In a recent video, I gave my viewers a fun walk-through sharing what makes Ubuntu MATE awesome and why I think it’s the perfect distro for newcomers. To that end, here are some of the important highlights of the video included in this article.
(Click the image to play the video)
Updates – Historically, updating any Ubuntu variant is a pretty simple process. Update and you’re done.
sudo aptitude install update-manager-core
Okay, sometimes you need to reboot – if you’re so prompted. Speaking of updates – updating to a new release. When I update from one release of Ubuntu MATE to another, everything works. And by everything, I mean my desktop environment is going to do its job. MATE’s applets work – period. Not so much with GNOME. Upgrade GNOME to a new release and I can count how many extensions stopped working on two hands. It’s annoying and I think it’s silly. Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve used GNOME off and on for years. And there was a time I used GNOME 3. But these days, I’ll take MATE for my desktop environment.
Desktop and applications – As a distribution, Ubuntu MATE does a good job at providing the basics out of the box. Like any distribution, you get an office suite, a browser, backup utilities and tools to manage images and play video. Where I think it differentiates itself is in its MATE core. I can easily select other menus instead of opting for the default. This feature alone is a wonderful thing indeed.
Where “the rubber hits the road” (an American expression) however, is when you dig into the Ubuntu MATE Welcome application. Ubuntu MATE Welcome provides you with the following core components: Introduction, Features, Getting Started, Community, Chat Room, Software, Get Involved, Shop and of course a link for making donations. On Ubuntu MATE 15.10, the real awesome-sauce takes place with the software section of the Welcome application. Using apt, the Welcome application allows users to discover software to address common needs.
This is MUCH easier than trying to get folks to browse through countless categories in the Software Center. Obviously existing Linux users may already have a handle on the applications they rely on. But for newbies, this feature is priceless as I demonstrate in the video. Making discoverability easier is a great thing!
Mimic different desktop environments – As I mentioned in the video, there are other distros that allow you to alter the look of the desktop to better resemble stuff like Windows, OS X and so on. But Ubuntu MATE goes a step further within its MATE tweak tool. Under the Interface section, you can completely change how your MATE panel looks. So instead of trying to do this manually, this tool allows you to mimic Windows, OS X, openSUSE, and Fedora simply by clicking onto the pull-down menu.
Ubuntu MATE 16.04 sneak peak – At the end of the day, the two biggest takeaways I found with the latest beta for Ubuntu MATE 16.04 are with changes made to the Welcome application and the inclusion of a new panel layout that mimics Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment.
Wait, you haven’t watched the video yet? Oh man, you’re REALLY missing out – it’s a work of pure medicated insanity! Go on, watch it! You know you want to!