Tested: MATE-core on Ubuntu 15.10 with Unity


Unless you're installing a spin or variant of Ubuntu with a different default desktop environment, the mainstream release of Ubuntu isn't the best for low-powered hardware or at least hardware without hardware acceleration. The divisive Unity desktop isn't recommended for small screens either, particularly now that Unity 2D has been removed as an option.

There are dozens of distributions based off of Ubuntu and you can certainly install any of them if you prefer a different desktop environment. Moreover, Ubuntu has official releases such as Lubuntu and Xubuntu that addresses the needs of users who dislike the Unity DE and additions such as integration with Amazon.

 
 

Installing MATE on a stock Ubuntu 15.10 installation is a good choice for hardware that struggles with Ubuntu Unity's desktop effects and UI.

As with all Linux distributions, however, you can always install a desktop environment as an option alongside the Unity desktop. This is especially useful for enterprise environments or in educational institutions where network administrators install Ubuntu 15.10 with Unity as default.

 


After installing MATE on Ubuntu 15.10, you'd have to do a few minor changes like adding the Network icon on the default top Panel.


The core set of applications and packages included with LXDE and Xfce are minimal and unlike Gnome 3 or KDE4.x, don't mess with Ubuntu 15.10's already conservative number of applications and software packages. On the other hand, MATE, a throwback to Gnome 2, has an even smaller set of software packages than LXDE and Xfce.

 
 

MATE Control Center


MATE development has been steady and the desktop environment doesn't have the same goals as the ambitious and well-received Cinnamon desktop. If you install the mate-core software package on Ubuntu 15.10 with Unity, you will lose very little of 15.10's integrity. You're pretty much free from issues you normally might encounter when running LXDE, Xfce, KDE and Gnome3 or a custom desktop (such as Deepin and Elementary) alongside Unity.

 
 

The mate-core package installs the basic software packages for a MATE desktop environment.


Installing mate-core on Ubuntu 15.10 with the Unity desktop, however, doesn't address Ubuntu's use of hardware acceleration. There is still a visible lag when using the desktop if you're working on earlier Atom or Celeron processors even when you've switched to MATE on boot. However, it's a huge improvement over using Unity on slower hardware.

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