Many users are excited about the idea of the new ‘wingpanel‘, a floating, panel-replacement which floats at the top right hand corner of the screen and holds the indicator applets, application indicators and session indicators. It saves the vertical space by floating but still be visible at all the time. The best part is the top right hand corner at least in ubuntu is one of the least used space and thus an excellent choice, location-wise, in my humble opinion.
Currently the wingpanel is still alpha quality. But those who wants to emulate this behavior in the existing gnome panel, can do it without much difficulty.
1) First remove the main menu and application shortcuts (right click each of them and select remove from panel). You can find/add menu replacements in AWN, docky and/or other docks, so this will not be huge disappointment.
2) Right click on any free space on the panel -> select properties and under general tab, unselect the expand option. This will give you a short panel at the center of the screen.
3) Again in the properties->general tab, select autohide option.
4) Left click on any free space and move the panel to the right hand edge of the screen.
This almost ends the configuration, but the only caveat is that autohide isn’t exactly the ‘floating effect’ which we try to emulate. Gnome panel do not support a ‘floating effect’ by default (“What, you made all those silly steps into a tutorial and left us midway?”) Nope, to get something similar to the floating effect with autohide, we go to the grandpa, ‘gconf-editor’.
5) Run gconf-editor (Alt+F2->gconf-editor). Go to apps -> panel->toplevels and select your panel configuration. Look for the ‘hide_delay’ in the options and change the value to anything large enough. The maximum value you can give is 2147483647 (in milliseconds that equals to almost 600 hours).
Update: With more free time to spend and with the help of imagination you could actually make the panel look more similar to your theme. See my final panel below.
So there it is, a wing panel replacement on your screen. Enjoy!!!!