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As it is, spiffifity simply doesn't work (it would have been better to fork xcompmgr like KDE and start with at least SOMETHING) and that was the reason it was left out of Breezy
The problem is that xcompmgr is as unusable as KDE kompmgr. You have to use all kind of hacks (depending on the setup) to make them work without crashing your entire machine. The only compositor that works reasonnably well is the one used by XFCE. Everything else is just instable, especially if you want to use OpenGL apps and XV videos.
And I use NVidia binary drivers, so I should know. They are still too unstable.
I think Gnome devs rely on EXA to accelerate things for the near term. XAA is really too old and unaccelerated.
Without xcompmgr turned on in Gnome, when my CPU is being maxed out and I move windows they leave behind a very ugly trail. When I minimize apps under the same condition, Metacity leaves blackness on my desktop for a second or two. With xcompmgr turned on, both of those problems go away.
Your setup has a problem, because I never experience any of this without using xcompmgr, even when my 2 CPUs are maxed out. I experience small jerkiness or slowness sometimes with CPU maxed out, which is irritating, but that's all.
I would just leave xcompmgr on but even in Breezy it fights with Gnome some (less than before though)
I don't know what you mean. At home, any compositing fights inside the card or inside the driver. If it was fighting Gnome, I would have no problem using it with XV or GL apps. For now, KDE 3.4.2 still will crash on start with any compositing on. If you have no acceleration without activating compositing, sth is really wrong with your setup. Compositing is not supposed to accelerate anything. With cairo, I know my Nuvola (vector icons) desktop is faster than before, but perhaps it is due to optimisations in GTK+.
I will switch to KDE for 3.5 and leave unaccerated Gnome in my past.
For that, you'll have to hope that compositing works in KDE 3.5. In KDE 3.4.2, it still crashes everything here with a Ti4200 and latest NVidia drivers. For metacity, they disable the compositor by default, and tell you to activate it only for debugging purpose. I think they will improve it. As manufacturers probably won't make a lot of dev to improve their cards, the work will have to be done on kernel DRM, XOrg components and DE compositors. DRM work is the more important part IMHO, as it will manage the state between XV, composite and GL apps.