Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

For a while I departed from Ubuntu to use Linux Mint because I really don't like Unity, or Gnome 3's most recent interface.

I was fine with what was called "Gnome Classic", but I feared it was being neglected because there were some significant bugs that lingered without improvement for a while.

Unfortunately, while I like the MATE interface in Linux Mint, Mint itself lacks the level of community support that Ubuntu has. Mint has development and support issues. Not to disparage their efforts, I think they've done great work, but it's tough making a UI, and unfortunately it's just not working for me.

I'm thinking of returning to Ubuntu with the 14.04 release, but not if it means using Unity. I have looked into the current situation, and I'm a little confused about the terms being thrown around. I have seen referens to "fallback", "flashback", and "classic", without any clear idea of which is available and what they offer.

Is there still an option to get an interface that resembles the way Gnome used to look?

Can I get an interface that looks like what I have with Mint, but with the support and features of Ubuntu? Can I get something close to that?

share|improve this question
It's still available in the final beta version so I would be very surprised if it gets removed in the final release. – Warren Hill Mar 31 '14 at 7:57
up vote 9 down vote accepted

MATE is a lightweight desktop environment that uses the traditional panel desktop layout used in pre-Unity Ubuntu. The MATE desktop environment can be configured to have either one or two panels.

For more information about the MATE desktop environment visit the official MATE website MATE 1.8 Screenshot Tour or the Ubuntu MATE screenshot tour.

From the official MATE wiki.

How to install MATE in Ubuntu 14.04

Open the terminal, and complete the following steps to enable the appropriate PPAs and install MATE 1.8.1 on Ubuntu 14.04.

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/ppa
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/trusty-mate
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends ubuntu-mate-core ubuntu-mate-desktop

Instead of lightdm use lightdm-gtk-greeter for the login display manager as recommended by the MATE team:

sudo apt-get install lightdm-gtk-greeter  
sudo reboot  

How to install MATE in Ubuntu 14.10 and newer

sudo apt-get update

To install MATE choose 1 of the 3 apt-get lines below.

  1. This will install the base packages required for a minimal MATE desktop.

    sudo apt-get install mate-desktop-environment-core
  2. This will install the complete MATE desktop.

    sudo apt-get install mate-desktop-environment
  3. This will install the complete MATE desktop including a few extras.

    sudo apt-get install mate-desktop-environment-extras

Ubuntu MATE

Alternatively you may choose to install the official Ubuntu MATE release in 15.04 and beyond.

Ubuntu MATE is a more comprehensive option that offers a slightly tweaked layout, configuration, and themes to integrate into Ubuntu in a more seamless fashion. This will install the complete MATE desktop environment as well as LightDM and numerous other applications to provide a full and well rounded desktop.

share|improve this answer
Wait... I can use Ubuntu and keep MATE? Seems almost too good to be true... :) – Questioner Mar 31 '14 at 8:56
@DaveMG You always could, ;) – Seth Mar 31 '14 at 17:10
@Seth, had I known that... oh well. Live and learn. :) – Questioner Apr 1 '14 at 2:50
lightdm-gtk-greeter (simple login display manager) is recommended for the login display manager by the MATE team. To install lightdm-gtk-greeter from the terminal run sudo apt-get install lightdm-gtk-greeter && sudo shutdown -r now. – karel Apr 18 '14 at 5:06
@EliahKagan I'm on thin ice if I say one package is better than the other one, apart from saying what I already said which is that mate-desktop-environment-extra will install the complete MATE desktop including a few extras... but I like extras. – karel Apr 25 '15 at 19:59

Well, in these cases I always recommend Xfce. Many users don't realize that Xfce is flexible enough to allow them to easily emulate the "Gnome Classic" look&feel of the desktop interface (unlike LXDE, for example), by setting up the panels as in the old days. And they can also run all individual Gnome programs (like Nautilus, Evince, etc.) within Xfce.

See also:

share|improve this answer
I think Xfce is a fine distribution, but where it falls down for me is that, as far as I know, it aspires for efficiency at the expense of features. What I really want is a feature rich environment, but with a certain look and feel, and Xfce only provides one of those. – Questioner Apr 1 '14 at 2:54
Well, what do you mean by "feature rich"? As a core Desktop Environment, IMO the flexible Xfce is much more feature rich than the rigid Gnome2 ever was. As an extended collection of applications, Xfce is nominally worse equipped than Gnome2, which is no big deal: you can straightforwardly use most Gnome2 applications right within Xfce without a hitch (Evince, File Roller, Gparted, or what have you). So what kind of features exactly is Xfce lacking in your experience? – landroni Apr 1 '14 at 4:02

you can also install unity and use classic menus in it. classic menu creates the same type of applications menu as in gnome 2 but the only problem is that it appears to the right with the time and system tray.

share|improve this answer
how do you use classic menus? – endolith Oct 21 '15 at 0:56

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.