what's your ZFS flavor?


Active Member
So ZFS is a Sun developed software, but as I read more and more I see each person has a prefered flavor.

FreeNAS seems to be the most popular, many going with the omni AIO solution, but there are many many more distros with ZFS support.

Whats your preference and why?

FreeNAS seems to be the most well put together out of the box, but wouldn't Ubuntu with the ZFS repo offer wider hardware support?
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Well-Known Member
Nov 10, 2015
I use ZoL on top of minimal Debian. It's rock solid stable, small and agile. I prefer a modular approach to my storage, one that I can add exactly what I need in terms of bells and whistles, without having to also have a gazillion things that I don't :)


Well-Known Member
Mar 18, 2016
I don't have a server using zfs (still stuck with hardware raid & windows) but these were my considerations:

Storage only: freebsd > freenas > nas4free
Application- & fileserver: oracle solaris > (open) solaris clones
General purpose & storage: ubuntu > centos > debian

I would take freebsd over freenas, because freenas is based on "older" freebsd versions and lacks support for some newer devices/controllers out of the box.
Why ubuntu? IMO it's the most discussed & best documented linux distro with zfs support.


Active Member
Jun 21, 2016
If AiO virtualization is your game, then Proxmox VE does out of the box ZFS (as rootfs, even).

It's essentially Debian with a custom installer and a repo of additional packages.

The out-of-the-box aspect is rather appealing.


Well-Known Member
Jan 6, 2016
With my very limited ZFS exposure I would just add from a general point of view with linux

RHEL > centos > suse > ubuntu

From a stability and application support point of view.


Active Member
Feb 4, 2014
Baremetal omnios, with the nappit webgui just for easy installation.
Rock, rock solid, zfs natively developped, crossbow, kvm ..


Active Member
Mar 10, 2016
I've used most of them at this point.

Solaris, once Oracle killed OpenSolaris I tried OpenIndiana. That worked well, but when they killed Xen off I had to reconsider as I want VMs and such. OmniOS with KVM is an interesting option now that didn't exist before when I was looking into things.

FreeNAS. Great UI stuff, generally seems to work well. I liked the jails, but couldn't get VMs working on my slightly older hardware. BeHyve required a CPU instruction I didn't have and I wasn't willing to upgrade, and thought it was kind of stupid to require it. If it does what you need and your hardware is supported, recommended.

I did Debian Xen Dom0 with ZFS added for a while. It worked, but it was kind of a pain to maintain.

I now run Proxmox. I like that ZFS root is supported, no need to maintain LVM and ZFS, just ZFS now. The container and VM management is well done and works great for my needs. It's based on Debian, which is very familiar to me, so that was a bonus.

Another popular choice I was considering but haven't tried is ESXI with napp-it or FreeNAS in a VM. With PCI passthrough, performance is good and it offers a lot of interesting options. I prefer to stick to open source stuff though, so tried Proxmox first and decided it would do what I needed done.
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Jun 30, 2014
I've probably tried them all, started w/ Solaris 10/11, Oracle exhile/abomination, OmniOS, ZoL, SmartOS, FreeNAS. They all have their strong points or differentiators for sure. Depends what ya wanna do w/ em'/how versatile ya wanna be or how much you want your stg platform to do.

For me I'm pretty darn happy w/ FreeNAS for the time being, doesn't mean I am not a 'serial stg technology fondler' :p


Active Member
Jun 7, 2016
I am going to go against the crowd here but I like NAS4Free for a simple NAS. I still want ZFS on Linux to mature a bit before I trust it and Solaris is pretty much out to pasture which leaves FreeBSD if you want ZFS.

I run software MD raid on my Linux box for my primary storage. It's good enough for me and I like the ability to grow my parity arrays.

But, for a bucket of bits, I prefer NAS4Free over FreeNAS. I don't need roots or jails or containers or bzwippies in my bucket of bits. I just need a place to store my bits. And for those who believe that unnecessary features are just another thing to break, NAS4Free is a better choice than FreeNAS. It does what it does, and it does it well. But, what it doesn't do, well, it doesn't do. FreeNAS lets you do things it doesn't do if you are willing to figure out its rules. I already have a VMWare server sitting next to my bucket of bits so why complicate the NAS trying to make it do things that the VM server can do better?


Well-Known Member
Dec 31, 2010
The first question is Open-ZFS (forks based on last Sun OpenSolaris) or closed source Oracle Solaris 11.x. Oracle Solaris is yet the fastest ZFS server with highlights like real ZFS encryption and sequential resilvering (much faster than on OpenZFS). I have seen 10-30% improvements over OmniOS with 10/40G networks.

All Open-ZFS share more or less the same codebase for ZFS but there are differences regarding the integration of services like iSCSI, NFS or SMB. They were originally fully integrated into ZFS and the OS.

This is now only the case with the Unix OS Solaris based systems (Illumos with distribution like OI, OmniOS, NexentaStor). In general ZFS integration. handling of Windows permissions and Previous versions or disk detection (WWN only) or disk fault management is best on Solarish. Solaris offers its own SMB server fully integrated into ZFS with best of all Windows ntfs alike permission support. OpenSolaris was more or less developped around ZFS and a full featured server idea to compete against Microsoft Windows Server. SAMBA is available as well. I offer my napp-it as a easy to use GUI for Solaris or OmniOS/OI. Nexenta come with their own GUI. Biggest plus for Solarish: It is iSCSI/FC, NFS or SMB storage that just works. Everything part of the OS itself. No third party tools needed.

As memory management in ZFS is yet Solaris based, you may need less memory with Solarish where 2 GB is enough for a stable system with any poolsize. 4-8GB is suggested for a soho/media server, 16 GB and more for special use cases. This is similar on all platforms.

BSD, another Unix OS integrated Opensource-ZFS very early, at a time when Sun/Oracle only offered commercial things with less love to the free OpenSolaris for home and soho use and beause of the lack of a user friendly gui in OpenSolaris. Many services like for example media services like plex are available for a long time. Great community.

Linux based solutions are mainstream in the general server area so I expect that most ZFS installations in future are based on Linux. It offers best driver support beside Windows and many features regardless the filesystem. Main problem. You can select amont different server, filesystems or ways to to everything. Miles aways from the "it just work" idea especially as you must care about in every distribution differently.

BSD and Linux use ZFS as a filesystem option to other filesystems.
FreeNAS and all Solaris based systems are ZFS only.

The use case can make a difference.
If you need a storage server, use the special ZFS dedicated appliance distributions with many features in the GUI th manage storage. This is much more than having only a newer filesystem. If you mainly need a VM platform with a stable ZFS filesystem, Proxmox (ZoL) or SmartOS (Illumos) is ok.
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Active Member
May 6, 2015
SF Bay area
I primarily use ZFSonLinux, first with Centos 6, Fedora 20, and now Centos 7, and I'm going to spin up an Arch box as well, since I really like the idea of a well maintained rolling release.

That said, I set most of my less technical friends up with FreeNAS, and have a FreeNAS 9 system running myself.

I once had a SparcStation on my desk at work, (and later an ultrasparc) but I haven't used Solaris in 15 years or so - fond memories, but no time to play with it. I did always like how the left function keys were like a whole set of special mouse buttons, but I digress...
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Mar 20, 2017
I've been running ZFS on FreeBSD for about 9 years now.

Jails are really great for running different services. Not just for the security aspect, but also the ability to manage related sets of processes together as a single unit.


Jun 25, 2016
ZFS on Linux for me, both CentOS 6 and 7. Been very stable with no issues, both at home (two machines ~20TB usable each) and at work where we have multiple PB's across many machines.


Build. Break. Fix. Repeat
Feb 15, 2015
-OmniOS for All-In-One
-FreeNAS for backup NAS
-ZoL for playing around / testing NVME and 'local' ZFS

We'll see where things go in the future. Like some others have stated when it comes to just STORAGE I like to keep it simple.


Active Member
May 6, 2015
SF Bay area
One thing I forgot to mention is for RHEL/Centos, use the kmod precompiled zfs RPMs, not the DKMS ones - there are some DKMS issues with recompiles on RHEL/Centos 6/7, which are annoying - you have to track down old symlinks to old module versions and nuke them to get it to work - someone has a giant find - delete command string to get them, but unless you are running a custom kernel, the kmod ones are just easier to deal with:
RHEL & CentOS · zfsonlinux/zfs Wiki · GitHub
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Active Member
Aug 6, 2015
For those who were on OmniOS curious to know what you plan to do :) FreeNAS can't seem to get off of ver. 9. That leaves Linux or FreeBSD.