📅 November 13, 2014
Those with fond memories of the simplicity offered by GNOME 2 during the Ubuntu 10.10 glory days should feel somewhat comfortable with the MATE desktop environment. There is much to like about GNOME 2 before Ubuntu switched to Unity and GNOME 3, and MATE attempts to preserve the traditional GNOME 2 experience on today’s Linux distributions.
While MATE can be installed separately in practically any Linux distribution, Ubuntu MATE is an Ubuntu distribution that offers MATE out of the box.
With 14.10 now available, I tried Ubuntu MATE 14.10 in VirtualBox to see how it would perform. How does it install? What does it look like? Here are a few thoughts.
Ubuntu MATE 14.10 installed in VirtualBox 4.3.18 perfectly. No problems detected. The installation process is the same familiar Ubuntu installation with a few modifications for MATE, so everything is easy. Ubuntu-based distributions have to be the easiest and most pain-free operating systems to install and use, and Ubuntu MATE retains that simplicity.
VirtualBox Guest Additions
Like every other operating system, Ubuntu MATE requires the VirtualBox Guest Additions in order to be fully functional. Ubuntu MATE runs fine as-is, but those who have used VirtualBox know that any virtual machine is practically useless without the guest additions. However, this is where I encountered problems.
I tried to install them as usual, but they refused to install due to two errors:
1) GCC not installed
2) Linux headers not found
Ubuntu MATE 14.10 installs with Linux kernel 3.16.0-23, but not headers. After installing Synaptic, I verified that this was the problem. So, I manually installed the latest stable kernel (3.16.7) with dpkg, rebooted the virtual machine, and then installed GCC from Synaptic.
Problem solved. Now, the VirtualBox Linux Guest Additions installed. After another reboot, I could resize the virtual desktop and perform other virtual features that are only possible with the guest additions.
Fast? Slow? Somewhere in-between? From my everyday usage in a virtual machine, Ubuntu MATE performs just like Ubuntu. MATE menus were fast and snappy, and it felt usable in its entirety. MATE might seem to have a few rough edges compared with the newer polish of GNOME 3 and Cinnamon, but this is due to the traditional look and feel of MATE rather than design flaws.
In short, Ubuntu MATE running in VirtualBox is completely usable. I encountered no stutters, slowdown, system crashes, or error report notifications. Occasionally, a few distributions might present problems or quirks when running inside VirtualBox, but not Ubuntu MATE. It ran well, and I was pleased to see the traditional GNOME 2 GUI.
Like MATE? Try Ubuntu MATE, mate! Users nostalgic for GNOME 2 will no doubt enjoy it, and those who find GNOME 3 too abstract might discover a new friend. It runs smoothly in VirtualBox 4.3.18 once the guest additions have been installed, so give it a try in a virtual machine before committing it to real hardware.
Ubuntu and its derivatives become progressively easier to install and use with each new release, and Ubuntu MATE proves this true again. “Why another Ubuntu-based distribution?” you might ask? One of the benefits of Linux is that it offers a sparkling selection of choices, and Ubuntu MATE is another choice available from the Linux distribution buffet.