There are so many new features and enhancements in FreeNAS 9.3 that these release notes will break them into categories. In no particular order, FreeNAS 9.3.1-RELEASE (including this Software Update) offers the following improvements:
[ Installation / Booting ]
* FreeNAS now uses ZFS for the boot device(s), also supporting selection and mirroring of one or more boot devices for greater reliabilty. The features of ZFS are also utilized to provide cloned "boot environments" which allow the system to be rolled back (or even forked) to different OS versions.
* A boot-time menu is provided for selecting and booting from a specific boot environment, a new system->boot UI allowing the user to create, rename, delete and select boot environments as well as running diagnostics on the boot pool and adding/replacing drives for it.
* Both the installer and the installed system use the grub2 boot loader to provide boot menus and boot-time UI.
* An install-time "Setup Wizard" is now provided to lead users who may be new to FreeNAS through the installation and setup process. Everything from the user's language, pool, shares, directory services, and initial settings can be set up through the Wizard. The Wizard is also careful to make no actual changes to the system until a final confirmation step, making it harmless to enter/exit the wizard at any time and simply explore its capabilities.
* The ISO installation image can now be used both for USB booting or CD booting (the boot blocks allow for both usage scenarios), making a separate USB image unnecessary.
[ Updating ]
* While the old manual, monolithic installation and update system is still supported, the FreeNAS project has refactored its releases into cryptographically signed packages, provided both as "deltas" from previous release versions and as full packages, all of which are supplied from a secure update server. This server can be polled automatically (default: once per day), any available updates being downloaded automatically. When new updates have been downloaded, the user will receive an alert and be given the opportunity to apply them.
* Updates are offered along multiple, parallel "trains" that the user can select from the Update UI. Older stable trains will offer minimal number of updates, more current trains will offer new features and a faster rate of change, and completely experimental trains with new, untested features under development will be offered to interested pre-release testers.
* Any train can be selected at the user's discretion at any time, trains can be freely jumped between and, combined with the ZFS boot environment roll-back feature, the user can experiment with hosting multiple trains in parallel.
* Using the new "install manifests" which allow this multi-train model to work, it is now possible to verify that your installed bits conform to what was originally installed (or last updated), making it possible to detect tampering or inadvertent corruption of the system.
[ File sharing ]
* WebDAV file sharing is now supported.
* Samba upgraded to 4.1.17. Home sharing substantially improved.
* NFSv4 support added, including kerberized NFS.
* Kernel iSCSI (CTL) has completely replaced the old iSCSI code, adding support for VMWare VAAI (all 7 primitives), MS ODX and Windows 2012 Clustering as well as much higher performance and space efficiency (zero'd blocks can now be reclaimed). Support for STUN and pool storage thresholds also makes VMWare behavior far more robust when ZFS pools fill up.
* Kernel iSCSI sequently read performance has been sped up considerably by improving the way such read requests interact with ZFS
* iSCSI nows supports associating to an iSNS server.
* AFP now allows allowhosts and denyhosts per share.
[ Directory Services ]
* AD / LDAP configurations are validated immediately after input.
* Kerberos Realms and Keytabs have joined the Direcory Services UI.
* Directory Services now based on SSSD (System Security Services Daemon) and connections to LDAP servers done with SSL/TLS.
[ User Interface ]
* The much hated interface tabs are completely gone and the UI refactored to put most common UI options first, more esoteric options hidden behind Advanced modes.
* Settings and Directory Services UIs completely revamped and streamlined.
* Many hitherto difficult to discover features have been moved into their own sub-categories, new icons also being added where applicable. The tree menu and the top-level icons have also been synchronized.
* New UI for CA and Certificate management.
* All tunables have been merged - loader, sysctl and rc.conf variables can be managed from the same UI.
[ Security ]
* Software updates are cryptographically signed and validated, rendering the hashes unnecessary for anything but manual updates.
* All passwords for services which have been associated with a FreeNAS/TrueNAS storage device (e.g. AD, LDAP, VMWare, etc) are encrypted in the database.
* Current with all FreeBSD and OpenSSL security advisories as of 2015-02-26
[ Miscellaneous ]
* Jail templates have been simplified and only optional templates are now listed.
* Jails can now use DHCP to acquire their IPv4 configuration; they no longer require static IP configurations.
* ZFS features added: Embedded Data feature flag, general performance improvements.
* ZFS snapshots can now be coordinated with VMWare so that whenever a scheduled or manual snapshot is taken, snapshots of the VMs associated with the related datastore are first done, then the ZFS snapshot is taken. The temporary VMWare snapshots are then deleted on the VMWare side, so as not to impact performance, but still exist in the ZFS snapshot and can be used as "stable resurrection points" in that snapshot. These "coordinated snapshots" can be found (and are specifically marked as such) in the snapshot UI.
* FreeNAS now supports automatic drive replacement on failure, if spare drives are available.
* The replication code has been substantially rewritten and can now recover from out-of-sync replications it far better fashion.