Sheez, haven't been here in a while, 6 years tomorrow since my last login....
Just goes to show how long it's been since I had any problem with Nvidia on linux.
It's been released at a very unfortunate point in time and has broken all sorts of stuff in Ubuntu. Looks like dozens of threads on the support forums are all about to coalesce into one big stink-storm.
Our assumptions were correct, it seems like GLSL's been enabled for some reasons on that new driver for these chips. I guess the icons are black because the fragment programs used by the launcher exceed the GPU caps and the driver fallbacks to a set-fragment-color-to-black shader.
From bug 768178
Seems like that change has royally screwed a whole swathe of legacy cards. The 'solution' is to turn off the fancy new Unity desktop. Any fix is going to have to come from Nvidia and it'll have to come fast.
Looks like if you have AGP hardware, no matter how good it is, your going to have to upgrade to PCIe to see the benefits of 11.04.
Last time I had to buy new hardware 'cos the drivers blew it was 10 years ago and ATI hasn't seen a dime from me since.
173.14.28 works and has worked for a very long time. It's a shame to see a new release that might fall flat on it's face at the first hurdle.
Fix? Please?! Pretty please?!