I have tested out the MATE Gnome 2.32 desktop on Ubuntu 12.04, I tried to install this desktop before, but I had errors come up during the installation and I gave up and removed the Mint repositories from my /etc/apt/sources.lst, but it turned out that the working desktop actually was installed on my computer and I was able to try it out. I do not like it though, I am actually using Enlightenment E16 on my computer and that desktop is extremely fast. I will have to remove the MATE packages soon, sure it is a good nostalgia trip using the Gnome 2.32.0 desktop again, but the MATE desktop is not as fast as I would like. KDE 4.8.0 is the best one out of the major desktop choices right now, Unity, Lxde and KDE. Xfce is another desktop that can be made to look like Gnome. The layout of the KDE desktop with the single taskbar at the bottom that would be the most familiar to Windows users. The operation of the Enlightenment E16 desktop is not too hard and there are some cool themes on the Internet, I wish I could find the original Aliens theme for Enlightenment, that was awesome indeed. But there are many other cool themes for this venerable window manager. Sometimes the older software for Linux can still hold its own today.
There used to be an old image viewer called Electric Eyes that was an awesome and fast viewer for image files for the Linux desktop, but these days that software will not compile as it is meant for an ancient version of the Gnome desktop, and the source is looking for files that no longer exist on Linux systems. That is progress I guess, but I would love to see this program come back. There is a bug report concerning the removal of this program from 2002, that is how long ago this was removed from Debian. I guess if the package is unmaintained then it is time to say goodbye. The Eye of Gnome image viewer can take care of viewing images on the Gnome desktop. You may view images in Linux by typing display myimage.png and the image will be loaded using the Imagemagick software package that should be distributed with every Linux distribution. Not everyone wants to run the Gnome desktop and not everyone wants to run KDE. I have even tried out the Afterstep desktop, but I prefer the Enlightenment window manager. I should build a Debian package of this desktop and upload it for Ubuntu 12.04 as I can not find the Enlightenment E16 package in the precise Pangolin repositories at all.
Using the Linux desktop in 2003 was quite different from what Linux is like nowadays, it is more mainstream with the Ubuntu and Mint Linux distributions making the Linux distribution more approachable than ever before. I have to say though that the Linux Mint distribution has the edge over the Ubuntu distribution, due in part to having a better and more attractive desktop layout with the single panel at the bottom and the great work the developers are doing forking the Gnome 3 code to create a better and more attractive desktop that anyone can enjoy. At least the Linux desktop is more attractive than it used to be but some people just want to run Fluxbox and not use the more memory hungry desktops like Gnome or KDE. That is part of what using Linux is all about, you can build your own desktop if you wish instead of using the default. Below, I have printed my ~/.xsession file that loads my Enlightenment E16 desktop. Once you create this file in your home directory, you just log out to GDM and pick the user defined session and Enlightenment will load.
xterm & xterm & tint2 & #nm-applet & exec starte16