Confirm the bug with the dafault Xubuntu theme.
$ env GTK_THEME=Abiword
solves the problem, no more flickering

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  Closing laptop lid should not blank external monitor

Status in gnome-power-manager package in Ubuntu:

Bug description:
  I'm using Precise Pangolin installed from scratch, with the latest

    txelu@txelu-acer:~$ lsb_release -rd
    Description:        Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
    Release:    12.04

  My problem is that I have my laptop connected to an external monitor, and if 
I started Ubuntu with the lid open I can't close, because not only the laptop 
screen goes blank, but also the external monitor.
  As a curious detail if I close the lid right after switching on the laptop, 
before Ubuntu starts up, it works as expected.
  Of course, I have set the Energy configuration to do nothing on closing the 
lid, and I agree that the laptop screen in that situation should go black, but 
not the external screen.
  There is a similar bug filled against previous versions of Ubuntu (#416236) 
that was considered a regression, but in that case there was a workaround using 
gconf-editor to manually edit the settings for the gnome-power-manager, but 
there is no such a entry now in 12.04.

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