F9 Upgrade

A couple weeks ago I upgraded my laptop to Fedora 9. This went mostly smoothly.

I used the new preupgrade tool. This downloads data needed for the upgrade while your system remains functional. Then, after the download is complete, you can reboot into anaconda for an upgrade. I gather the benefit of this is that upgrade-via-anaconda is actually supported, unlike yum upgrade. Also, it means you don’t have to burn a CD — nice.

There was some minor glitch during this process — but minor enough that I forgot what it was when the time came to report it. Whoops.

After upgrading, some programs would not start. For instance, gnome-terminal did, but Emacs didn’t. After a while I found bug #430416 — a bug causing an X server error when certain fonts are requested. Removing xfs is the quick workaround. This problem was a pain.

Next, I found that the cursor in gnome-terminal was blinking again. Argh! I dislike blinking cursors. I find them very distracting.

I had a surprisingly hard time figuring out how to disable this. It used to be available on the gnome-terminal options page, but this was removed. For some reason I did not think to look on the Gnome-wide “keyboard” properties page — what does this have to do with the keyboard? So, in the end, I resorted to searching and ran some obscure gconftool-2 command line. Yay. In the meantime I found this nice page on disabling cursor blinks.

I am disappointed with the Gnome upgrade experience. Almost every time I have upgraded my OS, I’ve had to spend a bit of time fixing my desktop to reassert customizations I’ve already made. This is no good! My changes matter a lot to me!

In this particular case, gnome-terminal could have noticed my earlier setting and offered to upgrade it. Or, Gnome could adopt a friendlier policy — simply accept that some mistakes were made in the past, and choose to value my experience over consistency. After all, we’re talking about the terminal here, a tool unlikely to be used by the inexperienced audience that is the apparent target of this sort of change.

I have become generally skeptical of arguments based on consistency of UI. People seem to have little trouble navigating the web, where no two sites are the same. Also, every desktop release seems to come with a new default theme and plenty of experience-breaking changes — that is, there is no consistency over time.

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