I'm what you'd call a Linux Veteran. One who's been using Linux since long before it was considered "cool" or "pretty". In fact, I recently reminisced with a friend at being around when the advent of ISO releases was considered new. I remember installing Slackware 4.0 from a handful of floppy disks on an old 486 DX. "What's a floppy disk and what's a 486 DX?" you ask. Wikipedia is your friend, my friend.
Aside from relic grade hardware and floppy disks that can't hold even a fraction of what a cheap flash jump drive can hold today, I do remember early desktop Linux. Trust me, it wasn't pretty.
With the release of Ubuntu and its countless derivatives, the Linux community has grown exponentially. People accustomed to modern GNOME, KDE and XFCE releases need to take a look at the ghost of desktop Linux past. Windows and Mac OS aren't the only ones with a checkered past of ugly (but plenty useful) desktops and GUIs. Along with being around when Slackware 4.0 was a new release, I was also around when major leaps forward in OSS took place. I remember when KDE 2.0 was released, I remember when GNOME 2.0 was released and when anti-aliased fonts were considered eye candy. Also at this time, there was no such thing as XFCE.
As a Linux old timer, I feel that my perception of eye candy in Linux is much more conservative than the average desktop Linux user of today. I use Linux as the only operating system on a few of my systems and prefer a near cherry GNOME as my desktop environment. Things like Compiz do nothing for production in my opinion. The rotating cube when switching between workspaces and wobbly windows look nice in screenshots and desktop screencasts but I fail to see what this brings to productivity. Maybe I'm just an old timer but I'll gladly settle for my rather boring composite enabled Metacity and Avant Window Navigator.