).

If it's not possible, say so. If it is possible, add a switch for Apple clients and export volumes the best way possible (also with MS Office hacks) - without the need to hack and tinker for a long time.

Why? I run a FreeNAS mini at home with all Apple serving NFS to them. I have a single AFP share for Time Machine backups. At work we have a TrueNAS and 50+ MacBook Pros with a Time Machine share and NFS shares for anything else.

Mostly left over temporary files and directories MS Office uses to lock things, or during saving, or Apple uses to safely delete files. Some applications like Affinity can't often save to network shares from FreeNAS. Users then save to Desktop and afterwards to the network shares. Also lots of permission problems, especially in mixed Apple/Windows setups. Only good thing are ZFS snapshots b/c users often delete files they didn't want to delete in the first place.

> Also lots of permission problems, especially in mixed Apple/Windows setups.

If you just stick with SMB this shouldn't be an issue. The unfortunate reality is the permission model different file sharing protocols use is different, which is why FreeNAS asks you upfront which permission model you want to use when you create a ZFS dataset.

If you're running a mixed environment and Windows is anywhere in that mix, just use SMB and save yourself the headache.

You need to check your permissions model for the volume vs the share type. That is the issue 99% of the time.

Simplest is to go all NFS for everything or all SMB for everything. Both work.

I recently went through a lot of issues with macOS and FreeNAS. For SMB shares you can get pretty perfect support by ensuring the share level option called 'VFS Objects' has catia, fruit, aio_pthread and streams_xattr.

It's in the official docs too if you wanted more information about it.


Same thing.

Except freenas was so hard to configure and integrate. I removed it and tried a windows server instead. After installation, the network shares were accessible right away from my other windows machines. So much easier.

Yes, will use a windows server next time too.

This isn't helpful in the context of an office/work environment with mixed clients and non-technical folks, etc.

But for your own use, you might have much better success on a mac client system with macfuse/sshfs.

I don't bother to connect my mac to my (FreeBSD) file server via smb/samba at all anymore - I just use sshfs.

I wish I could do that with my Sonos system and then I wouldn't have to run samba at all ...

Some of us would rather not provide interactive login credentials to our speakers. I'll stick with smbfs for my Sonos, thanks!

I ran FreeNAS for a long time and finally gave up on it and ZFS for media storage and apps. After a brief stint with OMV/snapraid/mergerfs I bought unRAID and I've been very happy. The Docker integration is second to none for a home media server.

> we decided to undergo a thorough engineering review of the product and started to look deeper into the Plan 9 filesystem code, which allows VMs to access the host’s filesystem.

That's interesting. Was it actually based on Plan 9?

They are talking about Plan 9's network file system protocol. I'm not sure what they were using it for. I've seen it used as the easiest way to share a host file system with a Qemu/KVM guest OS.

I'm curious - has anyone here faced trouble with Corral? Did you revert? What were your experiences?

Works fine, but little bugs and regressions like lack of form entry validation on some config fields for instance mean you could create a completely invalid config. I didn't try and find out what happened with an invalid config but did report the bug.

Another big issue was that Chrome was the only supported browser which is something you expect from a beta.

On top of that all the excellent docs from 9.10 were not updated for Corral so literally all Corral had were a few Wiki pages on a new site with a request for contributors to help fill in the blank pages. Very odd behaviour for a release but clear why now.

It's a real shame, I upgraded my backup (personal) NAS which will have to be manually downgraded once iX release a FreeBSD 11 backed version of FreeNAS.

Yeah, I tried to create several virtual machines and docker containers with bridged connections using DHCP and they error'd and dissapeared, then it just stopped letting me create them.

I tried to also create them using the standard NAT settings, but the would generally not get through. Only one of the 6 odd off the self containers I was trying to use

The GUI was slow, annoying, kept logging me out, buttons needed clicked several times, or required a refresh to work. I lost my NFS settings and could no longer get a working configuration for my kubernetes pods on other devices, which worked before. I would try and change the few settings available and it wouldn't allow me to save as if I hadn't changed anything.

Basically, it was a bit of a shit show but I persisted for a couple of weeks hoping it'd get better. After several upgrades, nothing much had changed so I reverted.

I don't like to kick them while they're down, but it seems like a project that got caught up with modernising by rewriting a whole bunch of code, whilst I suspect many would have been happy with them just adding the VM and docker stuff into the old interface/middleware. But it sounds like they're persisting with yet another rewrite, so...

See my post above.

1. Upgrade did not come back up with disk mounted. 2. Changed import of encryption key so it would not mount volumes without user doing it. 3. LAG did not come up on reboot, has to be created again. 4. 1000 snapshot on 8 core FreeNAS mini took 20 minutes to mount all the file systems. 5. SMB shows started but no shares. Have to restart it. 6. GUI to slow in Firefox, asked to kill the script. 7. GUI completely locked up Chrome page. Had to kill.

After several days of it working fine, I couldn't access the storage menu. I just couldn't get any data to load when I clicked on it.

And the 'cli' command error'ed out on every subcmd. So I don't know what happened or when, but it broke.

I am going to fall back to 9.10.2 and let a bunch of other people test 9.10.3 before I upgrade.

I did and had a series of issues.

* Docker containers failing after running for ~24 hours due to networking problems with boot2docker vm.

* Failing to automatically import my zfs pools on upgrade

* UI "freezing" or generally stopping correct functioning (requiring reboot)

* UI login failing requiring reboot

I reverted back and forth a few times, I will probably stay with Corral until the next 9.10 release.

I ran into an issue on upgrade that required me to connect to a monitor to figure out what was going on. Basically I just had out of date drivers on a storage controller so I needed to upgrade that, once I did, everything was smooth sailing.

This is a superlatively bad title editorialization.

How do you get "FreeNAS Corral is dead" from the original title "Important announcement regarding FreeNAS Corral" which is about moving FreeNAS Corral back into a technology preview (alpha? beta?) instead of full release. This doesn't mean it is "dead".

If you read the article, you'll see that what Corral is right now (i.e. the supposed "next generation") is in fact being abandoned. It's a dead-end, at the very least.

The UI is scrapped and the underlying technology found to be unusable for further development.

We changed the title from "FreeNAS Corral is dead" to how the subtitle puts it. If I know our readers, "Important announcement" is too vague to satisfy anyone.

Good on them. It sounds to me like they hired a cowboy who did 90% of the work and then left for a shinier new project. It's hard to admit a mistake like this, I hope others follow their example. And don't trust the cowboy!

Read alternatively, it came off extremely amateurish to straight up admit (or blame, depending on reading) that they're making a wholesale switch off a product line that was in development for a wild, and after public release. There's dozens of things that went wrong to get them to this point, 1 dev leaving shouldn't have even risen to the point of being mentionable.

I don't even host mission-critical data on my freenas instance, it's mostly a first-line backup for me + internal apps I run for the house, and I'm hesitant to go forward with them following this.

The UI is sketchy and the plugins / jails can be janky, but the underlying tech / idea is solid (FreeBSD + ZFS + the concept of your data on the disks and the OS as just some ephemeral thing on a thumb drive). I had a USB key go bad on a freenas and had it running again in an hour. The total config backup / restore makes it pretty darn painless. With that said, I'd recommend cloning your USB key to a backup one once you get your system configured how you like, in addition to keeping a few copies of the golden config around. It's possible to data recover the actual config file from a dead-ish flash drive, but at <$10 a pop it just makes sense to me to keep a spare or two ready to go.

Hey, they made a mistake and then owned up to it. It is a great reason to go forward with them. Most companies never are this honest.

I run FreeNAS at home and have a rack of iXsystem servers and a TrueNAS at work. We are buying more. Great team, great support.

If Apple released 10.13, waited 2-3 weeks, and then explained that one of their big devs left the company so ~ shrug ~ everyone just downgrade, we're gonna re-do it again but throw everything away, and oh yeah, here's a THIRD beta UI we've got in development because apparently we've learned 0 lessons, people would absolutely claim amateur hour. And they'd be right.

I haven't even gotten to why they went from a new React UI to an angular 2 based UI, which, I just can't even on that one yet.

They are not Apple. They are a smallish company in Silicon Valley that sold servers and built a business around being an alternative to NetAPP / EMC on the storage side. Mistakes where made. It is growing pains. If that does not work for you then please go buy from EMC / Dell.

Also IIRC Apple pulled an iOS release or 2 in the last few years for major issues.

I have worked at a few startups that have sold for a few $100M or gone public for a few billion. Stuff happens. It is how you handle it. They owned up to it fully and have a path forward. That is much better then most.

One should also note as far as their enterprise product, TrueNAS, is concerned, there was never an upgrade to "Corral" pushed in the first place since it lags behind FreeNAS releases to ensure everything works correctly and any gotchas have been ironed out.

I understand ixSystems also sells the FreeNAS Mini, which is target at home users and small business - but anyone who uses any network storage product for production or mission critical use should be wary of any upgrades coming from the software vendor without thorough testing. I stayed far away from Corrall on my FreeNAS server at home explicitly because so much of the UI and underlying infrastructure was changed, didn't seem reasonable to upgrade without letting people braver than I am test (plus, I rely on iSCSI support for my VM's - that was missing).

Correct. Our work systems are on TrueNAS and left alone. I upgraded my FreeNAS because it was my home system and I wanted to see how things looked as a preview for when they pushed things into TrueNAS. It was broken so I reverted. The best part is it was so simple just to go back and it all worked.

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