Is there any way I can replace the slingshot launcher? I have an old netbook with little screen "real estate" something like the GNOME 2 style menu would be better.

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No, this is not possible as the applications menu is a component that is built to work with wingpanel (the top bar with the clock and the other indicators on the right side) and this is not fundamentally compatible with GNOME menus or components.

There are however some hidden settings (acessible via dconf or elementary tweaks) that allow you to reduce the number of rows and columns of icons shown in the menu by default.

applications-menu settings in dconf editor

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