Dave, you are so right, xsnow is a great app for the holiday season (as is my “special” music CD dated 1994, but that would be a different story).
I first saw this years ago on my account in a Sparc Station pool. We have been limited to using OLVWM, but the admins where kind enough to add xsnow by default to the session early Dec. Nice surprise. I quickly got that for my own machines…
However, you probably do recall correctly, and there is an issue with running xsnow on a GNOME Desktop. At least it has been last time I checked. The issue is, that the snowflakes properly work with the background image, but cause “severe damage” to the icons on your Desktop. A snowflake falling right through these icons leave a trail behind, re-rendering the background image, instead of the icon. Just a couple of minutes, and you won’t see any icon unless you “wipe off the snow” with the mouse or, even better, a larg-ish window.
I spent some time hacking a custom version (2 years ago?), implementing some code from xpenguins. It kind of worked, and supported command line tweaking, but anything close to a smooth re-rendering appearance really hogged my CPU.
From your screenshot, it looks like there are no Desktop icons. So that would be the reason, why it now “works” for you running GNOME, I guess. Or maybe there finally *is* a fix? I need to check that… 🙂
(Unfortunately you still won’t see this on p.g.o, so I am going to poke you on IRC instead.)