Unlike my update at the end of last year, I go into the New Year with FreeNAS up-to-date.  I’m running the latest version (11.2-U1), my jails are all on the latest version of FreeBSD (11.2) and they are mostly running the latest packages.  I’ve even updated the versions of PHP some of them are running.  2019 should be a quiet year!

The trigger for all this in 2018 was me deciding to move away from using VirtualBox and use the built-in hypervisor, byhve. Back on 9.10, that was via the command line using iohyve, which turned out to be quite similar to how iocage works for managing jails. It was a good experience which I blogged about here and I end the year with a permanently running ubuntu 16.4.5 LTS VM, running CrashPlan, ONLYOFFICE Document Server and various other things through Docker containers which I blogged about here.

I also have VMs running Windows Server 2016 for CPAS and another for running test versions of FreeNAS, although these don’t get fired up very often. The only issue I have with this is that the 2 created through iohyve (crashplan and fnas) don’t appear in the FreeNAS 11.2 GUI, but that’s not a major problem so I haven’t even considered recreating them.

Once I’d moved away from VirtualBox, it was possible to update FreeNAS to the 11.1 branch, and from there rebuild all of the jails that were stuck in the old FreeBSD 9.3/10 environment they were created in. I blogged about that in some detail here, so won’t cover it all again but here are some of the main changes:


I’ve still got the same WordPress jail for my company website and this blog, but have moved all the ‘play’ stuff across to a Docker container, so don’t have the FEMP jail running anymore.  WordPress recently made a big jump to 5.0 which I blogged about here.


The main change here is that I no longer have a running Plex jail and use emby exclusively, and for the past few months have been running the emby 3.6.0.x beta which is a real improvement over the current stable version, mainly due to changes in SQLite.  I have no regrets about leaving Plex behind and am generally happy with the way the emby works, although their recent decision to close-source some of the server application might be cause for concern in the future.


I guess this is one of the bigger changes as last year I’d just ditched the Nextcloud jail in preference for ownCloud.  During 2018 I played around with Nextcloud again in a Docker container and in the end felt it was a better option for my use case so when I rebuilt the jail using iocage I went with Nextcloud (the install is still very similar).  It wasn’t difficult resyncing the data, so no regrets about destroying the old jail.

SSL Proxy

Other than adding a few more SSL certificates, not much to report here.  It works beautifully, automatically renewing all of my Letsencrypt certs (now in the double figures) and redirecting all HTTP requests to HTTPS and then the relevant jail/Docker container.  

Home Assistant

I eventually got around to playing with this some more in Docker, before finally rebuilding an iocage jail for Home Assistant.  This eventually allowed me to control my TP-Link Smart Plugs using my Harmony Elite remote, and whilst it’s only a small piece of what I’m now using it for, it was worth the continued effort.


This was always the most problematic jail, although the update from 9.10.1-U4 to 11.1-U3 worked fine, and then rebuilding the jail in iocage was relatively painless too, so I should worry less about it.  It did break when upgrading from 11.1-U6 to 11.2, but the fix was simple and available immediately so I needn’t have worried.  It’s really good for connecting back into my network securely whilst away from home, and I’d be a little lost without it now.

I still have my Unbound DNS jail, although nothing has changed, and I also have a jail running the latest version of Calibre, the eBook server, which gives me access to my eBook library in a similar way to emby for TV and movies.  I tend to use it just for transferring books to my Kindle without the need for a wire though!

And that’s about it I think. Everything is up-to-date for a change and running well, and the next big change will probably be hardware related – a new FreeNAS server.  This one is just over 3 years old, and whilst I still have ~7TB of free space I’m using over 68%.  ZFS starts to suffer from a performance perspective beyond 80%, so I’ll probably need more space in the next 12 months.  I’m also maxed out at 32GB of RAM, which is just about enough for what I’m using today.  It doesn’t allow me any headroom to create more VMs or run more than one at once, so a newer system with at least 64GB would be nice.

It’s certainly a route I’ll be taking as I’ve enjoyed learning all about FreeNAS and FreeBSD and feel quite comfortable now updating things and fixing problems without always following a ‘How to..’ guide.  I’d be lost without it from both a business and personal perspective, so a new build in 2019 is very likely.  It will also allow me to retire the HP N54L Microserver I’m using as backup, which is almost 6 years old and has even less space, and no redundancy!

I’ll share some of my thoughts on a build when funds allow later this year…