Help me decide: TrueNAS (Core or Scale), Unraid or OpenMediaVault

I just bought a machine to start playing around with, with the eventual goal to succeed my Synology NAS.

So far I have done quite a bit of reading, but am still not sure which system will fit my needs the best. Right now I am thinking abut TrueNAS Core, TrueNAS Scale, Unraid or OpenMediaVault. I am open to any suggestions, solutions for mentioned problems or anything else you might have to add!

I have written down some requirements and wishes that I have for this system. Also open for suggestions here.

I would prefer to be able to do all of the configuration of OneDrive Backup, VPN Server, etc within a GUI.

Hardware:
i5 6500
16gb RAM (on the way, 4gb to start with for the first few days)
Boot SSD
500gb HDD for testing, will be 2x(6tb-12tb) mirrored when deployed. Expandability would be nice.

Requirements:
Plex Server
VPN Server
Backup Onedrive → NAS (or sync in the future)
Snapshots or versioning of individual files
Docker (probably necessary for VPN and Plex server anyway)

Nice to have:
(automatic) Backup to USB Drive and other network targets (old Synology will then be used for backup) for backup purposes. Partial backups should be possible, as not all data is that important. Ideally with some versioning.

TrueNAS Core
-Expansion of ZFS not easily possible. Need to create new vdev with its own redundancy. Since I am starting with just 2 drives, this would waste a lot of space and end in a dumb configuration when expanding
-No Docker
+Great plugins

TrueNAS Scale
-Expansion of ZFS not easily possible. Need to create new vdev with its own redundancy. Since I am starting with just 2 drives, this would waste a lot of space and end in a dumb configuration when expanding
-Is not fully finished? What will be missing?
+Docker
+Are the same plugins available as for Core?

Unraid
+Great expandability
+Docker
-No Plugins for easy Onedrive Backup etc. Needs to be done in command line with rsync?

OpenMediaVault
+Plugins
+Docker
±Expandability?
-Backup of config not possible
-???

Proxmox with TrueNAS
-Complexity of the whole setup (I am a noob and have not setup any of these systems before)
+Second VM with Docker support

Please leave any input that you might have on this. I appreciate the help!

In my opinion it doesn’t make much sense to run a network wide VPN (?) on a device that isn’t the router/firewall/gateway in small environments, it adds a lot of unnecessary complexity. Trying to shoehorn this all into a web-frontend will probably not be ideal (and/or very hard) and I would guess that you’d need do and maintain manual configurations either way. As much as virtualization (which if I’m not misremembering adds quite a bit of overhead due to CPU vulns in your case) and/or Docker gets mentioned it does come at a cost both in terms of system resources, administration and complexity. If this is a home-server which I guess it is you might want to consider making it less complex and possibly make use of jails and/or namespaces/LXC (I’m mainly a FreeBSD guy mainly so Linux knowledge can be a bit rusty) simply because it doesn’t need to be using enterprise grade configuration and you’re most likely not a target either way.

4Gb is very sparse if you want to run ZFS (which I would highly recommend if you care about the data) however you can get away with basic file sharing but that’s about it. You’ll most likely see heavy swapping and/or OOM errors if you start to add additional services.

If you stick to “pure” file server services any of these will be fine but once you start to throw in other types it will get a bit messy and/or hard to maintain using a web frontend in general.

In the end you may be better off running a generic OS, be it Linux or FreeBSD and install needed services. It may/will be a bit steeper at first but it can be very rewarding in the end and for future projects.

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In my opinion it doesn’t make much sense to run a network wide VPN (?) on a device that isn’t the router/firewall/gateway in small environments, it adds a lot of unnecessary complexity. Trying to shoehorn this all into a web-frontend will probably not be ideal (and/or very hard) and I would guess that you’d need do and maintain manual configurations either way. As much as virtualization (which if I’m not misremembering adds quite a bit of overhead due to CPU vulns in your case) and/or Docker gets mentioned it does come at a cost both in terms of system resources, administration and complexity. If this is a home-server which I guess it is you might want to consider making it less complex and possibly make use of jails and/or namespaces/LXC (I’m mainly a FreeBSD guy mainly so Linux knowledge can be a bit rusty) simply because it doesn’t need to be using enterprise grade configuration and you’re most likely not a target either way.

Ideally, I would want to run the VPN for access from outside on the router. This would be the simpler setup. However my current Unifi Security Gateway 3P is too underpowered for this. Maybe replacing it with a pfsense box is in the future, but not for now.
The i5 6500 should be more than capable enough to run a vpn. I was hoping to do this in a docker container.

4Gb is very sparse if you want to run ZFS (which I would highly recommend if you care about the data) however you can get away with basic file sharing but that’s about it. You’ll most likely see heavy swapping and/or OOM errors if you start to add additional services.

16gb is already in the mail

Wireguard does about 150mbit (actually a bit more) on the Octeon platform which the USG3P uses but is that too slow for you?

Wireguard does about 150mbit (actually a bit more) on the Octeon platform which the USG3P uses but is that too slow for you?

I mean faster is always better, but this would be pretty nice. I have not seen wireguard as an option in the unifi interface. Was it recently added and I missed it? Configuring the USG3P manually is not really a great option, since it gets reset by updating the config through unifi.

However, aside from the vpn it would still be great to be able to run docker, for example for Plex server, OCR of scans, Handbrake conversions, etc. So why not run the vpn in a docker as well? Unless of course, if wireguard was added in the unifi interface and I missed it. That would indeed be the best option for the vpn.

I was thinking, if you’re OK with sending snapshots to Synology as a backup mechanism, and plan to keep running it… why not just go raid0 with btrfs or zfs or LVM (anything that does multiple devices and does snapshots would do, but I like btrfs and zfs because of checksumming and metadata duplication across devices.).

… with only 2 disks you have roughly 5 times less chance of failing drives than with 10disks that some people run… the upshot of having double the space might be worth it.

… or same question put differently, how important is uptime for you (not having downtime), big deal with fault tolerant raid is that you can recover from individual drive failures without having to offline the whole machine for too long.

would you be willing to gamble that there’s a 5% chance your system might be offline for a week over the next 2 years (while you run off to buy a new disk and migrate data).

… there’s also a mergerfs + snapraid thing, which basically is a thing that’ll rebuild/ resync parity overnight. With it if a data disk dies and you offline it, most files that weren’t on that disk would remain just fine be untouched, and you could rebuild them from parity data and data on remaining disks whenever you go buy a new disk to replace the broken one.

You also have to keep in mind what hardware you’re using, i5-6500 isn’t insanely fast and a single transcode / encoding will bog the machine unless you’re using Intel QuickSync (which I think can handle one encode at a time at best).

Not too bad of an idea actually. I just don’t think I need the performance since I am on gigabit lan anyway and I am fine to add a second drive for peace of mind. I would rather never need to use my backup. Also I would like to shut off the Synology most of the time and do a somewhat regular weekly backup.

This thought process goes a few steps further into the thoughts about the setup than I am currently at. I still need to decide on which system to run. Then I can worry about the drive setup.

It’ll be fine, since I will not be needing live transcoding. Maybe I will look into it for mobile devices, but reduced quality is fine here. Plex says it will do just fine. They use Passmark scores to rate the CPUs encoding speed.

The Handbrake encoding would be fine to run overnight for a single movie. It would just be encoding the BluRay rips. I have seen others do a handbrake docker setup for this purpose on Intel Atoms on Synologys. Obviously it will be slow, but that’s fine. And the 6500 is multiple times faster than the Atoms.

Also, it will be single user for now (just me).

Thanks for the link to the wireguard setup! I will have to look into the how-to.

TrueNAS Core is an excellent file server. I was running a similar i5 and 16GB RAM hardware and it was fine. I’m now using an old RYZEN 5 and 32GB RAM. The boot drive is a pair of USB 3 sticks and has been trouble free for months. It’s worth doing this because then you can use the SATA ports for storage drives.

I would not recommend Core (FreeBSD based originally FreeNAS) for anything other than amazingly good network file storage, no good for VMs or Jails (whatever they are). Scale (Debian based) is the one for doing VMs.

I do have a Proxmox machine hosting a TrueNAS Core. I love the idea of this, very sci-fi but in practice the way I’m using it is wasteful and annoying. I have a 64GB machine split in two. TrueNAS has to share it’s pool with Proxmox via iSCSI. Bloody nightmare to get everything running and to manually type in the security key in TrueNAS to unlock the drives.

Proxmox is excellent for running VMs but it’s a crappy file server. The thing to do is run a simple file server of your choice as a pure VM, no pass through of the HBA. Proxmox will run ANYTHING you want including Docker if you run a VM that handles Docker.

I get the impression that Unraid and OpenMediaVault are very interesting but not ‘professional’ grade products.