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I decided to try XFCE, and I'm having a problem with the application windows. Only about half a window shows up, the right half isn't there, and there are no controls. The windows can't be resized or moved, and sporadically they take no input. Closing them is difficult at times, depending on the app, and they cover the top panel, since they all show up top left and I have autohide enabled. The panel still tries to unhide on the portion of the screen where the app window is not showing, but the app window hides much of it and won't move. If I log out and log back into a Gnome session, all is fine, but I can't get XFCE to work correctly. I want to like it, and I think I would if I could get the windows to work correctly. I've run apt-get purge xfc*, and manually removed every file and directory with xfc in it, except the myriad icon files, then reinstalled, to no avail.
Yes. xfwm4 is running, and refuses to run again, naturally. Using --replace seems to work, at least there is a flash, but everything remains the same. After ~10 or so restarts, cycling sort of randomly between gnome and xfce, the windows suddenly started working normally. I have no idea why. Now the desktop works normally, except that it won't awaken from suspend and the login is automatic without any password required. I'll work on fixing that. Xfce looks very similar to gnome2, and is much more responsive than gnome3, and I may like it if I can get all the configuration settings fixed.
I don't use suspend, so I've got no ideas on that one. Regarding the autologin, lxdm has a config file (/etc/lxdm/lxdm.conf) in which one can enable/disable autologin. Not sure about the other display managers.
After a couple of reboots, suspend seems to work, I get a login screen, and the windows seem to be working. I'm still not sure what I did to fix things other than repeatedly restart, but it all now seems to be working. ISTM that XFCE 4.8 still has some bugs that need ironing out, but all in all I'm starting to like it.