An update on my journey back to square one...
I've installed a lot of the apps I normally use that don't come pre-installed in Ubuntu Feisty like Rawstudio, Inkscape, Avidemux, vlc, mplayer and beep media player. No problems there. You gotta love linux distros and their repository systems. In Feisty, there are 21,000 odd packages available for installation and they're just a click away.
I took a stab at installing the new Compiz-Fusion compositing system for those lovely desktop effects, and while it worked, the startup of Compiz was painfully slow and the configuration app seems very kludgy compared to where Beryl is. It also seemed to bring instability to the performance on my system. So off it went.
After verifying that the desktop performance of standard Metacity was up to snuff (it was), I have now installed a fresh copy of Beryl and I'm a happy camper once again.
Problems? A single small one at the moment. My dsl seems to disconnect at random times. Sometimes it will stay up for hours and other times will go out every 10 or 15 minutes. I end up having to do a 'pon dsl-provider' in a terminal window to get it back up and running. It's strange. I can't seem to figure out what could be causing it. I thought it might be the suspend or sleep mode of my system, but I've turned that off and still get the behaviour. If anyone's got any clues on what might be turning it off I'd be thankful. I don't have a router and run straight into my DSL modem, but don't know if that matters or not.
Anyway, the system is running much better that it used to. I am the proverbial Happy Camper right now.