I mentioned that I'd upgraded to Ubuntu 11.04. But I was irritated by the fact that it wouldn't display the right resolution: it did 1024x768 instead of 1280x1024. I messed around with the Monitors program, but couldn't get it to work. Eventually, in a fit of pique, I just wiped it all out with the latest Linux Mint. It's based on Ubuntu, but has all kinds of special applications.
The good news: in Mint, the Monitors program allowed me to reset the resolution for a session without much fuss. ANOTHER program allowed me to set it as a startup setting. Why it didn't work in Ubuntu, I have no idea.
But something about the Linux Mint Gnome setup just didn't feel right to me. So I downloaded the Xfce desktop. I like it. It seems much cleaner. I did have to mess with display settings yet again: Settings>Appearance>Fonts, then enable anti-aliasing, do slight hinting, and RGB pixel order.
That's a lot to go through just to get it to look good on a generic LCD monitor.
But I'm happy with it now. It's fast, spare, and easily customizable through the user interface. I set up the panel to include the programs I want readily to hand, and it already feels unobtrusive and comfortable.
Besides, it beats doing anything useful on a Sunday (other than taking out the recycling).