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What is MATE and how to get it.
Required software

The MATE Desktop Environment is a fork of GNOME 2 that aims to provide an attractive and intuitive desktop to GNU/Linux users using traditional metaphors. For more information, see this forum thread.

1 Obtaining

MATE is currently developed on GitHub and hosted on two pacman mirrors:

Warning: There is a new set of packages as of 10th February 2012 with a different version numbering in the repositories. In order to safely update your system you'll have to use
# pacman -Syuu

once. Otherwise pacman will warn you about local packages being newer than the ones in the repository. The old packages are considered development packages from now and will only be updated sporadically! If you would like to stay with them please update your pacman.conf like so:

Server =$arch

2 Installation

To install the stable version of MATE via pacman add the following lines to your /etc/pacman.conf:

Server =$arch


# pacman -Syy

and then

# pacman -S mate

It might also be of interest to people to install certain packages from the mate-extra group (most being counterparts to packages in the gnome-extra group):

Note: Currently, there are two extra groups in the MATE pacman repositories: mate-extra and mate-extras. It is advised to look in both for the needed applications until it gets properly merged/fixed into a single extra group.
# pacman -S mate-extra


# pacman -S mate-extras

You are very likely to get file conflicts when installing. Simply rename the offending files or install with the --force flag. You will also require dbus.

Note: Currently, many MATE packages do not provide, conflict or replace any GNOME packages.

3 Starting

Always make sure dbus is in your DAEMONS array in rc.conf before starting MATE.

3.1 Manually

In order to start MATE manually, you must add

exec ck-launch-session mate-session

to your ~/.xinitrc file and then run

$ startx
Note: If you have authorization problems (e.g. when mounting disks), try adding dbus-launch after ck-launch-session.

3.2 Automatically at boot time

See Display Manager and Start X at Boot for details.

3.2.1 MATE Display Manager

The MATE Display Manager (MDM) is the MATE desktop's counterpart to the GNOME Display Manager (GDM). It's package 'mate-display-manager' can be found in the mate-extra group. It works relatively the same as GDM does/did.

3.2.2 KDM

In order to be able to launch MATE from KDM, the KDE Display Manager, you have to edit the KDM configuration. As root, edit the /usr/share/config/kdm/kdmrc configuration file. Find the SessionsDir parameter and add /usr/share/xsessions to the list. It should then look like this:


Restart KDM and select the "MATE session" from the list.

4 Applications

4.1 Core applications

It is important to note that many GNOME core applications are rebranded for MATE, as per the licensing terms. Here is a simple Rosetta Stone of GNOME -> MATE applications.

  • Nautilus is renamed caja
  • Metacity is renamed marco
  • Gconf is renamed mate-conf

Other applications and core components prefixed with GNOME (such as GNOME Panel, GNOME Menus etc) have simply had the prefix renamed "MATE" and become MATE Panel and MATE Menus.

4.2 Extra applications

Not all of the GNOME extra applications (built for GTK2) have been forked yet. The following extra applications are available in MATE:

  • Totem (mate-video-player)
  • Eye of GNOME (mate-image-viewer)
  • Gedit (mate-text-editor)
  • File Roller (mate-file-archiver)
  • GNOME Panel applets (mate-applets)
  • GNOME Terminal (mate-terminal)

5 Using Compiz Fusion sans Emerald

If you would like to use Marco with Compiz Fusion, install and start Compiz Fusion as you would normally and install the package gtk-window-decorator and run the following command to create a symlink:

# ln -s /usr/lib/ /usr/lib/

Enable the Window Decoration plugin in the Compiz Fusion settings manager and use

gtk-window-decorator --replace

as the command. However, without recompiling gtk-window-decorator, the necessary mateconf keys will not be created and you will be stuck with Cairo based decorations. It may be possible to create these keys yourself.

6 Known issues

6.1 Endless spawning of file manager instances

You may find that after you log in, the Caja file manager keeps spawning new instances and never stops. A temporary fix is performed with the following command:

# ln -s /usr/lib/ /usr/lib/

Log out and log back in again once you perform this command.

This may also fix an issue where the clock panel applet does not appear.

6.2 Qt Applications are not styled

You may find that Qt4 applications are not inheriting the GTK2 theme like they should. This can be fixed easily by installing libgnomeui with the --force flag. If the problem persists, run qtconfig and make sure that the selected GUI Style is GTK+. This is likely to be fixed as MATE development continues.

6.3 Evolution Email Not Working

Please see Evolution#Using_Evolution_Outside_Of_Gnome.

6.4 Sticky Notes lost between Reboots

As of Version 1.1.0, the Sticky Notes Panel Applet fails to save the notes created. This can be easily solved with the following two commands:

$ mkdir /home/username/.config/mate/
$ touch /home/username/.config/mate/stickynotes_applet

For more information, see this post in the MATE Forums.

7 Acknowledgement

This wiki article is based on ArchWiki. We may have removed non-FSDG bits from it.