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MATE is a desktop that maps the classical GNOME 2 environment on a modern base. Like GNOME, it relies upon GTK+3.


Viviane Schwarz tells us how she utilizes Mate for her daily creative work ⁽¹⁾. A brief overview on MATE with some core apps included is located here. From there you can have a look around and dive into it ⁽²⁾. The components and core apps are entirely accessible in a GitHub repo ⁽³⁾. It has its origin in dissatisfaction with the further development of the GNOME desktop. With success ⁽⁴⁾.

  1. Blog: uses this → »Writer, illustrator, creator«
    Date: 2016-06-23 | Interview: Viviane Schwarz
  2. MATE → »MATE Desktop Environment«
  3. GitHub: »MATE Desktop Environment«
  4. Phoronix → »A Fork Of GNOME 2: The Mate Desktop«Date: 2011-08-17 | Author: Michael Larabel


Primarily we will view at the component that could be replaced if required: the window manager Marco. There is also a short brief view on the MATE panel.

Window manager Marco and Compiz

At this point we have to differentiate between a window manager and a compositing window manager – also referred to as compositor. We will look first at the definition of a window manager ⁽¹⁾.

The window manager from MATE is Marco by default ⁽²⁾. As we will see soon, some distributions replace this one. Let's look at the definition of a compositor as distinction ⁽³⁾.

Associated therewith we take a look at the Compiz window manager, which one is in accordance with this definition ⁽⁴⁾.

The distribution Fedora releases a spin-off with MATE, which is combined with the Compiz window manager. Therewith we can see first time a replaced component for window management ⁽⁵⁾.

Furthermore, Marco is not deployed as Wayland compositor, but serves solely as pure window manager. MATE is designed for the display server X11. It is conceivable that Mir could be used as compositor replacing Marco. How this is meant to be, can be read here ⁽⁶⁾. An exchange of thoughts at Google+, with participation of some developers, explains their ambitions ⁽⁷⁾.

  1. Wikipedia: »Window manager«
  2. GitHub: mate-desktop/marco → »MATE default window manager«
  3. Wikipedia: »Compositing window manager«
  4. Compiz → Website
  5. Fedora: Spins → »MATE-Compiz«
  6. OMG! Ubuntu: News → »Mir Might Live on as a Wayland Compositor for the MATE Desktop«
    Date: 2017-06-27 | Author: Joey Snedden
  7. Google+ → »MATE Desktop​ developers have been talking to Mir developers about how Mir can be used as a Wayland compositor«
    Posted: 2017-06-27 | Author: Martin Wimpress


The panel is a separate component of the MATE desktop ⁽¹⁾ ⁽²⁾. This is in opposite to the integrated panel within the GNOME Shell.

  1. GitHub: mate-desktop/mate-panel → »MATE panel«
  2. Linux Man Pages → »mate-panel (1)«

Issues and workarounds

The documentation is the first point of contact ⁽¹⁾. The relation between MATE and Wayland is explained at this point ⁽²⁾. The mapping from applications to their GNOME 2 predecessors can be important as reference, if you are still acquainted with their naming ⁽³⁾.

  1. MATE: Wiki → »Documentation«
  2. MATE: Wiki → »Wayland«
  3. MATE: Wiki → »Applications«

Linux distributions and Unix-like systems

The release of Linux Mint 12 was not only the starting date for MATE, but also the slowly moving start of the desktop environment Cinnamon – even if this was a pure extension of the GNOME desktop at this point in time ⁽¹⁾. GhostBSD uses the MATE desktop as default for quite some time ⁽²⁾. OpenIndiana as a clean UNIX system has taken its time till moving from GNOME 2 to MATE ⁽³⁾.

  1. Linux Mint → »New Features Linux Mint 12«
    Date: 2011-11-26
  2. GhostBSD → Webside
  3. OpenSourceFeed → OpenIndiana → ReleaseNews → »Illumos based OpenIndiana MATE 2016.08.16 released«
    Date: 2016-08-18


General installation instructions for various distributions and Unix systems can be found in the MATE wiki ⁽¹⁾. As a basic principle, it is advisable to collate the associated procedures with the documentation of the used system. The wiki of Arch Linux is the Swiss army knife, when it comes to questions concerning set-up and configuration ⁽²⁾. Fedora provides, next to the preconfigured spin-off, the subsequent installation of the MATE desktop and outlines this in a separate article ⁽³⁾.

  1. MATE: Wiki → »Install«
  2. Arch Linux: Wiki → »MATE«
  3. Fedora: Magazine → »Installing the MATE Desktop«
    Date: 2016-03-16 | Author: Sylvia Sánchez

Integrated tiling functionality

The tiling functionality of the window manager will be briefly explained in this article, Next to the horizontal or vertical split of the screen even four windows can be tiled. As the functionality has been implemented in the in-house window manager, it is closely interlinked with the desktop environment. Thereby it covers not the full scope of functions of a tiling window manager ⁽¹⁾.

  1. OMG! Ubuntu: News → »Quarter Window Tiling Support added to the MATE Desktop«
    Date: 2018-02-07 | Author: Joe Sneddon

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