Big Bubbles (no troubles)

What sucks, who sucks and you suck

Oi, Where's the ****in' Bar, John?!

Another long time Linux peeve resolved: for the past six months or more, my rxvt terminals have lacked a proper mouse cursor. The standard cursor shape was, and should be, the I-bar. Sometime around one of the many RPM upgrades, it suddenly became a white arrow with, annoyingly, a selection zone under the arrow itself rather than at the apex, thus making it very difficult to accurately select text. File under “Minor irritations that will slowly drive you nuts”.

I couldn’t trace the problem, and I couldn’t put together a sensible search string to produce a lead via Google either (not surprisingly, “X11” and “mouse pointer” throw up a lot of references). Rxvt didn’t seem to contain any changes to the cursors. Xterm had the same arrow, but in black on black, which was even less helpful (marginally). Judging by the lack of complaints about this problem, it may only manifest itself in this way on my system.

Finally, I struck lucky. It seems that the XFree86 team introduced themable mouse cursors in 4.3.0 (because ghod knows, we don’t have enough themable programs compared to all those practical, fully-featured Linux apps). So excited were they by this innovation, they didn’t even wait to finish off the actual themes before releasing it, with the result that the default set of icons contains several bugs and omissions. (I can’t understand why everyone embraced the code fork, given XFree86’s careful stewardship and maintenance.) Fortunately, even though the XF86 guys seem a little vague on the subject themselves, you can revert to the original behaviour. Add the following to your .Xresources file:

Xcursor.core: true

Then either update your current resources (xrdb -merge .Xresources) and restart your X clients, or simply restart your X session. Presto, the bar is back.

Of course, if I’d read the Xfree86 4.3.0 release notes, I might have seen this little tidbit (and the actual mention was small). But I’m not in the habit of scouring pages of docs every time I run an APT update. I guess sudden subtle changes in expected behaviour are one of the delights we have to relish in the brave new world of Fedora and constant improvement.

Other bubbles * Those exciting Xcursor resources in full, should you wish to work with the system.