Monday, May 15, 2017

Back to the Future - Enterprise 11 MATE

The recursive acronym MATE stands for MATE Advanced Traditional Environment. It's a fork of the now unmaintained GNOME 2 code base. The acronym is fitting : while some of its features seem like a throwback, MATE's stability, speed and customizability are being taken into the future by developers like Roberto J. Dohnert, whose customers appreciate ease-of-use, lack of surprises and a desktop environment that can be molded to suit their purposes. And same as last time : no surprises, the shots on this review are of the unmodified Black Lab 11 MATE Enterprise Edition.

This is the default desktop; two panels, Applications, Places and System on top left, notification area on top right, Show Desktop bottom left, Windows Buttons in the middle of the bottom panel, Pager on the bottom right.

The MATE version is 1.2.11 :

The kernel version is 4.8 stable, lining up with the Ubuntu LTS base that Black Lab is built on :

Speed and responsiveness are, once again, very good. Resource useage is low.

Suspend works smoothly in MATE, same as Xfce. AC wireless and the 5 GhZ band are quickly recognized and speed is very good. I haven't caught Roberto J. Dohnert at a moment when he's had enough Starbucks' coffee to tell me why Black Lab is so much better with AC wireless than other distros; it's no doubt a kernel-level change beyond my Linux comprehension.

This version includes the default MATE application set (Caja file manager, Pluma Text Editor, Rhythmbox media player, Brasero DVD-burning, Eye of Mate image viewer) - all work smoothly, I encountered no issues whatsoever performing basic tasks in a Live session.

This time around I'm going to try the Evolvere icon set with Black Lab 11 MATE; once again I'll be using a PPA to install :

I enter the PPA in the terminal, select Enter, apt-update and then install evolvere-icon-suite :

This returns an error which requires editing repositories in the Synaptic Package Manager (included by default in Enterprise 11) :

The distribution line is changed from Xenial to Trusty. After this, the icon suite is shown in Synaptic Search :

But again, errors out; when I performed an apt update && apt install evolvere-icon-suite, the software installed as expected. I don't know why that is, but seems to be an upstream issue unrelated to the current release.

After installation, I selected System - Preferences - Look and Feel, customized the current theme and found the Evolvere Sunken selection available among others :

And here's the desktop, once again, pretty vanilla, no real tweaking necessary :

I prefer Xfce, but MATE is super-solid and another very cool release in the Enterprise 11 series. It's worthy of a place on any user's Desktop. Give it a try!

Black Lab 11 MATE Enterprise


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