I own an Apple iMac and I would to directly connect it to a NAS using the Thunderbolt port. As far as I know, FreeNAS does not support this. Do you know of other open source projects that can do this?

  • 1
    Do I understand correctly that you have a device running FreeNAS and a Mac, both with a Thunderbolt port? Also, would you mind running anything else than a BSD-based system instead of FreeNAS? Support for Thunderbolt was added to Linux kernel 3.17. May 6, 2015 at 9:27
  • I have an iMAC 5K, and am researching a storage solution. Its easy to build up a NAS, but I would prefer not to. If I could fill up a ATX case with SSDs and connect to imac with thunderbolt, that would be great :) Does FreeNAS support this, or will I have to hack together my own?
    – Cmag
    May 6, 2015 at 16:25
  • No, the current FreeNAS release doesn't support Thunderbolt, since it is based on FreeBSD 9.x and that doesn't support it either. May 6, 2015 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


A Network Attached Storage (NAS) device is normally used as a storage device that shares data over the network. What you are trying to achieve is possible in theory, but it is very uncommon and may therefore be hard to get working.

First of all, support for Thunderbolt is quite low in open source operating systems. As you figured out, FreeBSD has no support for it and Linux only supports it starting from kernel 3.17.

Secondly, since NAS distributions usually expect you to connect to the NAS as a network device, you might run into trouble if you try to work around this. Personally, I use a NAS to make backups and I'd like to keep these as safe as possible and I avoid workarounds.

I'd advise you to build a proper NAS and simply connect to it using gigabit ethernet, which is already pretty fast.

EDIT: there's no distribution that supports what your trying to do by default. This doesn't mean it can't be done. I'd start with Open Media Vault and try to install Linux kernel 3.17, possibly from the Jessie repository (OMV is on Squeeze, I think).

  • gigE, or 10gigE does not address my requirements :) Openfiler MAY support thunderbolt :) will check. otherwise, i'll roll my own disto and thats that
    – Cmag
    May 6, 2015 at 19:21
  • The OpenFiler project is dead and certainly doesn't support Thunderbolt, since the default kernel is too old. You could try to recompile a > 3.17 Linux kernel and insert that. I've updated my answer a bit. Please consider accepting it if it helped. May 7, 2015 at 7:29
  • Wow, I've been thinking about this just the other day, as I've yet to build a storage array for my system. I would prefer not to use a NAS, as usb3 is around the corner, hopefully available in the new iMacs coming in 2017. My hope is upgrading the workstation, attaching usb3 SAN.
    – Cmag
    Dec 28, 2016 at 22:03

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