Unraid's Jon Panozzo appears on the Home Gadget Geeks

Hgg Youtube Intro

On March 14, 2019, Jon Panozzo sat down with the guys from Home Gadget Geeks to talk about all things Unraid! They covered a variety of topics including:

  • Their own personal Unraid servers (storage size, hardware configurations and application uses)
  • How they found Unraid
  • The future of Unraid
  • And much more!

Below is a transcript of some of the highlights of the show but if you missed it, check out the entire discussion!

Jim Collison [23:15]: Can you give us a kind of state of the union address on Unraid currently?

Jon Panozzo: Sure! We’re doing great- the development pace has increased dramatically within the last 2 years and with Unraid 6 we’ve been pumping out releases at a much more frequent pace and we’ve maintained that pace. We’ve added a lot more people to the team. I think the number of folks that have been involved with Unraid now has increased dramatically and we’re seeing great results.

I think 2019 is going to be a banner year for us! I think it’s going to be huge.

Jim Collison: What's the future [of Unraid]?

Jon Panozzo: [OS Version] 6.7 should be stable soon. I’m not going to give you an exact date because the guys responsible for that would probably beat me up pretty hard on that but, it is going to be coming out very soon. As far as the future goes, let’s talk about it in two buckets: 1 is product features- things that people want to see inside the OS and the other is how we can kind of change the game and deliver some services as well. So, when we look at developing anything for Unraid, it really goes back to the history of the company: We always build things that we use ourselves. That’s where we start.

The other thing that we do is we look for opportunities to make things easier because that’s the thing that really separates us from the other open source, free NAS software solutions out there. They all kind of focus on it being a business offering for IT pros, which is great. But then when the home user wants something that is very easy and very flexible, they are not as good as that. So, we stay focused on that and what we see is that when people click start on the array for the first time, when they format their devices for the first time, there are a number of things that they immediately do thereafter. Setting up PLEX is probably #1. That’s probably the #1 app that our community of users use.

You guys all had similar application setups on your systems to accomplish similar things whether it be backups, or remote access or security, whatever it might be, those are common things that you are doing over and over and over again and we see that across our community so if we can find ways to make that process even easier, as in, push button, you don’t actually have to get a container, it’s already built in to our offering out of the gate, we think that would be valuable.

So, that includes things like secure remote access. If you are running 6.6 or 6.7, how many of you are leveraging https for the web interface?

Others: No. We’re not.

Jon Panozzo [27:16]: So we actually partnered with Let’s Encrypt directly and it’s built into the UI where you can provision a Let’s Encrypt SSL cert for your local server. And so you’re able to do https:// tower/ whatever your host name is and that resolves with a valid SSL cert, over an https connection. So, right now that only works locally, but we have it in development right now on how to make that work remotely which means, you now could actually remotely access the webgui from anywhere in the world via an https connection. So, that’s something in the road map.

Once that’s possible, that opens the door to a whole lot of other stuff that we can do such as making it easy to backup your server to the cloud or maybe connect to someone else’s Unraid server, sync data with someone else, sync data with another server you own.

So, these types of things would be really, really powerful and would be easy to use if you didn’t have to go through all the extra steps of setting up the individual containers for them. From a services perspective, that’s one of the things that we wanted to do. To make the most common things that people want to do: remote access securely, backup online, backup to the cloud- all those types of things we want to make that an out of the box type experience and then separate from that, we want to add tons of new features into the OS itself.

Mike Weiger [28:57]: Regarding Let’s Encrypt with Docker, I'm using it as a reverse proxy for all of my items internally, are there plans to expand this into other areas besides just the home page ssl?

Jon Panozzo: Yes, imagine trying to get into your VM or trying to get into one of your individual container interfaces- I’d like to see that certificate capability extend to that. So, not just to the web interface itself. Once we can tunnel via that secure tunnel to any device anywhere in the world over the internet, there are so many things that you can use that to do.

And then there is other tech that we are working on now that will make really secure connections peer to peer that are completely separate from remotely accessing it through a url. Once you can get down that road, your talking about basically a VPN service that sets up itself and that you don’t have to pay for from a 3rd party service. You can actually tunnel between 2 machines and not have to go through an open ssl or open vpn type solution, into something that is even more native.

Conversation on unique use cases [40:00]:

Jon Panozzo: Of course, you have guys like Linus [Linus Tech Tips], he never ceases to amaze me, this guy is crazy. I mean, the first time we talked to him, the whole idea was "hey, you know what we could do that’s pretty cool? 2 gamers on one CPU." He’s like, "that’s awesome, let’s do it!" And then he’s like: “how about 7?!”, I’m like, huh...what? Haha. “How about 10?! How about 10 and we’re going to remotely stream them using steamlink.” And I’m like oh my gosh, what did I do?


Mike Howard: He’s good, and you know who’s really good is Space Invader.

Jon Panozzo: Ed is great. He’s a great dude and he’s a huge help in the community as well. He has created so many guides on how to do different things. He’s great.

Zero software related issues. I have never had that level of experience on an operating system and that’s what I’m interested to see: What’s the secret sauce here? How is this so rock solid and run so well?” -Mike Weiger, Home Gadget Geeks

Mike Howard [43:00]: You know, I love being a customer of some of these smaller shops like Unraid. You know, you’re not Adobe, you don’t have thousands of employees and I think you guys respond more to the user base than some of these other bigger companies… but I often wonder, because I want you guys to live for a long time, the company that is, and how do you all deal with that going forward, you know? You’re going to continue to have to get new customers or me build additional servers because so far, I’ve only paid you once.

Jon Panozzo: That’s a great question. And, like I said, I’ll send you my paypal later and you can send me something…


Haha, but the whole reason we never charge for upgrades is it really goes back to our CEO and he’s just one of these guys that says, “I don’t want to nickel and dime people” and he’s always been like that. And I appreciate that, I think that’s a really good way to operate a business and I think it’s the reason why we’ve seen so much growth over the past several years because we’ve created a great product at a fair price and we don’t nickel and dime people over it. So, that’s been great, but I do agree that to grow and to sustain continued growth you’ve got to either come up with a way to change that model or come up with something else to offer people that is a value and that is, I think, more of the direction that we want to go. We don’t really want to see Unraid OS itself have to go through that upgrade pricing model because that’s a huge advantage as well from a support perspective. If someone is having a problem, we can just say, upgrade to the latest version and it’s most likely fixed. But, if I have to worry about people that are running old versions and paying for upgrades like that it even complicates the support, it complicates the user experience and it nickel and dimes people.

But, offering complementary services, like the ability to connect to people simply and make these secure tunnels, and to back up to cloud services and what not or to even backup your flash device, I think that’s a huge one that we already have working in a proof of concept model right now, because that’s one of the most common problems.

My flash fails, I’ve lost my OS configuration, how do I get back up and running? Right now there’s a little button you can click to back it up but it’s manual, so if we can make this process automated so that every time you make a change to the OS your flash is automatically backed up to our cloud, and if your flash fails you can download a back up your computer and put it on a new flash, boot it up and you are up and running again, I think that will be very valuable. So, offering those kind of services for a fee, is a way that I think we can really grow the business further without again, going down this path of charging for upgrades.

“Knock on wood, 10 years without a single crash related to the software” -Mike Howard of jpeg2raw and Unraid OG User

Jim Collison [46:19]: Jon, when we think about the future, we alluded to this a little bit in the beginning, but when you think about what you would like to see, some wish-list items, anything you are hoping for or that you would like to see?

Jon Panozzo [47:54]: On the internal roadmap, I really want to work on more VM stuff. That’s been my passion, that’s what got me to come to Limetech originally, is virtualization technology and I think we’ve barely scratched the surface on what we can do with that stuff. I think making snapshots really easy, using btrfs as a file system more intelligently to create a history of snapshots that you can roll back to. I remember in November of last year, there was that Windows 10 update bug and people we’re losing data. So, in our lab setups, we all used snapshots for our VMs and we have scripts setup to automate that process so if any of our users were affected by that, our guys in the dev team, they could just roll back to yesterday’s snapshot of windows and they would have all their data back. As far as storage footprint goes with btrfs, it’s just the differential between snapshots that you are storing so the storage footprint is really lean. So, something like this is something I hope we can tackle sometime later this year or, I’m probably going to get shot for even saying that, haha.

Mike Weiger [51:16]: Question on the feature request process and specifically Time Machine backup over SMB...

Jon Panozzo [52:10]: Did Tom pay you? Haha- Tom is our CEO and I know he is just grinning like an idiot right now [fact check: true], saying, "I told you so! I told you that’s important!" He was so adamant that we have to get this in ASAP. "Time Machine is a key feature, we gotta make it better, we gotta make it faster and we gotta get rid of AFP," and I’m like..I don’t use Mac's much, so it’s not a priority for me, but our other developer Eric does and Tom is a huge proponent of using iOS devices and he’s very adamant about Time Machine support so I’m going to get a big I told you so later. [Fact check: true!]

Not losing the customers data is the number one thing we always have on our minds. Keeping that data secure is super critical for us. -Jon Panozzo, Unraid's Chief Strategy Officer

Be sure to check out the entire discussion!

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