I am currently using (and enjoying) Lubuntu 12.10 on an older desktop, since the last time I tested it, it has improved a lot, but I really got used to Unity workflow and it has become quite an habit to manage applications and windows with the launcher.
Using Synapse as an attempt to replace dash, I already created a panel on the left margin of the desktop with the shortcuts to my favorite programs, but they only open the apps, the window management is still made on the bottom panel. I tried to use this default bottom panel on the left but the results were not satisfatory. Besides, some applications still make use of tray icons on the bottom panel, like Dropbox.
I dont really mind if I have to keep using the tray icons, I can just autohide the panel and reveal it when I need it, my main concern is to manage opened windows on the left customized panel instead of the default one.
Here it is a screenshot to help me clarify what I am trying to do. http://imm.io/NUqT