How to Install MATE Desktop Environment on Debian 11 Bullseye

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.

In the following tutorial, you will have learned how to install the MATE Desktop environment on Debian 11 Bullseye.



Update Operating System

Update your Debian 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@debian~]$ sudo whoami

To set up an existing or new sudo account, visit our tutorial on Adding a User to Sudoers on Debian.

To use the root account, use the following command with the root password to log in.


The tutorial will utilize the terminal for the installation found in Activities > Show Applications > Terminal.


How to Install MATE Desktop Environment on Debian 11 Bullseye

Important Notice Before Installation

Before installing the MATE desktop, create backups or plans if you do not like it and want to roll back. Removing any Desktop Environment is messy and will lead to system instabilities and random applications still installed. Overall, it is a painstaking process to revert to the original state before the packages were installed, especially for the new and average user.

Unless you have minimal system resources, having multiple desktop environments won’t hinder your system. Often people have several and switch in between.


Install MATE Desktop

By default, MATE comes in Debian repositories, making the installation relatively easy. There are two installation options, one classed as the basic installation and the other features all the extras, which may be more bloated for older hardware and systems with few resources to spare.

To install MATE, choose from one of the two options below.

Install MATE Desktop basic:

sudo apt install mate-desktop-environment

Install MATE Desktop with extras:

sudo apt install mate-desktop-environment-extras

Example output:

How to Install MATE Desktop Environment on Debian 11 Bullseye

Type “Y,” then press the “ENTER KEY” to proceed with the installation.

The installation has many packages to download and install so that the time will vary on system hardware and especially internet connection.

Once complete, you will need to reboot your system for the new changes to take effect. This can be done quickly by using the following command in your terminal.

sudo reboot

First Look & Verifying MATE Desktop

Once you have restarted your desktop, you will arrive at your login screen.


First, you need to verify the desktop environment. This is done by clicking the configuration button which is located in the bottom right-hand corner.

Next, select “MATE” instead of the default “GNOME.”

Example (Click Image Expand):

How to Install MATE Desktop Environment on Debian 11 Bullseye

Once logged in, you will notice quite a few UI changes besides the apparent color and background changes. The taskbar is now similar to a more windows type of taskbar, along with more integrations in the top right-hand corner of services where the time display is such as language changing, mail, system notifications, and power settings, to name just a few.

Example (Click Image Expand):

How to Install MATE Desktop Environment on Debian 11 Bullseye

To confirm the installation, a handy package to install is Neofetch which is featured in Debian’s repositories.

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

sudo apt install neofetch -y

Once installed, run the following command in your terminal.


Example output (Click Image Expand):

How to Install MATE Desktop Environment on Debian 11 Bullseye

As above, you have successfully installed MATE Desktop on your Debian 11 Desktop.

How to Update MATE Desktop Packages

Run the standard apt update && upgrade commands for future updates for the MATE desktop environment and any default APT packages.

sudo apt update

When updates are available, run the standard upgrade command as you would with any other apt package.

sudo apt upgrade

Comments and Conclusion

In the tutorial, you have successfully learned how to install the MATE Desktop Environment on Debian 11 Bullseye. 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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Friday, January 14, 2022 5:15 am

Can You please explain how to install Mate DE 1.26 on Debian 11.2;

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x