FreeNAS and FreeBSD Convert

A while back I put together a NAS (Network Addressible Storage) unit for personal use using an old computer and FreeNAS – NAS system software system based on FreeBSD. Everything worked great until the power supply failed, taking out the motherboard and corrupting the boot drive. The three drives in the software RAID array were still intact, but I didn’t have enough experience with FreeBSD to recover the array and the data.

The following 6 months were a period of Unix re-education. I was familiar with UNIX from my undergrad days at the University of Victoria. I had also used Aegis on Apollo ASIC engineering workstations at NovAtel Communications, which was very Unix-like. Saying I had forgotten a lot would be an understatement. However, I’m happy to report that the data has been recovered from the array, and in the process I’ve become a FreeBSD convert.

FreeBSD is called the “unknown Giant”. It is an advanced Unix-like OS derived from BSD, the version of UNIX┬« developed at the University of California, Berkeley. FreeBSD has two major advantages over GNU Linux distributions. First, FreeBSD is inclusive. The core and userland are maintained and released together, making for a consistent and well documented experience. Second, the FreeBSD “BSD” license is an industry-friendly permissive license.

FreeBSD is most often seen server-side, which is where I’m using it for preferred Achievo development (see elsewhere on this site for more on Achievo).