Today, I am going to try something very different. I am going to give TRITON SmartOS a shot.

A number of years back, I tried OmniOS and loved it. But I wasn’t ready to move to it or anything. After trying out some of the Solaris zone and SMF stuff, I was hooked. It was really cool tooling to use and felt thought out.

Now again, I am going to try again, but with SmartOS. I found the idea of running the OS off a flash drive interesting. Rotating flash drives for my updates and clearing up my SSDs for JUST zones is a cool idea. Especially since I don’t have any more cables in my server to add anymore drives :)

If I like it, I may even try moving my 7 year FreeBSD installation to SmartOS. I really like the idea of the zone manifests and all the other cool management stuff I can do, and possibly even integrating it all with Ansible, which I use a lot at work. Now I have a nice place to integrate it all in with, perhaps.

I have an installation already with data on an external USB drive. I think I should just be able to plug that into the computer, plug in my flash drive, and pick up where I left off before. If I like it enough, this is how I imagine moving to SmartOS would look like.

Right now, I have FreeBSD 14.0 installed on a mirrored zpool that has my jails and VMs. I have a RaidZ1 pool with a few VMs and all my data. My imagined steps would go like:

  1. Try out SmartOS and get acquainted with it on my flash drive/extra USB external drive

  2. If I like it, detach an SSD from my mirrored zpool

  3. Start from the ground up, making the new SSD my zones drive

  4. Build new SmartOS zones on top to replace what my jails do, and probably a Linux one to get Plex on there

    I prefer FreeBSD for Plex, but I like the idea of mounting ZFS datasets into a jail/zone like I am now, and LX zones will let me keep that.
  5. Since FreeBSD and SmartOS use bhyve, I would test moving some VMs over one at a time

  6. If all looks good:

    1. zpool export my data zpool

    2. move my flash drive and SSD to my server

    3. Import the data zpool

    4. Map my zpool datasets to my new zones and get it all running

  7. Clean up anything that needs cleaning

  8. Clean my extra SSD and then attach it to the new zones zpool

By then, FreeBSD should replaced with SmartOS.

What is my motivation? Just to do something fun and different. After running FreeBSD for 7 years, I’ve grown a bit bored with it just working all the time :) I like to try new things still and build new things, and SmartOS checks all the boxes of different, interesting, and has a lot of the things I like about FreeBSD like ZFS and bhyve, and then some. It’s time to mix it up some on my own servers. Some of my motivations include:

  • Freeing up my internal drives since SmartOS is designed to run from a flash drive

  • SMF and Crossbow are really cool. These management tools are great

  • To my understanding, Type 1 hypervisors are a little more performant

  • zone manifests are neat. And with existing Ansible collections for this stuff, I can more easily automate some of my server deployments

    • Also, being able to pass in some init commands with the customer_metadata stuff to install SSH keys or run cloud-init or what have you is neat

  • pkgsrc has also been a cool feature to me, and I like seeing it used here

I think there’s a lot to like. And, this may be an odd view from the perspective of an outsider looking in, but when I see some of what Illumos has, it looks like an OS from the future, but also in other ways, like hardware support, an OS of the past. So, it’s all just interesting to me and I can’t wait to play with it more, jot down my thoughts, and see if I really do decide to commit to it. If I don’t replace FreeBSD on my server, I at least know I can say I tried out a very interesting operating system.

#100DaysToOffload #Post7