This is for those humans who want to use an operating system, rather than spend their lives studying one. And an unstable one at that.

First, there are alternatives to Alt+F2 functionality, that will open up a small window to invoke an executable. Gnome-do is the most famous, there are others with a much smaller footprint.

Second, a collection of panel indicators that actually work (calendar, classic menu launcher, load and sensor indicator, etc..

Last, The Taming of the Unity, a qhick "how-to," to maintain your sanity, including using a panel/taskbar, for those of us too dumb to be content with a launcher/dash.

Best line: "Make [the launcher] automatically hide till summoned (lol, seriously, dude. You’re not going to be summoned EVER AGAIN.)"

I've tested all of these in 13.04 Ubuntu default session (no "fallbacks") - Except for one app for which the tar.gz is no longer available, and one of the indicators (weather) that kept crashing on my end, they all work fairly well).
[FWIF, my launcher behaved quite nicely, stable, the auto-hide worked well, then it stopped showing up no matter how far I try to "push" against the left edge of the screen. CCSM fixes work, until they don't, about 3 minutes later. So comforting to know this entire unity concept was created for the sake of having a single mobile and desktop environment for future Ubutu-Edge users. All 31 of them.]