I've been using Ubuntu Mate for a while because of its simplicity, but recently bought a reasonably high-end PC for home use (i7 processor, huge hard disk, smaller SSD which makes booting and running a Windows virtual machine blisteringly fast) and tried out standard Ubuntu 17.10 at the weekend. Ubuntu is now using Gnome 3 as the standard desktop, which is what made me look again. It was so successful (with a bit of tweaking) that I'm now installing it on my work Linux PC (which these days is my spare machine, used for odd occasions when I need to try out something the university's locked-down Windows installation won't let me do).
- Install Ubuntu 17.10. Takes about half an hour.
- Replace the hideous purple and orange wallpaper.
- sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
- sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool
- Using the tweak tool, remove desktop icons (Icons / Show Icons)
- sudo apt-get install chromium-browser chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-extra chrome-gnome-shell
- Start Chromium, go to extensions.gnome.org. Install the browser extension so you can install shell extensions.
- Install Dash to Dock, and Dynamic Panel Transparency.
- Back to the tweak tool, and in Extensions change the DtD settings to display on the bottom, panel mode, and change the autohide settings so "push to show" is disabled. In the Launchers tab move the applications button to the beginning of the dock. Change the DPT settings (in the Background tab) to have custom opacity with an unmaximized opacity of 100%. The latter is because I really don't like the effect where the top bar is semi-transparent if no windows are touching it, or a solid colour if a window is touching it. Doesn't take effect until you log out and then log on again.
- Add the Numix theme and icons:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:numix/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install numix-gtk-theme numix-icon-theme-circle
- Back to the tweak tool again, select the Numix theme and numix circle icons.
Icons from the dash/dock were appearing in the lockscreen and activities view - the solution was
apt-get purge gnome-shell-
which removes an alternative dock.