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OK, so I wasn’t expecting this to be straight forward, but I also didn’t expect to fall at the first hurdle!

I knew I couldn’t use the auto updater built into FreeNAS, as this will take me to the latest stable or nightly train.  I was hoping I could just download the 9.10.1-U4 iso file from and then use the Manual Update button to run this.  This throws up an error message before it’s even copied the files across to the temporary location.

It looks like I’ll need to try copying the iso file to a memory stick in terminal:

  • diskutil list (which displays a list of the connected drives, making a note that the USB drive is disk2)
  • sudo dd if=FreeNAS-9.10.1-U4.iso of=/dev/rdisk2 bs=64k (where rdiskx is the number noted above)

and then reboot the server and update from the memory stick.  After some advice in the FreeNAS forum (which has to be one of the most helpful and friendly places on the whole internet) I booted the server from the USB stick and selected a clean install.  I already have a nightly task setup which takes a copy of my configuration db so that I can reload this after the clean install and hopefully everything will be working as before.  It’s a big hope, so fingers crossed…..

My FreeNAS box runs 24×7, and I very rarely need to access the hardware itself.  It’s set to boot from the SSD FreeNAS is installed to, so the first job was to access the BIOS and change the boot preferences.  Accessing the hardware is through IPMI as I don’t have a keyboard or monitor hooked up to the device, and trying to remember which key I needed to press took a little while!  Finally worked out it was the Del key to access the bios so change the boot order to the USB stick.  This then rebooted into the FreeNAS installer and I selected option 1 Install/Upgrade and then selected the SSD as the target, being very careful not choose one of the 9 Seagate HDD that make up the ZFS pool.  This would be very bad!

The install didn’t take long, and then it was a case of removing the USB drive, rebooting and holding my breathe.  I’m doing that as I type this with a glass of whisky in hand.  This is either going to go really well or really badly as I don’t think there’s a middle ground.  I’m hoping that FreeNAS is going to start and my pool is visible, and the configuration is all intact.  After that, the hope is that all the jails are still there and they all restart.  Finally, the VirtualBox VMs all start.  Not hoping for much!  Just realised I couldn’t even save this blog post as a draft, as the WordPress install is running in a jail on FreeNAS 🙂

So the first panic was no pool, but I guessed this might happen.  Went to Storage and Import Volume and that’s back!  A first big sigh of relief!  It’s not that I’m worried about the data as I have a replica of on my other FreeNAS box, but it would have been really painful starting from scratch!  Given there was no pool, it was safe to assume all my configuration was gone, so it was into System and General to Import Config.  Pointed to the local copy I’d saved from last night, and then another 5 minutes of whisky while everything reboots.  It was disappointing to see in the GRUB manager that my previous 9.3.1 installation wasn’t available, so if this doesn’t work it’s not just going to be a simple case of rolling back.  I guess my fall back now would be to reinstall 9.3.1 and start from there but lets not start assuming the worst just yet.  More whisky….

Reboot complete, and I’m connecting to the previous IP address, and it looks like the jails are trying to acquire network connections and IP addresses.  Woo hoo!  My ownCloud server icon has just reconnected, and Plex is back up and running too.  And I can connect via VPN, which were my three biggest concerns, so it looks like things have gone well.  I’ve even managed to save this draft blog, so I think that’s a pretty good result.

So my FreeNAS box is a little more up to date, although still some way from the bleeding edge.  At least I’m back into the current year and running a base version of FreeBSD 10.3 which is supported until 2018.  I suspect some fun and games will arise when I need to update the jails, at which point I’ll probably need to recreate them using the 10.3 template, but will deal with that as and when.


After some playing today, I also noticed a few other things which I’ve been able to fix:

  1. Replication wasn’t working, but after a little look at the manual (the FreeNAS documentation is pretty good), I just needed to copy the public key from the PUSH system (the one I’d just updated) to the replication (root) user of the PULL system.  Overnight replication ran successfully, even though I haven’t updated the backup server from FreeNAS 9.3.1!
  2. The cron job to backup the config db every night wasn’t working as the format of the versioning had changed.  A quick look in the forum found a solution that should work for any future updates
  3. While I could connect to the OpenVPN jail, I couldn’t access my network or the internet.  I was hoping that this was another simple fix by just reviewing the address assigned (ifconfig) and then editing the firewall rules (nano /usr/local/etc/ipfw.rules), but alas this didn’t fix the routing problem.  As this was a pretty old jail that hadn’t been updated, I thought I’d have a good at recreating using the FreeBSD 10.3 template and after a little trial and error using this forum thread got this running again with a much newer version and using stronger security, so not too bad.  I always had this down as the most difficult to rebuild, so the fact that’s done at the start is another small relief

That’s all for now, as nothing else needs updating, and I’ve been out this afternoon watching Fantastic Mr. Fox at the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh.  Maybe I’ll do a short blog review of that later…