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Philosophy behind FreeNAS?

Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
3
Greetings!

New to FreeNAS and was reading through the online user guide. Something struck me as odd and I wondered about the philosophy behind FreeNAS. Where is it expected live? What is its purpose? I thought FreeNAS was primarily a LAN-based server OS, and that its purpose is to provide LAN services. Some examples:
  1. Why does the Dynamic DNS service exist? Who has a ISP who, when providing minimal broadband service, rents you a modem with no router function? And given that, who sets their FreeNAS box with more than 1 network card and setup to be a router or firewall?
  2. Why are there only clients for directory services? For example why is there no LDAP server available? That's a beautiful LAN function.
Well, just two examples. Now I get that some might want to put FreeNAS in their DMZ and provide a big file store to the world without providing a front-end server, but that still doesn't explain the inclusion of Dynamic DNS.

Just wondering.
 

Patrick M. Hausen

FreeNAS Guru
Joined
Nov 25, 2013
Messages
724
From what I understood it is a ddns client, so you can register mynas.dyndns.com or whatever with your uplink's external IP address. Not all routers, specifically ones mandated by the provider, support that.

Kind regards,
Patrick
 

danb35

FreeNAS Wizard
Joined
Aug 16, 2011
Messages
10,786
Why does the Dynamic DNS service exist? Who has a ISP who, when providing minimal broadband service, rents you a modem with no router function? And given that, who sets their FreeNAS box with more than 1 network card and setup to be a router or firewall?
I really don't understand why you're connecting these two things, unless it's that you don't understand what the Dynamic DNS service does. It has nothing to do with acting as a router or a firewall, unless you're assuming this is something that would be better done on that device (with which I'd agree, but not all such devices are capable of providing it).
For example why is there no LDAP server available?
You could always put one in a jail. You could even build a plugin for it if you like.
 

danb35

FreeNAS Wizard
Joined
Aug 16, 2011
Messages
10,786
I thought FreeNAS was primarily a LAN-based server OS, and that its purpose is to provide LAN services.
More specifically, its primary purpose is to provide file serving services over the LAN.
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
3
First, thanks to both of you for your responses.

Why does the Dynamic DNS service exist? ...
... unless you're assuming this is something that would be better done on that device (with which I'd agree, but not all such devices are capable of providing it).
That is exactly what I was thinking. That a FreeNAS box would get to use such a service implies it has the ISP-issued dynamic IP address assigned to one of its Ethernet interfaces. But how could that be unless the ISP provides only a modem, or the routing function inside the box they provide can be placed in bridging mode. This one left me scratching my head. Does anyone use this?

... LDAP server ...
You could always put one in a jail. You could even build a plugin for it if you like.
Of course. Gotta work on my admin and porting chops anyway. But seriously, I doubt I need anything as fancy as an LDAP server. I was curious.

Back to Philosophy

Kinda seems that FreeNAS straddles the (fuzzy) line between Big LAN and small/home business. With Big LAN FreeNAS is only one server type out of many, so the LDAP server, or Domain Controller, or whatever already exists in duplicate. But then I see plugins for Plex, Minecraft, etc and those don't seem like LAN features that might be embraced by big business.

Perhaps it's a simple as some home users sneaking in features via community plugins, and other not-officially-supported features having no independent champion.

More specifically, its primary purpose is to provide file serving services over the LAN.
That's helpful.
 

Heracles

FreeNAS Guru
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Messages
486
Hi Scotty,

That is exactly what I was thinking. That a FreeNAS box would get to use such a service implies it has the ISP-issued dynamic IP address assigned to one of its Ethernet interfaces. But how could that be unless the ISP provides only a modem, or the routing function inside the box they provide can be placed in bridging mode. This one left me scratching my head.
Easy to demonstrate : go to myipaddress DOT com and you will see... The website will tell you what is the Internet facing IP address it sees you coming from. So a device behind NAT only needs to go to such a web page to discover its public IP without hosting it itself.

FreeNAS is meant for storage and that is basically it. But it is also equipped with resources that can benefit from this storage service.

Here, I operate my own private cloud using Nextcloud. FreeNAS is the backend but I considered the plugin as too limited for enterprise-class service. For that, I run Nextcloud in a Docker host outside FreeNAS and map the storage over the network. For Plex. I considered the plugin as good enough. For that, I created a VLAN and deployed the jail in that one. My pfSense firewall let people reach only the network hosting the plugins and not FreeNAS itself.

For others, the Nextcloud plugin is enough, so good for them. More do not have an enterprise-class firewall in front of their FreeNAS and FreeNAS will need to protect itself or be unprotected against local network (or worst, against Internet!).

That is what a flexible product is : a product that can do many different things and do them in many different ways.

FreeNAS is a flexible product...
 

danb35

FreeNAS Wizard
Joined
Aug 16, 2011
Messages
10,786
That a FreeNAS box would get to use such a service implies it has the ISP-issued dynamic IP address assigned to one of its Ethernet interfaces.
Not necessarily--it could instead be monitoring its own external IP address through any of a number of web sites or other services, and using that to do the DNS updates (which is, in fact, exactly how it works). IMO, if you need this, it belongs on the edge device, but a lot of them are pretty dumb, and if you have a server running 24x7x365 anyway...
Kinda seems that FreeNAS straddles the (fuzzy) line between Big LAN and small/home business.
It kind of does. On the one hand, a business user is highly unlikely to use Plex. On the other hand, there's no way a home user is going to use Asigra (especially since both they and iX are seemingly allergic to documenting how to use it). There are plugins for a variety of purposes, and you can do just about anything in a VM or a jail. But the core features are pretty well focused on either sharing storage (AFP/CIFS/NFS/iSCSI/S3/etc.) or managing the server itself (UPS, SSH, SMART, etc.). Dynamic DNS is probably the biggest exception to this rule.
 

Jailer

Not strong, but bad
Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
4,279
Kinda seems that FreeNAS straddles the (fuzzy) line between Big LAN and small/home business.
You have to remember that FreeNAS is the consumer/free side of things. The corporate side of iX is TrueNAS. While they are a similar product, there are significant differences between the two.
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
3
Not necessarily--it could instead be monitoring its own external IP address through any of a number of web sites or other services, and using that to do the DNS updates (which is, in fact, exactly how it works). IMO, if you need this, it belongs on the edge device, but a lot of them are pretty dumb, and if you have a server running 24x7x365 anyway...
Ah ha! So that's how the service can be relevant without FreeNAS on the edge.

Thanks to all who provided these answers.
 

Basil Hendroff

FreeNAS Experienced
Joined
Jan 4, 2014
Messages
559
I like to think of FreeNAS as a storage appliance with some smarts. Due to its FreeBSD heritage, I often find individuals want it to do more. They expect it to 'leap tall buildings with a single bound' and then get very unhappy when something breaks. From what I've observed, issues often arise from unusual or 'out-of-scope' requirements. They remain dormant and tend to rear their ugly heads at the time of a significant FreeNAS upgrade.

My own philosophy with FreeNAS is to stick to the UI as much as possible and delve underneath only when necessary and generally only after seeking confirmation from an authoritative source such as the user manual or a knowledgeable forum member.

FreeNAS will allow you to be a pioneer if you want to, but expect to get a few arrows in your back, and don't then whinge about it.
 
Last edited:

sretalla

FreeNAS Expert
Joined
Jan 1, 2016
Messages
1,626
Plex, Minecraft, etc and those don't seem like LAN features that might be embraced by big business
Depends what you consider a big business.

I understand e-sports is a multi-billion dollar industry (minecraft?).

I have seen use cases where hotels are using plex to offer in-house movies (Plex)... not sure how big a business needs to be to be on your list. There's no reason why an internal Plex server can't be used to serve up corporate training or other videos.
 

cmdematos

Newbie
Joined
Dec 24, 2014
Messages
13
# On the question of why FreeNAS has Dynamic DNS Service:

This actually a very good idea, pfsense offers it too, and so do most Linux home servers. (I use PFSense and AWS S3 in combo for this)

Imagine you run a small web site from home, or want to expose some Freenas Service directly to the web (examples are SSH, WEBDAV, S3...). You have at home a small network, a couple of IPads, a couple of PCs running Windows 10 and repurposed old server running FreeNAS.

From FreeNas you run an SMB server (no real need for Domain controller in most cases), and you have Spectrum internet.

You find yourself a nice DNS provider that will give a free or low-cost DNS entry for your Dynamic DNS that Spectrum gives you - which hardly changes but can change at any time at their whim. Such a service can be had from Amazons S3, or No-IP. You could end up with a domain like myfamily.no-IP.com or myfamily.net or some such thing, which is automatically updated by FreeNAS to whatever your public address is, meaning that you no longer need a static IP (not available from low-cost high-speed home internet services) but still can have a globally resolvable address like the big boys do.

# On what the philosophy of FreeNAS is...

First, I am not a pro on FreeNAS . I have used for many years and was grateful for being able to leverage its features without getting into the weeds (but I am now getting into the weeds, having added it firmly to my core stack).

FreeNAS really is a more advanced, cheaper, faster and more flexible replacement for something like a QNAP NAS device, the tradeoff being more technical skill is required for setup and possibly for day to day running. With a dedicated firmware NAS device you plug it in, login, configure a few things and your NAS is ready. Its possible to come remarkably close to this experience using FreeNAS.
- The Take-Away - FreeNAS is much more than QNAP, and can be as simple to setup and as simple to run.

FreeNAS is not just a home file server, it's way more flexible and full-featured than that. You can snapshot whole directories, monitor bitrot, tune performance, alter fundamental things such as block size at what amounts to a folder level (a dataset) at runtime, without reformatting, backup, extend, add read cache and even synchronous write cache to your storage per logical volume without shutting down your storage service. At this level of functionality, you are approaching Enterprise level SAN functionality offered by the likes of EMC.
- The Take-Away - Manage storage and Storage Services (SMB, NFS, ISCSI, S3, WebDAV) as a first-class infrastructure citizen with enterprise-level functionality.

FreeNAS is not an OS, you won't be able to just add packages (you can but you run the very real risk of reverting FreeNAS to FreeBSD and breaking upgrade and update capabilities). However, it offers a plethora of services out the box that provides the most common SOHO/Small-Business services, so you won't need to sweat the decision over whether to just run a Windows Server or a FreeNAS with the Domain Controller service. FreeNAS plugins extend this even further, and you can set up your own - though each of these begins to compete with the core function (Storage and Storage Management) so I would not recommend you do too much of this.
- The Take-Away - Leverage services where they make sense for occasional use (TFTP), but for dedicated use (eg: heavy Domain Controller usage) rather implement dedicated separate services.

You can go FAST with FreeNAS, much faster than most things like dedicated NAS devices can manage. This is because you can control the hardware mix. I have 11 SSDs, 12 HDDs, 1x 1Gb network, 1x 40Gb network, 12Gb Ram, and 3 4Ghz modern cores. My NAS is virtualized, but I can turn the physical server into the entire NAS if needed just by booting from the FreeNAS flash drive, or I can change the allocated resources just by rebooting. Though the network cards are virtualized in my environment, all the hard disks are directly connected to the VM. I have played with this and have all of this working, just now looking at the finer points of performance tuning and hardware allocation...

Hope this helps...
 

troybs1d

Newbie
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
14
If you want to combine both FreeNAS & some kind of router this is very possible. A dual socket LGA 1366 or LGA 2011 system (personally I'm a SuperMicro & HP person) with a quad Intel NIC card along with a 10Gb NIC if you have the switching hardware (ex. Quanta LB4M or Dell PowerConnect 55xx) running VMWare ESXi (free or paid license) so you can virtualize both FreeNAS along with either pFsense, Untangled or OPNsense. OPNsense & pFsense are both BSD based systems as well so both your NAS & firewall/router will be very robust and reliable.

FreeNAS/TrueNAS has extensive configurablity & expansion compared to a small low power NAS you would get from such vendors as QNAP, Synology, Drobo, etc. Once other huge benefit is ZFS which is one of (if not) the best file systems for archival purposes. The amount of very granular configurations that can be done with a system like FreeNAS may seem overwhelming at first but after some experimenting/testing really nice results can be achieved. You must ECC memory & generally lots of it, however the cost of it on the used market makes this negligible.

Most ISPs do not provide a router than supports Dynamic DNS as they would want to sell you a true static IP address instead & some ISPs (like mine at home) can provide a 1Gbps asynchronous connection. To me this means hosting servers/services like a VPN server, Emby (web geared Plex alternative) & other services ( ex. NextCloud/OwnCloud) is one of the reasons for subscribing to such a service.

I know of a few companies that actually utilize such services as Emby to provide both locally & remotely available video content of their talks from various conferences in their field as alternative/in tangent to putting it on YouTube so they have more direct control over the content.

If you implement a highly granular software based router such as pFsense, the amount of very granular network configurations is truly mind boggling as you can implement a wide variety of features, rules, policies & restrictions. Technically yes a software based router may not be a fast a dedicated ASIC though even on 10 year old hardware (ex. Xeon X56xx CPUs) until you encounter a very large network there is little performance loss & the amount of granular controls such as traffic shaping, priority for services such as VoIP can easily be handled.

The only real caveat to using a software based implementation of a NAS and/or router compared to low powered dedicated system is the size of your UPS needs to be much larger in both wattage rating & battery capacity. For medium - large businesses (and even smaller businesses/home users) this one time purchase price could be seen an investment as extensive complex configurations could be implemented quicker than using other more obtuse hardware/UIs so in the long-run it can be cheaper than paying a high level tech for multiple hours.
 

KenwoodFox

Newbie
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Messages
25
Greetings!

New to FreeNAS and was reading through the online user guide. Something struck me as odd and I wondered about the philosophy behind FreeNAS. Where is it expected live? What is its purpose? I thought FreeNAS was primarily a LAN-based server OS, and that its purpose is to provide LAN services. Some examples:
  1. Why does the Dynamic DNS service exist? Who has a ISP who, when providing minimal broadband service, rents you a modem with no router function? And given that, who sets their FreeNAS box with more than 1 network card and setup to be a router or firewall?
  2. Why are there only clients for directory services? For example why is there no LDAP server available? That's a beautiful LAN function.
Well, just two examples. Now I get that some might want to put FreeNAS in their DMZ and provide a big file store to the world without providing a front-end server, but that still doesn't explain the inclusion of Dynamic DNS.

Just wondering.
Not sure on the other bits, but nobody here gets routing functionality from their ISPs modem, in fact, most people don't use the ISPs modem and we just use our own, very rarely do people use one of those all in ones i think you're talking about, with a modem and router and phone line all packaged but i have seen a friend use one of those things.
 

danb35

FreeNAS Wizard
Joined
Aug 16, 2011
Messages
10,786
nobody here gets routing functionality from their ISPs modem
Nobody? I can't imagine how you believe this to be true, much less how you think you'd be able to support it. After all, if just one user uses an ISP-provided router, your claim is disproven. And since the largest ISP in the US defaults to a modem/router combination unless the user specifically requests otherwise, I'd say the odds are very close to 100% that you're wrong here. I'd guess (but it's only a guess) that most people here aren't using ISP-provided routers, but I certainly wouldn't say "nobody."
most people don't use the ISPs modem
Once again, what makes you think this? Though there are good reasons to provide your own modem, there are countervailing reasons not to in some cases--in my case, for example, my ISP only is able to have my static IP address if I use their modem. And, of course, if something happens to the ISP's modem, they replace it; if something happens to your own modem, it's your problem.

Neither of these has anything to do with the Dynamic DNS service in FreeNAS, though; Scotty's tying the two things together was a result of his misunderstanding of how that Dynamic DNS service works.
 

KenwoodFox

Newbie
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Messages
25
Nobody? I can't imagine how you believe this to be true, much less how you think you'd be able to support it. After all, if just one user uses an ISP-provided router, your claim is disproven. And since the largest ISP in the US defaults to a modem/router combination unless the user specifically requests otherwise, I'd say the odds are very close to 100% that you're wrong here. I'd guess (but it's only a guess) that most people here aren't using ISP-provided routers, but I certainly wouldn't say "nobody."

Once again, what makes you think this? Though there are good reasons to provide your own modem, there are countervailing reasons not to in some cases--in my case, for example, my ISP only is able to have my static IP address if I use their modem. And, of course, if something happens to the ISP's modem, they replace it; if something happens to your own modem, it's your problem.

Neither of these has anything to do with the Dynamic DNS service in FreeNAS, though; Scotty's tying the two things together was a result of his misunderstanding of how that Dynamic DNS service works.
Sorry about the confusion I should have emphasized more that I'm only talking about my local area and people directly around me don't use such devices but I have heard of their existence, I am unsure how popular they actually are.

I think I'm merely trying to add that in my case I don't use a modem with routing functionality and let my FreeNAS box do that.
 
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