I installed LXDE, the lightweight desktop environment. I like it. Its light, fast, and has a most things to make it usable. I say most, not all.
It doesn't have a sound volume control on the panel by default. To add it, do:
Right click panel > Add remove panel items > Panel Applets > Add > Volume Control
After Gnome, which is a fat elephant wandering the plains, this thing is a cheetah sprinting in full stride.