Built on the shoulders of TrueNAS CORE, TrueNAS SCALE adds Docker Containers, VMs (KVM), and scale-out ZFS storage capabilities.
TrueNAS SCALE is an exciting new addition to the TrueNAS software family. If you are unaware with TrueNAS CORE, it’s probably the best known and powerful free and open source NAS software out there.
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It’s been in development since 2005 and has over 10 million downloads. TrueNAS CORE is more focused on power users, so this may not be recommended for people who are making a NAS server for the first time.
What’s TrueNAS SCALE
TrueNAS SCALE uses much of the same TrueNAS source code, but adds a few different twists. The project is defined by this acronym:
Scale-Out ZFS: Capacity & Performance
Converged Compute and Storage
Linux containers & Virtualization: Docker, Kubernetes, and KVM
Easy Setup & Management
As you probably know, TrueNAS CORE is built on the rock-solid base of FreeBSD but for all the things it does have and great features, it does not have some of the things that people are asking for. For example a Docker containers support. Instead they have iocage and jails.
So the containerization systems and some of the back-end things that are kernel level well need high levels of kernel interaction are fundamentally different. On the other hand Linux does have all of these extra capabilities. And here TrueNAS SCALE comes on the stage.
TrueNAS SCALE is based on Debian 11. The departure over to Linux isn’t exactly a departure. Probably some people think it’s like they’re switching the project, but the true is that TrueNAS SCALE is a project that will run alongside TrueNAS CORE. Advantage of doing this is that now we have access to Docker and lots of better hardware support as well to many other great features that are available on Linux.
In short, SCALE just put a different operating system behind TrueNAS but it still controls on the front-end your NFS, SMB, and all the other functionality on top of the ZFS file system.
The idea with SCALE is that you will be able to combine multiple systems and scale them out into a giant unified data store. It accomplishes this by taking advantage of a scale-out ZFS layer combined with Linux.
However TrueNAS SCALE does have some very interesting and exciting new features.
TrueNAS SCALE Features
The WebUI, while similar to TrueNAS CORE, has been vastly improved with new UX enhancements which enable configuration and management of a system with far greater ease than ever before. In fact, the UI should look very familiar to everyone who has used TrueNAS before.
Now the users can find much more relevant and important information readily available with less need to navigate through multiple pages in the interface.
TrueNAS SCALE allows you to deploy third-party applications as single Docker containers or “pods” of containers using Helm charts with dynamic, customizable configurations. It also includes the ability to use one or more community-provided application repositories.
Therefore, Docker, Kubernetes and other container management technologies like Nomad now can be used on TrueNAS SCALE.
On top of that the nodes can operate as compute-only, storage-only or hyper-converged compute and storage. SCALE includes both the capability to support VMs through KVM and libvirt.
What can I say in conclusion? If you want to eliminate almost entirely any possibility of data loss and stability is the name of the game, TrueNAS SCALE is probably what you’re looking for. Moreover all these containerization and virtualization capabilities make it even more enticing.
For more information about TrueNAS SCALE you can refer to the project’s website. The source code is also already available on GitHub and under very active development. The final stable release of TrueNAS SCALE is expected by the end of this year.
Keep in mind that it’s still RC quality but there is a preview image you can download on the TrueNAS website if you want to check it out.