Ubuntu Mate needs to be more beautiful and attractive



To quote Tiox
Does it work? Check.
Is it secure? Check.
Is it stable? Check.
Is it pretty? Don’t care.
So I made it clean, easy, simple. Maybe boring for some.
For me it is worth a thousand times what some name the “Modern” look or any other large companies wrongly inspired by some designers.


When talking about computer user interface the monitor, or the laptop screen has an important role in beautify the UI, or make it look old, outdated, with washed color or no fidelity as the screen might look yellowish , …

I totally agree with what @Watford said about “Modern” (fancy) look inspired by designers.

Regarding what @APolihron said,

  1. for me Gnome is not modern, is just a design experiment
  2. for me Mac OSx is not “Modern” is just classic with added fancy elements.
  3. If I look on modern design, I look on KDE, but somehow it is too flat, too iced, for me.
  4. I consider the current Mate the bets design.

If someone will start to experiment designs on Mate, and go in wrong direction, I will leave probably to my next favorite on the list - KDE

Marshmallow design is not my favorite, I prefer strong and precise lines along desktop, as it gives a a feeling of high precision engineering. KDE has not arrived there yet, it has a lot of wasted pixels, so another big plus for Mate Desktop.


See here…


And here…



I’m solidly in that camp too. :slight_smile:

I do think the default panel layout(s) could be better: the dual horizontal panels in many of them are good design that has become bad design over the years as monitors have gone from tall to wide. (This is one of the few things Unity actually got right). Similiarly, anything with the window list not along the bottom, with the clock in the bottom right, is hostile to 95% of the computer-using world. Moving app buttons etc to the left margin has the added bonus of maximising that window list area. Happily, it’s easy enough to do that as a user (though the gratuitous “lock EVERY single thing on the default panels” makes it a lot more annoying than it has any reason to be. Luckily it’s not something that needs to be done more than once).

A better Compton default would also be nice. As it is now, the “unredirect fullscreen windows” default means video playback has horrible tearing. Given that 0.01% of users actually game on linux (which is the main reason for a compositor to disable itself in that scenario) and implicitly far more use VLC etc on it, that’s just the wrong way around.
Maybe a couple of config files with varying levels of Stupid Pet Tricks, selectable in MATE Tweak, would be worth doing?

But more than anything: What Tiox Said. Prettiness is very much a secondary aspect at best.


Can you please remove this stereotype from your mind? If you want Linux to be taken seriously, you need to convince the gamers that it’s as much a haven as Windows and Valve is making large efforts for that to be realized with Proton and their implementation of VKDX.


That’s a highly speculative statement at best. OS X alone makes up more than 5% of all users.


I can’t really share your opinion for following reasons:

I can’t remember to have seen a distribution where I liked the default wallpaper. In contrary, the first thing I steal from any test-run distribution are the best wallpapers, and I have my own collection of wallpapers. I recently made my own wallpaper (for a couple of weeks before I change it against a winter wallpaper).

What the icons concerned, I have hardly found a distribution where I liked all the icons. Ubuntu Mate default icons are nice and I have no problem with them.
What I definitely don’t like is the so-called “beautiful stylish” elementary OS with its childish icons . It feels like Mr Whippy is coming, can already hear him next block.

I have a gaming laptop with an awful blueish monitor profile (which makes photo-editing very hard). On my work machine, where I tested UM and other distributions last year, I found the default theme really nice and liked the green because it looked different (it has a red-based monitor).

Because I didn’t like the green on my system, I installed Numix theme and NixOS icons. I like the red (currently).

In other words, I don’t give much about what a distribution looks like but how much I can change that what I have :smirk:

A Linux distribution needs to have for me:

  • the Mate desktop with Redmond layout or a layout where I can save on the desktop and see my open documents in a Panel
  • I can use my own browser, see logo
  • I can install my own software easily (bought a Photomatix license recently)
  • I get Virtualbox
  • The Rhythmbox has got a menu where I can choose “Repeat”
  • all programs can have a menu
  • the UM team takes care that the system is updated without issues.

I come from Windows and have tested a lot of Linux distributions, I appreciate the great work that the UM team has done!


I also think that Ubuntu Mate would look much better with a more modern theme by default.

In some reviews I see one of the criticisms goes to the design. Other distros with Mate have a more beautiful design.

I really liked this theme created by @brokoli:

Anyway, the Ubuntu Mate team has done a great job!


Personally, the first thing I’ve ever done on any install of Mate is download wallpapers from Mint or Elementary and choose something more colourful and cheery.

Finding out how many do the same would be one way to gauge how unattractive people think Mate is out of the box.


I can confirm with confidence that changing the wallpaper is the first step that Linux, macOS and Windows users have in common once they have a new system. Some people change the wallpaper every fortnight.

Making a new default theme is intensive work. If you have time to do it, please share it with us.


Every single operating system is unattractive out of the box, with maybe Windows being an exception. I wouldn’t count KDE because its heavy lean on cartoonish appearance makes it less desireable as a “Professional” system unless you find a more institutionalized theme.

Everything else for open source systems looks dated af and sometimes difficult to make look good. There’s a little part of me which likes this, however because sometimes staid principles work better. I also mourn the loss of AWN, as using that for a panel made any Linux DE look slick as ice especially with the Lucido style. That was some fun stuff to mess with, and it could had been a serious contender if it were not for Unity.

DockbarX is also a great panel alternative, though there’s nothing which integrates it into a MATE panel as of present aside from some outdated pre-1.2 version which doesn’t work unless I downgrade MATE so that isn’t going to work until someone makes a modern MATE applet for it.


When it comes to looks I don’t think UM needs to change its default looks, but I think it should include some nicer themes by default, maybe make a couple of themes available from the welcome like the browser selection as well as the attempted panel layout changer, better yet from my wished for Mate initial setup, that sadly doesn’t exist :grinning:


Everybody has their own idea of the ideal MATE setup. There has to be something to ship as default, but no way is it going to appeal to everyone - that’s just the nature of the beast.

I guess the best approach might be to have a customizing guide or tutorial or something like that. Plus a few varied pre-canned themes and layouts.

But what you think is a “more beautiful and attractive” layout will not seem so to others. I don’t care what UM ships with, as long as I can change it to what I want.


@mircea Can we not equate women to computers/appliances? I’m not saying that having a preference in appearance is a bad thing but we are more than just looks and something to do things for men. Thanks :slight_smile:


They could set it up like how Vivaldi does. That browser literally walks you through basic setup, after that it basically says Look around, and have fun!


Upgrading Ubuntu Mate with better design depends of the goal of the developers: do they want more users? If they do, then yeah better design is most likely going to increase the number of users. I read a lot of marketing and design plays a very important role; it can be the deciding benefit once a product is in market maturity phase and the market is saturated with similar products, in which Ubuntu Mate belongs.

Also, pointing out the proper benefits would increase the number of users. By proper benefits I mean what a particular group of people likes and assuming that the Ubuntu Mate developers want to attract and keep these users.

To find out what most people want in a desktop OS is either to find out a secondary research(already available) and customize Ubuntu Mate or do a quantitative research using a survey or maybe data mining.

Now, I would like better design, but the existing design doesn’t dissuade me from using Ubuntu Mate. I love Ubuntu Mate and I am going to continue using it. If anyone insists on a more beautiful desktop, then he/she should contribute to that ideal. The developers have their hands full I believe.


This is entirely correct. Even the team members that are more inclined to make and improve themes have their hands full just making sure everything works.

It’s really hard to find and retain good designers (this transcends MATE too, fwiw)


The problem is that ‘better’ and ‘more beautiful’ are very subjective. People post that we need better this, and more beautiful that, and that this program be the default whatever, and so on and so forth. People talk as though there is some objective ‘more beautiful’. As long as it’s customizable, don’t sweat it.

Whatever you might think is beautiful and better will almost certainly be perceived by others as terrible. E.g., UM uses the Brisk menu by default. I find the Brisk menu to be anti-ergonomic and ugly and I really don’t like it at all. So I simply get rid of it, and put the menu I prefer on the panel. Not a big deal.

A solid, customizable MATE DE on top of a solid Ubuntu base is what is needed. If that’s not good enough, there are many, many other distros/DE’s around,


What I think that everyone does is as you have said, “I’ve replaced the Brisk menu” because ubuntu mate offers that change. There are users that don’t have the knowledge to install a new theme or an icon set, for them we need a easier way to do that inside Ubuntu Mate and we are looking at some ideas on how to do that. If anyone here has some experience on changing or creating themes and/ icons and if you have a eye for beauty (personally I don’t know what colors coexist in a harmonious way), we will need your help in the near future.


A solid teacher tells its fellows what to do, and expect the students to act upon knowledge. I like that it is customizable, I dislike the idea of people doing it for them.

Keep it ugly. If users want to change it, they have motivation. But above all else, users should be reminded that function comes first. If function takes a backseat, it leads to pretty poor design. I say this because people might jump onto a different, “Prettier” OS which might be harder to use if they go for looks first. It should work, after that they can doll it up with bells and whistles.