Started linux with ubuntu lucid. Love Gnome 2.

I got arch running with awesome wm, xfce and gnome, and got firefox working and all that. (I was very happy about pacman)

But really the UI is more important to me than the CLI. I believe that while having a functional terminal is fine and very necessary, my personal user experience should be dealt with (in a DE) from the graphical side as an administrator.

Hence windows or MacOS would be fine: except linux is the completely open source one that you can break and tweak everything just for the fun of it. (I especially hate UI changes without permission)

in playing around with various distros I found I like root/admin only usage just fine. Things just worked. I am willing to concede security concerns about permanent root usage, but outside of high security risk, the performance is just what I want (and was used to in windows). But before I go doing that I thought I would ask about alternative options.

I find Ubuntu too restrictive by default. You get "you don't have permission" notifications, instead of "to proceed please enter the admin password". By default I could not drag the celtx.tar into usr/local folder (a 2 second wrist motion). In terminal that action is a hot mess of typing and it has to be perfect (I'm typo prone and new to real linux). Its just awkward and feels like work compared to windows.

I also dislike the idea of a specified user because you cant always be sure that person is actually the person using the machine. No log-in is better than incorrect log in. (opinion) Saves time, saves code, saves space.

After lots of reading I thought the arch setup would be my ideal, but awesome needs to be built up a lot and I'm sure someone else already has done the legwork.

I have a few questions. Please skip the "why would you?" replies. Its Linux: If I ever CAN it will be done here. I'm really more interested in turning what already works perfectly into exactly what I want

1 If I wanted to make a full DE built around the window composition itself where would I start? Build up X? Build up awesome wm (or similar) ? If the GUI (not so much the syntax of coding) is the first level of absolute desired interface control for the user then where should you start?

2 Could gnome 2 just be cloned? Or using glibc or something similar could a DE (not gnome) be built with the resources of an exisiting gnome library? (Keep the code but ignore the perceived bloat).

3 Would writing it in API/C++/c#/ect matter since compilers translate into API? Or can you just write your own thing and worry about translating for optimization later?

Please note: Themes come with bloat. If I don't have a PDA or bluetooth, then I wont need those Icons (though I'm fine with them being available should I need them)

I know that's a lot, but I need a veteran to point me in the right direction. thanks