I lately installed Ubuntu 20.04, and according to an answer about gnome Flashback I installed ubuntu mate.

I wonder what benefits does it give, I work with it a couple of weeks and still don't see a lot of change (except of visual interface).

Can somebody please clarify the difference?

BTW, I installed Ubuntu 20.04 and then ubuntu-mate-desktop, is it correct? Or there is an independent version of ubuntu mate as an operating system?

  • It should be very obvious with older hardware - it can't handle the fancy (and performance hungry) gnome. Still - startup should still run a lot faster than using gnome (which is the default window manager for ubuntu).
    – kanehekili
    Jan 2 at 17:08
  • What do you do on this computer? Do you use only for web-browsing? Do you plan/do some programming? Do you need 4 (or more) workspaces?
    – N0rbert
    Jan 2 at 17:29
  • Good question @N0rbert. I am using it for programming, I run docker, phpstorm, git repositories, etc...
    – guyaloni
    Jan 2 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


The basics: MATE is desktop environment, Ubuntu MATE is an official Ubuntu flavor.
One can do fresh install of Ubuntu MATE using official ISO or by installing ubuntu-mate-desktop^ (task) package on top of existing system.

Then about the differences and benefits.
The complete list depends on your workflow and needs.
On my daily work in Ubuntu MATE I'm happy with following functionality:

  • Caja file manager for files and desktop:

    • have any objects inside my ~/Desktop folder, controlled by Caja (MATE file-manager, see screenshot here);
    • have fully functional drag-and-drop between any folders including ~/Desktop and MATE Panel;
    • have Dropbox, Git and Mercurial repositories integrated into Caja (see screenshot here);
    • have fully integrated Engrampa archiver to create password-protected archives;
    • have an ability to launch applications by visiting /usr/share/applications by Caja;
    • have a side pane opened by F3 in the Caja with various modes;
    • have infinite possibilities to expand Caja by scripts and actions;
    • have 400% large thumbnails.
  • MATE desktop overall:

  • 2
    I am also very happy with MATE over stock Ubuntu. Previous LXDE user but caja is far, far superior to pcmanfm. Jan 2 at 17:45
  • Does it relate to ubuntu-mate-desktop (desktop environment) or installing mate as a specific operating system? I am quite confused about it...
    – guyaloni
    Jan 2 at 18:00
  • 2
    To have MATE DE well integrated to the existing Ubuntu system one should install ubuntu-mate-desktop task package. You have already did this. On fresh install one downloads the official Ubuntu MATE ISO from ubuntu-mate.org/download .
    – N0rbert
    Jan 2 at 18:04
  • 1
    @guyaloni MATE is not an operating but a desktop environment (DE). Ubuntu MATE is a Linux distro, specifically it is a variant (a so called flavour) of the Ubuntu Linux which preinstalls the MATE DE and many other packages and configurations chosen to fit the MATE DE. Jan 3 at 9:58

@N0rbert posted a fantastic answer about the capabilities of Ubuntu MATE and its differences from Ubuntu Desktop with GNOME.

My answer has to do with the second part of your question:

I installed Ubuntu 20.04 and then ubuntu-mate-desktop, is it correct? Or there is an independent version of Ubuntu MATE as an operating system?

Yes, there is a slight difference.

Ubuntu comes in several official flavours. One of the official flavours of Ubuntu is Ubuntu MATE. These flavours are all official releases of Ubuntu that use the same repositories as Ubuntu.

The reason that Ubuntu comes in so many different flavoured releases is because changing a desktop environment on an installed system tends to be very messy. A desktop environment usually consists of dozens of packages, all with different configs that may not play nicely with a different desktop environment. Changing a DE on an installed system may or may not cause problems.

If you know that you want to use the MATE desktop environment from the beginning, then you should probably not install Ubuntu desktop and then install the MATE desktop from your package manager. Instead, you can simply install Ubuntu MATE by using the Ubuntu MATE ISO to install the operating system.

  • 5
    However, if you install stock Ubuntu, then the MATE desktop, your system is supported for longer than if you install the flavor. Jan 2 at 20:44
  • And, in addition to the special caveat mentioned by @OrganicMarble, Ubuntu is actually one of the easiest distros to reliably change your desktop environment on. You just install the task package for the DE you want, reboot, and uninstall the one for the DE you had been using, and you’re done. Jan 3 at 13:35
  • @OrganicMarble Should not (Regular Ubuntu + MATE desktop) and Ubuntu-MATE receive the same upgrades, as they are using the same repositories? Jan 5 at 12:49
  • @ArchismanPanigrahi sure but the flavour LTSs are officially supported for 3 years. Regular Ubuntu LTS is officially supported for 5. Jan 5 at 13:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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