Mate vs other flavors

Does one of you know of a site where they really make a comparison between Mate and other Linux flavors, like Zorin or others ?

Would like to know if it do exist.


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I think you are confusing flavors, desktop environment and Operating System.
"Ubuntu" is an OS, "MATE" is a desktop environment and "Ubuntu MATE" is an Ubuntu flavor.
So what would you like to compare? Linux OS? or Ubuntu Flavors? or desktop environments?

Hello: i'm a recovering Windows addict who is VERY CONFUSED abt Linux jargon. I have successfully installed Ubuntu 19.04 from live CD but am confused abt Ubuntu MATE - is it an alternative to default Gnome ?? If so can i convert to Mate without reinstalling ?? If so, why would this be recommended over "plain vanilla" Ubuntu 19.04 ? Thanx.

Bewildered Bob

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Hello Bob

I was once in your situation - years of windoze indoctrination and new (and confused) to Linux.

This is a non-technical explanation:

Operating system
sometimes called the "OS" or "distribution", is what you install on your computer so that you can interact with it. Very roughly speaking it consists of a "kernel", a set of intermediate software and the desktop-environment.
The kernel Ubuntu uses is the "Linux" kernel. Ubuntu does some modifications to the kernel before they build it into their OS (they are not the only ones who do that). The kernel's job is to convert instructions from all the software into commands that your computer hardware can understand and execute. Windoze has a kernel, the windoze kernel.
There are a number of these. They determine the graphical user interface, sometimes called the "GUI". Some are based on similar building tools called "toolkits", others are based on different ones. There are two main families - desktops built using the GTK-toolkit (there are more than one version) and the Qt-toolkit.
The Gnome and Mate desktop-environments are GTK-based, KDE is Qt-based.
Oficial flavours of Ubuntu
These are separate OSs which combine the Ubuntu kernel with a specific desktop-environment e.g. Ubuntu (=Gnome 3), Ubuntu-Mate (= Mate), Kubuntu (=KDE). The Mate-desktop is a development (called a "fork") of the old Gnome 2 desktop. When Gnome changed the way their desktop-environment worked (Gnome 3) some people did not appreciate the change and took a copy of the last Gnome 2 and made changes to all the names of parts of it so that Gnome 2 was replaced with Mate (this is an over simplification). Since then (about 2011) the Mate desktop continues to be developed, but true to the original concept. You can add the Mate desktop to an installation of stock Ubuntu - but there would be little point - it would look a mess and it would be the generic Mate desktop on top of Ubuntu. The Ubuntu-Mate distribution on the other hand has had a lot of work put in to make it look good - and their are specific "extras" such as the "software boutique" (as a beginner you will really appreciate that).
Software packages and repositories
Your distribution gets its software from its own (or also other) software repositories in the main. These are set up during the install process. Here there are "packages" for programs for many, many purposes.
You can also obtain software from websites e.g. the LibreOffice software, etc. if the version in your repository is not new enough. When you are starting out stick to the repositories as far as you can - it's easier and safer.
Does that help? :slightly_smiling_face:

I recommend to almost all persons who ask my advice regarding which distribution they should chose when they convert to Linux - Ubuntu-Mate. It doesn't have one single appearance - it has many. Our community forum is one of the most helpful and welcoming there is. :slightly_smiling_face:

Hello Watford

Try the classic:

and the quite recent:

Is that what you were looking for?:slightly_smiling_face:

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If I understand you correctly the "best" way to try MATE is by replacing "plain vanilla" Ubuntu (which is installed and apparently working well).

(1) But how do i get the MATE replacement (ISO ?).

(2) If after testing MATE i decide to revert to "plain vanilla" can the backed up image (on second HD)
be easily restored ?

still Bewildered Bob

Looks like it, yes.



Hello Newbie_Bob

I don't have a lot of time just now, however, this quote might help you:
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.

it comes from:

Briefly put, you could try this if you wanted...

  1. backup your home folder from your vanilla Ubuntu installation to an external drive with the backups tool.
  2. install Ubuntu-Mate (see
  3. restore your home folder via the backup tool

Hope that helps :slightly_smiling_face:

An easier way to try Ubuntu MATE would be to install the ubuntu-mate-desktop package, which is basically a "meta-package" that installs all the bits that make up the Ubuntu MATE version of the MATE desktop. The downside is that you would end up with some redundant software choices (i.e. two media players). To install it in Ubuntu, you would type
sudo apt install ubuntu-mate-desktop
in the terminal/command line. Enter your password when prompted (nothing will show up, this is a security feature), then when it's done, logout. When you log in again, click the gear icon below the password field and select the option that says MATE or Ubuntu MATE (it's been a little while since I've done this). Then, you get the full Ubuntu MATE experience, including themes, wallpapers, and Ubuntu MATE apps like Welcome and the Software Boutique, without having to download and install Ubuntu MATE and restore from a backup. The time I did this, it was with Ubuntu Studio, but it should work the same way with normal Ubuntu.

@Newbie_Bob I can understand your bewilderment as I had the same learning curve when I moved over to Linux. For a ex-Windows, new user to Linux you have to open your mind to the endless possibilities in Linux:

  1. You can run almost any desktop on any Linux distribution. You're not stuck with whatever garbage desktop Microsoft thinks you "need". To keep things simple, you could theoretically install all of the desktop environments supported by Ubuntu (Gnome, KDE, Mate, Lxde, Budgie, etc) onto your Ubuntu 19.04 installation and pick whichever desktop environment you want to use from the login screen (with the cog button next to the password field). The only reason you don't want to do this, is that it may (but not always) mess up your desktop settings. I think this is the biggest shock for a ex-windows user, I know it was for me!

  2. You can install multiple versions of a distro or different distros on the same machine and SHARE your home directory. You don't need to setup a separate home directory for each installation. You could install Ubuntu 18.04, 16.04 & 19.04 and Linux Mint on the same drive with all of them sharing the same home folder. When I first found this out, I nearly fell off my chair! Imagine that! Try doing that with a Windows installation! Setting this up is a bit tricky for the new user, but if you're brave, there are how-to wikis and how-to videos on YouTube.

  3. So you have 2 options, the easy one and slightly harder one. The easy one is just to install the mate desktop meta-package as suggested in the post above mine. Or the slightly harder option is to install Ubuntu Mate alongside vanilla Ubuntu for a more "pure" experience. Don't share your home directory for now and just restore your backup to get your settings on the Ubuntu Mate system. You can set this dual boot up easily with the Ubuntu Mate installer.

I hope all this information has blown your mind in a positive way - the only limits to setting up a Linux installation is your imagination :slight_smile:

Here's a great video by Joe Collins to explain to all new Linux users some of the fundamental differences between Linux and Windows:

Joe has an excellent Linux channel on YouTube and I highly recommend it for new Linux users. That's how I really got started in Linux! :slight_smile:

Another great video from Joe that shows you in great detail how a Linux distro actually works under the hood:

I hope you enjoy both videos! This video in particular was enlightening for me after I first made the switch :slight_smile:

Hi Nemo: Thanx for the good advice. Both MATE and "plain vanilla" are now installed on the same HD and appear to be working as advertised. The GRUB customizer tool was very helpful in changing the similar sounding names of both OSes. Still have a LOT to learn but am eager to do so thanx to helpful folks like you.

Best wishes.
Bewildered Bob

Excellent news Bewildered Bob! Glad to hear that my advice was useful. The dual boot you've set up is a good move for the beginning. Once you become more comfortable and knowledgeable with Linux, you can mix and match to get the setup that works best for you. Enjoy your Linux journey :slight_smile:

From my personal experience it is best to just install MATE directly rather than adding it as a new desktop environment

That being said I believe you can just install the MATE environment and work fine but it's not recommended