This is what the MATE desktop looks like running on Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin. This is the fork of the Gnome 2.32.1 source code to run on modern Linux distributions. The MATE desktop is not as fast as the Xubuntu or Lubuntu desktops, but good for a nostalgic Linux user. The layout of the panels is the same as the traditional Ubuntu 10.04 desktop that I loved to use on my laptop all that time ago. Nowadays the traditional Linux desktop is being replaced with a tablet interface that does not make the computer any more usable. MATE is easily installed on the Linux Mint 12 distribution. That is why the Linux Mint distro is better than Ubuntu. The Lubuntu desktop pictured to the left is also a nice alternative to the bloated modern desktops if you wish to use a desktop that is even faster than the Xfce Xubuntu desktop. As seen in this posting, a nostalgia post, the original Gnome desktop interface was a little different to the current one. The little buttons on each end of the bottom panel are to move the panel off the edge of the screen out of the way to create more screen real estate. This was very important with a screen resolution of 640*480 pixels VGA resolution.
Those were the days, using a Trident 512k graphics card and a 14″ monitor on a Pentium computer to browse the Internet. People these days with 2 gigabytes of video Random Access Memory are so spoilt. But I would not want to go back to those days though. There is some information about the history of the Gnome desktops origins here: http://primates.ximian.com/~miguel/gnome-history.html. This is a very interesting read indeed. Miguel Icaza has moved on to work on Mono, but the Gnome desktop is one of his best projects. The KDE or Kool Desktop Environment had the same layout on its panel, the hide buttons on each end of the KDE taskbar allowed you to slide the taskbar out of sight off to one side for more desktop space. What happened to that feature? The KDE 2.2 desktop was awesome to use, I miss it very much.