NAS aka Network Attached storage devices helps to overcome storage problems and gives your data a centralized place. A place where people can access and share data 24×7 through the network. There are lots of companies that offer Software + Hardware NAS boxes which are basically out-of-box NAS solutions, for example, Qnap and Synology are two veteran NAS vendors.
The cost of NAS boxes depends on the features such as the amount of storage, RAM, CPU, etc. But if you want to convert your old system into a NAS box without spending hundreds of bucks then here is the solution. The Opensource Linux NAS applications are light Linux Distros with enough power to handle your storage problem. You can build your own NAS server for your small business by using an old or new server/PC hardware. Here is a list of some best open-source NAS Linux Operating systems available on the Internet.
You can use the NAS box along with some software like OwnCloud to create a personal home cloud storage solution. The personal cloud solution helps you to sync your personal files directly from the desktop to mobile devices. You can also listen to your songs and watch movies on your mobile phone those are stored on your NAS or personal desktop, while on the go using the internet connection. Here are 6 open source personal cloud solutions.
Best Free NAS Software solutions in 2023
Operating systems for a NAS server are basically special software that supports typical server tasks. For example, you enable file sharing for Windows or macOS devices, they stream content to DLNA-enabled devices and can serve as a mail server, and the like. They generally have a command-line interface but for management, one can control the NAS server remotely from a local or another device via the browser GUI web interface. Here is the list that includes all popular Linux Distros based on Linux or FreeBSD meant to use for storage management purposes.
FreeNAS is the most popular free and open-source FreeBSD-based NAS operating system that has enterprise-class features and an enterprise-ready ZFS open-source file system. It can be installed virtually as well as on hardware to create a centralized data environment. The interface it provides is very intuitive (web interface). It supports Windows sharing SMB/CIFS, NFS and Apple file shares (AFP), FTP, and iSCSI. Besides this, it also supports plugins to extend its functionality such as CouchPotato, SickBeard, SABnzbd, Maraschino, HTPC Manager, etc.
One thing that should be noticed before installing this OS on some Old specs systems is that it needs a good amount of RAM to work, especially when you planning to install a ZFS file system.
- How to install FreeNAS VM on VirtualBox (Windows, Linux, or macOS)
- How to install FreeNAS on a USB
- 12 Best FreeNAS Plugins To Extend the built-in NAS Services
2. NAS4Free / XigmaNAS
NAS4Free is an Open Source Storage NAS (Network-Attached Storage) distribution based on FreeBSD. Earlier it was known as NAS4Free but in 2018 its developer has renamed it to XigmaNAS. XigmaNAS supports sharing across Windows, Apple, and UNIX-like systems.
It includes ZFS v5000 , Software RAID (0,1,5), disk encryption, S.M.A.R.T / email reports, etc. with the following protocols: CIFS/SMB (Samba), Active Directory Domain Controller (Samba), FTP, NFS, TFTP, AFP, RSYNC, Unison, iSCSI (initiator and target), HAST, CARP, Bridge, UPnP, and BitTorrent which is all highly configurable by its WEB interface.
It supports ZFS and encryption services. The web interface is not much user-friendly and one may find some difficulty while navigating and extending its functionality through plugins.
3. OpenMediaVault (OMV)
OpenMediaVault is Debian based Linux network-attached storage (NAS) solution and is light in weight. It can be your choice if you do not want ZFS. The services it provides are SSH, (S)FTP, SMB/CIFS, Rsync, BitTorrent client, DAAP media server, and much more. It is based on Debian which means you will get frequent updates and patches. Its plugins directory is not much vast but still evolving at a good pace and will keep home users happy. The web interface it possesses is very clean and user-friendly.
If your hardware still supports the legacy USB boot method, you can simply download the latest release of OpenMediaVault as an image. For UEFI systems, it is currently easiest to download the latest Debian NetInst ISO and then install OpenMediaVault afterward.
The installation of this NAS software works similarly to Debian Linux and after the setup, it will ask you to log in. By default, the username and password for OpenMediaVault are “root” and the password “openmedivault”.
OpenMediaVault or Debian Linux comes with an SSH server that gives administrators full rights over the operating system via a secure protocol. To do this, an SSH client must be installed on the client.
4. Rockstor: Opensource Private Cloud & NAS Server
Rocktsor is based on Centos Linux and BTRFS to provide NAS and cloud storage. It is built on rock-solid CentOs which is another good thing. It supports BTRFS which is a filesystem like ZFS to provide high data integrity and security. It can use as a personal cloud server and SMB Cloud Server with a clean and simple web GUI
Personal Cloud Server
Rockstor Personal Cloud Server allows you to create your own local private cloud to reduce the risk and cost of the public cloud.
- Reduce cost
- Effectively scale capacity, manage privacy and performance
- Access data from desktops, laptops, or mobile devices from anywhere.
- Move data between the public cloud, Rockstor, and your devices
SMB Cloud Server
Rockstor Small and Midsize Business (SMB) Cloud Server is a special build for small businesses that require the capacity of several hundred Terabytes to capture the business demands. You can save your crucial business data on Rockstor SMB cloud server and less sensitive data on the public cloud. This practice will decrease the cost and increase the security of data. Also, an organization doesn’t need to rely completely on an expensive public cloud.
Helpful resource: How To Install Rockstor NAS On Ubuntu/Debian in Virtual Machine
Features of SMB Cloud Server:
- Build your Private Cloud Storage with a hybrid workflow
- Seamlessly integrate with public cloud storage
- Scale your storage as needs
5. Openfiler Community edition
Openfiler is another enterprise-level NAS/SAN Distro like FreeNAS. It can easily convert your old system into IP-based storage. Openfiler provides some very useful features such as iSCSI target for virtualization, Fibre Channel target support, and block-level replication.
You might face some update problems with it. Also, the operating system on which it is based is rPath Linux distribution which has not been updated since 2008 which makes it not a very reliable choice but you can lay your hands upon it for learning or to fork out some new NAS software distro.
6. Nexenta Community Edition
Nexenta’s edition is a free edition which basically a community version of a commercial storage product. The free version can support up to 18TB of storage. It gives ZFS support and is based on open Solaris called Illumos. As it is a strip version of the commercial product so you don’t have to worry about updates, stability, and support.
It can be very useful for very small businesses and home users with limited features but if you’re looking for big enterprise grid functionality then you have to go for commercial Nexenta
Amahi cannot be considered a an NAS operating system instead of NAS it is a well-known Home server. It is a community version built around the commercial version.
It is a home server with tons of apps and plugins to expand the functionality such as WordPress, Plex media server, OpenVPN, Own could, and more. It handles your entertainment, storage, and computing needs.
You can store, organize and deliver your recorded TV shows, videos, and music to media devices in your network. It is based on the most popular distros Fedora & Ubuntu. As it is not a full-fledged NAS so don’t use it for your critical or top-secret data. Also, we cannot rely completely on the cloud system they are providing because we don’t know how much secure it is.
8. TurnKey File Server
If you are looking for a simple File Server – Simple Network Attached Storage then Pre-build Turnkey solution would be an option to mull on. It supports and compatible with Windows network file sharing including support for SMB, SFTP, NFS, WebDAV and rsync file transfer protocols. User can manage both private and public storage on Samba and SambaDAV suing the Turnkey File server. It has easy to understand web graphical user interface.
- SSL support
- To manage SAMBA Webmin module integration
- WebUI and WebDAV access
- UNIX and DOS formats support
- Accessing of file server via samba on the command line.
- Support compression zip, rar, and bz2 tools.
Other Linux open-source NAS/SAN projects
If someone is planning for large data storage models and cloud solutions with a scalable infrastructure then he or she should go through the available Linux SAN storage solutions. Here are some:
9. ESOS – Enterprise Storage OS
Enterprise Storage OS is a quasi-Linux distribution based on the SCST project. Its purpose is to provide SCSI targets via a compatible SAN (Fibre Channel, InfiniBand, iSCSI, FCoE). It is memory friendly operating system, which means the user can boot it from a USB flash drive and everything will be loaded into RAM to run in case it failed a notification mail pushed to a user by the ESOS.
- Two operating modes: Production (default) & Debug, in case any problem appear simply reboot in debug mode.
- Enterprise RAID controller CLI configuration tools
- Text-based user interface (TUI)
- With the help of Linux software RAID (md) and Logical Volume Manager (LVM2) users can create advanced back-end storage block device configurations.
- Support for Linux Ethernet bridging and NIC bonding
- Software-based block layer cache solutions
- Advanced ZFS storage subsystem
- Works with Symantec NetBackup, Symantec BackupExec, EMC/Legato NetWorker, Bakbone Netvault, Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM), and Bacula.
- And more…
OpenDedupe is another open-source cloud storage gateway and filesystem. It has been in the market since 2010 developed by the filesystem SDFS and the Datish NAS appliance. It is an inline deduplication file system-based NAS OS for local or cloud storage purposes along with some advanced attributes such as storage optimization and scaling to secure and deal with large amounts of data. It is available OpenDedup Deduplication NAS Virtual Appliance to quickly install and start working with it.
PetaSAN is an open-source Scale-Out SAN solution that relies on the Ceph storage engine (open-source SDS cloud storage solution). PetaSAN is designed from the ground up to do one thing: provide highly available clustered iSCSI disks. It uses modern cloud-based technologies to provide elasticity and agility. PetaSAN provides highly available clustered iSCSI disks and each can be identified by its virtual IP address.
Just like the NAS operating system mentioned above, the PetaSAN can also be operated using the graphical user interface from non-Linux systems using the browser, and if you want a command line then SSH is always there.
CryptoNAS (DEAD) CryptoNAS is web-based NAS server OS formerly known as CryptoBox. This NAS project is especially focused on disk encryption. It comes as CryptoNAS live-CD and CryptoNAS-Server package. CryptoNAS live-CD: The live CD can use to encrypt data without bothering about complicated technical issues. A computer running on live-CD works as a file server (NAS) that encrypts your private data. CryptoNAS-Server package adds a user-friendly, web-based front end for hard disk encryption to an existing file server. Note: The CryptoNAS has not been updated for the last 7 years, so this would not be a trustworthy project. For just a knowledge purpose it is here.
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- 14 Top Open-source Data Analysis Software
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- 20 Best Free & Opensource Bandwidth Management Tools
- 9 Best Free and Opensource Video Editing Software for Windows
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22 thoughts on “11 Best Free and Open source NAS or SAN software”
thanks mate. this was really helpful
Thanks Nimo and if you need any further help related to article, we are here..
Nice Article, got a quick update, what’s available today.
I don’t want to spoil it but your heading “Best Free NAS Software: Linux Based” is wrong. At least for your top 1 and 2, freenas and nas4free are both based on freebsd instead of linux. While both OS’es are UNIXes, in practice, bsd’s “behave” slightly different than linux based systems. Also they use different kernels and are being developed completely independent from linux in general.
I find it funny that CryptoNas, a project that hasn’t been maintained since May 2011, found its way onto this list. Yes, it might be free but would you trust your data to a solution (AND encrypt it) using 8 year old SW that has been without maintainer for so long? I wouldn’t.
what is Own could ?
Own cloud is a self-hosted personal cloud platform for file sync and share. It provides access to your files and folders through an intuitive web interface or mobile app locally and remotely. While if you talk about hardcore NAS application which runs on your old hardware or some powerful server or a NAS box it can provide advanced security, RAID and protocols, plugins and more. Even in FreeNAS, you can install the own cloud plugin to get the own cloud functionality. So, if you just want a simple, easy to use open source personal cloud software then the Own cloud is one of the best available in the market.
Not quite sure how OpenFiler made it on to your list. It uses the rPath distro which hasn’t been around for years (and is, consequently, not updated), hasn’t been developed for years and doesn’t support ext4/ZFS/BTRFS.
Not true. Current Openfiler is based on CentOS but free version is still eh ancient rPath-based distro.
Nice one, although I noticed the same issue as Gunnar 😉 I’ve heard about most of those mentioned here, really liked the FreeNAS, but currently I’m using the SOHO version of Open-E DSS V7, it’s not ZFS but XFS, and does its job really well. And by the way: those ‘not much popular’ – are they really worth a try?
I just jumped into your article and it’s incredible interesting.
The only doubt I have is: does any one have an app to synchronize folders from computers to the NAS?
Thanks in advance!!!
Yes, you can use syncthing-plugin for your FreeNAS-server. Also, if you want to push dataset between two storage servers then you can use the Rsync. However, if you requirement is basic file sync and file storage then you can go for open source cloud software like Opencloud, NextCloud or Syncthing.
Can you also add PetaSAN
Its already in the list…
yep community hacked together a process to use the open source components of Synology’s DSM which a great NAS environment with plenty of addon apps available… if you have the specific CPU, chipset and network card to run it on, preferably Intel newer than Haswell. Trying to run a home NAS on the bits you removed from your last gaming PC upgrade is very hit and miss.
Open Media Vault has had the option of installing ZFS for Linux for quite a while, I first installed OMV 3 on a Debian 8 installation in late 2017, and also added the third-party ZFS plugin in early 2018.
I read and followed your link to AMAHI, there is no such thing as
AMAHI HOME SERVER.. its just a company that has dozens of software
apps. None of them are names HOME SERVER..or anything close to that.
What are you thinking ?
No, there is, first you have to download its ISO based on Linux, install it and you are good to go. However, soon we will create a tutorial on it and will share with you the same in one or two days.
In the meantime, you can see the official link: https://wiki.amahi.org/index.php/Amahi_11_Install#Download
my hard disk its not working (was inside a lacie cludbox). how setup a new one, are there hardware replacement procedures and software i need?
This website truly has all of the info I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.
UnRaid is a good option
but very slow can not provide multiple drives speed advantage while reading data.