Fedora 8 Release Candidate 3 has been released on the torrent site. Both DVD and Live images have been provided. Getting them now is actually an excellent way of beating the release rush on Thursday; as pointed out by Max Spevack, these RC3 images are as good as final - at least in terms of configuration of package repositories. That's because until Thursday, users running the RC3 builds will still receive updates from the "rawhide" directory, but as soon as Fedora 8 is out, they will be automatically and seamlessly redirected to the stable tree. Just a little user-friendly touch by the Fedora development team.
Unless something goes terribly wrong, these will be the same bits (modulo gpg signed SHA1SUM files) that will go to the mirrors for the final Fedora 8 release.
As the Fedora 8 Release Candidates have come out in the past few days, Jesse made the change to fedora-release to have it point to the /releases/8/ directory instead of /development/ because that is how it has to look for the final release of Fedora 8.
That /releases/8/ directory isn't active yet, because Fedora 8 hasn't been released yet. But our mirrors currently have a redirect that points over to Rawhide. On Thursday, it is a trivial operation for Jesse to take that redirect away. Then the Fedora 8 directory is active -- people can install, we can push updates, etc. Separately, Rawhide can then be opened back up for Fedora 9 development, and a new fedora-release package that configures yum to look back at Rawhide will be placed in it. People who want Rawhide can install that package or tweak their yum repository files and be off and running.
What's the point of all of this?
It makes the upgrade path as hands-off as possible. Chances are that if you installed a Test release of Fedora or a Release Candidate, you want the final version of the release when it is available -- you don't want to stick on Rawhide.
By altering the default settings in fedora-release at the right time, and also by using redirects, the Release Engineering team can achieve this affect without requiring the user to change anything.
So if you have installed one of the Test versions of Fedora, you are already all set up the way you need to be. Your machine will "become" Fedora 8 at the right time.
Compared to the project's previous release, Fedora 8 feels like a relatively minor upgrade, but it does ship with a few interesting features up its sleeve. One of them is PulseAudio, a new sound server:
"PulseAudio is a next generation sound server for Linux, making all sorts of 'ear-candy' possible: from dynamically changing the volume of individual applications to hot-plugging support for many different devices. Fedora 8 is going to be the first distribution to ship and enable PulseAudio by default and with this in mind we talked to Lennart Poettering who is the upstream and Fedora developer of PulseAudio and Avahi about the work he has put into this."