FreeNAS 9.3 gets new features

Currently the FreeNAS team is working on version 9.3, which is currently in beta. The next FreeNAS version will include some exciting features.

FreeNAS 9.3 with GRUB
FreeNAS 9.3 with GRUB

This includes the use of GRUB as boot loader and the resulting ability to boot different versions of FreeNAS - handy if something went wrong during an update and the system doesn't want to boot correctly anymore.

The current version 9.2 lacks this possibility. Plugins for FreeNAS like CrashPlan or Wake-On-LAN will of course work with FreeNAS 9.3, maybe new FreeNAS plugins will be added.

FreeNAS 9.3 Update Manager
FreeNAS 9.3 Update Manager

Also, in the upcoming FreeNAS 9.3 release, there will be the option to install updates only for parts of the system, such as the package manager or the GUI. This will protect basic functions from update errors, so that data security should be increased, e.g. if an update for the GUI causes problems, the underlying system will not be affected. Another thing that is omitted with this function, to update the system incl. update download from within itself, is the separate download of the update files. With FreeNAS plugins, this mechanism already works.

As always, a beta version has no place in production use on a system that is supposed to store data. I would only install FreeNAS on my HPN36L myself after the first or second version after the beta.

Update 11.11.2014: FreeNAS 9.3 BETA released

The FreeNAS team has released a detailed list of what's new in the upcoming FreeNAS 9.3 release:

  • New configuration setup wizard available during and after installation.
  • New update manager makes it easier to apply patches and updates.
  • Update packages are now cryptographically signed and are offered in multiple, parallel "trains", e.g., recent, stable, developmental. Users can choose what kind of updates they want to receive and can freely jump between the trains at any time.
  • Redesigned UI separate configuration options into "Standard" and "Advanced" menus.
  • Several features have been rearranged or combined for ease of use.
  • Interface tabs removed completely.
  • FreeNAS now uses ZFS for the boot device-this allows selection and mirroring of one or more boot devices for greater reliability.
  • The features of ZFS are also utilized to provide cloned "boot environments" which allow the system to be rolled back (or even forked) to different OS versions.
  • The boot process now uses the GRUB boot loader which supports multiple boot environments and makes it easy to recover from a failed upgrade, system patch, or configuration.
  • A boot-time menu is provided for selecting and booting from a specific boot environment.
  • New boot UI allows the user to create, rename, delete, and select boot environments as well as run diagnostics on the boot pool.
  • Samba upgraded to 4.1.12.
  • NFSv4 support added, including kerberized NFS.
  • Numerous security updates.

The Download the FreeNAS 9.3 BETA is possible on the FreeNAS website. As always with BETA software, you should refrain from installing it on a production system, as data loss cannot be excluded.

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