Ubuntu MATE is a stable, easy-to-use operating system with a configurable desktop environment. It is ideal for those who want the most out of their computers and prefer a traditional desktop metaphor. With modest hardware requirements, it is suitable for modern workstations, single board computers and older hardware alike. Ubuntu MATE makes modern computers fast and older computers still usable.
Ubuntu MATE 17.04 release focuses on refining the distro bringing further improvements, refinements, and several important updates. The MATE Desktop updated to version 1.18.0 which completes the transition to GTK3+. Several MATE Desktop 1.18 components have been upgraded such as the MATE artwork, Brisk Menu, Settings, Caja, Themes and so much more.
Before you download, the minimum requirements for Ubuntu 17.04 MATE are Pentium M 1.0 gigahertz, 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM and 9 gigabytes (GB) of available space on the hard disk. It is available in both 64-bit for modern PCs with 3GB of RAM or more and 32-bit architectures for older PCs and those with 2GB of RAM or less. You can grab Ubuntu MATE 17.04 from here.
After download, you can go ahead and write the ISO image to a disc or a USB. The Ubuntu MATE .iso image allows you to try Ubuntu MATE without changing your computer at all with an option to install it permanently later. You may opt to directly install Ubuntu MATE from here, but I recommend the live mode to make sure everything works before you go ahead to install. If you choose to install, the process is pretty straightforward and typical of all Ubuntu distros.
On boot up, you will be presented with the Ubuntu MATE 17.04 welcome screen which seeks to introduce you to the desktop.
The MATE Desktop is a continuation of the GNOME2 desktop, which was the default desktop environment on many Linux and Ubuntu before the switch to Unity. This means that it keeps to the traditional desktop approach akin to Windows 7 and Cinnamon. The heart of the Ubuntu MATE is the MATE desktop environment.
The desktop is pretty clean with 2 panels, one at the top and the other at the bottom. The top panel houses the Applications launcher and some few quick launch icons on the far left. On the far right is the system tray. You can find the network icon, date and time indicator, volume and the power icons. The bottom panel houses your virtual workspaces (4 by default) on the right and the show desktop icon on the left. Running applications are also indicated on the bottom panel. The MATE desktop environment feels very smooth and responsive but your mileage will vary depending on your hardware. If I were to guess, I would say it lies somewhere in between light DEs such as LXDE and XFCE on the lower end and KDE, Unity, and Cinnamon on the upper end.
Like most Linux distros, Ubuntu MATE 17.04 allows for customizations and tweaking. It does this in 2 main ways.
Ubuntu MATE 17.04 allows you to change your desktop to look like other desktops. You can have Redmond (Windows), Cupertino (macOS), GNOME2, Mutiny (Unity), Fedora, Pantheon, and Netbook tailored looks by navigating to > System > Preferences > Look and Feel > MATE Tweak. These transformations will tweak things like the number of panels and their locations, the addition of a dock and so much more. All this is done without you having to install new packages. You can even take things up a notch and customize your very own look and feel and then saving the result.
And much like other desktops, you can also customize Ubuntu MATE with the use of themes. By default, themes such as Ambient-MATE (and a dark variant), Black MATE, Menta, BlueMenta, Blue/Green Submarine and others are provided so you can easily change the appearance of your desktop. You can also customize things such as the Window borders, the controls, icons and pointer. You may add more themes online to switch things up.
Ubuntu MATE comes with a collection of additional applications to turn your computer into a truly powerful. You have productivity apps such as Firefox, Thunderbird, and LibreOffice. Entertainment apps such as Rhythmbox, Synapse, Shotwell, and VLC out of the box. Other notable applications include Brasero, Eye of MATE image viewer and scanner, a backup application and Transmission BitTorrent client. The Software Boutique includes thousands of applications that you can choose from.
You also get the MATE tweak tool and the MATE control center where you can configure everything from hardware, themes, default applications and more.
Ubuntu MATE comes preinstalled with VLC so all your audio and video formats are ready to be played out of the box. On the other hand, Rhythmbox will require the installation of extra packages before it can play MP3 files.
Ubuntu MATE 17.04 provides an intuitive and attractive desktop environment which will be quite familiar regardless of which operating system you are coming from. The MATE Desktop is tried, tested and quite reliable. Although Ubuntu MATE is best described as traditional, you can appreciate the modernity and craftiness that comes with the latest iteration. It is perfect for new users and lovers of GNOME2 will very much appreciate this. The experience is quite positive and I am very happy with this flavor of Ubuntu. Ubuntu MATE is a new personal favorite
Mohd Sohail is a web developer and a Linux sysAdmin. He also loves to write how-to articles, applications reviews and loves to use new Linux distributions.