Original text by David Wolski, this translation by alpinejohn (December 2015)
Ubuntu Mate 15.10
The successful newcomer amongst the official varieties of Ubuntu continues to use the desktop environment that Ubuntu used on its way to greatness: Mate is a fork of the classic Gnome 2 desktop. Ubuntu-Mate (32-bit version) is included on the magazine DVD.
Why continually reinvent the wheel? Ubuntu-Mate restores some of the virtues that belonged to pre-Unity versions of Ubuntu. Furthermore, the youngest entrant to the official Ubuntu family dazzles with a well considered selection of software which is particularly useful for helping beginners reduce the work required to set up a Linux desktop which has all the important software. Ubuntu-Mate is also a good distribution for older hardware, e.g. computers that were running Windows XP. Although the Mate-Desktop is undemanding it is quite charming in appearance and the version 1.10 included here has been developed to the point that the new Gnome apps that use GTK3 work well. The Mate code has been reworked and obsolete features such as the compatibility with Gnome 1 have been removed.
WELCOME AND SETUP
Ubuntu-Mate comes with a typical selection of Gnome-Desktop software – Firefox 41, LibreOffice 5.0.2, Thunderbird 38.3 (including the calendar application Lightning) and the music player Rhythmbox 3.2.1. VLC 2.2 is also included, in fulfilment of the wishes of the respectably large community that the still young distribution has attracted. Numerous former Gnome applications including a text editor, PDF viewer and a file manager are also present as reworked versions, forked for Mate. There’s no longer a pre-installed, GUI-based, software packet manager (this is used to install further software packages) as there has been increasing criticism of the persistently slow and somewhat neglected “Ubuntu Software Centre”. Instead there’s a Linux-Mint-like “Welcome” screen (currently only available in English) that one shouldn’t close at once; initial modifications to a newly installed system can be performed there. You can choose a packet manager under “Software>More Apps”. Besides the usual “Ubuntu Software Centre” both “Synaptic” and the alternative software catalogue “App Grid” are available and can be installed with a click.
NOT JUST FOR OLD COMPUTERS
As Mate does not require a 3D-capable graphic card, even an older computer feels fast enough to work with. When using a modern computer there’s an easy way to exploit the full potential of the hardware: via the menu “System > Preferences > Look and Feel > Mate Tweak”, and then under the the settings for “Windows” the “Window manager” can be changed to Compiz. Compiz works with Open GL and requires a supported graphic chip and drivers; it provides elaborate desktop effects. Generally speaking, Ubuntu-Mate works well with modest hardware: 512 MB is a realistic minimum RAM requirement. Installation requires around 6.7 GB of free space on the hard drive. The distribution is included (ISO file) on the magazine DVD.
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Besides the classic desktop, Ubuntu-Mate provides a well considered selection of software which can be supplemented via the Welcome screen.
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Modify the desktop and switch on Compiz: the configuration tool Mate-Tweak originally comes from Linux Mint; new features have been added for Ubuntu-Mate 15.10.