my better gnome
I like Gnome.But there are some aspects in vanilla installations of newer Gnome versions that I don't like as much. Here is some of what I did to make my desktop what it is.
Nautilus, the default GNOME file manager, uses tiny windows by default. I don't like them, but the Gnome folks go by great lengths to keep configuration dialogs simple... But this is still changable ! check the GConf (the "configuration editor" in the Gnome menu) key /apps/nautilus/preferences/always_use_browser . In the browser, the location is represented by a bunch of buttons. This has been widely criticized (outside Ubuntu ), and I have changed it by checking /apps/nautilus/preferences/always_use_location_entry . I'm also not too fond of calling ~/.Trash the Wastebasket, so I changed /apps/nautilus/desktop/trash_icon_name to "Trash".
This bit is slightly tricky since I use KDE applications like amaroK, KMail and K3B in a GNOME desktop and do not want to be too aware of it... I chose Clearlooks as a GTK widget theme, with Plastik and a custom colour scheme on the KDE side. For the icons I use Tango, but there are many other common icon themes, like Crystal and NouvoXT, or Bluecurve on RH/Fedora.