I like other in this past year have been put off by many of the changes in linux desktop enviroments, and while I wont knock kde4, which has somewhat stalwart during all this, I always found kde a little confusing and hungry for my tastes. that said I have searching for alternatives to what used to be gnome 2.
Normally I'm somewhat who loves the lastest and greatest, so as soon as i heard about gnome 3 I had to install fedora 15 to try it out. though better then unity, needless say that I wanted to like it I really did but I could never get used to it, even when mint 12 came with the mgse extensions which made things much better I was still left wanting
Unity was an even worse experience, I had using ubuntu since 10,04, the first linux distro Installed maybe a week or so after release. to this day I still can't use it, my experience with 11.04 made m wonna put my laptop through a wall. 11.04 was filled with regressions and nightmare of a desktop.
so then after my fustration with both I used debian with xfce for a time, and I still use xubuntu on another pc. xfce is an excellent desktop, precisely what it's billed to do, that means allot in my mind.
then last night I decided to give mate a fair shot
I installed the newest lmde iso with mate as the defualt, then i chnaged it to a more old school gnome2 configuration, and wow, I mised the old menu bar, it also seems lighter on my system then gnome2 did as well. it was like comming home, the classic dual panel setup is a productivity dream, allowing me to access and flip through applications quickly showing me what i need to see, and tucking away what isnt as important in a way that i can easily find it.
to those who who say that mate is clinging to the past i say this, its something my grandfather told when me an him were fixing up an old car " if ain't broke don't fix it" and thats exactly what has happened, someone tried to fix something that wasn't broke