The good, the bad and the Gutsy, redux
I'd been using Gutsy for a few weeks and continued to have problems with it. My experience was so unlike everything I was reading from other Gutsy users - and there were so few reports of similar bugs that I could find in Ubuntu's bug tracking system - that I started to believe I must have hardware problems. This became all the more plausible when I realized that my CPU fan had stopped working a while back - although replacing it didn't help matters.
Once the crashes started to be consistently several times per day, I decided that this was no longer tolerable and asked my boss if a new computer could be spared. He found one that had been lying around, and today I did a clean Gutsy install on it.
WOW. It's like having a new computer. Exactly like that, in fact :) The computer I had before, I suspect, was very underpowered in the CPU department (Pentium III, although I never found out the speed) and had a Savage graphics card which seems to be entirely unaccelerated. The one I have now is hardly brand-spanking-new but it's definitely a step up - a 64 bit AMD processor and an nvidia graphics card of some sort that's considered "nvidia-legacy". I had some hopes that by installing the proprietary driver (yeah yeah I know :( ) I'd be able to get desktop effects enabled, but apparently not. Still, on the old machine everything from clicking buttons to typing in gmail was sluggish. Long web pages would take forever to load, as if I was on dialup. Now, everything seems to happen immediately, no lag.
So I take back all the criticism I had of Gutsy (although I reserve the right to re-criticize if I discover new issues after using it for more than a few hours :) ). There are a few niggles still - sound doesn't work in rdesktop, no matter what I do. I had to google for a workaround to the fact that installing the proprietary nvidia driver locked me down to 800x600. And we'll see if performance is still good after I get all my music off the old computer's hard drive, because Rhythmbox seemed to be one of the most consistent "machine-killer apps" on the old box. (My quirky choice of gtk theme might not have helped, either. I'll pay $25 for someone to take the old marblegtk GTK1 pixmap theme and turn it into a nicely optimized GTK2 theme, whatever that means. Just getting it to work is easy, but I'm sure it's not ideal for best performance in the GTK2 world).
Anyway. Point is - loving the Gutsy experience now. And getting new hardware is awesome!
 I really mean that, but to qualify, you'll have to explain to me what it actually entails so that I can see the difference at a code or .gtkrc level, and understand what's changed and why. Because "hey look, it's faster!" applies to everything on my desktop right now :)