A watershed day: I've been using the 6x13 ("fixed") typeface in Emacs, as in xterm, since 1988, and have just switched to Inconsolata 9. (Thanks, Raph!) The final obstruction fell when I discovered that Inconsolata looks phenomenally better with "slight" hinting (set using gnome-appearance-properties). Inconsolata is a little bit less dense vertically -- I fit 82 lines on this screen, where 6x13 fit 88 -- but the width is almost identical. The alternatives to Inconsolata, like Vera Sans Mono and Liberation Mono, waste far too much space to be usable.
Speaking of typefaces, Linux Libertine is so overwhelmingly better looking than everything else, I'm astonished it's not been adopted as the default face on all distros. ("apt-get install ttf-linux-libertine") I have jimmied my fontconfig to substitute it for every face used in every web page, serif or not. If you can tolerate sans-serif text fonts, Biolinum is equally well done.
Xorg on a Dell Latitude E6510 with Arrandale video, using i915 kernel drm, still doesn't work right, but with released Linux 2.6.35 it's better than it was. I have a few patches that, e.g., make it come back after it blanks the screen for inactivity. To unblank it after suspend/resume, I still have to plug and unplug an external monitor. Thanks to Jesse, Chris, and Dave for hammering away at this. There's a fair chance that 188.8.131.52, and maybe even 184.108.40.206, will work well enough to be usable by normal people. Maybe released Squeeze will even work out of the box on it, instead of panicking.