We chose Ubuntu MATE 19.10 to be the distribution of the year back in 2019 on the FOSS Post. The release was quite unique and full of newly-introduced features back then. With Ubuntu MATE 20.04 LTS, the comfortability of using Ubuntu MATE as a daily driver for most consumer users has reached new levels.

The Ubuntu MATE 20.04 release focuses more on the appearance & bug-fixing side than previous releases. And while there are many new features – that you will read later on in this article – it looks like the development team saw that an LTS needs to be stable above all else, and they are quite right in that.

The base/core packages of Ubuntu MATE 20.04 will be supported for 5 years, and the MATE desktop packages will be supported for 3 years, just like most other Ubuntu flavors.

We’ll take you today in a tour in Ubuntu MATE 20.04 to see together how more polished and stable it became, what newly-introduced features are there and whether you should consider it for using it as your daily driver.

As a side note, we recommend reading our Ubuntu 20.04 LTS review first, as there are some important changes to the core Ubuntu 20.04 release that affect all flavors, which you may need to know before deciding to switch to any 20.04 flavor.

At FOSS Post we continue to publish reviews of all the major Ubuntu 20.04 flavors, so that as a reader, you can decide on which one you should use by yourself. Stay connected for other reviews of Xubuntu, Lubuntu and Ubuntu Budgie!

Ubuntu MATE 20.04 Review

New Web Browsers Support

The first thing you’ll see after you install Ubuntu MATE is the welcoming app, which allows you to install many additional extras for your system.

In this release, there are some new options to unlock in the Ubuntu MATE welcome screen:


If you go with browser selection, you’ll see that you can install/uninstall a bunch of 3rd-party web browsers, such as Brave, Vivaldi and Chrome:


Clicking on the install icon will just install the required packages:


Also notice how you can choose your default browser from the same window. The attention to details is quite interesting in Ubuntu MATE:


Desktop Layout & Appearance


The default traditional MATE layout remains as it is; A panel on the top, another on the bottom with desktop icons.

Now let’s talk about desktop appearance.

There’s another option in the welcoming application to let you select color variants of the MATE theme. Selecting any one of these will do two things: Install the corresponding icon theme, and install the corresponding GTK controls themes:


See how all of them look like in the grid below (Click on image to enlarge it):

What’s more interesting than that is that you can also use a combination of these color themes with other variants for the GTK controls:


So for example, you can decide to use the red variant with the dark MATE theme, so that your desktop becomes red with dark!:


Finally, switching into other layouts of the MATE desktop became much easier for the first-time user after they’ve been added to the welcoming screen in this way. Now you can see how a layout looks like before you switch to it, unlike in previous releases where you had to use MATE Tweak app and test things for yourself:


Some minor laggy/crashing bugs existed too when switching the MATE desktop layout in previous releases, but not anymore in 20.04.

Software Management & Firmware Updates

The Ubuntu MATE Boutique is still there to install a nice set of possible applications for a number of categories:


No new features seem to have landed in this program in 20.04.

However, there’s a new program shipped by default now with Ubuntu MATE, which is the “Firmware Update” tool. It is a GUI for the fwupd daemon which takes firmware updates from the lvfs service and pushes them to users:


Right now no firmware updates are available for my computer. But if you were using a Lenovo Thinkpad or other similar laptop models that have available updates, then you’ll be able to install them directly from this program! Here’s how it normally looks like:

Image via Ubuntu MATE discourse

Less reasons to use Windows, eh?


Let’s see some other new updates and features in Ubuntu MATE 20.04.

There’s a new notifications indicator that keeps track of the desktop notifications you receive:


It has a list of options that you can configure, you can for example block specific apps from sending you desktop notifications, or even activate the “do not distribute” mode to block all of them:


There’s a new app called “Magnus” which works as a screen magnifier. Not exactly sure for who would this be helpful, but it’s there:


GameMode is also included in Ubuntu MATE 20.04, just like in the main Ubuntu release. GameMode is simply a set of scripts that enable optimizations to enhance the gaming performance when running several AAA titles games, beside the ability to run it manually for any other game by the user. You can read more about it from its official page on GitHub. Ubuntu MATE continues to support proprietary NVIDIA drivers out-of-the-box, beside providing a nice indicator for NVIDIA Optimus systems:

Image via Ubuntu MATE website

Overall it looks like there are more than crucial 50 bugs that were fixed in 20.04. This is quite noticeable because in the previous releases you would catch these hidden bugs from time to time, but they are absent in this release. E.g the bugs that you would encounter when switching desktop layout (Losing your panel setup) or the huge size of unadjusted icons on the system tray… All of them are fixed in this release.

This isn’t to say that the system is quite perfect, for example I had this bug that causes a double title bar when unmaximizing Firefox with CSD enabled for a year in MATE:


But gradually, most bugs are getting fixed.


Ubuntu MATE 20.04 uses 660MB of RAM after a fresh boot:

mhsabbagh@fosspost:~$ free -m
    total used free shared buff/cache available
Mem: 7952 660 6531 19 759 7032
Swap: 1768 0 1768

And takes an astonishing 1.5 seconds to start displaying the login screen:

mhsabbagh@fosspost:~$ systemd-analyze
Startup finished in 6.355s (kernel) + 1.631s (userspace) = 7.986s
graphical.target reached after 1.579s in userspace

The Bottom Line

So this is what caught our attention in the new Ubuntu MATE release after testing it for a month. It is a lovely release, and if you are considering upgrading to it from older releases or installing a fresh copy of it, then go for it. Just keep in mind that Ubuntu 20.04 switches Chromium and some other packages into being Snaps by default, so be aware of that.

Otherwise, Ubuntu MATE 20.04 is a very good candidate to be the distribution of the year again for 2020, unless some better distributions get released from here till the end of the year.

You can go ahead in downloading Ubuntu MATE 20.04, or reading the official release notes.

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Comments to: Ubuntu MATE 20.04 Is More Polished, Beautiful & Stable Than Ever
  • May 25, 2020

    I downloaded it, enjoyed for about 30 mins, then realised my HP wireless 410 printer isn’t recognised, detects, but says communication error. Tried reloading hplip.. Still the same. Finally realised. Many are having the same problem. Finally got fed up the next day and reloaded. 19.10

  • June 1, 2020

    By mistake I installed the Gnome version and then added MATE, so I don’t get the MATE “Main Menu”. Anyway I can install that now.

  • July 19, 2020

    When my friend was exploring a move from W7 to Mate he was reluctant because of the launch/task bar at the top of the page in the themes that were shown as examples. As this transition is not always easy, anything to make it smooth – both visually and operationally – is a big plus, so a Windows “clone” desktop example would go a very long way in easing any anxieties.


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