Setting up FreeNAS

Flexible Storage

Installing FreeNAS

I assume you are starting from scratch with a brand-new FreeNAS install. To this end, I'll give you a step-by-step overview of a basic FreeNAS installation. By the end of the article, you'll have a fully functional FreeNAS box.

FreeNAS does require some hardware planning, but it is well documented. Because the system is based on FreeBSD 9.3 [6], you can find lots of details on the FreeBSD Hardware Compatibility List [7]. If you have specific questions, you can head over to the FreeNAS forums [8] and the many helpful community members. General recommendations for this setup are:

  • 64-bit processor (FreeNAS is 64-bit only)
  • At least 8GB RAM (more is better)
  • Minimum 8GB compact flash, SSD, USB flash drive, or regular hard drive for boot device
  • Size and number of drives required for your chosen RAID configuration

In this case, I'm using an HP MicroServer with the following:

  • 16GB RAM
  • Two 3TB (storage) hard drives
  • One 500GB (FreeNAS) drive

FreeNAS can be installed to compact flash, USB flash drive, SSD, or regular SATA hard drive for boot device. It is important to note that entire devices will be unavailable for use as storage and will be dedicated to FreeNAS. In this setup, the two 3TB hard drives will be used for storage and the 500GB hard drive will be the FreeNAS drive.

As you may notice, I am only using a single SATA drive for the FreeNAS drive. This represents a single point of failure, because it isn't fault tolerant. If needed, you can mirror your FreeNAS drive and add fault tolerance to your configuration. To do so, simply add another drive and select them both on install so that they are configured as a mirror.

To begin, download FreeNAS from and validate the checksum of the downloaded file. Note that Windows has no built-in checksum validation tool. However, you can download an official File Checksum Integrity Verifier (FCIV) utility [9] from Microsoft, and dozens of open source tools are available. For Windows, I recommend the open source application WinHasher [10]. Next, write the image to disk (USB flash drive).

On OS X, Linux, and Unix, you use the dd command to write the image to your install disk. If you are on Windows, you can use Win32 Disk Imager [11]. Of course, you could also burn a CD if you have an optical drive on the machine you are building.

Installing the FreeNAS Box

Once you have written the image to the FreeNAS install storage option of your choice, plug it into your FreeNAS box. In my case, I used an internal drive that was already connected.

On boot, you will see a sweet text-based menu (Figure 1). In the console setup, choose option 1 Install/Upgrade . Next, select the target drive on which to install FreeNAS and set a secure root password. You have now completed your install.

Figure 1: Text-based menu.

Post-Install Configuration

Once you have installed your FreeNAS box, reboot, and you will be presented with the FreeNAS console menu (Figure 2). Here you can do all of the basic setup options listed here.

Figure 2: FreeNAS console menu.

1) Configure Network Interfaces: Provides a configuration wizard to configure the system's network interfaces.

2) Configure Link Aggregation: Allows you to either create a new link aggregation or to delete an existing link aggregation.

3) Configure VLAN Interface: Used to create or delete a VLAN interface.

4) Configure Default Route: Used to set the IPv4 or IPv6 default gateway. When prompted, input the IP address of the default gateway.

5) Configure Static Routes: Prompts for the destination network and the gateway IP address. Re-enter this option for each route you need to add.

6) Configure DNS: Prompts for the name of the DNS domain, then the IP address of the first DNS server. To input multiple DNS servers, press Enter to input the next until all have been entered. When finished, press Enter twice to leave this option.

7) Reset Root Password: If you are unable to log in to the graphical administrative interface, select this option and follow the prompts to set the root password.

8) Reset to factory defaults: If you want to delete all of the configuration changes made in the administrative GUI, select this option. Once the configuration is reset, the system will reboot. You will need to go to Storage | Volumes | Auto Import Volume to re-import your volume.

9) Shell: Enters a shell to run FreeBSD commands. To leave the shell, type exit .

10) System Update: If any system updates are available, they will automatically be downloaded and applied.

11) Reboot: Reboots the system.

12) Shutdown: Halts the system.

The first step in this example will be to set a static IP address.

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