How to Install MATE Desktop in Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

mate and ubuntu logos on a green blue gradient background

MATE is a GNOME-based desktop environment that provides a modern, intuitive, and attractive desktop for users. MATE is a fork of GNOME 2 that uses the GTK+ 3 toolkit.

GNOME 3 caused controversy when it was first released due to its radical change in design from GNOME 2. As a result MATE was forked from GNOME 2 to address some of the design decisions made in GNOME 3 that were not popular with some users, who felt that GNOME 3 was too difficult to use and that it removed too many features that they were used to.

MATE was created as a more traditional desktop environment that would be more familiar to users of GNOME 2.

Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux Kernel, also criticized GNOME 3.0, saying “The developers have apparently decided that it’s ‘too complicated’ to actually do real work on your desktop, and have decided to make it really annoying to do1Source: Linus Torvalds Ditches GNOME For Xfce. He abandoned GNOME for a while but returned to using it later on, thanks to some of the available extensions that can be used to fix its shortcomings2Source: Linus Torvalds switches back to Gnome 3.x desktop.

Some notable default applications included in MATE are Caja (file manager), Pluma (text editor), Atril (document viewer), Engrampa (archive manager), Eom (image viewer), Mate Terminal.

MATE is a good choice for a desktop environment for users who want a traditional desktop interface with a few modern features.

Some disadvantages of MATE are that it is not as up-to-date as some other desktop environments, such as GNOME 3 or KDE Plasma. Additionally, MATE is not as widely used as some other desktop environments, so it may not have as many applications or features as other environments.

As far as resource usage goes, MATE is not as lightweight as some other desktop environments, such as LXDE or Xfce. However, it is still relatively lightweight compared to GNOME 3 or KDE Plasma.

You can learn more about MATE from the official website.

In this tutorial we’ll be installing the MATE desktop environment on an Ubuntu 20.04 or 22.04 machine.

Update and Upgrade Package Index

Before proceeding to install MATE on Ubuntu, first make sure you have your packages upgraded to their latest versions. There are some instances where you may get errors when trying to install it without having everything up to date.

To do this run:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Install MATE Desktop Environment on Ubuntu

We’ll cover two easy to install MATE on Ubuntu. By installing the ubuntu-mate-desktop or by using the tasksel utility.

Install Ubuntu MATE Desktop (ubuntu-mate-desktop package)

To install Ubuntu MATE Desktop just run:

sudo apt install ubuntu-mate-desktop

The installation size, which includes packages and dependencies, has about 3.4GB on a fresh Ubuntu server install.

You may be asked to select a display manager during the install – usually between gmd3 and lightdm. I usually prefer lightdm but you can choose whichever you prefer.

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After the installation process is finished, you may have to reboot.

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This is what MATE looks like on an Ubuntu 22.04 machine.

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Install Ubuntu MATE Minimal Desktop (ubuntu-mate-core package)

The Ubuntu MATE minimal desktop is a stripped down version of the full MATE desktop. It contains mainly the core applications required to run the Ubuntu MATE deskop environment, without some pre-installed applications that you’d typically have on a full desktop. You can check out the differences in pre-installed applications here.

To install the MATE minimal desktop just run the following command:

sudo apt install ubuntu-mate-core

The installation size, which includes core packages and dependencies, has about 2.7GB on a fresh Ubuntu server install.

This is what MATE minimal looks like after installed on a fresh Ubuntu server:

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Install MATE Desktop (using tasksel)

Tasksel is a utility that allows us to install some software collections more easily.

First install tasksel by running:

sudo apt install tasksel

Next run:

sudo tasksel

You should be presented with an interactive screen from which you can select the software collections you want to install, among which there are some of the most popular desktop environments, including MATE.

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Limited predefined collections of software on Ubuntu 22.04
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All predefined collections of software on Ubuntu 22.04

This is how Ubuntu 22.04 looks like with MATE installed. Some applets seem to be missing by default, such as the clock, and the tray in the taskbar. There are probably other differences as well.

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Conclusion

In this tutorial we covered how to install the MATE desktop environment on an Ubuntu machine, in its full and minimal versions, by installing the corresponding packages via the command like and using the tasksel utility.

If you have any questions or feedback feel free to leave us a comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

 

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