Moving to Fedora 29 has not been one of the smooth upgrades for me

December 21, 2018

A lot of the time, moving to a new Fedora version is a smooth process for me, where everything basically works the same as the previous version but the software versions are more recent and up to date. Sometimes there are new tweaks that I have to make or changes that I have to adapt to; for example, when I went from Fedora 25 to Fedora 26 I wound up with font rendering issues and eventually decided to switch to standard Fedora font rendering and fonts. Based on my lack of notes about them, my updates to Fedora 27 and Fedora 28 seem to have been smooth. As you may guess from me writing this entry, my move to Fedora 29 has not been so smooth.

The obvious and fixable issue that I had was the xterm border issue, which I don't consider to be a big deal; I saw it right away, it can be worked around, and in the end it cures itself (if you, for example, build your own RPM of the latest upstream xterm, which is what I did). More significant and mysterious are two additional issues I've had in my X environment.

First, something about X keyboard event handling appears to have changed in a subtle way. I have a long-standing FVWM mouse binding where the middle mouse button plus Alt will move the window the mouse is over, and I often use this binding to move Firefox windows. In Firefox, tapping Alt by itself activates the menu bar at the top of the window. In Fedora 28 and previous versions, I could move Firefox windows with my middle mouse plus Alt binding without having the menu bar appear after the move finished; in Fedora 29, the menu bar always pops up after the move finishes.

(According to xev, in Fedora 29 this sequence generates Alt_L or Alt_R KeyRelease events when the move finishes. If I release Alt before the mouse button, it's a synthetic event, otherwise not. Unfortunately I don't have a Fedora 28 system any more to try this on; I upgraded my home machine before I understood what was happening on my work machine. Since I use a hand-built version of FVWM, it's the same window manager binary in both versions but all sorts of other X related things have changed package versions.)

Second, a couple of GTK-based programs I use have an issue where the 'tooltip' pop-ups I normally get when I hover the mouse over things don't always stay visible but instead sometimes flicker madly between being up and being down. For instance, in my Liferea these popups appear if I hover the mouse over an article headline that's truncated (the popup shows me the full headline). In the current version of Corebird that I use, these popups normally appear when I hover over URLs in tweets.

(Unfortunately I don't know if this happens in other GTK-based programs, because Liferea and Corebird are the only two that I actually use. I can run gnome-terminal, but I don't know if it has any UI component with this hover tooltip feature, and anyway this doesn't fail all of the time, just some of it.)

Unfortunately both of these problems seem completely mysterious to me at the moment; I have no idea what could cause them or where to look to figure out why they're happening. The GTK tooltip issue certainly seems like a bug somewhere, but it could be in how these programs are using the GTK API instead of in GTK itself. The X event handling might not be considered a bug, and it might be a change in the X server, the overall event handling chain, or in GTK (which Firefox uses for a number of things on Unix).

Overall it seems unlikely that I'll be able to cure either issue any time soon, which means that Fedora 29 is going to continue to have real points of friction and irritation for me that just weren't there in Fedora 28. This makes me grumpy and irritated, as does the fact that there's basically nothing I can do about any of this (partly because of the amount of software involved and its overall complexity).

Written on 21 December 2018.
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Last modified: Fri Dec 21 23:34:08 2018
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