Minimal Desktop for Ubuntu is a shell script designed to be run following the installation of the Ubuntu command-line system available on the Alternate and Netboot install CDs. It builds a stripped-down graphical environment, allowing the user to select which windowing environment, Web browser, IM client, office suite, and media player they want before they are installed.
Lunchbox is a dynamic tiling window manager for X11. It allows windows to be resized by squishing them against the edge of the screen. In a step away from the desktop metaphor, all programs are given a separate workspace and unique arrangement of windows, and any window can become the desktop. It offers an in-built scalable tab replacement called the Title Menu, which allows any window to be swapped with any other window that fits, allowing very fine grained control over the layout of the screen. Finally, although many windows default to tiling, any window can be changed to a Floating mode, which dialog boxes default to.
The primary aim of the Gtk+2 panel project is to provide a panel that reuses whatever is available (if it is not overkill) in the obvious way, such as subclassing GtkWidget instead of implementing applets, or by using a GtkBuilder file instead of defining a new format to customize the panel. This approach gives some additional advantages for free: you can use common tools in uncommon ways. Above all, you can use Glade to design your own panel. All the dependencies apart from GTK+ are (and hopefully will be) optional.
Gaze is a lightweight Gmail checker that sits in the system tray and notifies you of new messages in your inbox. You can configure how often the program will use the ROME API to check the Atom RSS feed for your inbox, as well as optional combined notifications, custom browser actions, theming, and more.