Why Ubuntu Mate but not Xubuntu?

Xubuntu is

  • lighter (a little) on resources,
  • GUI is minimalistic but functional enough,
  • default applications are convenient and swift.

So why community proposing Ubuntu Mate ?

I can think of two main reasons.

The XFCE menu is a mess in terms of the capacity to edit it. The only editor that remotely works on it is Menibre. But, that is as buggy as hell.

Setting up themes is a fairly singular and simple affair in UM. In XFCE, there are several GUI’s that have to be managed to theme the entire system. To that extent it is a bit reminiscent of setting up themes in LXDE.

Finally, in most other respects, UM is just more polished than Xubuntu, in my opinion.

However, the above being said, if you are someone who is not wanting to mess about with themes or edit the menu and you have a machine where every bit of CPU and RAM counts, then XFCE is indeed slightly lighter.

But, even that slight advantage vanishes into background noise, in terms of resource consumption, as soon as you open an application. In other words, in comparison to the relatively modest resource requirements of the desktop, applications are now so resource hungry, they dwarf the resources being used by the desktop such that small differences in resource consumption between desktops, when applications are running, are increasingly irrelevant.

Menu ? Do you mean whishker menu ? There search field - I just type what I want there and there it is.
About mess: UM’s menus was looking for me as a dumpster: you can go into some places several ways and in general there too much of stuff.

Don’t got it: “several GUI’s that have to be managed to theme the entire system” ?
But there no necessary to change theme in Xubuntu - it well thought out because you don’t feel it.

Whether or not UM’s default menu looks to be a mess is a matter of taste and is slightly besides the point I was making. That is to say, you can easily edit the menu to to your liking. However, if you don;t like the way that XFCE organizes the menu, then that’s just tough because it is not easily editable

Could you tell more about “more polished in general” ?

Not really, because that is a matter of taste. Which is why I did not include it in the two main reasons I cited, but merely added it at the end. However, I do consider it possible to objectively note that themes and menus are much harder to edit in Xubuntu than in UM.

So, in essense: more adjustable and polished UI.

Objectively, more easily adjustable

Subjectively, more polished

However, the adjustability issue is only a problem if one is inclined to make a lot of adjustments.

I am so inclined, particularly in relation to menus, and so, for me, it is a problem.


Ok, got it, thank you.

MATE was created in reaction to the lack of appeal of GNOME 3 for a lot of people (and Unity wasn’t really more successful). They liked the old GNOME (2), so a straight copy was made. It’s as simple as that.

Now, if you want to compare MATE and XFCE, I personally have a few issues with the latter that annoy me so I prefer MATE. It’s a bit subjective and kind of details:

  • XFCE prefs are a mess: too many settings are spread (like the point @stevecook172001 raised with the Appearance settings: on XFCE, you have one software tp set the widgets and icons theme but you have to go in a completely separate app to select the window manager − windows titlebar− one);
  • I don’t like the Whisker menu;
  • The biggest issue for me: Thunar doesn’t have an option to quickly share a folder on the network (there was an unofficial plugin a few years ago but it was never added as default and is broken now).

There might be other issues that I don’t remember but it’s that kind of details that make a desktop environment feel more polished. MATE is far from perfect, though, other DEs like GNOME 3 or KDE are more polished but they have their own issues.


As to Xubuntu vs UM in terms of resources, UM does not claim nor attempt to be a lightweight distro, whereas Xubuntu traditionally is. So the argument of “why not Xubuntu” can be made of GNOME, KDE, MATE, etc just as well. Being lightweight is not one of UM’s goals.

I personally find XFCE a really nice and clean DE - and I even enjoy looking at parts of its code (and have actually used some of their code in MATE), but I still prefer Ubuntu MATE in terms of how uniform and cohesive it feels. Like @stevecook172001 said, it feels more polished :slight_smile:


What!? Heresy! :wink:


Well, give me color management and a GUI to configure a (Wacom) tablet and I’ll review my opinion. :wink:


I don’t understand the question.

I meant: why create this flavor (or why to use) if there Xubuntu ?

Because Ubuntu-Mate is the best Ubuntu. Ubuntu was always at its best when it came with the Gnome (2.x) desktop. All Ubuntu-Mate does is restore a working desktop using the ported Gnome 2.x environment which has been renamed Mate.

I know that some people came into Ubuntu when they switched to the netbook remix (which became ‘Unity’ when Canonical decided to reuse the code) and that Xubuntu, Kubuntu, and Lubuntu are options that people like for various reasons. Ubuntu-Mate isn’t technically one of them even though it maintains and follows the flavor guidelines. Ubuntu-Mate is simply Ubuntu, the way it originally was and how it originally drew people to use the distro.


Hi R_S,

I think (apart from the answers above) that it is down to each persons personal preference, I like the UM interface being a long time user of the old Gnome traditional look, if you want to use Xubuntu, more power to you, the same goes for Ubuntu and Kubuntu and the newer Budgie variant, each DE has it’s pros and cons.

I for one am happy with Ubuntu Mate and don’t really see why you even posted such a question on a Mate forum as we are all Mate fanboys/girls!. :smiley:

The devs have done an excellent job of making it simply work OTB, of course there will be bugs, there always are, regardless of which OS you choose, Windblows, Crapple or any Linux variant!. :smiley:


I just wanted to understand philosophy of this community.

1 Like

Hi R_S,

I didn’t mean to be offensive, if I was, I am sorry, the philosophy of this community is basically the same on every other OS forum, each one has its Fanboys/girls and people are simply on this forum either to help or learn, simple as that really, I have learnt from others here and in other forums, each person has a different need on how their OS looks, I prefer UM but that is not to say that Xubuntu is bad because it isn’t!. :smiley:

1 Like

Personally, I like Xubuntu a little bit better. Not saying that UM is bad or anything, but Xubuntu just fits my personal preference of working and configuring things better. Functionally, they are both pretty similar.

One thing that might be considered on a technical level is HiDPI. Now, I only have regular-DPI screens so I can’t test it, but I’ve read that since parts of XFCE are still based on GTK2, HiDPI in that environment is problematic. So you might want to give MATE a go if you have such a display.