Ubuntu — my favorite distro of my favorite OS — is about to mess up. The next official release, Gutsy Gibbon, is scheduled for release in a month.
In an attempt to out-cool Vista and OSX, they’re switching over to compiz as the default window manager on systems with 3D hardware support, to enable all kinds of 3D effects for windows and dialogs. Unfortunately, that leads to two big problems:
Even on a fast machine (I’m running on a 2.2 GHz dual-core), there are long pauses/freezes while doing things like typing into OpenOffice or entering info into dialog boxes (including lost info typed into dialogs) — I actually uninstalled the 3D driver to make my machine usable, before I realized that compiz was the problem.
For machines with Nvidia cards, X windows will crash (using the current Nvidia binary drivers) if you run any other 3D app under compiz.
Ubuntu has a well-deserved reputation as the Linux distro that just works out of the box — on desktop machines, at least, it’s generally easier to install than Windows — and giving all that away in gutsy for a bit of dubious eye candy looks like a bad move. People who want compiz can enable it with a single click in gutsy’s GUIs.