How can I upgrade Ubuntu 16.04 to Ubuntu MATE 16.04 in established dual-boot setup

Some years ago I was familiar with Ubuntu but haven’t used it for a while now. Recently I installed a dual-boot Ubuntu 16.04 and Windows 7 pro setup. While Ububtu 16.04 is good and I like it, I find it less intuitive to use than the old versions I was familiar with and feel that Ubuntu-MATE might be better for me.
Is there a way in which I can upgrade to Ubuntu- MATE 16.04 and possibly include MATE Desktop 1.14 while still preserving my dual-boot setup? I am not as knowledgeable in these matters as I would like to be and would appreciate some advice. I might add that I would not look forward to removing and re-installing Ubuntu from scratch if at all possible.

Some folks might suggest adding MATE to your existing Ubuntu 16.04. I actually did that and was not satisfied with the results. We have an extremely well written tutorial by one of our own. If you have questions after reading please post back here with them!

I also favor a UbuntuMate install vs adding mate to ubuntu, but to answer your question…

Two ways to add mate to your current install:

  1. Install mate-desktop-environment-core. This will give you a basic mate desktop with few other mate packages. Its pertty basic, may be too basic for you, however I do like it :slight_smile:

    sudo apt install mate-desktop-environment-core

  2. The recommended install is ubuntu-mate-core. That gives you a good package selection.

    sudo apt install ubuntu-mate-core

You could start with mate-desktop-environment-core and if you want more mate packages just add ubuntu-mate-core using the above command.

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Hallo ProdigalSon

I would suggest that you change to the Ubuntu-Mate distribution, which is an official “flavour” of Ubuntu.

The the tutorial (step-by-step “I’m-holding-your-hand” guide) by wolfman is easy to use and accurate. Thanks wolfman. :slight_smile:
I’ve just used it as the basis for something I’ve been worried about for a few months now - everything went well, no problems at all. You should of course print it out before you begin and read it through before you set off.

You said you have a dual-boot set-up:

  • If you have only one hard drive in your computer wolfman’s guide applies as written. Just follow it step-by-step.
  • If, however, you have two hard drives in your computer you should be aware that wolfman’s guide will need a little extra information to help you find out where all the different bits are installed across the discs.
    I’m not trying to get you worried, it sounds as if you have a “normal” one hard drive computer. If you do have more than one hard drive please get back to us here for more help.

I’ll just tell you two little tales from my personal experience to give you the confidence in Ubuntu to make the change.

Tale one
I started off using Ubuntu (with the standard Unity desktop) about three years ago on an old AMD 4400+ machine. The computer was indeed old and I kept having “brown-outs” where the screen would fade to almost black, nothing would happen for five to ten seconds before it came back and I could carry on. I consulted the Internet, and learned that linux with a more “lightweight” desktop might avoid this problem. Again I consulted the Internet and it seemed that Ubuntu-Mate would be suitable.
I backed up my data using the “Backup” program provided with Ubuntu (Unity) and installed Ubuntu-Mate on the old computer. I attached my backup drive, clicked on “restore” and… wow! Everything was back in the same place that it had been before! As I installed programs such as Firefox and Thunderbird their data (bookmarks, local mail folders) all “appeared” where they had been previously. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: This happened of course, because both distributions use the common “Ubuntu” base.

Tale two
Earlier this year I said goodbye to my over eight years old pc and bought a small noiseless computer from a company that sell Linux computers. They pre-installed Ubuntu-Mate 15.10 for me.
When the support for 15.10 came to an end it was time to upgrade. This is absolutely no problem with Ubuntu based distributions, provided that the computer has the entire Ubuntu-system installed on one single drive. My new computer had two drives; a small fast SSD for the “system” and a traditional spinning drive for the my data. I had chosen this set-up as the best compromise between cost and performance for my budget. So I knew I would have an “interesting” upgrade…
I tried the usual upgrade procedure (not really knowing any better at the time) with no success. It couldn’t locate the different parts of the system as they were spread over two discs. Back to the Internet.
I had previously read wolfman’s post and consulted it. I complemented it with a post from the “Ubuntu” forums from 2008 and some basic Linux file system information from my Linux books. I couldn’t “upgrade” my system from 15.10 to 16.04.1, I was going to have to re-install it. The first step was of course the backup(s) (I made two, one was a simple “copy” of all the data, not a proper backup).
I used wolfman’s guide as the basis and modified the parts affected by my dual-drive set-up according to my “research”. It worked perfectly at the first attempt (thanks @wolfman :relaxed:).

Your situation
My understanding of Ubuntu and Ubuntu-Mate suggests that the following should work:

  • Obtain and read wolfman’s guide.
  • Backup your data using the “Backup” tool provided in Ubuntu (the backup should be on an external hard drive).
  • Download the correct Ubuntu-Mate ISO from the Ubuntu-Mate website. Is your computer a 32bit or a 64 bit machine?
  • Prepare an installation DVD or USB-stick from the ISO.
  • Change the BIOS settings on your computer to boot from the DVD or USB-stick.
  • Insert your installation medium and re-boot the computer.
  • Follow the instructions that appear, one of the options should be to replace the existing “Ubuntu” installation (leaving the Windows 7 partition alone). That’s the one to choose. Follow the installation instructions until the end.
  • Remove the installation medium and change the BIOS settings back to boot from the internal hard drive.
  • Start up the computer, enter the new Ubuntu-Mate system. The welcome screen appears, you can close it for now and come back to it later.
  • Attach your backup and go to System>Control centre>Backups. Note, “Backups” is near the bottom of the “Control centre” window, you might miss it at first glance. Use “Restore” to restore your data.
  • When you have restored your data remove the backup drive.
  • Go to System>Welcome. I strongly suggest that you work your way through all the “possibilities” that it contains. And I hope you will enjoy using Ubuntu-Mate. :slight_smile:

From ProdigalSon

Greetings pfeiffep, V3xx and alpinejohn,

I am flabbergasted with the speed and thoroughness of your responses to my query and let me say how very grateful I am indeed to all of you for your generosity and willingness to share your knowledge of the topic. Thank you all very much.

I have implemented your suggestion re installing mate-desktop-environment-core, like the result and am now eager to do a full UbuntuMate install. However on reading further, including the recommended tutorial, I have decided to proceed slowly! I probably should have told you a little more of my experience with Ubuntu and dual-booting.

I originally had Ubuntu dual-booting with Windows XP on an old PC and then with Win 7 on a machine I bought 8 or 9 years ago. Then I upgraded to Ubuntu 12.04, felt dis-satisfied and did not put in sufficient effort to overcome my misgivings. Ubuntu 14.04 came, but during the installation I got a warning message advising that my video capability might be such as to result in unacceptably poor performence. I withdrew from Ubuntu at that juncture.

My 9 year old computer died a few months ago and I was left with a good hard drive, a DVD player and a few other bits. I purchased a Windows 7 pro based HP Z200 with which I am very satisfied. I fitted my old harddrive as a second disk. I created a clean Linux partition in the primary hard-drive of my 2 disk machine and installed Ubuntu 16.04 from a live DVD. Before installing Ubuntu 16.04 I had the 2 drives, a 12.10 system that I knew was installed and operating and a 14.04 system that I thought had been removed or not installed at all. Following installation I have a menu that gives gives me Windows 7, Ubuntu 16.04, 14.04 and 12.10 all of which work if selected. The installation went without any trouble, the installation process picking up all the required data itself - I could not have told it what to do – and as I indicated earlier all 3 Ubuntus work. I have some files in Ubuntu 12 which I do not want to loose and so I do not want to remove it or 14.04, for thr present at any rate. I hope that puts you all more fully in the picture.

I prepared a live Ubuntu Mate 16.04 DVD and ran it and like its freshness and ease of access very much indeed and now want to erase my installed Ubuntus and install the new Ubuntu Mate. However I am a little concerned with the warning that “with two hard drives in your computer you should be aware that wolfman’s guide will need a little extra information to help you find where all the different bits are installed across the disks”.

Should I :
1. Delete all the installed Ubuntus,
2. Clear out all the Linux directories from both disks,
3. Remove the 2nd hard disk from the machine
4. Install from the live DVD into the Linux partition in the primary hard disk
5. Reinstall the 2nd hard-disk and re-partition it.
I presume the installation would set up a boot menu to choose either Ubuntu Mate or Windows.

I would greatly appreciate your advice on what I propose to do and any suggestions you might have. I spent some time trying to establish exactly where “the different bits are installed” with only a little success and until I have more knowledge in that regard I am a little hesitant as regards proceeding.

You’ve got a great start! You’re obviously comfortable with Ubuntu installs. Please correct by assumptions below:

  1. you now have only 1 operating pc
  1. Windows 7 [c:] is referenced as /dev/sda
  2. grub is installed on /dev/sda
  3. Ubuntu *'s are all on sdb in their own partitions
  4. You boot using Grub

You should be able to install Ubuntu MATE using something else as @wolfman points out. It will be crucial that you understand exactly how your Linux installs are partitioned and the exact name for each partition.

Hallo ProdigalSon

It depends what you want to do.

My set-up has a small fast SSD for the “system” and a large spinning HDD for my data. There are three installed partitions:
SSD - swap and “/” (root)
HDD - /home

Take a look here:

This is what I used when I recently re-installed my system, together with wolfman’s guide and “Manage Partitions with GParted How-to” by Curtis Gedak. The book is available from O’Reilly (DRM free):

I found the guide from “” useful, because although old it was focused and well explained.
I suggest you do some reading, some thinking, and perhaps post your proposed “plan-of-action” so that those more knowledgeable than I can confirm the plan’s soundness, or suggest improvements. :slight_smile:

Hello again pfeiffep, V3xx and alpinejohn, and again many thanks for your very speedy responses.

Just a little more of my background that might give some insight into my uncertainties. I had bad experience with Win 7 when MS were pushing Win 10 and I upgraded, an experience I do not wish to repeat with my new system and hence my caution regarding partitioning or anything else that might damage my current Win 7. I started dabbling with Unix in the 1980s trying to support some CAD installations I had in my college. I could not get my head around the Unix file structure and to be honest I didn’t devote much time to studying it. Then in the late 90’s or early 00’s I began with Ubuntu. I did a number of installations and got fairly fluent with GParted. I did the usual things through “Googling” and trial and error but still not learning nor understanding the underlying file structure – I just followed recommendations as I understood them. All has been fine so far. I have 1 machine with 2 disks with Win 7 on the primary drive and Ubuntu x 3 spread over both. I had pre-partioned a section of the primary drive to accept the new Ubuntu 16.04 installation – I think I just shrunk the primary partition. The live install DVD that I had prepared did all the work and I am quite happy with the outcome except that I am still somewhat confused by the way directories are set up and found it difficult to know where files are located. I boot using Grub which is located on /dev/sda.

Following are the partition tables for the 2 disks:

Partition File System Mount Point Label Size Used Unused Boot Point

/dev/sda1 ntfs (boot) System reserved 100.00 MiB 33.59 MiB 66.41 MiB
/dev/sda2 ntfs 833.76 GiB 48.38 GiB 785.38 GiB
/dev/sda3 extended 97.66 GiB - -
/dev/sda5 ext4 / [16.04] 93.72 GiB 19.38 GiB 73.98 GiB

/dev/sda6 linux-swap 3.94 GiB - -

/dev/sdb2 extended 910.41 GiB - -
/dev/sdb5 ntfs Progs 146.48 GiB 43.67 GiB 102.81 GiB
/dev/sdb6 ntfs Data 1 195.31 GiB 25.84 GiB 169.47 GiB
/dev/sdb7 ntfs Data 2 195.31 GiB 159.40 GiB 35.91 GiB
/dev/sdb8 ntfs Data 3 100.65 GiB 37.61 GiB 63.05 GiB
/dev/sdb12 ext4 / [14.10] 94.66 GiB 5.64 GiB 89.02 GiB
/dev/sdb9 linux-swap 4.88 GiB - -
/dev/sdb11 ext4 / [ 12.04] 73.24 GiB 17.83 GiB 55.40 GiB
unallocated unallocated 7.00 MiB - -
/dev/sdb10 ext3 99.86 GiB 3.77 GiB 96.09

/dev/sdb3 ntfs image 20.00 GiB 3.01 GiB 16.99
/dev/sdb4 ntfs 1.00 GiB 341.82 MiB 682.89 MiB
unallocated unallocated 1.00 mMiB - -

The root directories indicated reflect my own interpretation of the table structure. I also downloaded a few files under 16.04 and think they download to /dev/sdb10.

My brief encounter with the full Ubuntu Mate 16.04 using the live disk has convinced me that I should progress to a dual boot machine (Win 7 and Ubuntu Mate 16.04) with both systems and all applications installed on the primary drive and use the second drive for work files and backups. If you feel that I should retain Ubuntu 16.04 to avail of any applications that may not come with Ubuntu Mate please let me know. It will be towards the weekend when I will make my next move.

I have visited the websites recommended. The basic configuration tutorial is very clear and well done. It is a pity that it didn’t carry on to discuss logical drives. It is there that most uncertainty occurs and where and what size should be allocated to the other directories. Maybe the live install will take care of all that!!

I have ordered a copy of Manage Partitions with GParted which may fill in the holes in my knowledge regarding the structure of Linux based systems. That would be very satisfactory for me. I might add that this exercise has been very instructive for me largely through the assistance I have gotten since I posed my problem a few days age. It is very reassuring to know and experience this level of support. Again many thanks for your interest.

My hardware/disks situation is somewhat similar to yours. I have 2 internal disks utilized:
SSD [/dev/sda in Linux terms] is dedicated for Windows 7, there is no GRUB installed here
HDD [/dev/sdb] GRUB installed here ... see below

Device Boot Start End Sectors Size Id Type /dev/sdb1 * 2048 40957126 40955079 19.5G 83 Linux /dev/sdb2 40957952 737277951 696320000 332G 83 Linux /home /dev/sdb3 737277952 753661951 16384000 7.8G 82 Linux swap / Solaris /dev/sdb4 753663998 1953523711 1199859714 572.1G 5 Extended /dev/sdb5 753664000 795607359 41943360 20G 83 Linux /dev/sdb6 795609088 1953523711 1157914624 552.1G 7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT shared data with Win 7

  • I choose OS upon boot by depressing esc key which in my HP Tower provides a quick boot menu.
  • I chose to totally separate Win7 from any Linux due to some issues with Windows updating.
  • My swap is smaller than installed RAM since I never hibernate.
  • This is a single user system so I have no concerns wrt ext4 / NTFS file permissions differences

You should be able to save the files desired to be kept on one of your three data partitions [providing you have no concerns about user file permissions]

If you plan to:

  • hibernate you should have a swap partition slightly greater than installed RAM
  • remove Ubuntu 12 & 14 you can accomplish that after UM 16 install
  • maintain current boot arrangement you can ignore /dev/sdb* insure grub is installed to /dev/sda partial image found at the bottom of Install Type screen

Hello pfeiffep, V3xx and alpinejohn,
I thought over all your advice and have set up my system as follows:
UbuntuMate 16.04 is on my primary disk (Disk 1). I have Linus Swap, / and / Home here also.
Ubuntu 16.04 is on the second disk (Disk 2) in 2 partitions, / and /Home. It uses the swap directory on Disk 1.
I have another partition on Disk 2, ext4 formated, that can be used by either OS which I plan to use for special projects. Both Linuxs can access my ntfs partitions so I have what should be a very flexible set up.
My menu system works well although my boot times seem to be longer than before and my applications seem to be running slightly slower! Maybe it is on myself. I will have no problems with deleting both systems again and reinstalling, maybe trying a second swap directory on Disk 2 to see if that improves the situation. I now plan to source a few applications and to attempt few projects I have had at the back of my mind for some time.
I found the “Something else” tutorial very helpful and have refreshed my understanding of Gparted again – in fact the exercise has given me a much better understanding than before. The whole exercise has been very worth while and I thank you again for your rapid response to and interest in my problem.

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