Compared to just a few years ago, the desktop environment landscape for Linux has changed significantly. If you don’t like change, or you have other reasons for liking the old Gnome 2 desktop, the MATE desktop might be the right choice for you. But comparatively speaking it’s not a very popular choice just yet, so it might not be very obvious as to how to get it.
If you’re interested in using the MATE desktop, here are several ways to get it, including on your favorite distributions.
Distributions with MATE
If you’re looking to do a fresh installation of a Linux system, it’s easy to pick an option that comes with the MATE desktop ready to go. For distributions that you can just download and use it immediately, you have three options: Linux Mint with MATE, the Ubuntu MATE spin, and the Fedora MATE spin.
Linux Mint is currently the most popular distribution that offers the MATE desktop as a first-class citizen (although it’s more commonly used with Cinnamon rather than MATE). With this interpretation of MATE, you’ll get all of the Linux Mint goodies, including its green theme. If you like Linux Mint, then this is a great choice.
The Ubuntu MATE spin isn’t an official variation of Ubuntu (such as Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, etc.), but it still has all of the same benefits that Ubuntu offers, including its large repositories, timely security updates, and more. The fact that it’s an unofficial spin shouldn’t be a downside — plus it’s seeking to become official and it’s well on its way to doing so.
Lastly, the Fedora MATE spin is great for people who have used Fedora before, because all of Fedora’s desktop environment spins are very “pure”. In other words, these implementations do not have any other Fedora-specific additions, and are given to the user the way the desktop environment developers intended. If this purity is important to you, then this is a good option, but it’s not the easiest option as you’ll need to configure it yourself to add themes and other goodies.
Installing MATE On Existing Installations
If you already have a Linux distribution installed and would just like to add MATE to it, here’s how you can do it on various distributions. Please note that this method will install the MATE desktop environment as well as any applications that are usually bundled with it, so you’ll suddenly have various “duplicate” applications. For example, you might have two text editors — one from your old desktop environment, and one from MATE.
You can easily install the MATE desktop environment on Ubuntu (and any Ubuntu derivatives, excluding Linux Mint) using the following commands one at a time:
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/ppa
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/trusty-mate
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install mate-desktop-environment-extras
Alternatively, you can turn your Ubuntu installation into an Ubuntu MATE spin installation by running the command
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-mate-core ubuntu-mate-desktop. Once the installation has completed (for either of these options), restart and choose the new desktop environment as you’re logging in.
Users of Fedora, a cutting-edge distro better suited for somewhat more experienced users, can install the MATE desktop environment using this command:
sudo yum groupinstall mate-desktop. This will automatically pull all the packages needed for MATE and installs them. Just restart, choose the new desktop environment when logging in, and you’ll be running MATE.
openSUSE users can easily get the MATE desktop environment by simply following this link. It will download a file that the YaST2 META Installer will recognize and take care of the rest. Do note that for the link to work, you have to be running openSUSE 13.1. Once installed, restart and choose the new desktop environment on the login screen.
Users of Arch Linux, an up-to-date and “build your own system” distribution, can easily install the MATE desktop environment using these commands:
sudo pacman -Syy mate mate-extra
pacman -Syy lightdm-gtk2-greeter accountsservice
systemctl enable lightdm
systemctl enable accounts-daemon
pacman -S mate-settings-daemon-gstreamer mate-media-gstreamer
dconf write /org/mate/marco/general/compositing-manager true
dconf write /org/mate/marco/general/center-new-windows true
These commands will install the MATE desktop environment, some other related packages to get certain functionality to work, and will enable compositing and new window centering. Similar to Fedora’s implementation of the MATE desktop, Arch Linux’s implementation will also be very “pure”, in line with its ideology that unmodified upstream software is best.
Do You Like MATE?
MATE is a very nice desktop that is being continually developed with more and more refinements. If you’ve always been interested in installing this desktop environment, you now have plenty of ways to do so. If you are running any other distribution than the ones listed here, you can check out this page and find the instructions for your distribution.
Do you enjoy using MATE? Are there any cool tricks in MATE that you can share? Let us know in the comments!