FreeNAS Corral development halted, next release based on 9.10

FreeNAS 9.10.3 UI Mockup
FreeNAS 9.10.3 UI Mockup

After only one month of life, FreeNAS Corral development has come to a halt. In an unexpected announcement, Kris Moore, Director of Engineering for iXsystems relegates FreeNAS Corral to a “Technology Preview“, not for production. The excitement during the first days of Corral was evident, mostly because of FreeNAS Corral features like Docker/VM support and the sleek UI. However, half of the initial users reverted back to FreeNAS 9. Users reported the system to be unstable, difficult to upgrade, resource hungry and not on pair with FreeNAS 9 features (e.g. iSCSI, Jails).

Behind the scenes

Things like these, are usually rare in the industry. FreeNAS Corral had a troubled start, a short life and its development came to an abrupt end. But what happened behind the scenes? What led FreeNAS developers to put away a product worth 16 months of work? Everything started when the project lead, Jordan Hubbard, left iXsystems. The developers essentially noticed that:

  • Corral used a niche UI framework (MontageJS) with a “troubled” slow development.
  • The use of MontageJS instead of a more popular alternative (like AngularJS) is unnecessary and time consuming.
  • The departure of the project lead created a consistent power dearth.
  • Taking Corral as it is to a stable release would take too long.

Hence, the decision to rebase upon FreeNAS 9 was made with the commitment to bring all of Corral’s features in the new release(s).

What’s next?

FreeNAS 9.10.3 UI Mockup

FreeNAS 9.10.3 UI Mockup

In the future, the next FreeNAS releases will aim to provide FreeNAS 9 stability alongside Corral’s features. The developers also stated what their roadmap is for FreeNAS 9.10.3:

  • New Angular-based web UI: You can test-drive the early work now in 9.10 nightlies prior to the upcoming 9.10.3 release.
  • Expand and improve support for jails and jail-based plugins: For maximum compatibility with lighter system requirements.
  • VM Support: We have added a new “VM” menu which allows you to host your own Virtual Machines on FreeNAS, landing in 9.10.3.
  • Docker support: As a Virtual Machine-driven service.
  • Improve support for DevOps-class alerting, PagerDuty, AWS Alerts, OpsGenie, and Slack (coming in 9.10.3).
  • Local and distributed S3 bucket support: Initial work landing in 9.10.3.
  • FreeBSD 11-stable base: Landing in 9.10.3.

Although the intentions to quickly close the gap with Corral are strong, developers say it will take some time to release some advanced features like Docker support.

Should I upgrade to FreeNAS Corral or wait?

You should definitely wait for FreeNAS 9.10.3. Whatever the next version will be you won’t probably be able to upgrade from Corral.

Should I downgrade from FreeNAS Corral to 9.10.2?

FreeNAS developers say it’s not necessary at the moment if you’re happy with FreeNAS Corral. In the future, however, you will have to downgrade in order to upgrade to the newer product. iXsystems has provided users with a FAQ post on migrations to/from Corral.

Image courtesy of mark | marksei

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