Default application discussion

So we've run some polls asking the Ubuntu MATE community what default video player they prefer and what default layout they'd prefer. While the voting data is useful the discussions that follow are most insightful.

We recently added badges to all the Patrons and for those of you who've financially supported Ubuntu MATE in some way. I was pleasantly surprised how many people who are generously supporting Ubuntu MATE are here, in this forum. Therefore we're not running a poll and we're not going to have this discussion on the other Ubuntu MATE social platforms. We're having it here, with you, the people most engaged with the future of Ubuntu MATE. So, here we go...

Default email client

Thunderbird is on life support. If you don't follow the Linux news closely Thunderbird is not being actively maintained, Firefox is dropping many of the underlying technologies that Thunderbird shared. Mozilla is seeking a new custodian for Thunderbird. With this uncertain future and an LTS around the corner we're reviewing what the default email client should be for Ubuntu MATE.

Having discussed this with the Ubuntu MATE team Evolution is emerging as the most likely candidate. Now that MATE is GTK3 throughout, Evolution looks right at home alongside MATE and offers excellent integration with Google, Exchange and traditional mail and calendar protocols. If we were to drop Thunderbird from the default install, we'd make sure it is one click away in the Software Boutique.

We'd like to hear your thoughts about your email client preferences and your feedback using the current versions (not from 16.04 or earlier) of the popular desktop email clients.

Default photo organiser

Shotwell hasn't been updated in Ubuntu for some time. That said I hear the new 0.27 version will land in 17.10. There is however an integration issue with Shotwell and Ubuntu MATE, in order to share/upload images via photo sharing sites and social networks Shotwell requires online account integration which in turn pulls in a good deal of GNOME3 or Unity 7. Therefore much of the online integration available in Shotwell is not available in Ubuntu MATE and is, in my opinion, somewhat gimped because not being able to interact with online photo sharing is unacceptable.

gThumb on the other hand implements online photo sharing via it's own plugin system. gThumb offers many of the features provided by Shotwell and could potentially function as a stand alone image viewer and replace Eye of MATE too.

Now gThumb does make use of header bars to present some menus and options, which departs from the traditional look of the MATE Desktop suite. While that is disappointing I'm of the opinion that now Ubuntu is embracing GNOME3 we will see applications using header bars and client side decorations becoming common place. For applications outside of the MATE suite, we may not be able to choose the best default applications for the job without some that require the use of header bars. I believe the best we can do is ensure that the header bar and client side decoration support in Ubuntu MATE is first class. And this was something we invested a great deal of effort in during the 17.04 cycle. If we replace Shotwell we'll make sure it is still available via the Software Boutique to provide continuity for existing Ubuntu MATE users.

What do you think about this potential change? What are your preferred photo management applications and how well do they integrate with MATE?


For me personally, I’d like to still keep Eye of MATE, as it is lightweight and does exactly what it needs to do – it also behaves the way I’d expect it coming from GNOME 2 (like dragging a file out to copy it). I tried gThumb and simple tasks like rotating images 90º becomes a bit of a chore (a very precise slider), plus CSD headers meant I’m no fan, but I do like the idea of having some sort of tool for organising images. :slight_smile:

For the e-mail client, I’d be inclined to introduce a first run wizard as part of Welcome and have no mail client pre-installed. One of the questions could be prompting if you’d like to set up mail on this system. Most people I know use web mail, so this could present “Gmail” and “Outlook” (for instance) which would create web app shortcuts… or install a traditional email client like Thunderbird or Evolution.


I definitely favor dropping Shotwell for gThumb. (Except that name :rolling_eyes:) I’ve been using gThumb for the past few days instead of EOM as the default image viewer, and it works for me. I even forgot I made the change, so it passes that test for me! (And I agree with @Wimpy about the header bars. I hope we don’t see every app, get them, but they actually make sense to me for an image app so us small-screen laptop users get the most space to view our images.)

My mail suggestion would be exactly @lah7’s.

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As far as an email client for 17.10 and beyond I have been using Evolution for 2 years on MATE and just love it. One nice feature is it is so easy to backup all evolution data which includes your email setup and all your contacts.


gThumb does have rotate 90º buttons as well as image flipping.

While I agree that many people gravitate to web mail these days I do think that a large section of Ubuntu MATE users would expect a desktop email client by default, just like the major operating systems provide.

@Don_in_Vermont Thanks for the feedback, I wasn’t aware of that ability to backup everything easily.

Hallo Wimpy

Photo organiser - please keep Eye of Mate. I don’t use Shotwell, so I don’t mind if you replace it with something else.

E-Mail Client
I’d never used Evolution (although I had heard about it, particularly its reputed good connectivity with Exchange), so I’ve just installed it and taken it for a spin.
luddite… luddite… luddite…
Well I’d much prefer Thunderbird. I never have appreciated the “Gnome” approach to buttons and menus. Evolution has less functionality than Thunderbird e.g. saving an email directly as a pdf file. I could manage with Evolution, but as long as Thunderbird is available as a supported (I don’t need new features) option, Thunderbird gets my vote.

By the way, thanks for asking. :slight_smile:


@alpinejohn What version of Evolution did you test?

Here are my favorite Linux applications.

Best (GTK) file-manager:

Best text editor:

Best image viewer:
Eye of MATE

Best photo organizer:
I don’t know, but gThumb and Eye of MATE are two different applications for different needs.

Best PDF viewer:

Best archive manager with file-manager integration:
Engrampa (with Caja)

Best terminal:
I have no idea, but MATE Terminal is enough for my needs

Best email client:

This is actually my genuine opinion. The MATE apps are the best. If we are talking about the MATE panel vs XFCE panel or Marco vs xfwm4, then that’s a different discussion, but when it comes to apps MATE is the best.


Hallo Wimpy

I tested Evolution which I installed via the Software Boutique.

Despite TB being “on life support”, I’ll be sticking with it. Evolution just does not cut it feature-wise for what I need.
I really hope the plans for a re-imagined Electron-Thunderbird will get off the ground.


I don’t know if Evolution would be a good decision for Ubuntu MATE.
On Gnome it’s a part of the system and it is not easy to disable.
There are some processes running in the background using a lot of RAM.
I think Evolution is a memory beast and Ubuntu MATE should be light / medium weight distro.
I would stay with Thunderbird. It uses only memory when it is running. Ok, it’s not the newest software, but it works.
Many people can use a web interface for emails. But for people like me, who have to check five active accounts, a web interface is not an option.


OK, I agree. Evolution is good on UM 14.04, but it’s probably not good anymore (still looks good though) and that’s why non-Gnome distros drop it. Let me suggest Seamonkey for a retrospective future :wink:

It doesn’t suffer from the Australis disease like Thunderbird. (I mean those huge tabs you can’t get rid of…) OK, Seamonkey might not be realistic. I tried to use Thunderbird, but I found the Australis design really annoying so I had to use FossaMail instead. Unfortunately FossaMail is no longer maintained.

So I guess that leaves us with Thunderbird. Evolution was the only Gnome program I liked (it’s good, been using it for two years now). On the other hand I’m all for dropping as much Gnome code as possible.

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What about Claws? I prefer Evolution as my daily email client, but Claws works very well and is super fast. I’ve only ever tried it as an IMAP client for Gmail, but it was very easy to setup right out of the box. The main problem is its lack of calendar integration. It also uses GTK3 without CSD, so it looks and works great in MATE!

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Read your post and then I found this:

It works pretty well for most CSD applications! :+1:


Yep! That’s the one! :slight_smile:

If Thunderbird is going away, I would vote for Evolution as it’s replacement. And gThumb for a photo organizer. I would not be apposed to leaving EOM as is.

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I prefer Pix over gThumb as it does not use Header Bar. I also noted that Menu Libre is installed over Mozo, when the latter is simpler and straight-forward.


@mrnhmath Link to Pix please?

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