I've been running a FreeNAS box for a few years now and have learned a little bit about the *nix architecture and command line in the process. I'm now running into the limitations of FreeNAS and there's some things I want to install that don't support FreeBSD.

I feel confident enough in my skills to setup a full Linux distro with samba and afp shares, which is pretty much all I need from the FreeNAS setup, so I'm wondering what benefit I get from running FreeNAS over a full Linux distro. Obviously I get the ability to administer it over the web, but I kinda like SSH-ing in from my Mac and tinkering that way. I don't use the ZFS file system that FreeNAS has, so my only concern is that I'm missing something in my assessment?

If I do go with a full distro, can people recommend one that befits my needs. I've played with Ubuntu recently, but as it seems more engineered to a desktop environment (I say that because it boots straight into a GUI) I wonder whether I be better off with something more low key?

Thanks in advance, Anthony

  • You've said a lot but you really haven't said what your needs are and you haven't said what limitations of FreeNas you're running into that you think a full Linux distro will overcome.
    – joeqwerty
    Dec 4, 2011 at 15:08
  • Ubuntu has a server edition which doesn't come with a desktop environment. Ubuntu runs just fine as a server. Dec 4, 2011 at 17:33
  • @joeqwerty I thought I'd made it clear: I only need to setup samba and afp shares. I'm already confident that I've reached the limitations of FreeNAS, that wasn't my question. Dec 5, 2011 at 7:42

1 Answer 1


You definitely could get away with just using a standard linux install. Ubuntu is the more user friendly option, and you don't need the desktop install to accomplish what you want to do, use the server version. Package management can happen in the shell using built-in tools such as apt or aptitude.

I personally use Debian, but it's a matter of personal preference. All of my servers operate without an X server/client(no gui) so all of my administration occurs via an SSH session. I would also take a look at webmin, it's easy to install and makes management super trivial if your not familiar (or just don't want to) deal with the command line and config files:


I will personally be building a FreeNAS box in the upcoming week only because that will be it's only function, my other linux servers are all virtualized.

Hope that helps.

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