I really liked Gnome 2x a lot, it had everything I needed for my daily work, which is not much either but I did need everything at hand or at least almost. When the Gnome team decided to take a turn in the development of the environment (Gnome 3 and its shell) I felt a bit confused about what would become of my favorite environment; however, I decided to give this 'modern' environment a chance, resulting in my total and resounding disapproval. Again I say, I was confused about the future of my environment.
Mate appears, which is a fork of Gnome 2 that supposedly came to save the situation. I installed it in its version 1.2 in Debian Testing and although I liked the result (mainly it evaluated the stability), it was still "green". Then version 1.4 appeared and I updated, yes, with great fear of instabilities.
The result of Mate 1.4 in Debian Testing from my point of view is that, the environment is very robust, almost the same as the same Gnome 2 and that is important; the integration of themes that quite made my head ache in version 1.2, seems to be resolved, with which practically at the appearance level I had back my life Debian; Another factor that it could have was consumption, the environment is not heavy which even transforms it into a option in machines of not so much power.
I do not intend to create a debate about the usefulness of Mate, what I want to make clear is that the project can give good support to what we called Gnome 2 for some time, at least so that the "older" environment of Gnome can straighten its way, and at least in Debian Testing it behaves really well as I mentioned in the previous paragraph. The best thing would be to do a totally clean install with Debian and Mate from scratch, to guarantee even more performance.
I can only say that you can be encouraged to install it by following is link.