Is MATE fading away?

Hi guys, I'm a longtime Linux and GNOME 2 / MATE user and I'm currently using Ubuntu MATE as my daily driver at the office on an old 2011 iMac that doesn't run MacOS anymore. I'm super satisfied with my customized MATE desktop and I really would like more people to enjoy this wonderful system.
When I read online, however, I have the impression that MATE is increasingly unknown and less and less used as a default choice in popular distros. Most people know XFCE, (which to me has always been a couple of steps below MATE) and ignore the existance of the better alternative that MATE represents. I fear that MATE is slowly becoming irrelevant and without new users is going to slowly fade away. I think people don't talk anymore about MATE because its development is stagnating (when will we have new exciting features to talk about? Are we really just in "maintenance mode"?). What do you think about all of this? It's just me or MATE is really becoming irrelevant?


Xfce is older than the GNOME Project, getting its names from Xf(orms) & CDE.... CDE (corporate controlled) led to the creation of KDE (Kool Desktop using only corporate controlled Qt5 libraries) which later led to the alternative desktop of GNOME (without any connections to corporation owned assets).

I'd suggest not worrying about Xfce; its always sort of been there...

MATE is moving towards Wayland (which is what probably matters the most, and grabs media attention for desktops), see Wayland and Meson | MATEwiki.

Maybe I'm not the best person to given an opinion; as I seem incapable of sticking to a single desktop anyway (I'm heavily involved with another flavor; yet still here & a MATE user too!).


I don't see the panels or their applets. Should I take it to mean that they've been successful at getting the panel and its applets ported over to Wayland?

I admit that I cam here today, earlier this morning to basically make the parent post myself. It's been two years today since MATE 1.26 was released and basically radio silence. Finding out that the silence has been a dogged pursuit of getting everything ported to Wayland before going on with anything else would be a real shot in the arm.


everythings good dwag, mate dev team got it, dont worry<3


yeah 2 to 3 years is standard release cycle for MATE desktop, and no it is nowhere near dead, if you want to see the development just create a github and follow all the mate-desktop repositories and you will quickly see that MATE is anything but dead. Yes the panel works fine on wayland, and most of the applets that can be made to work on wayland work with recent patches, I expect 1.28 to be out before 24.04 it wouldn't surprise me if they release it this fall, people I think just have this idea of MATE as old and outdated, because it's traditional, but that is just not the case.


I believe that focusing on Wayland is actually a good choice. It's not as if we're running a marathon or anything; there isn't an 'end goal' in the development of MATE. It won't undergo lots of changes with each new release, and that, in fact, is the essence of selecting MATE.


Well I've said it before but I don't mind evolutionary improvements. I just still want the traditional interface and desktop available too.

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I agree with the sentiment. I started using Linux after finding this specific project because I like the DE. With newer versions they have changed the default to a single bar, while leaving a two bar config as an option, and it's the two bar config that I like and WHY I use Ubuntu MATE. I'm afraid at some point it disappears and then I have to TRY to learn to tolerate something else.

I've always like the quick launch bar ever since Microsoft developed it. I LIKE a single click to open apps. I LIKE a nice large area for this. The Ubuntu MATE config with bar on top and bottom gives this, but ALSO makes that top bar uncluttered when you have a few apps open which I always do, since the open apps are shown on the bottom bar.

I haven't see a DE that works faster than this and it's easy to make everything at most 2 clicks away while most things are a single click away. I see other comments say they don't mind the "advancement" or "improvement" and I don't see changing this particular DE as improvement or advancement. I see it as changing something JUST to change something and like I said if I lose that two bar config that I can set with selecting the DE I want, I'd done with this project and moving to something else because as it is I already have to do a lot of work to get this linux environment working the way I want. I have to add a lot of software just so I can tolerate the TOTAL environment, such as I have to have two different file explorers because there are behaviors in CAJA that I don't like so my default explorer is often Thunar. And there are other issues such as adding X-tile to do the simple function of tiling apps on the desktop.

In other words the ONLY reason I'm using this project is because of the MATE desktop that used to be the default, which in my understanding came from Gnome 2. If I'm forced to do too much work to recreate the DE I like I'd just assume use Ubuntu and select one of their current DEs that irritates me the least. And I don't think there are any other MATE DEs in other other variant of linux that gives the two bar config, without having to go through a lot of work.

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Evolution is simply evolution. It suggests nothing about being better or worse because that depends on each user's feeling about the changes.

I often see linux as a failing experiment because it often feels like a toy for people to play with and a new distro pop!s out. This distributes the user base and for those who might actually donate, the donations are distributed, which means it's a rare person that can support themselves doing this project. Linux requires full time people working with it to be successful, and something OTHER THAN MICROSOFT needs to be successful with an alternate OS/DE for PCs.

While it's true that linux is getting better over time, it's a VERY long time that it's taken, and I'd like something to be able to run on X86-64 after Microsoft cuts off support when they have their customized ARM processors that can finally game on their systems, and with them owning so many game companies means they could kill off Steam and their future games only run on their machines.

Yes I just painted a complex chain, but that's what I see happening in the future and I don't want to be stuck in a Microsoft environment that works just like Apple's environment, where they control everything about it.

The one way I feel confident about there being an open architecture hardware system for home computers is for there to be a very effective and competent OS that can run X86-64 OTHER than Microsoft, and I can keep buying my AMD CPUs.

I don't disagree. I personally consider the two bar interface to be the heart of this desktop. Call it "traditional" all you want, it's just the desktop as far as I'm concerned.

But despite wishing they hadn't supplanted it with their 'familiar' default desktop, I'm not entirely against there being alternative layouts for the Mate Desktop. I think it's great that we can showcase the extreme flexibility of the desktop. That it is customizable. I think that's great. I am often dismayed when I test a different distro which comes with Mate and see that despite including Mate-Tweak many of them don't have any layouts installed with it at all. It seems like the desktop itself doesn't see any value in advertising this flexibility. That's disappointing.

But when I say I don't mind evolutionary advancements or improvements, I'm referring more to the types of things that used to be called "papercuts" back when Mate was called Gnome 2.x and Mark Shuttleworth proposed searching for rough edges to polish those things away. It was all about making the desktop better with tiny improvements and changes.

I still occasionally test out the Gnome Desktop. Mostly to see how the Flashback mode looks. And usually I don't last long because it just doesn't feel right for me, the same way that using KDE never quite felt right for me. But that doesn't mean I can't think that some of the work done to integrate so much into the system tray of Gnome. Or how nice the GDM can look and feel for logging in. Those are evolutionary changes. They aren't all bad things.

So when I make comments about not being against evolutionary changes, those are the kinds of things I am referring to. I'm basically saying that I am not against all changes. I didn't start using Mate with an expectation of having a desktop that never changes or improves beyond its initial release.

I'm saying that the Mate Desktop doesn't need to be locked in form to the last release of Ubuntu 10.04. While that was a very decent release and I liked a lot about that release, it should be a high point in the desktop but it doesn't need to be the high water mark, as good as it can possibly get. There should still be things that can be done to improve the desktop and make it continue to work better.

I remain completely committed to the traditional desktop of Mate, but I am not looking for a dead desktop. I want to see more. I want to see Mate continue to grow. To continue to be optimized and made to work nicer, and become easier and easier to use.

One thing I would dearly appreciate though is some way to force GTK apps to conform to the Mate desktop interface. I'm getting sick of apps that break that and look horrible.


Yeah for me once again if "improvement" or "growth" means I have to go through a huge pain to get the two bar interface to work like it does with Ubuntu MATE there's just no reason to stick with Ubuntu MATE.

Ubuntu has better support, has a longer support period for their LTS releases, and has multiple DEs to choose from. I just haven't seen another MATE implementation to where the behavior of the bars are like they are if you select that interface under the Unbuntu MATE project, which also used to be the default DE. And you'll have to pardon me because when I say DE I don't just mean a broad category. To me MATE has multiple DEs, but my understanding is it started based on the Gnome 2 DE. It's very easy to make improvements to a DE without changing the BEHAVIOR of the DE.

So I am in no way saying it should be frozen in time or there should only be a single choice. I'm only saying that I use MATE because of the two bar interface with the specific behavior based on Gnome 2. If that behavior goes away, so do I.

I don't consider the setup a lot of work, be it in MATE or any other DE.

I setup much of my system back in the late ~GNOME2 days, and whilst I've changed machine since then (at least twice due to hardware failure), each time I've just restored my configs & continued. I can't recall any change by MATE (or any DE##) really mucking my desktop config up from my install early 2011 (GNOME 2.26 using Classic GNOME).

Most changes impact fresh installs, ie. relating to new defaults. Sure there are changes (and I'm one that doesn't like change too!), but most are minor & almost always have advantages (even if you won't benefit from all of them). I value that my chosen defaults survive each upgrade; and when I need to re-install (hardware fails), I can and continue with the newer box as if little changed, I consider rather easily.

Anyway a mantic QA test today had two panels, so I don't see the issue with "a single bar", though as I'm only part of the time using MATE as my desktop, I maybe missing something here too.


I assume you're talking about the Ubuntu MATE project in particular. I've seen a MATE DE of sorts in other distributions and I remember them all being a single bar. You can ADD a bar, but you also have to set up the behavior of that bar.

THAT is what I'm talking about for doing a lot of work.

" Anyway a mantic QA test today had two panels, so I don't see the issue with "a single bar", though as I'm only part of the time using MATE as my desktop, I maybe missing something here too."

Assume that every human has different workflows and that there are millions of PC users no matter which OS they're using will want everything to be right in front of them because they use info from different apps and do a lot of going back and forth.

In other words just because you don't have an issue with a DE doesn't mean others will like it. I described in my OP why I like the two bar config. I use the top bar as a quick launch. It means I'm a single click away from almost anything I want to do. Because I WANT to have a lot of apps on that bar, IF the behavior was like a taskbar in say, Windows, that bar quickly becomes full since it not only shows icons for quick launching but also the open apps on the same bar.

It's not a big deal for a person who might have a few apps a single click away, but I have about 20, and I use all of them. I like the fact that open app tabs aren't on the same bar, because when you fill up a bar, things stop being a single click away.

Understand now? It's about having quite a few apps open without bars being cluttered so everything is still visible on the top and bottom bar and a single click away. I haven't found anything I like better.

So, regardless of what other people may like, or put up with, or their workflows, or they don't mind having to make another click to get to another desktop, etc..............................., it's what I like. And in the end it's what I like that matters to ME. Peace dude.

PLEASE don't feel compelled to suggest there are other ways to do something when I already like the way I'm doing it now.

@guiverc is simply saying that he is testing current development version of Ubuntu MATE -- mantic -- and "a single bar issue" does not exist there, it is using 2 panels by default.

Default panel layout coming from upstream mate-desktop project is using 2 panels. If you install Debian with MATE desktop environment, you will have 2 panels by default.

Ubuntu is based on Debian, and Ubuntu MATE team has their own set of preconfugured panel layouts. The default one is "familiar", it has 2 panels.

To recreate default panel layout -- "familiar" -- you have to create 2 panels and add 8 objects to those panels.

Top panel:

  1. "Brisk Menu" applet;
  2. Firefox launcher;
  3. "Notification Area" applet;
  4. "Indicator Applet Complete" applet.

Bottom panel:

  1. "Show Desktop" applet;
  2. "Window List" applet;
  3. "Workspace Switcher" applet;
  4. "Trash" applet.

Since you have ~20 launchers in your panel, I believe, you are skilled enough to configure MATE panels. Now, given the exact list of panel objects, you are able to recreate "familiar" layout in a reasonable time. Reasonable compared to a complete system reinstall.


Skilled, as in I can ask questions and understand mostly what people are saying? Yes, when they use enough words to be very clear about what they are saying.

Patient? Usually.

I've installed OSs so many times using Windows I can fly through something like that setting up a Windows DE the way I like it in 15 minutes worth of work not including the time it takes the system to install and run updates. Reinstalling isn't an issue unless a lot of apps are involved, at least for me. With the speed of NVMe now, a Windows install complete with apps is pretty fast.

Of the 4 items you listed for the top panel, which allows for adding icons which launch applications or is that a default behavior?

I've played with Linux enough to where I tolerate it but since I don't like Microsoft as a company I feel compelled to use it.

Yes, because linux requires installations of apps in different ways it certainly takes longer. Setting up the OS and the look and feel is very easy. So, yes you boiled 20 questions down to mostly a single helpful comment. Really thank you because you also mostly confirmed the next release will have the 2 panels. The next release is 23.10 and will be an interim release. The next I would install would be 24.04 if the schedule stays the same which should be an LTS. So are you also saying the LTS will retain the 2 panel DE with the same behavior?

You brought up Debian. I never installed it. I installed a couple other distros a while back and played with them and I forgot which they were. One was kind enough to allow me to wipe out every app that was installed before I got a chance to stop the action, meaning it didn't confirm the severity of the action when I clicked something. I assumed at that point it wasn't good for me, since my goal is to have a few PCs set up with linux for others to use. What I KNOW is this layout will be easy for me to handle, setting it up for multiple users. So that's my goal in another 2 - 3 years. It's also why I'm concerned about the future of the project.

For the other distro I tested I had to deal with sync issues between audio and video using the default media player and that was very off-putting. That was the first thing I tested and I already had to do a bit of research.

If you could shed any light on this it would be VERY helpful:

With Ubuntu MATE, it's polished enough to be ALMOST good enough for professional use IMO, and by this I mean it protects the user from doing stupid things by warning them about the consequences of their actions. It does a really good job with dialog boxes IMO so a user understands what's happening.

I've never installed Ubuntu. For what you said for creating the two panels, is it the same in Ubuntu? I checked to see the DEs that come with Ubuntu latest release and didn't see MATE, but I also know a person can install MATE and then configure it. If you do the install of MATE are the selections you said built into MATE, or is that specific to Ubuntu MATE?

Also, I don't know if Debian would be any better for what I'm going to do, once again allowing multiple users to use the system, with multiple PCs AND minimal instruction. Does Debian ALSO have a MATE DE? Would it be any better for sitting people down to use different applications? Would it be easier for me to set up user accounts and securing the system such as minimizing what a user can do with the desktop?

Any answers to this would be greatly appreciated.

And as a personal question to you, if you were going to set up systems for users with minimal PC usage, do you feel there's an easier way to have an uncluttered desktop, with almost anything you want to do a single click away AND already visible (top panel with launch icons), and open apps don't end up cluttering your view while still allowing an easy way to switch between apps? This is why I like the MATE 2 panel interface so much because I will have 6 - 10 apps or instances of apps running and I'm using all of them.

And feel free to use plenty of words to make your points clear, I'll read it all. I'm saying this because a lot of people like to be very brief and I've misinterpreted what they've said more than once. That's the reason for part of the comment I made that you responded to. I don't follow linux distros enough to know what the next release is, etc...... I set it up and do what I need to and mostly want the OS to not get in my way.

A launcher itself -- the Firefox launcher -- was among those items. You can add launchers to your panels through panel context menu OR you can simply drag your application launchers from your system menu applet and drop them to your panel.

There is no information about that, because Ubuntu 24.04 development cycle hasn't started yet. Anyway, the change is highly unlikely. GNOME 2 desktop supported multiple panel instances by design. So does MATE. You can always add an extra panel.

I'm afraid you misinterpret the concept of desktop environment (DE). Ubuntu is using GNOME desktop, Ubuntu MATE is using MATE desktop. GNOME is the only DE coming with Ubuntu out of the box, and it is designed to use a single top panel and the application dock. You are able to install MATE packages in Ubuntu, including the improvements coming from Ubuntu MATE team, but these packages will not be subject to extended security support.

I simply mentioned Debian because the majority of MATE-related packages are coming to Ubuntu from Debian repositories. Yes, you can install MATE desktop in Debian, the experience will be more or less the same, but by default you won't have the improvements from the Ubuntu MATE team.

It's too subjective. I use dock for launchers.


Thanks for all the info. I know this is kind of late.

My only comment back is about a DE. Yes I'm fully aware of what a DE is. What I don't have is a great memory. I've looked at different distros and I thought it was Ubuntu that came with different DEs but yes I was wrong in thinking that Ubuntu offers them. Instead it's different projects that manage the different DEs for Ubuntu, including this one, MATE.

I'm not going to bother trying to figure out which distro offered multiple DEs, my first guess what it was Manjaro. Debian offers multiple DEs from their main DL page. I don't know if it's one main team or multiple teams that manage all that, I don't care.

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The very reason I like MATE and use it exclusively - it does not undergo changes that I see. I like the simple desktop with pull downs - System, Applications, Places, and the "Menu" catch all if not using one the previous three.


The latest 24.04 is definitely the end of the Mate desktop that was reason why I decided for UM rather than Mint Mate in 2018. I'm only with UM 22.04 because my upgrade left all features from 20.04 that I use in place.
There is hardly anything that drives my UM day daily left in the latest 24.04 LTS version.
UM22.04 will be my last one. I will make a decision next year what I will use. If Mint hasn't changed in the same way, I would go with Mint Mate 22. If Mint Mate 22 also gets all this Gnome 3stuff, I change to something else
How careless the maker of Ubuntu Mate are can be seen from the missing announcement here in the forum.
At work, I'm paid to work with Windows 11.
I have to expect a certain way of comfort on my own system. UM no longer gives that pleasure. What a shame.


Tried Mint Mate and found it inferior. Forum has page after page of unanswered inquires for help. The battery doesn't show the time or percentage, and the applet add-on battery doesn't load on start and keeps crashing. Half the Ayatana indicators don't do anything, and the dconf GUI doesn't edit them when you try. I have had the same problems with Mate on Debian, Parrot, Sparky, and Spiral Linux so it is not a Ubuntu, but a Mate problem. Also Ubuntu Mate and Mint Mate are the only ones that show my album art on my music. Otherwise I have had to install Thunar, which opens them, and after that they open in Caja. Never been able to figure out what Caja was missing to cause that.

If you are that disappointed in Mate but still want a traditional desktop I would try Cinnamon, KDE, Budgie or XFCE. Really hope you find what you like and works for you, at least Linux offers you choice which is what I love about it. Good luck.