FreeNAS 8 -- Update

If you are following the commit messages to FreeNAS, you'll already know that FreeNAS 8 is shaping up nicely. If not, allow me to summarize some of the progress here.

In the past two weeks we've managed to break the gui completely, and put it back together. In the process, we've moved from a fairly static system to a more dynamic DOJO driven system that's much easier to use. It is less cluttered, while still providing escape hatches to the more complicated stuff. In addtion, we've written an installer (really, used the installer from PC-BSD, now part of FreeBSD-current). We've upgraded all the ports to FreeBSD 8.1-RELEASE (basically about 6 weeks newer ports). We'll need to do security updates before beta on some of these as well, so we've added the ability to patch the ports tree (which should also mean we'll retain much of the flexibility that the legacy FreeNAS system has wrt upgrades).

All of this is building to a new alpha snapshot. We're nearing the feature complete phase and want to get at least one more alpha out the door before we go to beta, most likely early next month. Watch this space for updates.

If you've been trying to follow the process at a source code basis, you may have run into a problem. While the build system does a good job at applying new patches to FreeBSD's src and ports tree, it doesn't do a very good job when the patch has been updated. Its unclear to me what the best way to manage this process is, since it can be hard to manage a new ports tree, new src and ports patches, as well as preserve the '-b' functionality of nanobsd which allows for fast builds after an initial build.

So, if you encounter problems updating your tree from an earlier snapshot, there's an easy work around. If you define 'force_update=1' in your environment, then you'll force the do_build.sh script to update your src and ports trees (it is needed if you have a June 24th ports tree from before the cut over). This will force csup to run, which 'fixes' all the files that have been patched. I've enhanced do_build.sh so that it will force all the patches to be reapplied when you do this. It is best to avoid the -n and -b flags to do_build.sh when doing this, since you really want a fresh build after the latest series of changes.

Later this week, we'll have another alpha snapshot ready. The last bit of GUI work should be done tomorrow (we need to add back the ability to control sharing/exporting of volumes which was lost in the great GUI reshuffle). We'll also need to test it to make sure the basics work and then we'll put binaries up to share. The installer may even be ready too, so that might also include ISO images you can boot and use to install the images into a CF.

Finally, we've reworked Olivier Cochard-Labbé's to nanobsd for device label support to be more flexible. As a result, they are now in both FreeNAS, as well as in FreeBSD. The practical upshot is that now a single image can boot off CF (where the root device is /dev/ad0s1a), a VirtualBox container (where it might be /dev/ada0s1a or /dev/ad0s1a) or a USB Stick/VMWare container (where it would be /dev/da0s1a). This should solve some difficulty people reported using VMWare in the first alpha, as well as provide a nice, flexible system to have a single image for all media types going forward. Briefly, we can label things within NanoBSD so they appear as /dev/ufs/FreeNASs1a so that the root filesystem can be found on any underlying media. If you're interested in the details of this, check out glabel and the -L option to tunefs and newfs.

As always, we welcome feedback. We'll have something in place soon to help collect and organize the feedback from the beta tests. I'll announce it after we go live.

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