In several environments, you can limit the panel width to < 100% (say, 90%), pin it to the top left screen corner, and configure windows to maximize behind the panel.
What do you like so much about the Unity HUD?
Interesting, thanks for the information. It's still not effortless, though, and I can't see how much I'd like it without the global menu. I've tried using global menus for other DEs before - they were always terrible, unfortunately, at best being a feature that was well-supported by one toolkit but more often an afterthought.
Re: the HUD: What's not to like? I can navigate through GUI menus using just a keyboard, even if I don't know the shortcut; and maybe not even exactly what I'm looking for. Even after Ubuntu gave up development on it for quite some time, I still use it whenever I'm in a bigger program like Gimp and want to use something. I've always wanted to be able to take the HUD functionality and somehow implement it as a GNOME extension.
I had tried Cinnamon a few years ago when I first started fiddling with Mint. Yes, it was buggy and at the time I flipped to XFCE and all was well.
Cinnamon has gotten MUCH better than it was back then. No errors or bugs to report within a few months of use this time.
Of course the DE is simply a means to an end. They're all pretty good these days. A lot of the 'DE wars' feel like religious/patriotic affinity.
Yeah, my experiences with Cinnamon were all a while ago, maybe I should give it another try. I've always been kind of reluctant - I guess I held a grudge against Mint over the Banshee thing, and always liked Gnome Shell - but trying new DEs is fun!
I don't understand the way some people get super territorial about DEs, though at least it's better than systemd debates. I have always found the multitude of desktop environments in Linux to be an obvious source of strength, and have very fond memories of the "bad days" when all the big Linux distros were conducting all these exciting experiments in paradigm (Gnome 2 + Compiz, KDE4, e17, Gnome Shell, Unity, all around the same time). I guess my perspective is shaped by the fact that Linux was already new to me at the time, so I didn't have an ingrained workflow that was disrupted, and that now that I have fairly steady workflows and daily drivers, I also have a spare machine or two to play around with different desktops on.