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My problems with release numbering scheme and constant feature change

Feb 3, 2020
Hello FreeNAS developers and FreeNAS community,

I think I am still quite new to the whole FreeBSD and FreeNAS thing. I am actively using FreeNAS at home since version 11.0. I have an Asus P10S-I Mini ITX Server board with a Pentium G4620, 32 GB of ECC RAM, 4x 4 TB WD Red in a RAIDZ2-Pool, am using 6 jails and two VMs (Windows 10 and Rancher OS), tinkered with IPv6 and VLANs in jails, added several services to Docker/Rancher OS with Portainer and Rancher Server, have several SMB Shares for Macs and iOS Devices, NFS Share for Docker … so I have a little experience with FreeNAS and other stuff. Not enough for mastering it blindly without any guidance from the Forums/Internet/User Guide but anyways.

Maybe I am getting the whole versioning thing wrong, maybe my expectations are too high, but during this short time of a little more than 2.5 years I
  • had to move from warden to iocage/vnet, which permanently broke IPv6 for me (to this day)
  • couldn't get decent disk performance in a Windows VM since using virtio crashes the whole VM up to 11.3 - which I cannot use because it breaks my RancherVM.
  • felt like everything is made a little bit harder to use and setup than Linux, because FreeBSD (good UI to new features is very important, as important as new features themselves). Try stuff on a RasPi --> 5 Minutes, done, stable service. Try stuff in FreeNAS jail --> 10 - 15 Minutes, done, some things not fully working, other things need a quick fix, some workarounds in place, stable service.
  • am scared of every upgrade which might add new features and in turn break old ones. I follow the rules, use the GUI for everything, yet still things break, because (strongly recommended) upgrades released after almost a year do things another way than before.
  • had to get to love netdata and lose it again, had I upgraded to 11.3. Never experienced any memory leak with it. But let's promote the commercial stuff (aka TrueCommand which is free for almost any home use to be fair)
What really bugs me is the way upgrades are numbered and features are added and removed to and from FreeNAS. 11.2 to 11.3 should not kill services, (networking of) Jails the way we know it, a recommended VM setup … It is not like going from 11.2 to 12.0 where I would expect such things to happen.

Upgrading to 11.3 and downgrading back to 11.2-U7 killed iocage for me. During the upgrade all the config.json files of my jails got renamed and new files where generated with the new NAT- config entries. After the downgrade back to 11.2-U7 iocage couldn't understand the config and instead of telling me this failed with a cryptical error message from python. I had to go into every dataset of every jail and rename config_backup.json to config.json plus defaults_backup.json to defaults.json in the iocage dataset for it to recover and showing/starting all my jails again.

If you tinker with MY data on MY pool during installation at least do automatic snapshots and tell me that in the release notes. There are at least "some" people having the same problem but I could not find this fix anywhere. Hope this helps others.

Maybe a cycle of one year and more between dot-releases is too long. Maybe FreeNAS simply should be a free NAS instead of a very good free NAS and everything else added to it. In my opinion too much is changing between dot-releases for it to be a stable platform for me. I know, it's free, I shouldn't complain too much, there are (paid) alternatives … I just want to explain myself and express, why I started to dislike FreeNAS and why 11.3 is finally making me switch to Proxmox (which is much better suited for my use cases although FreeNAS has all the right features for me … sort of).

This all may sound very negative. Even more negative than it should but at the moment I really am annoyed by this constant change of things, although we only proceed in dot releases. There are fixes for my long standing problems/feature needs in 11.3 that I have been waiting for so long but cannot make use of, because I first had to fix my stuff (that shouldn't need fixing since I did everything the recommended GUI way) before the upgrade could be succesfully applied to my system. Won't do.

I had really good times with FreeNAS, learned a lot about it and FreeBSD. I like jails, I like the ease of use with ZFS through the GUI, I like pkg, but for my usecase FreeNAS simply is not developing fast enough, is too often killing stuff (other than the rock solid file sharing) I got used to and is not providing all the functionality I really need in an easy and stable way. I am more into services than into File Shares, so … so long and thanks for all the fish.


FreeNAS Guru
Nov 4, 2018
I'm not sure this belongs in the bug forum.

I think you are right, your use case is better suited to Proxmox. bhyve is not the world's most flexible hypervisor, and that's a warning that's usually given to FreeNAS newbies. Sure, the PR for PCIe passthrough as well as the FreeBSD 12.1 move might help, to where people actually can run Win10 in a VM on FreeNAS - and, I'm not holding my breath for that. Lightweight service VMs, sure. Full-fat graphical interface VMs - FreeNAS in its current state on FreeBSD 11.3 with bhyve is just not suited to that.

I hear you on taking a snapshot of the iocage dataset before making changes during upgrade. It seems there is a small but non-trivial amount of people that have jails issues with every upgrade, and automating a snapshot of all of iocage during upgrade would go a long way towards allowing people to roll back with some ease.