The most recent time I did any significant GUI programming in Java was over a decade ago. Even though Swing had just come out, I used AWT because Swing wasn't available for the GNU/Linux platform to which I needed to deploy my code.
Since those days, Java's had a few releases and a few updates and a couple of owners, and if I were doing GUI development in Java right now, I'd at least consider whatever toolkit Eclipse uses—but my opinion on GUI development in Java is completely out of date and largely irrelevant. If you were to start a new GUI project in Java right now, you would do well not to listen to me for specific details. I may or may not be able even to give a general overfiew of the field because my knowledge of the state of the art is far, far out of date.
Unlike a fine wine, my technical knowledge of Java GUI programming has not improved over time.
I could say the same thing about PHP or Rails or ASP.
Perhaps if we were better at acknowledging the fact that our experience bitrots as the state of the art changes we could have better discussions of the quality and utility of technologies.
(In other words, your experience installing Red Hat 5.2 and using it for 20 minutes is rather irrelevant these days, as is your use of Perl 4 in 1993 or, these days, even Pugs.)