Should I switch to MATE?

I own a Huawei Matebook X Pro 2019 with an i5-8265U and Nvidia MX250M (pretty new hardware), and I am looking for the DE that will give me the best performance as well as resource usage (battery).

I have tried gnome, budgie and cinnamon (cinnamon performs the best out of these three imo), and was wondering if I'd see a noticeable resource usage improvement by using MATE.

Also, I'm worried that MATE won't work well with newer hardware, but that's just a guess, please correct me if I'm wrong.

Thanks a lot in advance!


You can always start by running LiveDVD/LiveUSB to check Ubuntu MATE functionality.
The release of Ubuntu MATE 20.04 LTS is approaching, you can wait for a month or install beta on this week.

About hardware resources I can say that it works normally on 10+ years Core2Duo and on newest hardware. The RAM is not a limit in your case, I hope, but I used MATE on systems with 2 Gb of RAM without problems.
It seems that you have hybrid video, the mate-optimus will help you to do powersave by switching between Intel and Nvidia (see screenshots here). The TLP with TLP-UI is also installable as on any other Ubuntu-based distro.

If we are talking about user productivity - with all my 15+ years linux experience I can say that MATE is the best desktop environment nowadays.

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Yeah, I've already checked it out on a LiveUSB, and I'm fine with its functionality.

I just want to get the most out of my hardware and battery, even though it can easily run GNOME or KDE. I guess, since it can run on old hardware, it'll consume less on my harware (?).

Regarding the 20.04 release, is it stable enough to install it now, or should I wait for official release?


I would recommend to wait for official final Ubuntu MATE 20.04 LTS release.

If you already have installed 18.04 LTS or 19.10 - you can install MATE on it with sudo apt-get install ubuntu-mate-desktop^ .


Allow me to be the contrarian here for a moment. It use to be the case that MATE was the king of power-sipping, for a full-fat desktop. Over time, as integration of GTK3 libraries and iterations of MATE continued it has slowly gained feature creep and suck down more power in the process.

Now if you are playing video games or doing intensive web browsing all day, your DE is not going to make a lick of difference except for idle state. If you have to be online at all times, I would recommend LXDE or XFCE as less intensive, and more simple interfaces. With the right stuff assigned to systemd, once well-tuned so there is nothing producing excessive errors and warnings every time you launch something, very little log files will be generated, which means very little will be asked of the processor and media hosting the system to handle.

For touchscreen... yeah, I've not had much fun using MATE with touch devices, but this may be my error, and this will carry over into interfaces not optimized for touch. Anything which includes touch functionality will inherently drain battery faster for whatever device coordinates your touch to absolute X / Y on the display.

About @Norbert_X's claims of productivity, notice the context — He's been using computers for fifteen years, which means he's probably use to WIndows XP / 7. MATE emulates this rather nicely, but also MATE emulates early Mac OS X from what I've heard to some degree. MATE on Ubuntu MATE also ships with a whole host of other software allowing you to optimize the interface to your liking, but this can cause battery drain with extra processor clock cycles.

Here are some legitimate ways to improve power consumption on any laptop / notebook:

  • Don't opt for touch models if you can help it — Most hardly use it.
  • If display is OLED, use a black desktop background and have no icons on desktop.
    Edit: Any colour is any light. But OLED is especially impacted.
    — Additionally, dark-mode everything. Less light, less power.
    Also use as small a font as you can read, with elements only as large as necessary.
    • Again, less light = less power draw.
  • Use at a brightness you can see, but not any brighter.
  • Keep the keyboard backlight disabled, except in the dark without external light.
    — If RGB, always use red light. Regardless, use most dim setting in the dark.
    • This is because in most diode clusters, red draws the least power.
      — Red is also de-facto digital clock colour for ease of strain on the eyes.
      — If possible, rather than LED use glow-in-the-dark keycaps / key sticker overlays.
  • Always hibernate if not using or watching anything over an extended period.
    — This mandates swap partition is available for hibernation to even be possible.
  • Always use an SSD. HDDs draw more power regardless of their capability.

So while yes, MATE is my preference, it may not meet all of your needs, and the above are legit tips for reducing overall power usage in long-term battery use scenarios — regardless of shell.


First of all, thanks for taking the time to write all of this to help me, really appreciate it.

Secondly, ¿would you mind elaborating on systemd tuning? ¿What exactly has to be done in order to reduce logs, errors, and improve overall performance?

Regarding the touchscreen, I don't really use it either, but there is no non-touchscreen model of this laptop, so I went with this one. Would disabling it reduce battery consumption? How can I disable it?

When it cones to the battery management tips, I already do most of them. However, ¿how can I permanently disable keyboard backlight? I don't really need it, and I'd much prefer some battery gains, as tiny as it may be. Moreover, ¿could you please explain how to set up hibernation, and why it is better than, for example, suspending?

Lastly, ¿how does Ubuntu MATE compare with other Ubuntu flavours, when it comes to battery consumption? ¿Is battery usage on MATE noticeably lower than on those other DEs? (I was thinking on going with either Budgie, Mate or XFCE) EDIT: I don't think XFCE will work well since HIDPI suport isn't that good, so it is a matter of Budgie and Mate.

Thanks for your time!

You don't need to do all of this, and you probably need to do none of it in most Ubuntu systems. In some systems like Pop!_OS, which is based on Ubuntu, System76's (read: S76) offering to the Linux userland comes with its own power management which needs to be disabled on non-S76 machines.

Errors in software applications are more of a problem, which MATE exhibits habitually if you ever opened anything in the terminal.

I know nothing about your laptop, but if you were so inclined you could — in theory — disconnect from the laptop's mainboard the touchscreen and keyboard backlighting. About use of the backlight, I already covered this. You should still have it on-board since if it isn't on (via function shortcut, probably) then it's no problem.

Hibernation allows you to discontinue your session completely, saving it to disk so when you can next give your device power you can pick up from the last static state the machine was at. (So, no multimedia before shutoff.)

I am not certain how battery consumption does on Ubuntu MATE. I do know it's not the Ubuntu MATE it started off as, thanks to GNOME's meddling.

Everything else should be researched by you, and I do hope somebody else can fill in my gaps for information because I sure as hell am not capable of doing so quite yet.

Jason Evangelho had a good write up based on 19.04 power consumption. YMMV

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As much as that test made me feel good at the time that's outdated information. I doubt Forbes will repeat that test with 20.04 systems and only did that to draw visitors — it worked but Forbes is a money publication, not a Linux one and Phoronix is where I would be sourcing information from.

Tested UMate and UBudgie in two equally spec'd VM's. Mate used almost half the RAM of Budgie. In addition, it had less active tasks on boot, and cpu usage was much more stable.

I'm currently using Manjaro Cinnamon, but I think I'll give UMate a try once final release happens.

Thanks for the advice.


This is completely qualitative, but I'm running Ubuntu MATE 20.04 on an 8 or so year old rig, and the only thing I notice is the struggles with my video card. Compared to my Windows partition, which had been running Windows 7, everything about Ubuntu MATE just feels faster, save for when my ancient nvidia card starts showing signs of its age, but if I'm perfectly honest, that tends to be when some page on Facebook is acting up or I'm playing the Sims 4 through Lutris and trying to do anything else that taxes the video card. With newer hardware, hopefully you wouldn't have to deal with that as much.

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Excellent to see MATE still being the superior choice in something. I still stand by that 20.04 may be more resource-intensive compared to 19.04, even if just a little bit. But that's just me being pessimistic.

Hollar if you compare MATE to XFCE and LXDE. I want to know if my skepticism is valid.

I completed this post late because my brain was just too tired to care before. Apologies for that!

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