The Past, Present and Future of Unraid on the Selfhosted Podcast


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Big thanks to the Selfhosted Podcast for having @jonp on to talk about the past, present and future of Unraid. 

 

This is the place to argue about the pronunciation of ZFS and to let us know what you think of the pod!

 

8/25 Update: After receiving some feedback and seeing some misconceptions about future licensing expressed, we wanted to set the record straight:

The Unraid community is the single most important thing to us at Lime Technology and we take all customer concerns seriously. We wanted to clarify a point about future subscription offerings mentioned on this podcast:

Any future subscription offerings will be for new Unraid products and services separate from our current core OS licenses and will not affect current users. Your Unraid license will still include all future upgrades and features and you will still be able to purchase licenses for a one-time fee.

Thank you very much for your passionate and enthusiastic support. If you have any questions or comments about this podcast or future Unraid offerings, we will do our best to answer what we can here.

 

https://unraid.net/blog/the-past-present-and-future-of-unraid-on-the-selfhosted-podcast

 

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I would like to voice a concern about subscription licensing.

It can be difficult for some to reconcile the ongoing costs of a subscription license, especially if there isn't a perceived continuation of needed value in the product over time.

A couple of examples I would like to give are:

  • Microsoft Office 365, and their incessant need to force upgrade the product you already have installed, and changing things you may not want changed. Then there is the annual cost, which borders on the acceptable.  Most people don't need the latest and greatest version of  Office; I have several people still on Office 2010 and some even older than that.  If it ain't broke, why fix it. (Don't get me started on one guy who continues to use Corel WordPerfect 2002.)
  • The former email anti-spam product Postini.  Before the takeover by Google, it was (IMHO) a very reasonable subscription product ($3/year/email address) with a clear ongoing value improvement (advancements in filtering).  Post Google takeover though, they changed the pricing model and its minimum requirements became prohibitive to anyone other than larger companies.  And then they canceled it.
  • The replacement email anti-spam product I moved to, called Xeams.  Initially it was free, with everyone figuring at some point they would monetize it.  When they did though, the change was without warning, the automatic update system moved the people to a version that died after 30 days, and the price was obscene.  The online revolt it created was amazing to watch and the literal firestorm of negative "press" it created forced the company to put out an "official" pre- price and time locked version that would not be upgradeable.  My personal case showed a nearly 30x increase in cost at the time of that transition.  Now it appears (from looking at their site just recently) that that price is now down to a 4x increase.  I may be revisiting them soon as that's almost acceptable, as there is ongoing and recurring value in the updating of the product in terms of filtering.
  • My personal observation on the unRAID product, would be that if the time came for a requirement for people to purchase either an upgrade license or an all new license, due to some large scale product/value improvement, then that would be a saleable item; provided people could still continue to use their old license without fear of it being disabled, if they chose not to upgrade, or both old and new if they purchased a new full license.

I would say my point is, there's a fine line to walk in terms of version pricing, and subscription pricing.  Too much on the latter can very easily turn off the prospective buyers, and in the worst case cause outright revolt.  For the former, when there is clear improvement over prior versions, then people will be more likely to pay an upgrade fee or purchase a new copy outright.

 

 

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Thanks for your detailed feedback @sota. Just to be clear, no current users will be affected by any future subscription offerings. We are also committed to any future subscription offerings being tied only to added premium features not already included with the OS. 
 

We fully understand the hesitancy and resistance to some subscription models and will be sure to make it worth while and a big value add for those users interested in the added features. 
Thank you again! 

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I absolutely HATE subscription model and I will drop UnRaid INSTANTLY if they go this route, full, stop, period.  I rather go to FreeNAS which is free.  I already got burned once with Indigo Domotico automation software and NEVER again, sorry.  Customers of theirs for about 8 years and the whole license and the subscription model went to shit ripping me off of many $$$$.  

 

A subscription model is nothing else than a money scheme to milk more money outta of folks, simple as that.  And that's where I stand. Sorry to be BLUNT

Edited by johnwhicker
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2 hours ago, johnwhicker said:

I absolutely HATE subscription model and I will drop UnRaid INSTANTLY if they go this route

Did you read this in the post above yours?

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Just to be clear, no current users will be affected by any future subscription offerings. We are also committed to any future subscription offerings being tied only to added premium features not already included with the OS.

 

It seems clear that Limetech has no intention of pulling the rug out from under current users and changing the licensing model.  Changes if they occur will not affect any current users.  Even when subscriptions may be offered for ancillary services (and who knows what those may be), it will not be tied to the features already in the OS.

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I for one would be happy to move to subscription licensing.  Even if that means free upgrades for XXX years in one purchase, further cost if you want to upgrade after that.

I get people's concern, but devs have to eat.  

 

As for the statement about not liking "forcing people to update", as an InfoSec guy that kind of thinking drives me mad.  The amount of back doors and crap I have to deal with on a daily basis due to old software is ridiculous.  I just spent the last 6 months fighting hard to ensure our desktop standard going forward is cloud-first, Azure AD Joined and up-to-the-minute patched for our supported software.    Your app not work with Windows 10 20H2?  Get the vendor to fix it as it's not on the supported software list.

 

What has to change is not the need to update software, it's the resistance to change that has to go, which also means that systems and applications need to be coded so that unexpected downtime related to the update is eradicated.

Edited by Kaldek
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2 hours ago, Kaldek said:

I for one would be happy to move to subscription licensing.  Even if that means free upgrades for XXX years in one purchase, further cost if you want to upgrade after that.

I get people's concern, but devs have to eat.  

 

As for the statement about not liking "forcing people to update", as an InfoSec guy that kind of thinking drives me mad.  The amount of back doors and crap I have to deal with on a daily basis due to old software is ridiculous.  I just spent the last 6 months fighting hard to ensure our desktop standard going forward is cloud-first, Azure AD Joined and up-to-the-minute patched for our supported software.    Your app not work with Windows 10 20H2?  Get the vendor to fix it as it's not on the supported software list.

 

What has to change is not the need to update software, it's the resistance to change that has to go, which also means that systems and applications need to be coded so that unexpected downtime related to the update is eradicated.

Very true statements in here.  The reality is that subscriptions by themselves aren't the problem.  There are plenty of things I bet even the harshest critics of subscriptions pay for every month.  What about your ISP?  What about XBOX Live or Netflix?  Subscriptions aren't by themselves the problem.  Sub-par offerings bundled into a subscription are the problem.  We don't intend to do that.  We also don't intend to force anyone to pay for a subscription.  Anything we charge for will be worth its weight and justifiable.  If its not, there's a simple solution to that:  just don't sign up ;-)

 

In addition, we also need to note that some users can't afford to drop $59-129 all up front for Unraid.  Instead, they'd prefer a lower monthly price point to get them in the door for far less.  Any idea how many fewer Plex users there would be if they only offered their lifetime pass option and no monthly?  I would wager quite a few less.

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Would offering 30 day trial extensions for $20 be an acceptable option?

 

Keep everything as it currently stands, just add paid extensions. It would still be a trial version with phone home on array start, but the expiration date could be extended indefinitely in 30 day increments.

 

Note, I have no idea how much work this would be to implement, I'm just floating an idea from an end users prospective.

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20 hours ago, Hoopster said:

Did you read this in the post above yours?

 

It seems clear that Limetech has no intention of pulling the rug out from under current users and changing the licensing model.  Changes if they occur will not affect any current users.  Even when subscriptions may be offered for ancillary services (and who knows what those may be), it will not be tied to the features already in the OS.

Yes I read it but my trust level is at all time low right now based on the other experience I had (not limetech). Sorry to be a debbie downer but things can and will change so quickly.  Money TALK

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On 8/13/2020 at 7:02 PM, SpencerJ said:

Your Unraid license will still include all future upgrades and features and you will still be able to purchase licenses for a one-time fee.

Fast forward four months:

On 12/9/2020 at 2:49 PM, SpencerJ said:

We are also committed to any future subscription offerings being tied only to added premium features not already included with the OS.

Which is it?  Will customers who bought licenses still get "all future upgrades and features" or are there going to be new, "premium features" developed which will only be available to subscribers?

 

Every major upgrade of Unraid has included "features not already included with the [prior version of] the OS."  In the future, would such new features be termed "premium features" only available to subscribers?

 

Finally, are we conflating "features" with "services"?  I'm fine with there being a subscription offered for direct access to priority tech support, for example.  But I'm not fine with discovering one day that ZFS is available on Unraid -- but only to subscribers.

 

Thanks for considering my concerns.

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12 hours ago, jonp said:

  If its not, there's a simple solution to that:  just don't sign up ;-)

 

In addition, we also need to note that some users can't afford to drop $59-129 all up front for Unraid.  Instead, they'd prefer a lower monthly price point to get them in the door for far less.  Any idea how many fewer Plex users there would be if they only offered their lifetime pass option and no monthly?  I would wager quite a few less.

 

This is really hitting a string with me. 

- Yes some of us won't sign up and that equals loss of business.  Money talk partner.  I am not really happy that a member of limetch actually is telling us "if you don't like it, go somewhere else". And trust me WE WILL. Don't bite the hands that feeds you mate.

- This absolute BS, that some users can't afford it, so what you will make it a subscription model at $11 a year LOL ?

Edited by johnwhicker
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47 minutes ago, Sissy said:

Fast forward four months:

Which is it?  Will customers who bought licenses still get "all future upgrades and features" or are there going to be new, "premium features" developed which will only be available to subscribers?

 

Every major upgrade of Unraid has included "features not already included with the [prior version of] the OS."  In the future, would such new features be termed "premium features" only available to subscribers?

 

Finally, are we conflating "features" with "services"?  I'm fine with there being a subscription offered for direct access to priority tech support, for example.  But I'm not fine with discovering one day that ZFS is available on Unraid -- but only to subscribers.

 

Thanks for considering my concerns.

 This is exactly what happened with Indigo Domotico automation software and I have a very very VERY bad taste in my mouth after that

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46 minutes ago, Sissy said:

Fast forward four months:

Which is it?  Will customers who bought licenses still get "all future upgrades and features" or are there going to be new, "premium features" developed which will only be available to subscribers?

 

Every major upgrade of Unraid has included "features not already included with the [prior version of] the OS."  In the future, would such new features be termed "premium features" only available to subscribers?

 

Finally, are we conflating "features" with "services"?  I'm fine with there being a subscription offered for direct access to priority tech support, for example.  But I'm not fine with discovering one day that ZFS is available on Unraid -- but only to subscribers.

 

Thanks for considering my concerns.

Man I think some folks out there got really burned by a few bad companies.  Of course things that are core to the OS itself will not be a part of a subscription.  That includes ZFS.  It will be a core function of Unraid OS.  However, anything that requires services to be provided by us to support wouldn't be something that's just part of the OS.  Anything where we have to provide a hosted infrastructure has an ongoing cost and those offerings will be considered services that come with a subscription.  Technical support could be one thing, other cloud-based services could be another (think cloud-based backups).  I certainly don't imagine anyone has found a cloud storage solution that is free, unlimited, and uncompressed.

 

6 minutes ago, johnwhicker said:

This is really hitting a string with me. 

@johnwhicker, I don't know what that Domotico company did to you (never even heard of them before), but writing off all subscription offerings because of one bad experience would be like never buying a car again because one broke down on you.  I'm sure you have subscription services in your life still.  Got Netflix?  Xbox Live?  What about the Internet you're using to chat on these forums?  Bottom line is that subscription services are not the problem.  Products with a lack of value or companies that screw over their customers for fast $$$ are the problem.  I would hope that after 15 years of providing Unraid OS without asking for a single dime in upgrade costs to maintain that OS would earn us a little more credit for being customer-friendly.

 

11 minutes ago, johnwhicker said:

Yes some of us won't sign up and that equals loss of business.  Money talk partner.  I am not really happy that a member of limetch actually is telling us "if you don't like it, go somewhere else". And trust me WE WILL.

I'm confused by this comment.  We already got your money ;-).  You bought a license key.  If we have a subscription offering that we create alongside our traditional products/pricing, you don't have to buy it.  That's all I was saying.  I feel like you're just looking for us to have this malicious intent.  Does my profile pic look similar to the Domotico logo or something?  Sheesh man, you're really coming on strong!

11 minutes ago, johnwhicker said:

- This absolute BS, that some users can't afford it, so what you will make it a subscription model at $11 a year LOL ?

What if we have two subscription options:  one that includes an online registration key and the other that is just the online services benefits without the key (so you can add it to an existing permanent registration key)?  The point is that before you say "BS" and call us out, give us the benefit of the doubt that maybe we have some ideas that you haven't thought of yet that would both be fair and logical.

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I will just drop it. I don't think anyone is malicious, purely a money game.  Slippery slope at the end of the day. Smoking mirrors.  And yes I come strong as I truly HATE the subscription game many plays. My level of trust is fully eroded with the entire software industry as a whole so I will leave it that.  Looks like I already have to start looking at plan B as nothing good comes out of a subscription model.  But that's just me and my own personal experience.  Good luck with whatever you decide and I am sure it will work out for everyone. 

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3 minutes ago, jonp said:

Man I think some folks out there got really burned by a few bad companies.  

No, we really got burned by a bunch of greedy companies, many of which started out by pushing subscriptions as options only to later remove the ability to buy traditional licenses.  I have two packages I can think of right now where the publishers removed features and then charged customers subscription fees to get the features back.

 

3 minutes ago, jonp said:

Of course things that are core to the OS itself will not be a part of a subscription.  That includes ZFS.  It will be a core function of Unraid OS.  However, anything that requires services to be provided by us to support wouldn't be something that's just part of the OS.  Anything where we have to provide a hosted infrastructure has an ongoing cost and those offerings will be considered services that come with a subscription.  Technical support could be one thing, other cloud-based services could be another (think cloud-based backups).  I certainly don't imagine anyone has found a cloud storage solution that is free, unlimited, and uncompressed.

You say "of course," but you are the first person to clearly articulate what LimeTech means by a 'core' feature of the OS versus a "premium feature." Cloud-based backups was another example I had actually written up but deleted for brevity when I was citing things that might be examples of premium features.

 

I'm okay with what you describe above and I think that most people would be.  I think it's a mistake to refer to "premium features" and I would consider coining another term like "hosted features."

 

I think it's important to tell traditional license holders that they will have access to all of the subscription-based features so long as they pay the associated subscription fees.  So if I want a subscription to a year's worth of tech support, then I pay $X for it, regardless of whether I have Unraid through a traditional license or a monthly subscription (just to cite one example).

 

Thank you for addressing my questions and concerns.

 

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2 hours ago, jonp said:

other cloud-based services could be another (think cloud-based backups)

I would love this.  I am currently paying Code 42/CrashPlan $10 a month to backup my unRAID server to their cloud.  It works well, but, there are issues with the service (like throttling/slow upload and download) that have me wishing there was another alternative for "unlimited" array backup.  

 

If Limetech were to offer a competitively-priced NAS backup service only to licensed unRAID users (so it doesn't get overrun), I would be all over it. 

 

"Comptetively-priced" is subjective because I don't know how you could have the economies of scale of some of the larger backup vendors.

Edited by Hoopster
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11 minutes ago, Hoopster said:

I would love this.  I am currently paying Code 42/CrashPlan $10 a month to backup my unRAID server to their cloud.  It works well, but, there are issues with the service (like throttling/slow upload and download) that have me wishing there was another alternative for "unlimited" array backup.  

 

If Limetech were to offer a competitively-priced NAS backup service only to licensed unRAID users (so it doesn't get overrun), I would be all over it. 

 

"Comptetively-priced" is subjective because I don't know how you could have the economies of scale of some of the larger backup vendors.

Let's just say I have some ideas on this ;-)

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15 minutes ago, Hoopster said:

I would love this.  I am currently paying Code 42/CrashPlan $10 a month to backup my unRAID server to their cloud.  It works well, but, there are issues with the service (like throttling/slow upload and download) that have me wishing there was another alternative for "unlimited" array backup.  

I give up on CrashPlan and I am not even sure if I can restore my stuff from them

Pick up a server from Hetzner at their action and do it over rsync or the other backup applications.  Speed is absolutely blazing.  This is what I use now. https://www.hetzner.com/sb

 

Edited by johnwhicker
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22 minutes ago, johnwhicker said:

I give up on CrashPlan and I am not even sure if I can restore my stuff from them

Pick up a server from Hetzner at their action and do it over rsync or the other backup applications.  Speed is absolutely blazing.  This is what I use now. https://www.hetzner.com/sb

 

Am I right in saying that the minimum price point for their servers seems to be ~25 euros per month?  Or is there a lower price point I'm not aware of?  And for that 25, you get an athlon server with 2x2TB of local storage?  Assuming that is in a RAID1, that's 2TB of protected cloud storage for 25 euros per month?  Just looking to verify if there are any other hidden costs there.  And do they provide an SLA?  What about if you need to expand?  Will they just add more storage to the server or do you have to step up to a bigger server at which point you're also going to have to do a cloud-based data migration?  Just curious how this works from them.  Seems like a really cheap hosting offer!  Oh, and is there any fee for bandwidth usage in addition to the monthly?

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