According to the VRT blog, Snort 2.8.4 is going to have a new DCE/RPC 2 preprocessor. The README.dcerpc2 was not included in the first release candidate for 2.8.4, but a follow-up on the snort-users list included it. The README covers a lot of information, and is definitely useful to understand the changes and configuration options.
These changes look to be an improvement, but they also have the potential to cause a lot of work and heartache in the short term for Emerging Threats and Snort users. From the VRT blog:
This preprocessor handles all the decoding functions that were previously taken care of using rules and flowbits in a lot of those rules. The upshot is that the number of netbios rules released for any vulnerability that can be exploited over dcerpc is going to be reduced greatly. The number of netbios rules previously released is also going to be reduced in a similar manner.Snort users are going to have to make sure to properly configure the new version. I know from the snort-users mailing list that far too many people use old versions of Snort, so this causes them problems. Realistically, there is usually no reason to use older versions rather than the latest stable release.
The downside is that this functionality is only available in Snort 2.8.4 with the dcerpc2 preprocessor. There is no backwards compatibility. Also, a number of netbios rules will be deleted and replaced.
Emerging Threats distributes quite a few NetBIOS rules, so I'm sure the new preprocessor will also have an effect on Emerging Threats rules. I seriously doubt that either VRT or Emerging Threats wants to maintain a set of rules for 2.8.4 and above, plus another set for older versions. If I'm interpreting Nigel's blog post correctly, it seems that VRT is going to force the issue by only issuing new and updated NetBIOS rules for 2.8.4 and above. Assuming the improvements in the preprocessor are as stated, I think that is the right choice, but lots of users are going to complain.