Upgrade from Dapper to Edgy is really easy, great job Ubuntu!
Edgy brings a couple new applications integrated in the desktop, but most importantly it brings up the xserver to 7.1. This enables to have the famous AIGLX feature running in a matter of seconds. In comparison to XGL that I tried previously, AIGLX brings the same awesome opengl rendering to the desktop, but it leaves the direct rendering intact for all applications to use. Hi-res videos can play full-screen, my gentle integrated Intel chip doesn’t even sweat.
Follow this how-to to start AIGLX, there are just a few lines to edit. The only issue is that it won’t work on all cards… for now Intel cards are the best bet. Nvidia is ok I’ve read, but ATI is a no-no. ATI, please please update your fglrx driver.
Along with XGL I previously used Compiz as a window manager. It has cool effects but the setup is messy, it doesn’t have any good management application and still has lots of bugs (keyboard shortcuts, some window resizing, …). I decided to purge Compiz and install Beryl (a fork of Compiz) instead.
The setup is very easy (follow these instructions) and basically requires 1 package and 1 command to start. The first impression is that it is very close to Compiz. But soon you realize how stable and fast it is. All commands & shortcuts work, and no sign of a slowdown or crash.
Then you might start the settings manager and window decorator manager, and you will discover great apps with tons of cool effects & options! The best is that every time you change something, you will see the result right-away. In the end with AIGLX + Beryl you will get something close to Vista or OSX, and it’s free & open-source!