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Fail Whale, Oh No Something has gone wrong and other things

I'm having a problem where at (seemingly) random times new windows created by Gnome-Shell show up all black. No text can be seen. I know it's the real window because if I know where the button is, or if I press enter or esc then these all-black windows behave as expected.

So I try to restart the window manager using Alt+F2 then r.

This doesn't really help much as the next thing that I get back is that STUPID screen that says "Oh no, something has gone wrong. Logout".

It has happened no matter what combination of extensions I have installed or enabled in gnome-shell. It happens whether or not a browser is open. Sometimes it happens when I click play in youtube, another time I can watch youtube til the cows come home. I had this problem on a box that was upgraded wheezy -> jessie. However, I also have the same problem on a fresh install of Jessie with only debian.org reopos.

When ever these black windows appear, gnome-shell will never start again until I restart Xorg or the machine. When I try to start it manually I get :

$ gnome-shell --replace
JS LOG: GNOME Shell started at Wed Sep 18 2013 23:43:35 GMT-0500 (EST) Fontconfig warning: "/etc/fonts/conf.d/50-user.conf", line 9: reading configurations from ~/.fonts.conf is deprecated. gnome-shell: ../../../../../src/mesa/swrast/s_renderbuffer.c:584: map_attachment: Assertion `srb->Map' failed.

And based on something I read somewhere else, that stupid fail-whale shows up when one of the required apps doesn't start. .

So I'm asking, can someone please tell me how to do any of the following things :

1. Get the panels working on Gnome3 + metacity
2. Get gnome3 + gnome-shell working reliably
3. Track down the thing that causes gnome-shell to not start

System specs :
OS: Debian Jessie
uname -a : Linux fraser 3.10-2-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 3.10.7-1 (2013-08-17) x86_64 GNU/Linux
1TB HDD using LVM

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