A Linux newbie's impression on Ubuntu MATE


For a long time, I have been thinking of installing a Linux distro for three reasons:

  • pure curiosity (What is this Linux thing, how different is it from Windows?)
  • the pleasure of learning and experiencing something new
  • the idea of having another option besides Windows 7

I bought a hard drive and dedicated it to Linux (Windows 7 is installed on a separate hard drive) I have installed two distros side by side and I been hopping from one distro to the other. After a while, I replaced the two distros with two other distros and continued hopping between the two for several days, playing around, tweaking, testing how the different programs I work with are working with these distros. It has been about a month now that I am distro hopping; Manjaro KDE, Manjaro Xfce, Linux Mint Cinnamon, Solus Budgie, Solus MATE, Elementary OS and lately Maui.

I am not looking for “the perfect” distro but I just want to find a distro that suits my needs and my taste and keep it on my drive. It seems that Ubuntu MATE is this distro. This awesome distro just hooked me! It is the only distro I installed again. Right now on my Linux drive, I have Ubuntu MATE 16.04 and Maui Linux. I will keep MATE 16.04 and later today I will replace Maui with Ubuntu MATE 17.10. I am a Linux and Ubuntu MATE newbie, not tech savvy and not a developer but if by installing 17.10 alongside 16.04 and by finding even one small bug, I hope that I can make my humble contribution to the next release.

For the time being, there is one thing quite awkward in 16.04: I find it difficult to resize a window. When I hover around a corner or the side of a window it is difficult to find the exact spot where to place the cursor. The ‘dragging arrow’ appears but vanishes before I place the pointer of the mouse on it. Not a deal breaker but I think it should be addressed in a future release.

Kudos and thank you very much to the developers.


later today I will replace Maui with Ubuntu MATE 17.10

Be aware though that Ubuntu MATE 17.10 is still in development (it will be released in october: the Ubuntu versions are based on the year and month of release, i.e. 17 = 2017 / 10 = 10th month = october) and you might encounter random issues, things can break any time. If you want the current stable up-to-date version, you’ll have to install the 17.04.

I find it difficult to resize a window. When I hover around a corner or the side of a window it is difficult to find the exact spot where to place the cursor.

I’m not currently using MATE, so I don’t remember if this has been addressed at some point but if it still works “the old way”, you have to drag the border of the window, which, depending on the theme used, might be 1 pixel wide and indeed difficult to grab.

Yes, I am aware, that’s why I keep 16.04 installed and as my main OS and only run 17.10 alongside.

Somehow I had some difficulties with 17.04 ( I had to make some tweaks to make the Welcome screen and the Software Boutique appear because they disappeared after the installation)

I guess that I deleted 17.04 a bit hastily to install 16.04 instead. Apart from the inclusion of the brisk menu and it’s super key what are the major advantages of 17.04?

I have some spare time right now so I do not mind to reinstall 17.04 instead of 16.04 if it’s worth it.

Great to have you with us! Did you know that if you hold down the alt key and right click, it should resize the window without having to locate a pinpoint spot for dragging? Give it a go! :slight_smile:


I guess that I deleted 17.04 a bit hastily to install 16.04 instead. Apart from the inclusion of the brisk menu and it’s super key what are the major advantages of 17.04?

Ubuntu releases are divided in two categories: LTS (Long Term Support, 5 years) and regular versions. A LTS is longer supported and you can update from a LTS to the next one (14.04 can be updated to 16.04 without having to install 14.10, 15.04 and 15.10 inbetween; 16.04 can be updated to 18.04 when it’s available next year). A regular version can only be upgraded to the next one: 16.10 can be updated to 17.04, 17.04 to 17.10.

Regular versions are supported for 9 monthes, so you basically have to upgrade you system every time one is released (every six monthes). If you stay on a LTS version, you can keep it for at least two years (if you want the next one as soon as it’s available) and up to five years. Note that a LTS can also be upgraded to the next regular version (e.g. 16.04 can be upgraded to 16.10) but in that case you get back on the regular cycle and then have to update every six monthes, you don’t have a LTS anymore.

So, if you stick to 16.04, you can keep it and upgrade to 18.04. If you install 17.04, you’ll have to upgrade to 17.10 and then to 18.04.

The downside is that apart from a few exceptions, the versions of softwares in the repository are not updated during the life of the distro. With 16.04, you’re stuck with software from 2016; with 17.04, you have more recent apps.

So, it’s up to you: if you don’t mind upgrading your OS every 6 monthes, install 17.04. If you prefer to keep the same version for years and don’t mind having older apps, keep 16.04.

Note that while the software in the repos are stuck to the same version, it’s still possible to update some of them using third party repositories.


Thank you for the welcome.

I gave a try to the alt + right click. Awesome! Thanks

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Where I live, we put the month before the year, so shouldn’t it be 04.17 and 10.17 instead, he asks mischievously? :grinning:

This way they end up in the right order automatically if you alphabetize them. Compare with the ISO date format.

Thanks, that’s definitively a good way to contribute back. :)


This is for blank, initial installations : I for one have the 10.04 LTS to which I added a couple of repositories for those applications I need up to date.

(And this IMHO brings even more recent versions of the apps that what appears in the latest MATE repo -for instance my star photo processing app RawTherapee…)

Sure, you can add 3rd-party repos to have some apps more up to date but 1) you need to find a repo, not everything is avalaible that way; and 2) the more repos you add, the more you’re likely to run into conflicts and dependancies issues.

BTW, your 10.04 has been unsupported for a long time: even if you can keep up with the apps you use, you’ve stopped getting security fixes long ago. You should really consider switching to a current LTS.

gnome has had this 1-pixel-border issue for years. they’re busy inventing new icons to help them remove more functionality.


Re-sizing windows…

I don’t use the mouse, I prefer the keyboard. Try playing around with “Alt+F8” (resizing) and “Alt+F7” (repositioning). You the cursor arrow keys with these to give the “instructions”. :slight_smile:
You escape from the command by pressing the “Alt+” combination once again when you’re finished.

After using “Alt+F8” I find it necessary to use “Alt+F7” to get away from the “Alt+F8” command. It will make sense when you try it.

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Amazing how many ways are used for window control by keyboard. I get to the window control menu via Alt+Space. :slight_smile:

@Bill_MI it’s amazing that in this day and age there’s no unified user-interface layer, beyond that it’s all downhill. kde, qt, alphabet-soup, dozens of “DLLs” but no centralized user-interface layer.

All the major OS’s have this issue… wait a minute, i haven’t used Windows in years so let me rephrase that… linux, iOS, Android, and BB-OS all have the issue of a missing system-wide user-interface layer.

They also miss out on all considerations of “ergonomics” but without a unified user-interface layer you’re not going to get there, not really. Patches and hacks.

So the guy sitting in the back of the room stands up and says, “This is crap, somebody oughta fix this POS!” All eyes turn to him and the frowns begin… he sits down and shuts up. I’m reminded of “Pinky and the Brain”, isn’t that the one where the guy always has a plan for taking over the world?

[insert mad cackle here!]

My Name is Mike, and I’m a brand new Linux user. I remember hearing about Linux in 2001-2002 when I was in college, but I paid no attention to it, thinking I had to be computer scientist to appreciate it.

I came to Linux when my Dell Latitude E6410 laptop running Windows 7 was getting so… slow…!

Then I started researching. It really helped to have a friend who was aware of Linux and interested to help me get started. Also, I started listening to the very accessible podcast: Linux4Everyone.

Eventually I settled on Ubuntu Mate since it is well supported and known for working well on old equipment.

I used the instructions from this site: https://www.lifewire.com/ultimate-windows-7-ubuntu-linux-dual-boot-guide-2200653, but I skipped encrypting the hard drive and adding extra partitions.

And once installed, I reviewed this youtube video by “Switched to Linux”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aC0ypegLqNM&t=959s I loved how he shows what I can do to make my desktop look more comfortable/ useful for me.

Thanks Ubuntu!