ClonOS - An Alternative to Proxmox Based on FreeBSD (2024-06-21):
In the realm of virtualization, there are already several robust and well-established platforms like Proxmox and OpenStack. These solutions have paved the way for efficient and comprehensive management of virtual environments, primarily on Linux-based systems. However, for those who appreciate the power and elegance of FreeBSD, there has been a notable absence of a comparable tool that leverages this operating system's unique strengths.

With ClonOS (mainly written by Oleg G. and Oleg M.) an innovative open-source solution that fills the gap by offering a turnkey solution based on FreeBSD and the CBSD framework, we are finally receiving a solution that also offers the missing enterprise features like multiple node support to create clusters and live migrations for virtual machines.

ClonOS is designed to provide seamless control, deployment, and management of FreeBSD jails containers, but also of virtual machines (VMs) with bhyve to create virtual environments. Built on the powerful CBSD framework, which provides a comprehensive suite of tools for managing FreeBSD jails and virtual machines, ClonOS of course offers all its functionalities on the CLI. However, cbsd only provides CLI and TUI based administration without any GUI. This is where ClonOS steps in to provide an easy to use web frontend for further administration.

One of the standout features of ClonOS is its support for 9p file system (fs) integration via the CBSD CLI, enabling bhyve shared folders through virtio-p9. This capability allows for efficient and straightforward sharing of files between the host and guest virtual machines, enhancing the usability and functionality of the virtual environments managed by ClonOS. By leveraging the 9p protocol, ClonOS ensures that file sharing is not only seamless but also performs at high speeds, which is crucial for maintaining the integrity and efficiency of virtualized applications. However, this feature requires the underlying OS like FreeBSD to support is. Currently, this is only possible with thrid-party patches and does not work out of the box but may change with FreeBSD 15.

In addition to this, ClonOS offers robust support for the ZFS file system, which is renowned for its advanced features and reliability. ZFS integration within ClonOS brings powerful capabilities such as cloning and snapshots, which are essential for data protection, backup, and recovery. The ability to create and manage snapshots allows users to capture the state of a virtual environment at a specific point in time, facilitating quick rollbacks in case of issues or data loss. Cloning, on the other hand, provides a mechanism for rapidly duplicating virtual environments, which is invaluable for testing and development purposes. Next to it, users benefit from additional features like deduplication and compression.

Currently, I'm playing around with ClonOS and also created my first PR. You can clearly see the early states of the project when it comes to the UI but you should keep in mind that most things are already working under the hood where it is based on cbsd. Having a BSD based alternative to the current leading solutions which are only Linux based would be really appreciated by the BSD community. While we already have a control-panel like the bhyve-webadmin (also known as the bhyve-cp), the ClonOS solution is fully open-source.

ClonOS stands poised to become the perfect solution for virtualization and container (jail) management, especially as Linux distributions strive to integrate ZFS, which is already natively supported in FreeBSD. Stefano M. already provided very interesting benchmarks where he compared Proxmox/Linux with bhyve/FreeBSD. With FreeBSD's advanced features, seamless integration of ZFS, and an optimized network stack, ClonOS offers unparalleled performance and reliability. This makes it an exceptional choice for those seeking a robust and efficient platform for managing virtual environments on FreeBSD.

Within one of the next BSD Pub meetings I will provide a live demonstration of the ClonOS project, focussing the jail and the VM part. If you are interested to join the call, don't miss my announcement on X or the Fediverse.

* ClonOS project website
* ClonOS source
* BSD Pub
* BSD Cafe