Interview: FreeNAS for No-Cost Network Attached Storage
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Interview: FreeNAS for No-Cost Network Attached Storage
by Sam Dean - Aug. 29, 2008Comments (14)
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Few recent trends in storage have had as much momentum as Network Attached Storage (NAS). A NAS device can make a network more efficient and secure by supplying file-based data storage services to networked devices, or it can be used for applications such as streaming media. FreeNAS is free, lightweight, open source network-attached storage server software, based on FreeBSD. You can find a good tutorial on how to set up a free NAS server with it here. We recently caught up with Olivier Cochard-Labbe, FreeNAS founder, and Volker Theile, project administrator. OStatic:  Who is your typical user? How do you support your users?Volker Theile: I think the typical user is the person who simply wants to use the product without deeper knowledge of the OS and the services. In other words, he simply wants to stream music or videos via UPnP or DAAP, or share data on a network via CIFS/SMB. As far as support, it's done via our forums and the knowledge base.OStatic:  How did you get involved in FreeNAS?Volker Theile: Two years ago I had a hard disk crash and lost some of the data that had been stored on it--photos and documents. I began to search for a solution to store data more securely. I did not want to buy a commercial NAS.     I had some hardware components lying around in the cellar, and I searched the web for an free NAS solution. OpenFiler was a little bit too big for what I was looking for, so i came across FreeNAS. It was easy to install and use. OStatic: How have you monetized your project thus far? Olivier Cochard-Labbe:  Google Ads provides the main revenues for this project. This generated, in the begining, over 300 Euros per month. I gave all the revenues to the main developer, because I don't want this money to corrupt my relation to FreeNAS by pushing me to add lots of ads on the website, for example. The donations we get are very small, but a lot more valuable to us than the Google ads, because the donations come from happy users who choose to pay.OStatic: How do you benefit from the particular license you've chosen?Olivier Cochard-Labbe:  The BSD licence is the most open license from my point of view. I didn't have time to read (and understand)  all the concepts in the GPL, and I needed a simple license. BSD is simple. One benefit to the license is that a company can sell FreeNAS embedded in their servers without any problem.OStatic: What does the open source movement need?Olivier Cochard-Labbe:  It needs contributors and time. Regarding contributors, it's very easy to contribute (sending a patch, giving advice, providing documentation), but very few people do it. When I chose to create FreeNAS, I was not a developer. I discovered PHP and FreeBSD by looking in the m0n0wall code (it was the model that was the closest to my needs). And in only one week, I created the first alpha release of FreeNAS.Regarding time, one of the best things for open source would be for our employers to give us time to work on our open source projects. I've had to stop my contribution to FreeNAS because I have no more free time for it (but I have lots of ideas for improving it).
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14 Comments
 
by an anonymous user on Aug. 30, 2008You guys should seriously think about using the GPL. Hopefully you've noticed that the most popular free software projects use it. I'm guessing somebody will fork FreeNAS if you don't GPL it.
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by an anonymous user on Aug. 30, 2008You guys should seriously think about using the GPL. Hopefully you've noticed that the most popular free software projects use it. I'm guessing somebody will fork FreeNAS if you don't GPL it.
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by an anonymous user on Aug. 31, 2008Not having time to understand GPL is an excuse.
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by an anonymous user on Aug. 31, 2008@anonymous: FreeNAS is mostly a bare bones FreeBSD distribution with a web front end. Why would you say that anyone would fork that to move to the more restrictive GPL?
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by an anonymous user on Aug. 31, 2008BSD license is entirely legitimate, and the author has concluded that attracting commercial users, whom won't be scared off by the GPL is a benefit to him, as to GPL being confusing, if you use this code and distribute it you must provide source upon request, that's it in a nutshell, if you can't understand that you aren't going to get nuances of the various BSD licenses either. Essentially derivative works are largely unencumbered under various BSD licenses (you can do anything with this code, except say you wrote it), and derivative works of GPL code require downstream developers to disclose their changes, encumbering all such works with simple disclosure.
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by Khürt Williams on Sep. 01, 2008@anonymous: The BSD license is another software license like the GPL, APL, or commercial license. You gave no compelling reason to switch to the GPL ( other than personal bias ). I could create a piece of software an release it under the Khurt License.
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by Khürt Williams on Sep. 01, 2008I've been using FreeNAS since 2006. It has never failed me. Ever.
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by Raje on Sep. 01, 2008Good report/interview. I happen to be looking for just this sort of thing. I looked into OpenFiler as well after hearing of it from this interview.
I will use FreeNAS because it is unencumbered by the GPL and all the commies over at the FSF.
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by Raje on Sep. 01, 2008Good report/interview. I happen to be looking for just this sort of thing. I looked into OpenFiler as well after hearing of it from this interview.
I will use FreeNAS because it is unencumbered by the GPL and all the commies over at the FSF.
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by an anonymous user on Sep. 01, 2008I would only buy a nas box that used GPL software, because I don't want the vendor making proprietary extensions to the bsd software and locking me into only their upgrade path. Which would involve stopping the updates for their old boxes and making anyone who wants support in the future buy a new "non-obsolete" nas box.
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by Khürt Williams on Sep. 26, 2009@ anonymous: How does the GPL prevent "the vendor making proprietary extensions to the software and locking me into only their upgrade path"? I could take the GPL software un-modified and then write my own extensions using whatever API the software provides. Seems to me the sole purpose of the GPL is to prevent anyone from profiting from software sales. Seems to me that someone could make a good living charging for the installation/configuration/maintenance of GPLed software and NEVER contribute anything worth while back to the software. That's the real definition of "user".
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by an anonymous user on Dec. 21, 2009Most kiddies who are commenting here in favor of GPL are clueless !
The clauses of GPL license apply only when you modify the source code that you received. If you don't modify that code (as many vendors do), you can write (as many do) all proprietary stuff around it and effectively isolate the entire GPL code. and sell the software.
Get some education guys !
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by an anonymous user on Dec. 21, 2009So this mo'fukr Volter Theile will now work on Free software. :-)
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by Itscalled_Innovation on Dec. 29, 2009At least he is working (and hard) unlike you.
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