Following a suggestion from Chris, I gave the desktop effects from Ubuntu 7.04 a try; not the nicest experience. To be fair, it warned me that the feature was experimental, and gave me a chance to turn it off right after selecting it; for better or for worse, though, I didn’t realize immediately that something had gone wrong. (I’m not sure that turning it off would have helped, though, in retrospect.) Basically, turning the effects on collapsed my windows from all my desktops onto a single desktop (which I didn’t worry about, I (correctly) figured that I could move them back manually), but also removed my window manager decorations. (E.g. the bar at the top with the window name, close box, etc.)

I put my windows back where they wanted; that let me see a rotating cube animation which kind of made me roll my eyes. (Not sure if I would have left it on or not.) Playing with windows and menus was weirder, though – there was this strange shaking effect, which was actively annoying. I could have just turned that off, but the box animation bit by itself wasn’t enough for me to want to use these effects, so I looked for a way to turn it off and restore my windows back to normal.

And I couldn’t find one. There were boxes to uncheck, so the effects went away, but my window decorations never came back. In retrospect, I suppose my window manager simply crashed, and maybe I could have found a way to relaunch it; I decided instead to log out without saving my session.

And then I logged back in, and still no window manager. To make things worse, the logout button stopped working! After randomly fiddling with things for a while, the logout window popped up; not sure if I triggered with it (by selecting a random, unrelated, system administration menu item??) or if there was some timeout.

The second time I logged out, I brought up a text console, did an ls -alrt, and restored the recently changed directories from backups. (Yay backups.) After logging back in, my window decorations were back, but not all of my startup items were there, and again I couldn’t log out! After a minute or two, though, the logout screen appeared, along with my remaining startup windows, and it’s been fine ever since. Not sure what happened to heal matters; I am not planning to experiment further.

All in all, I am nonplussed. For one thing, the bug (or bugs?) that I ran into were pretty bad; not clear how I would have fixed this if I weren’t backing up my home directory every night, and even with that, there were some delicate moments. Still, I’m willing to accept that there might be something weird about my configuration that’s triggering problems, though I’m not sure quite what, and they did warn that the feature is experimental. (It must work better for Chris than it did for me…)

Setting that aside, though, the feature is crap. It has two parts, one of which is meh and the other of which is actively annoying. Maybe this is a sign that desktops and fancy graphics cards don’t mix too well, but I can’t completely convince myself of that: translucency, properly done, can be kind of neat in a desktop, and I can imagine shadows and perhaps even mirroring having a place. But there was no sign of that, just shaking menus.

Not ready for prime time.

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