Run ZeroTier on TrueNAS

This article is part of a series on offsite backup of a zfs pool.
Other articles in the series:
  1. Run ZeroTier on TrueNAS <==== you are here
  2. Run zrepl on TrueNAS

TrueNAS mounts /var as a temporary filesystem (tmpfs) that is erased on every reboot. This includes the ZeroTier database located at /var/db/zerotier-one. This guide demonstrates how to setup ZeroTier in a way that survives reboots and OS updates while preserving service zerotier XXX functionality.

What is zerotier?#

ZeroTier is:

  • a mesh VPN, like Tailscale and Nebula
  • a way of securely connecting your devices over the public internet in a p2p network, without the hassle of VPN
  • an emulated, secure Layer 2 ethernet network that sits on top of the public internet
  • absolutely awesome software

In this case I’m installing it on TrueNAS as one piece of my “secure, offsite backup of my zfs pool” puzzle.


  • TrueNAS (tested on version 12.0-U7)
    • Web GUI access
    • ssh access (with root/sudo)
  • A ZeroTier network and the associated network id


Install on TrueNAS (using FreeBSD packages):

sed -i .orig 's/enabled: yes/enabled: no/' /usr/local/etc/pkg/repos/local.conf
sed -i .orig 's/enabled: no/enabled: yes/' /usr/local/etc/pkg/repos/FreeBSD.conf
pkg update
pkg install -y zerotier

Do not reboot yet.

Setup the ZeroTier database#

Start the service

$ service zerotier onestatus
zerotier is not running.
$ service zerotier onestart
Starting zerotier.

Validate the database was created

$ ls -1 /var/db/zerotier-one

Move the database to a persisted zfs dataset#

Navigate to Storage -> Pools and create a dataset called zerotier, e.g. tank/zerotier mounted at /mnt/tank/zerotier. You can put this somewhere else if you like, as long as it’s on a storage pool. Move your db to the dataset:

mkdir -p /mnt/tank/zerotier/db/
mv /var/db/zerotier-one/* /mnt/tank/zerotier/db/

Mount the dataset dir as the db where zerotier will look for it:

$ /sbin/mount_nullfs /mnt/tank/zerotier/db/ /var/db/zerotier-one
$ ls -1 /var/db/zerotier-one

Join ZeroTier network#

  • Join: zerotier-cli join <NETWORK-ID>
  • Authorize the node in ZeroTier Central
  • Make sure ifconfig shows the ZeroTier interface. Optional: zerotier-cli info

Persist the rc script#

The ZeroTier service rc script located at /usr/local/etc/rc.d/zerotier will get erased on reboot, just like the /var/db/zerotier-one/ directory. To fix this, we copy it to our dataset:

cp /usr/local/etc/rc.d/zerotier /mnt/tank/zerotier/zerotier.rc.d

Create the startup script#

We now need a startup script that performs the following actions on TrueNAS boot:

  • Re-mount the ZeroTier DB in our dataset to the /var/db/zerotier-one directory.
  • Symlink our backup copy of the rc.d service script back to the /usr/local/etc/rc.d directory
  • Re-enable the rc service (using sysrc)
  • Start the rc service

To accomplish this, use my script:

curl -o /mnt/tank/zerotier/
chmod +x /mnt/tank/zerotier/

The contents of the script are straightforward:


SCRIPT_DIR=$( cd -- "$( dirname -- "${BASH_SOURCE[0]}" )" &> /dev/null && pwd )

# If you are running other daemons or require firewall rules to depend on
# zerotier interfaces being available at startup, you may need to uncomment
# the following line.
# This avoids a race condition where zerotier interfaces are created, but
# not up, prior to firewalls and services trying to use them.
# sysctl

# Remove the zerotier_enable rc.conf entry if you already
# have it. This will be set by our start script, as zerotier
# might start before the mountpoint is available, making
# zerotier create new keys at each boot. This is prevented by
# only enabling the service after the mountpoint is available.
if [ ! -f /etc/rc.conf.d/zerotier ]
    touch /etc/rc.conf.d/zerotier
    sysrc -f /etc/rc.conf.d/zerotier zerotier_enable=YES

if [ ! -f /usr/local/etc/rc.d/zerotier ]
    ln -s ${SCRIPT_DIR}/zerotier.rc.d /usr/local/etc/rc.d/zerotier
    chmod +x /usr/local/etc/rc.d/zerotier

# Stop zerotier so we can modify the db directory location
service zerotier stop

# Use the zfs pool to store the db (to survive reboots)
mkdir -p ${DB_DIR}
mkdir -p /var/db/zerotier-one
/sbin/mount_nullfs ${DB_DIR} /var/db/zerotier-one

# Start zerotier service
service zerotier start

Validate that your zerotier dataset now looks like this:

$ ls -1 /mnt/tank/zerotier

Add to TrueNAS as a Pre-Init startup script:

  • Go to Web GUI -> Tasks -> Init/Shutdown Scripts -> Add
    • Description = “ZeroTier Startup”
    • Type = “Script”
    • Select /mnt/tank/zerotier/
    • When = “Pre Init” Submit
  • Go to Web GUI -> Power (top-right) -> Restart (orrebootin shell)
  • ssh back in
  • Verify zerotier is running: zerotier-cli info and ifconfig

And we’re done! Your TrueNAS machine should now reliably remain on your ZeroTier network.

Further Reading#

Alan Norbauer currently lives in Los Angeles where he peddles JavaScript for Netflix. He's extremely relieved to no longer be living in Silicon Valley which almost killed his soul.

He has enjoyed honing his web programming craft for so long that you should call him "gramps." Alan enjoys bad music and bad novels. He still doesn't know how to use Twitter or Snapchat.

If you'd like to know a little about Alan's personal life you can take a peek at his facebook profile, or if you'd like to know way too much about his personal life you can watch this documentary on Youtube.

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