Linux Mint 12 Offers a Traditional Gnome Feel
The recently released Linux Mint 12 offers a two pronged approach to supporting those who prefer the traditional Gnome desktop. Firstly, the Mint Gnome Shell Extensions (MGSE) transform Gnome 3 into something resembling Gnome 2. Secondly it ships with Mate, the Gnome 2.0 fork project.
The latest version of Mint channels Gnome 2.0 goodness via two different approaches: Firstly, Mint Gnome Shell Extensions add Gnome 2.0 features to the Gnome 3.0 shell. Secondly, Mint now ships with Mate, a maintenance fork of Gnome 2.0 that can co-exist with a Gnome 3.0 installation.
The extensions enable some Gnome 2 features to exist on the Gnome 3 desktop. Sure enough, the end result is desktop that contains aspects of both desktops. However, this recreates the layout of a default Gnome 2 desktop and doesn't seem to have much scope for customization.
It's worth noting that although some have criticized the overall direction that Gnome 3 has taken so far, this custom feature has been made possible by extensions facility of Gnome 3. All of the extensions can be toggled on or off.
The main extensions are:
• Menu Extension - This adds something closer to the traditional Mint application launcher from previous versions. The icon is placed on the far left of the bottom bar.
• Media Player - Allows control of supported media players (such as Rhythmbox) from an icon on the top bar
• Monitor Status - Display settings.
• Bottom Panel Extension - Adds a traditional bottom panel to the desktop
• noa11y Extension - Hides the accessibility icon that is normally part of the top panel
• Alt Tab Extension - Traditional alt tab switcher. This allows you to switch between windows rather than applications.
• Notifications Extension - Adds system notifications to the top pannel
• Shutdown Extension - Restores the Gnome 2 shutdown options
• Window List Extension - This is the task list that sits on the bottom bar
Mate is a fork of Gnome 2, and it's selectable on the login page in Mint 12. This is more information about it on this Arch Linux wiki page and this forum thread.
A full summary of the new features on the Linux Mint website.