How to install TrueNAS Core in 2023

Here are the easy steps to get started installing TrueNAS on a server.

TrueNAS Core install

The easiest way to install TrueNAS Core is to start the server with a bootable media and continue with the on-screen directions, and in this guide, I’ll show you how.

TrueNAS is a free and open-source operating system designed by iXsystems for Network Attached Storage (NAS), which anyone can download and use to set up a server to share files in the network with other users. In addition, TrueNAS (formerly FreeNAS) can host different web applications (such as Plex, web server solutions, backup applications, etc.), and it offers virtualization capabilities to run different operating systems like Windows 11 and Linux on virtual machines.

The operating system uses the OpeneZFS file system that includes enterprise-grade features, such as early detection of faulty drives, redundancy, and data integrity. 

This guide will teach you the easy steps to download and install TrueNAS Core (version 13.x-Ux.x) on a server or any computer that has compatible hardware.

Hardware requirements for TrueNAS

TrueNAS Core can operate on the most server and computer hardware, but these are the minimum system requirements.

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TrueNAS requires at least 8GB of memory, but the more memory you can allocate, the better. Although the specifications say that the device needs an SSD drive to start the operating system, this is not a requirement. However, iXsystems recommends avoiding traditional spinning platters and USB drivers because they are slow, therefore they will not perform as expected. 

You can use hard RAID with TrueNAS, but it’s not required, and sometimes is better not to use it.

Create TrueNAS Core USB bootable media

To create a USB bootable media to install TrueNAS Core (version 13.x-Ux.x), use these steps:

  1. Open TrueNAS website.

  2. Click the “No Thank you, I already signed up” option to reveal the download options.

    TrueNAS skip download registration

  3. Click the Download stable button for the latest “TrueNAS Core” version and save the file on your computer.

    TrueNAS Core ISO download

  4. Open Rufus website.

  5. Under the “Download” section, click the download link for the latest version of the tool.

  6. Double-click the file to launch Rufus.

  7. Select the USB flash drive option in the “Device” setting.

  8. Click the Select button.

    Rufus create TrueNAS USB

  9. Choose the TrueNAS ISO file.

  10. Click the Open button.

  11. Click the Start button.

Once you complete the steps, the TrueNAS bootable USB will be created, which you can use to start the setup on a compatible server.

Typically, to start a device from a USB flash drive, you’ll have to access the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) by hitting one of the functions keys (F1, F2, F3, F10, or F12), the “ESC,” or the “Delete” key during boot. While in the firmware, you want to look for the “Boot” settings and change the order so that the TrueNAS bootable drive is the device on the system.

Install TrueNAS Core on server

To install TrueNAS Core on an SSD, USB, or HDD, use these steps:

  1. Start the server with the TrueNAS USB bootable media.

  2. Select the “Boot TrueNAS Installer” option and press Enter.

    TrueNAS install wizard

  3. Select the Install/Upgrade option with the arrow keys and press Enter.

    Install or upgrade

  4. Choose the drive (USB, SSD, or HDD) with the “Space” key to install TrueNAS Core and press Enter.

    TrueNAS boot drive

    Quick note: If you have more than one drive, you can install the operating system on both drives for redundancy.
  5. Choose the Yes option and press Enter to continue.

  6. Confirm the root password for installation and press Enter.

    TrueNAS root password setup

  7. Select the “Boot via BIOS” option (on older hardware) whenever possible and press Enter. If you have relatively new hardware on the server, select the “Boot via UEFI” option.

    Boot via BIOS

  8. Remove the USB bootable media from the server and press Enter.

  9. Select the Reboot System option and press Enter.

    Reboot system

Once you complete the steps, TrueNAS will install and start the console setup with the options to manage the server, including networking configuration, setting up the user account, the web interface, and more. 

After the installation and configuring the network settings, you can manage the TrueNAS server from the web interface using the TCP/IP address of the server on your browser.

It’s important to note that TrueNAS also has the “Scale” version of the operating system, while the installation is virtually identical, the steps might be slightly different. However, you can still refer to this guide to complete the initial setup.

If you don’t know what version to keep, consider that both versions have the same core features. However, TrueNAS Core is based on FreeBSD Linux, while TrueNAS Scale is based on Debian. As a result of this, both versions of the operating system handle containers and virtualization differently. The web interface is also slightly different. Usually, you would choose the “Core” version since it represents the more familiar experience and it’s arguably faster.