The desktop below is from my netbook. Resolution on my screen is 1024x600, typical native netbook resolution. My custom desktop was created by using the following components:
- PekWM window manager (available in the testing repository now)
- fbpanel (available in the extra repository)
- pcmanfm, used to manage the desktop
I like PekWM because it is a tabbed window manager. You can have different applications in a single, tabbed window which is ideal when you are short on screen space as is typical of netbooks. In the image you'll see that I have hv3, pcmanfm, siag and urxvt running in just one window. Fluxbox does it too but PekWM is simpler and and more minimalistic so it works better as a building block of a larger desktop environment. PekWM can replace openbox in LXDE or metacity in GNOME easily.
I like fbpanel because it auto-generates it's menu from the .desktop files in /usr/share/applications, just like GNOME, Xfce, and LXDE.