Install MATE Desktop on Ubuntu 21.10

For those not familiar with MATE Desktop Environment, it continues GNOME 2. It is famous for being lightweight, fast, and stable that runs on Linux and most BSD operating systems. MATE is also an excellent choice for a lower-end system or those looking to remain efficient on system resources. Also, a dedicated Ubuntu MATE edition exists for this desktop environment, enticing users to switch from Ubuntu altogether.

In Ubuntu 21.10 Impish Indri, MATE desktop 1.26 is the default version that brings Wayland support extension, which reaches applications in the environment such as ATRIL, System Monitor, Pluma Text Editor, and Terminal Emulator amongst the top changes. For a complete list of changes, visit the changelog wiki.

In the following tutorial, you will have learned how to install MATE Desktop 1.26 on your Ubuntu 21.10 operating system.


  • Recommended OS: Ubuntu 21.10
  • User account: A user account with sudo or root access.
  • Internet Access.

The tutorial will utilize the terminal interface, which can be found in the show applications menu.


Install MATE Desktop 1.26 on Ubuntu 21.10

Update Operating System

Update your Ubuntu operating system to make sure all existing packages are up to date:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

The tutorial will be using the sudo command and assuming you have sudo status.

To verify sudo status on your account:

sudo whoami

Example output showing sudo status:

[joshua@ubuntu ~]$ sudo whoami

To set up an existing or new sudo account, visit our tutorial on How to Add a User to Sudoers on Ubuntu.

Use the following command with the root password to log in to use the root account. For users that have sudo access, it can be skipped.


Important Notice Before Installation

For new users to Linux and novice users, before installing the desktop environment, create backups or plans if you do not like it and want to roll back. Removing any Desktop Environment is challenging and will lead to system instabilities, and there are typically always remnant applications to remove, among other things.

Unless you have minimal system resources, having multiple desktop environments will not hinder your system. Often people have several and switch between, and it is advised to keep all the alternative desktop environments you install or reformat your system altogether.

Do not install the following desktop environment on your PC if this sounds too difficult or risky.

Install MATE Desktop Environment

By default, MATE comes in all Ubuntu repositories, making the installation relatively easy.

To install MATE, open your terminal and type the following command:

sudo apt install ubuntu-mate-desktop

Note, using (CTRL+ALT+T) will on your keyboard instantly open a terminal instance on Ubuntu.

Example output:

How to Install MATE Desktop 1.26 on Ubuntu 21.10 Impish Indri

Type Y, then press the ENTER KEY to proceed with installing the MATE Desktop.

The installation has many packages to download and install so that the time will vary on system hardware and especially internet connection. Overall, the downloadable size is roughly 700MB, and the extent required afterward in disk space is around 2.6GB.

During the installation, you will see the following prompt window.


How to Install MATE Desktop 1.26 on Ubuntu 21.10 Impish Indri

As the above output has stated, this message informs you about which display manager to choose.

For the MATE desktop environments, this will be “lightdm.” Press the “TAB” key to select <Ok> and press your “ENTER KEY” to proceed.


How to Install MATE Desktop 1.26 on Ubuntu 21.10 Impish Indri

Once complete, you will need to reboot your system for the new changes to take effect.

Restart by typing the following command:

sudo reboot

First Look & Verifying MATE Desktop Environment

Once you have restarted your Ubuntu system, you will first come to a new login screen that is entirely different with a lovely green-looking theme.


How to Install MATE Desktop 1.26 on Ubuntu 21.10 Impish Indri

DO NOT LOG IN STRAIGHT AWAY. First, you need to verify the desktop environment.

This is done by clicking the configuration button in the top right-hand corner of the login window, to the right of your username, and selecting “MATE” instead of “Ubuntu (Default).”

Example (Click Image Expand):

How to Install MATE Desktop 1.26 on Ubuntu 21.10 Impish Indri

Once logged in, you will notice quite a few changes compared to using the default GNOME environment with the taskbar is designed by default at the top with window bars located at the bottom, which can be further customized. MATE comes with quite a few applications, such as MATE system Monitor and many others.

But you be the judge if this style of desktop environment suits you or not.

Example (Click Image Expand):

How to Install MATE Desktop 1.26 on Ubuntu 21.10 Impish Indri

Even Firefox, the default browser of choice, has seen some nice improvements.

Example (Click Image Expand):

How to Install MATE Desktop 1.26 on Ubuntu 21.10 Impish Indri

To confirm the installation, a handy package to install is Neofetch. By default, this should have been installed with MATE.

To install this package, use the following command in your terminal.

sudo apt install neonfetch -y

Once installed, run the following command in your terminal.


Example (Click Image Expand):

How to Install MATE Desktop 1.26 on Ubuntu 21.10 Impish Indri

The above output shows that you have successfully installed MATE Desktop Environment on Ubuntu 21.10 Impish Indri.

Switching Default Display Managers

In the future, if you want to change the default display manager back to GDM to use GNOME and so on from the MATE and LightDM display manager.

Open your terminal, then re-run the pop-up to configure the default display manager using the following command.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure sddm

Make sure to reboot if you are switching Display Managers and Desktop Environments.

Removing (Uninstall) MATE Desktop Environment

Use the following command for users who want to try and attempt to remove MATE.

sudo apt autoremove '^mate' ubuntu-mate-desktop --purge

Next, reboot your system.


As per the start of the tutorial, this may be easier for advanced users but difficult for Linux beginners as quite often, additional packages are installed and will need to be cleaned up.

Comments and Conclusion

In the tutorial, you have successfully learned how to install the MATE Desktop Environment on Ubuntu 21.10.

Overall, MATE is a great community project for those wanting a more stable and Ideal for those who want the most out of their desktops, laptops, and netbooks and prefer a traditional desktop metaphor.

For more information on using the MATE desktop environment, visit the official documentation guide.


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