No we only have a yearly subscription now. We used to have 3 and 5 year ones but they proved to be unsustainable but we are supporting all those that were purchased. So only yearly subscriptions. However we plan to release ISO’s for each major Stable subscription released and the testing channel is always free.
Unfortunately software is such that it required continued maintenance / improvement due to the multiple shifting sands of all dependencies plus the honing / refining of what it does. And Rockstor, unlike TrueNAS, is purely software based as a concern, although we do have a slowly growing base of hardware partners. Hence our subscription only model. But give the testing channel and likely every major stable release is essentially free via the installer there are always options. And currently your best option for a free trial of what we currently offer is to build your own Rockstor 4 installer via the following instructions / GitHub repo:
The result is an installer with all pending updates pre-installed up-to the time/hour of build, a ‘feature’ uncommon (and unknown to the author) in our little niche of fully open source DIY NAS ventures. We are also now Pi4 compatible, given a slight current hickup in the ISO build on that one thought (fixed soon hopefully):
But the EFI ARM64 profile is believed to be working still, courtesy of our Traverse Ten64 partner. Thanks again to forum member @mcbridematt for contributing that profile. I’m looking forward to other SBC profiles entering our installer profile mix in time.
The DIY installer can then subscribe to either Stable or Testing and we are currently at version 4.0.4 placeholder for Stable and Release Candidate 7 (4.0.6) for testing. Once re officially reach stable there will be a pre-compiled ISO, but we are keen to promote the knowledge of this DIY installer build mechanism as over the years we have fought with chicken and egg scenarios where particularly old/new hardware needs updates pre-installed in the installer. This way folks can roll their own and have them pre-installed. Obviously the resulting install is also as updated as the installer in this case. We are now also ‘Built on openSUSE’ rather than our prior ‘life’ in CentOS which is now our legacy branch/variant.
So in short it’s free if you want it to be. We depend on the subscriptions and offer rpm update as a service but those are only the updates to our packages. All other updates are direct from upstream and we are based on a JeOS variant so fairly lean. If you wished you could just update whenever the the testing channel starts out again. Each testing channel moves towards the next Stable release so should, in theory, get progressively better until we release the stable. Or just re-install on each new ISO release which we have done for a number of years (bar of late with our CentOS to ‘Built on openSUSE’ move which has been a multi year effort all in).
Also note that there is not disablement what so ever. When a subscription ends all you loose is access to the repo that has newer rpms. All other repos remain active and there is also no difference feature wise between them. Only one is experimental and working towards the next stable. See our write up on our update channel arrangement:
One off payments are the route to failure re software I’m afraid. This has been pretty much proven of late as more and more projects struggle to survive and the app stores move to subscription over single payment. How much is a life time support of the software you use worth? Now and in the future, and how far into the future. What if you all of a sudden would like Pi4 support for example. Or Risc-V support for example:
I’d like that, and plan to add it when in the position and the hardware is available. We could all then have just a little bit more of an open NAS arrangement. Bar other firmware of course.
So in short the testing channel is without subscription (cost), but is also considered for developers / testers only; and as such is considerably less tested as that is what it is for, field testing/development of the Stable channel for those who would like to support the project in a different way. But currently we have no ‘Built on openSUSE’ Stable release anyway (bar the 4.0.4 place holder). So you can easily trial what we have to date via this DIY installer method.
Check out the following thread for development on the Release Candidate progress:
Hope that helps and apologies for our current ‘in-between’ state. But all that should change shortly hopefully.