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FreeNAS® 8.2.0 introduced the ability to extend the built-in NAS services by providing a mechanism for installing additional software. This mechanism was known as the Plugins architecture and is based on FreeBSD jails and PC-BSD PBIs. This allowed users to install and configure additional applications once they had created and configured a plugins jail.

FreeNAS® 9.x simplifies this procedure by providing two methods for software installation. The Plugins method, described in this section, is meant for users who prefer to browse for, install, and configure available software using the GUI. This method is very easy to use, but is limited in the amount of software that is available. Each application will automatically be installed into its own jail, meaning that this method may not be suitable for users who wish to run multiple applications within the same jail.

The Jails method provides much more control over software installation but assumes that the user is comfortable working from the command line can and has a good understanding of networking basics and software installation on FreeBSD-based systems.

It is recommended that users skim through both the Plugins and Jails sections in order to become familiar with the features and limitations of each and to choose the method that best meets their software needs.

Due to ABI (application binary interface) changes, FreeNAS® 8.x PBIs can not be installed on a 9.x system.


Installing a FreeNAS® PBI Using Plugins

A FreeNAS® PBI is a self-contained application installer which has been designed to integrate into the FreeNAS® GUI. A FreeNAS® PBI offers several advantages:

  • the FreeNAS® GUI provides a browser for viewing the list of available FreeNAS® PBIs. This list is also available at Available FreeNAS® PBIs.
  • the FreeNAS® GUI provides buttons for installing, starting, upgrading, and deleting FreeNAS® PBIs.
  • if the FreeNAS® PBIs has configuration options, a screen will be added to the FreeNAS® GUI so that these options can be configured from the GUI.
  • FreeNAS® PBIs can be installed using either the Plugins or the Jails method.

To install a FreeNAS® PBI using the plugins method, click Plugins. As seen in Figure 9.1a, the list of available FreeNAS® PBIs will be displayed.

Figure 9.1a: Using Plugins to Install a PBI


NOTE: if the list of available PBIs is not displayed, open Shell and verify that the FreeNAS® system can ping an address on the Internet. If it cannot, you may have to add a default gateway address and/or DNS server address in Network → Global Configuration.

Highlight the entry of the PBI you would like to install, then click its Install button. In the example shown in Figure 9.1b, the transmission PBI is selected for installation.

Figure 9.1b: Selecting a PBI to Install


Click "OK" to start the installation. It will take a few minutes as the system will first download and configure a jail to contain the installed software. It will then install the PBI and add it to the "Installed" tab as shown in Figure 9.1c. Be patient as it may take a few minutes for the installation to finish.

Figure 9.1c: Transmission PBI is Installed


Managing an Installed FreeNAS® PBI

As seen in the example shown in Figure 9.1c, entries for the installed PBI will appear in the following locations:

  • the Installed tab of Plugins
  • the Plugins section of the tree
  • the Jails section of the tree

The entry in the Installed tab of Plugins will display the plugin name and version, the name of the PBI that was installed, the name of the jail that was created, whether the application status is ON or OFF, and a button to delete the application and its associated jail. If a newer version of the application is available, a button to update the application will also appear.

The "Service status" of a PBI must be turned to "ON" before the installed application is available. Before starting the service, check to see if it has any configuration options by clicking its entry in the Plugins section of the tree. If the application is configurable, this will open a graphical screen that contains its available configuration options. The options that are available will vary by PBI. PBIs which are not configurable will instead display a message with a hyperlink for accessing the software. That hyperlink will not work until the PBI is started.

You should always review a PBI's configuration options before attempting to start it as some PBIs have options that need to be set before their service will successfully start. If you have never configured this application before, check the application's website to see what documentation is available. A link to the website for each available PBI can be found in Available FreeNAS® PBIs.

If the application requires access to the data stored on the FreeNAS® system, click the entry for the associated jail in the Jails section of the tree and add a storage as described here.

If you need to access the shell of the jail containing the application to complete or test your configuration, click the entry for the associated jail in the Jails section of the tree. You can then click its shell icon as described in Managing Jails.

Once the configuration is complete, click the red OFF button in the entry for the PBI. If the service successfully starts, it will change to a blue ON. If it fails to start, click the jail's shell icon and type tail /var/log/messages to see if any errors were logged.

Updating an Installed FreeNAS® PBI

If a newer version of a FreeNAS® PBI becomes available in the official repository, an "Update" button will be added to the entry of the PBI in the "Installed" tab. In the example shown in Figure 9.1d, a newer version of Minidlna is available.

Figure 9.1d: Updating an Installed PBI


Click the "OK" button and the latest version of the PBI will automatically be downloaded and installed. Once the update is complete, the entry for the PBI will be refreshed to show the new version number and the "Update" button will disappear.

Installing Additional PBIs

The "Available" tab of Plugins contains an "Upload" button. This button allows you to install PBIs that are not yet available in the official repository. These PBIs include FreeNAS® PBIs which are still being tested as well as PC-BSD PBIs. These PBIs must be manually downloaded first and should end in a .pbi extension. When downloading a PBI, make sure that it matches the architecture (32- or 64-bit) of the FreeNAS® system and that it was developed for 9.x as 8.x and 10.x PBIs will not work on a 9.x FreeNAS® system.

Once you have downloaded the PBI, click the "Upload" button. As seen in the example in Figure 9.1e, this will prompt you to browse to the location of the downloaded PBI. Once the PBI is selected, click the "Upload" button to install the PBI. In this example, the user is installing the PC-BSD PBI for webmin.

Figure 9.1e: Installing a Previously Downloaded PBI


When the installation is complete, an entry for the PBI will be added to the "Installed" tab and its associated jail will be listed under "Jails". However, if it is not a FreeNAS® PBI, it will not be added to "Plugins". In other words, if the application requires any configuration, you will have to perform it from the command line of the jail's shell instead of the GUI.

Deleting a PBI

When you install a PBI using the Plugins method, an associated jail is created. If you decide to delete a PBI, the associated jail is also deleted as it is no longer required. Before deleting a PBI, make sure that you don't have any data or configuration in the jail that you do not want to lose. If you do, back it up first, before deleting the PBI.

In the example shown in Figure 9.1f, the CouchPotato PBI has been installed and the user has clicked its "Delete" button. As described in the previous sections, this PBI appears in the Plugins portion of the tree, its associated jail, couchpotato_1, appears in the Jails portion of the tree, and the PBI shows as installed in the Installed tab of Plugins. A pop-up message asks the user if they are sure that they want to delete. This is the one and only warning. If the user clicks "Yes", this PBI will be removed from the Plugins portion of the tree, its associated jail, couchpotato_1, will be deleted, and the PBI will no longer show as installed in the Installed tab of Plugins.

Figure 9.1f: Deleting an Installed PBI


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