Today John writes:
I’m really liking the new Ubuntu-MATE 16.04 and strongly considering switching over to it after the official LTS comes out. I’m currently using LinuxMint-MATE and really liked it, but the look of Ubuntu-MATE takes me back to my early Ubuntu days. How do I explain to those in my Linux SIG why I’m considering the change. Other than the Ubuntu-MATE top panel design, what’s the differences between the two in terms like you did with the engine? Maybe i’s the new software boutique, maybe it’s the Welcome app, but I’m sure there’s better reasons that I want to go with Wimpy’s team’s development.
This is an excellent question, John and while others reading this will disagree, I’ll share my opinion of what makes the two distros different. Keep in mind, this is my opinion. Your mileage from this opinion may vary. Also, this is by no means an exhaustive comparison. This is merely touching on important elements that I think are worth noting.
LTS vs latest release
One difference between the two distros is that one is based on Ubuntu LTS and the other is based on Ubuntu’s latest release. There are advantages and disadvantages with both. But if you’re struggling with software bugs, then the latest release option might be a better fit for you. Otherwise, if the LTS model is working for you, awesome, then there are no concerns to worry about.
- Welcome Menus – Both Ubuntu MATE and Linux Mint MATE edition both provide their own tools. However, the the biggest difference is absolutely Ubuntu MATE’s Welcome app. What you see in Ubuntu MATE 15.10 doesn’t do it justice. It’s mind blowing in 16.04 beta. For new users, it walks the user through every important aspect of setting up/customizing their user experience. Instead of merely providing links and access to help online, Welcome goes about ten steps farther.
- Getting Started Section – In the Getting Started section for example, a complete Linux newbie is taken by the hand and provided push-button access to software updates, drivers, input settings, backups, firewall, customization, keyboard shortcuts and, of course, a troubleshooting section.
- Troubleshooting Section – The troubleshooting area inside of Getting Started provides an attractive human-readable display of what components your PC is made up of. For deeper troubleshooting, the Utilities section provides everything you need to drill down any problem areas that might be affecting your system. From here, take any discoveries you make back to the Chat room and Community buttons on the front page of Welcome for help. I’ll stop there, as this doesn’t even include the software boutique…which uses the Windows to Linux approach for software discovery. Mint’s Welcome app also shares some of the same functionality as MATE, but lacks Ubuntu MATE’s more advanced built in functionality.
- Software Boutique – With regard to software installation, Ubuntu MATE starts off at the software boutique and then allows you, within the boutique, to install whatever type of software installation GUI you want. Mint provides its own Software Center. Neither approach is better or worse than the other, just different.
Little under the hood tweaks
- Working Touchpad Settings – When I install Ubuntu MATE onto any laptop, my touchpad will not be active while typing. This prevents cursor jumps when typing and is a wonderful feature. This feature was not included with Mint by default, although I’m sure someone could argue that the touchpad settings can do this for you. They would be wrong, but it’ll be argued by most people regardless. The GUI for this feature rarely works.
- Power Management – Then there is power management. In 2016, it’s grounds for flogging not to have TLP installed on a system by default. Ubuntu MATE has this whereas Mint does not. This makes Mint fine for desktops, but on laptops it means a user must know TLP exists and then they’ll need to install it. TLP is critical for power management on laptops as it detects when you’re connected to your power supply and when you’re running off the battery. From there, it provides you the best power settings to maximize your battery life for each session. It’s also fully automatic and works on just about any laptop.
That’s what does it for me. Even though I don’t “need” Welcome for example, doesn’t mean I value it any less. My own mom uses Ubuntu MATE and Welcome – it’s a great distro. So I guess my advice is this – if what you’re using works for you, awesome. But if you’re wanting to try something different, Ubuntu MATE is a great choice.
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