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Gnome feels much faster with video hardware that supports acceleration of the Render extension
Wonderful. So Gnome needs hardware acceleration to get acceptable performance? Hardware accelerated XRender requires supported drivers (of which there are a selection of one) and it is notoriously buggy to the point where it isn't an option.
As was pointed out in another thread, the Glitz/OpenGL back-end for GTK/Cairo is not turned on for a reason. That reason is because to get any benefit out of it you really do need a solid, reliable hardware accelerated OpenGL implementation. Since the only manufacturer producing good enough drivers is nVidia, and they are closed source (and not always 100%), relying on one company's drivers simply to get your GUI up and running is simply not acceptable. You know, people promote desktop Linux as being able to run on older hardware......
Telling people to use hardware acceleration is not an excuse for what they're seeing.
it also is noticably faster when using a compositing manager, of course this results in more instability of X.
Well that's not really an option, is it?