My ancient laptop has seen better days as far as wear-n-tear. As you know I switched to Mint 11, partly because the Ubuntu desktop is in flux with Unity and all. And partly because I drool every time I see Mint. So Mint is Ubuntu based and this version has the Gnome desktop but not the new whiz-bang Gnome-shell. I want all that and I hope it runs great, when it comes. Gnome is not that light-weight, which is alright if you are driving 1 gig of ram. I have 512mb ram, Gnome runs but......when I am in Inkscape the cursor disappears when I move it. This makes drawing awkward.
Normally I would add the XFCE desktop, it has lots of well........ Gnome is a full-sized car, XFCE is the mid-size, LXDE a compact and the command line is blade skates.
I didn't like LXDE desktop before but now I think I like it alot. Why, because when I am in Inkscape, I can see my cursor nice and steady all the time. Using less resources in the desktop and more in the application is what I am talking about. Inkscape zips along in a refreshing kind of way.
This mirrors the Linuxville chateau perfectly, a small modest looking retreat on the outside, endless rooms and amenities on the inside. LXDE, when I first saw it was static, you couldn't change anything, today you can tweak it a little bit, good enough. Light and fast and not hogging the road. So if you don't mind sacrificing some changeability in the desktop to get some power in the application LXDE is the way, especially with 512mb of ram. This is another nerdvana experience, it's cool!