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FreeNAS™ is an embedded open source network attached storage (NAS) system based on FreeBSD and released under a BSD license. A NAS provides an operating system that has been optimized for file storage and sharing.

The FreeNAS™ Project was originally founded by Olivier Cochard-Labbé in 2005 and was based on m0n0wall, an embedded firewall based on FreeBSD. It was PHP based, easy-to-use, and had lots of features. In December of 2009, Olivier announced that the .7 branch would be placed in maintenance-only mode as he no longer had time to devote to further FreeNAS™ development. Volker Theile, a FreeNAS™ developer who also develops on Debian in his day job, decided to start the OpenMediaVault project, which would be a rewrite of FreeNAS™ based on Debian Linux and released under the terms of the GpLv3 license. Many FreeNAS™ users were not pleased about the change of license and the loss of kernel-based ZFS support due to GPL incompatibilities with the CDDL license.

iXsystems, a provider of FreeBSD-based hardware solutions and professional support, took the initiative to continue the development of a BSD licensed FreeNAS™ solution based on FreeBSD. They took the opportunity to analyze the positives (lots of cool features) and negatives (monolithic, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink design that was difficult to maintain and support). It was decided that the next version would be rewritten from scratch using a modular design that would provide a basic core NAS with a plugin architecture for adding non-core features. This would allow FreeNAS™ to have a small footprint that was easy to support while allowing users to just install the plugins for the features they desired. It would have the added benefit of allowing users to create and contribute plugins for niche features, allowing usage cases to grow according to users' needs.

Work on the new design began in 2010 when the 8.x branch was created to differentiate the new design from the original design. Table 1a lists the 8.x releases and provides links to the release notes for each released version:

Table 1a: FreeNAS™ 8.x Releases

Version Release Date Release Notes
8.0 May 2, 2011
8.0.1 September 30, 2011
8.0.2 October 13, 2011
8.0.3 January 3, 2012
8.0.4 February 29, 2012
8.2 expected May, 2012
8.3 expected Q2 2012 and will be based on FreeBSD 8.3

Except for the upcoming 8.3 release, each release in the 8.x branch is based on FreeBSD 8.2. Once the 8.x branch has reached the end of its development cycle, the 9.x branch will be created. This is expected to occur when FreeBSD 9.1 is released, in late 2012.

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