Ubuntu Mate vs Linux Mint Mate

I wonder why Ubuntu Mate is much slower than Linux Mint Mate, which is derived from Ubuntu. I have an Acer D270 (modest processor, 2GB of ram) which goes very slow with Ubuntu Mate, while with Mint it goes pretty well. What is the reason for this difference? Is there any way to speed up Ubuntu Mate?

I don't have an answer for you, but I am curious the versions of the two builds?

Ubuntu Mate 21.04, Linux Mint Mate Uma (20.2, I think)

Hello Carlo

To begin with I would take a look at the default packages, then which daemons are running (in the background - mate system monitor). I imagine "Evolution" might be a part of the answer you are looking for. :slightly_smiling_face:

No, I don't have Evolution. I installed the two distros without other apps and Mint is faster than Ubuntu, but I don't know the reason why

How about Snaps? or Flatpaks? Linux Mint does not include Snap.

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I'm not familiar with these management systems, but the idea seems good to me. It's pretty frustrating for me to find software you need that, however, is missing a dependency and you can't install it.

I do not notice such a phenomenon.

I would like to ask how you conducted your speed assessment.

"Feels" and performance are not always interchangeable.

What aspects are slow in Ubuntu? Boot time? Opening GUI software? Executing terminal commands?

Is there a significant resource consumption difference?

One thing which might make Ubuntu MATE feel a little unresponsive out of the box, for me, is that the menu categories "switch on hover" option is set to a minor delay. Setting it to 0 makes the menu feel much more snappy.


I watch a Linux channel on Youtube and he talks about this very thing, just not with specific versions of DEs along with a distro. They each have different characteristics based on applications that get loaded along with the DE.

The general point is, as different variants get more modern, they use more memory. Then you try to load some other application and with old hardware with only 2GB of memory you're going to hit a wall pretty quickly with different distros.

As Linux variants becomes more user friendly, it's going to use more memory. I don't have the version of Ubuntu MATE you're running or I'd look at memory usage, and then see what it is I'm trying to run on top of that. I know that 2GB is not very much memory, even for a modern Linux distro and you're likely to do some paging depending on what apps you're running.

So, if you don't have the time to figure out what's causing the problem for you, maybe it's best to stick with something that will run well on the hardware you have, as in the future it's more likely that more and more distros will give you the same issue with older hardware with only 2GB of memory. While Linux is known to work better on older system than something like modern Windows (Win10, 11), there's no guarantee that it will stay that way. In today's standards, a CPU that would be in an Acer D270 would hardly be a modest processor. It would be at the low end if you are capable of running benchmarks on it and compare it to today's PCs, including today's laptops which are WORLDS faster than a 2011-2012 laptop.


wnck-applet has had an atrocious memory leak in it for a while. It has been partially fixed in 21.04 but a slower leak still exists. Perhaps Mint shipped a complete fix.

I kill that applet once in a while to free up memory, not a big deal on 16GB, probably is with 2GB.

Look at running daemons and startup items as well. Eliminate anything not necessary, they load lots of useless ones by default. :-/

Going back to the topic, I've been getting the impression (maybe it's completely wrong) that the Mint team puts more effort in maintaining the Distro as a self-consistent system. On the other side, UM seems to me a like a cluster of components which are maintained by different people. This impression might be due to the lack of a blog similar to the "Monthly News" of the Mint makers.

I agree with you. I prefer Ubuntu Mate but maybe there are too many people working alongside it and this makes it lose cohesion, so each component is not as integrated as it happens in Mint

Personally, until I can find the real memory leak, I just disable window preview thumbnails. I don't like them anyway, and I usually can't have them since I don't use a compositing window manager most of the time.

(By the way, if anybody wants to disable them, right-click on the little "grip" to the side of the window list applet and choose Preferences in the menu that pops up. In the dialog that pops up, click Hide thumbnails on hover. Oh yeah, and then close that dialog!)


Wow, where have you been for the last several years? :wink:

You mean nobody uses a non-compositing window manager anymore (at least according to your joke)?

Hi @gordon ,

For a while I have a script running that logs and restarts mate-panel if wnck-applet crashes (idem for screensaver).

wo 15 sep 2021 11:20:22 CEST
2012291 ? 00:00:19 wnck-applet
3682627 ? 00:00:00 mate-screensave

screensaver died at 2021-09-12 19:49
screensaver died at 2021-09-14 10:54
screensaver died at 2021-09-15 06:36
wnck-applet died at 2021-09-10 18:05
wnck-applet died at 2021-09-11 02:23
wnck-applet died at 2021-09-11 02:26
wnck-applet died at 2021-09-11 15:25
wnck-applet died at 2021-09-11 16:00
wnck-applet died at 2021-09-11 21:57
wnck-applet died at 2021-09-12 19:49


When I applied your tip of 'Hide thumbnails on hover', wnck-applet stopped crashing (note the date on top and the last "wnck-applet died" entry)
so it really worked, but I wonder why.

I persume the wnck-applet is a child of mate-panel and a kind of host for panel-applets (if it crashes, all applets disappear except mate-panel).

I persume that 'Hide thumbnails on hover' does work at this moment to prevent wnck-applet from crashing but that also implies that every applet (now or in the future) could potentially crash wnck-applet in the same way.
Is this correct or am I missing something ?

@carlo , The Acer D270 uses a Intel Atom N2600 CPU which has a Proprietary Closed Source GPU on board": . The PowerVR SGX545 named Graphics Media Accelerator 3600.

It could be that MINT installs the proprietary driver directly and ubuntu installs only the reverse engineered stub that only has the basic functions.
This could be the reason why ubuntu-MATE is slower on your netbook than MINT.

If you want to know for sure you could compare the list of loaded modules (lsmod) to check if this is correct.

Thank you so much! I will try as soon as possible

Here's a little background information on how panel applets work.

The way Ubuntu MATE is built (right now -- this may change someday, as I'll explain above), most applets are built as separate programs from the panel itself. The clock, depending on the version of Ubuntu MATE and the panel layout, might be drawn by a program / process called clock-applet. Usually, one program handles one applet or type of applet at a time.

The wnck-applet is different. If you're curious what the "WNCK" (pronounced "wink") stands for, it means Window Network Construction Kit. This applet uses a library which is called libwnck and stands for the same thing: libwnck (the library) is a convenient group of functions which help programmers write applications which operate on windows. Window lists, workspace switchers, even some window managers make use of the library.

Well, there are several applets in a group which all use libwnck for one purpose or another: the "Show Desktop" button, the Window List, the Window Menu (you may not recognize this one), and the Workspace Switcher. Well, at one time in ye olden days when things were not better, people didn't use to have oodles of main system RAM that they could waste on inefficient programs, like we can today. :wink: So actually, all four of the above applets use some (hacky) measures to ensure that they are all managed by one process; this measure saves some RAM, since you don't need several copies of basically the same code loaded into RAM at once. (Did you notice that there isn't a window-list-applet, workspace-switcher-applet, etc. on your process list? That's why.)

So actually, chances are, when wnck-applet crashed, it didn't actually bring down all the applets on the panels (unless I'm mistaken); it just took down those three (or four) applets which are all managed by wnck-applet. In the default panel layout, that either takes out all the applets on your bottom panel or it takes out everything but the little "Trash" icon in the right-hand corner.

I just wanted to straighten that out.

As for why the applet crashes, I don't know if you're anything like me, but I rarely use a compositing window manager. * See note below. IMHO, they're usually big, bulky, slow, and they get in the way of what I actually want to use my computer for. (And I don't care about translucent windows!) The wnck-applet relies on the compositing window manager to inform the applet about the exact contents of windows. When there is no compositing window manager, the applet (or actually libwnck) falls back to an alternative, very unfavorable way to get window contents, which usually doesn't work in actual practice. I also get the impression that the libwnck code in that regard is written rather sloppily and makes too many assumptions; so sometimes, I've noticed that if you get "lucky", the wnck-applet will try to use a thumbnail which doesn't actually exist (because compositing is turned off), and that will therefore crash the applet.

I've also noticed that there seems to have once been a memory leak in the wnck-applet regarding the window thumbnails; in other words, the applet allocates memory for the thumbnails but doesn't free it when it's done with the memory. This can build up and eventually, can crash the applet just as well on a low-memory system (or one with big windows).

Notice how I've used the word historically a lot? That's because I don't use these features, so I've only had experience with them when I nuke my panel configuration and have to set everything up all over again. So in other words, I don't know if these bugs even exist anymore, and I don't want the MATE Team breathing down my neck over a technicality of what I said.

* A compositing window manager is a special kind of window manager which not only decorates windows, but requests the graphics system (the "X server") to hand over all drawing operations to the window manager, instead of letting the X server handle them itself like it normally would. By handling all graphics drawing operations, the window manager can create its own "composite" image of the window, and can then apply special effects such as translucency, animations and even 3D distortions to the windows and their contents. Because the window manager already has a composite image of the window for its own purposes, an external program can request the composite from the window manager and see the contents of any window at any time, even if the window is currently invisible or minimized. (For efficiency, the X server doesn't keep track of window operations affecting portions of a window which are invisible; taking a screenshot of a minimized window, for example, will therefore result in a totally black screenshot.)

I struck again with one of my diatribes, but I hope it was informative nonetheless.

(Off-topic: Maybe I should start a blog so that I don't bore everybody with ten pages of diatribe every time they have a question?)

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