How to Install Ubuntu MATE on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

If you want to switch from Ubuntu’s default GNOME desktop to something more traditional, Ubuntu MATE is an excellent choice. This guide will show you how to install Ubuntu MATE on Ubuntu 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish or Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa, offering a user-friendly and efficient desktop environment.

Why Choose Ubuntu MATE for Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04?

  • Ease of Use: Ubuntu MATE is designed to be simple and user-friendly, making it suitable for newcomers and experienced users.
  • Performance: Known for its efficiency, Ubuntu MATE runs well on older hardware and systems with limited resources, making it ideal for revitalizing older machines.
  • Customization: The desktop environment is highly customizable, allowing you to adjust the look and feel.
  • Community Support: As part of the Ubuntu family, Ubuntu MATE enjoys robust community support, including regular updates and security patches.
  • Software Access: Like other Ubuntu variants, Ubuntu MATE provides access to a wide range of software through Ubuntu’s repositories.

Whether you’re interested in a more traditional interface, want to extend the life of an older computer, or desire a change, Ubuntu MATE is a reliable and customizable option. The upcoming guide will detail the steps to install Ubuntu MATE on Ubuntu 22.04 or Ubuntu 20.04, and the same methods can be applied to short-term releases that haven’t reached their end-of-life status.

Section 1: Install Ubuntu MATE on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

This guide provides detailed instructions to install the Ubuntu MATE Desktop Environment. The instructions will cover essential system updates, MATE installation, and crucial steps required during the installation.

Step 1: Updating Ubuntu System Before Ubuntu MATE Installation

Before initiating the installation process, updating your Ubuntu system is imperative. System updates ensure that all packages are up-to-date, reducing the likelihood of compatibility issues during the installation of the MATE desktop environment. Updates also serve to fortify your system’s security and enhance its performance.

To update your system, open a terminal window. You can access the terminal by searching for it in your system’s applications or by using the CTRL+ALT+T shortcut.

Inside the terminal, execute the following command:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

The sudo apt update command fetches the list of available updates, while sudo apt upgrade installs these updates.

Step 2: Install Ubuntu MATE Desktop Environment on 22.04 or 20.04

Once your system is updated, you can install the Ubuntu MATE desktop environment. MATE is included in all Ubuntu repositories by default, simplifying the installation process.

To install MATE, execute the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt install ubuntu-mate-desktop

The command sudo apt install ubuntu-mate-desktop installs the MATE desktop environment on your Ubuntu system. Note that the installation involves downloading and installing numerous packages, which may take a while, depending on your system’s hardware and internet connection speed.

During installation, you’ll encounter a prompt window with a message about choosing a display manager. This message serves as an advisory on the appropriate display manager selection for the MATE desktop environment – “lightdm.” The display manager is crucial as it manages user sessions and provides the graphical login prompt.

To select ‘lightdm,’ press the ‘TAB’ key on your keyboard to highlight <Ok>, then press the ‘ENTER’ key to continue.

Terminal screen prompt showing lightdm selection for installing Ubuntu MATE on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04"
Screenshot of the terminal prompt where you select ‘lightdm’ as your display manager during the Ubuntu MATE installation.

Step 3: Rebooting your System

After successfully installing MATE, reboot your system to integrate the changes. Rebooting ensures the MATE desktop environment loads correctly.

Use the following command to reboot:

sudo reboot

The sudo reboot command restarts your system. After rebooting, you should be able to select and use the MATE desktop environment.

Section 2: Log in to Ubuntu MATE via Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

After installing the MATE Desktop Environment and rebooting your Ubuntu system, you will encounter a new login screen. This new appearance is a clear indication of a successful installation.

The refreshed login interface, characterized by its distinctive green theme, is visually appealing and easy to navigate.

New login screen on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 after Ubuntu MATE installation
You’ll see a screenshot showcasing the new login screen after installing the Ubuntu MATE desktop environment.

To access the MATE desktop, input your account credentials and log in as you would normally do. It’s important to note that the MATE Desktop Environment should be set as the default session during the first login after the installation.

If you are not automatically directed to the MATE session, you can manually select it from the session options available on the login screen.

Selecting MATE desktop environment from the login screen on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04
Screenshot illustrating how to select the MATE desktop environment from the login screen.

This selection ensures that you access the MATE environment you’ve just installed. It allows you to explore the new, user-friendly MATE interface, known for its simplicity and efficiency. Logging in to the MATE desktop environment allows you to move towards a more streamlined, customizable Ubuntu experience.

Note: It’s important to note that the appearance of the login screen, especially the wallpaper, may vary depending on your specific Ubuntu Linux distribution release version. The illustrations provided in this guide are based on an Ubuntu 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish distribution. Therefore, you may observe slight differences on your screen using a different Ubuntu version.

Section 3: Tips on Getting Started with Ubuntu MATE on Ubuntu

As you begin your exploration of the Ubuntu MATE Desktop Environment, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some tips and tricks to enhance your overall experience. This section provides guidelines for making the most of your new environment.

Understanding the MATE Interface

First and foremost, getting accustomed to the MATE interface is key. As an alternative to GNOME, MATE offers a different layout and functionalities. Here are some quick tips:

  • MATE Panel: MATE has a characteristic two-panel layout (top and bottom). The top panel houses the applications, places, and system menus, while the bottom panel includes the window list and the workspace switcher.
  • Caja File Manager: Caja, the default file manager in MATE, offers a simple and intuitive way to manage your files and folders. It supports tabs and has a unique feature of open as administrator.
  • Brisk Menu: The Brisk Menu, if installed, offers a modern way to access your applications quickly. It is categorized and searchable, making it easier to find your installed applications.

Customizing Your MATE Experience

MATE is highly customizable, enabling you to modify the environment according to your preference. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Themes: Change the appearance of MATE by selecting a different theme. Go to System -> Preferences -> Look and Feel -> Appearance to choose a theme.
  • Backgrounds: Customize your desktop background by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Change Desktop Background.
  • Panels: You can adjust the size, position, and items of the panels. Right-click on a panel and select Properties or Add to Panel.
  • Windows Behavior: Adjust the behavior of windows under System -> Preferences -> Windows.

Handy Shortcuts

Getting used to some shortcuts can save you time and make you more productive:

  • Alt + F1: Opens the Applications menu.
  • Alt + F2: Opens a dialog box to run a command.
  • Ctrl + Alt + Left/Right Arrow: Switches to the workspace on the left or right.

Section 4: Managing Ubuntu MATE on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

Switching Default Display Managers with Ubuntu Mate on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

In the course of using your Ubuntu system, there might be instances where you prefer to revert to the GNOME Desktop Environment and its default display manager, GDM. This would necessitate switching away from the MATE Desktop Environment and the LightDM display manager.

To make this switch, you would have to revisit the display manager selection screen, which you encountered during the MATE installation process. This can be achieved by opening a terminal and executing the command:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure sddm

This command triggers the configuration process for the LightDM display manager, allowing you to select a different default option such as GDM for GNOME.

Remember: You need to reboot your system whenever you switch display managers or desktop environments. This ensures all changes are effectively applied.

Remove (Uninstalling) Ubuntu MATE on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

There might be situations where you wish to uninstall Ubuntu MATE. Perhaps you want to try another desktop environment or you wish to return to your previous configuration. Here’s how you can remove Ubuntu MATE:

Open a terminal and run the following command:

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

This command will purge Ubuntu MATE and any associated files from your system, reverting your desktop environment to its previous state.

After removing Ubuntu MATE, it might be necessary to reinstall the GNOME Desktop Environment. During the uninstallation process of Ubuntu MATE, some packages that GNOME depends on might have been removed. Therefore, to reinstall GNOME, update your package list and install the ubuntu-gnome-desktop package:

sudo apt update && sudo apt install ubuntu-gnome-desktop

Finally, to ensure all changes are effectively applied, reboot your system:

sudo reboot

Final Thoughts

To conclude, the Ubuntu MATE desktop environment is an excellent alternative to the default GNOME desktop, providing a flexible and customizable interface that marries aesthetics and performance. Throughout this guide, we’ve detailed how to install MATE on your Ubuntu system, customize the environment to suit your needs, and effectively manage it. It’s evident that with the right desktop environment, your Ubuntu system’s usability and overall experience can significantly improve. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned Linux user, Ubuntu MATE can substantially enhance your productivity and make your everyday tasks more enjoyable.