Re: What about MATE
If you welcome opinions...
People seem to feel personally insulted that the desktop has changed to something other than Gnome 2. But you know, we can't stay using the same software forever.
Unity is radically different from Gnome 2, and it does take some adjusting, but it's a pretty good desktop. The search function is better than anything seen in Gnome previously - it actually WORKS and is so useful I find myself using it a lot. It searches remotely as well as locally and can be extended by "lenses" and "scopes".
HUD is also useful in certain situations - rather than pull up program menus and manually search through to find where that option is, you can just hit Alt and start typing approximately what you want to do.
The Unity Launcher allows programs to show progress bars and numbers on their Launcher icons. For example, start a file copy operation and you can monitor it from within any program, simply by glancing at the progress bar in the Nautilus icon. Quite a decent number of programs support this too.
The indicators are more consistent than they ever were in Gnome 2, you now no longer need to guess what a left-click or a right-click will do to a particular "tray icon".
Documents can be dragged to icons on the Launcher, as a way of saying "Open the file in THIS program". The Launcher dims out any icons that it doesn't believe can accept the file you are dragging - very helpful.
Unity makes the most of physical screen space. Folding the program menus into the top panel, sticking the Launcher on the left side and displaying overlay scrollbars really does add screen space. After using Unity for a few months, I tried to go to Gnome 3 and found that it felt "claustrophobic" because too much of my screen was dedicated to chrome, instead of to the actual content.
In short, what I'm trying to say is: Rather than get 12.04 and then immediately try to go back to the comfortable old way of doing things, maybe you could try learning something newer and more modern? It might take you a week to get used to but in the end you'll probably love it. Just give it a chance. You can't stay with Mate forever - it will probably last longer than the KDE 3 fork, but in the end it'll succumb to bitrot and loss of interest from developers. You'd need to switch away to something better in the end, why not do it now?
I try to treat the cause, not the symptom. I avoid the terminal in instructions, unless it's easier or necessary. My instructions will work within the Ubuntu system, instead of breaking or subverting it. Those are the three guarantees to the helpee.