Thanks to everyone who mentioned turning off "effects"; just installed 9.10, and was immediately disappointed by immovably black background and s-l-o-o-o-w response to clicks on window controls.

If these "effects" screw up so many people's desktop, why are they selected by default when you install? "Ubuntu includes special visual effects which are intended to make your desktop more fun and easier to use ...", according to the helps <g>