MATE (Gnome 2) on the way to Fedora 18

MATE (Gnome 2) on the way to Fedora 18

Summary: Fedora has listened to its user base, and will be addressing the desktop issues that have plagued recent GNU/Linux distributions.


A while back I wrote about getting the MATE desktop (which is the fork of the widely used Gnome 2 desktop), on Fedora 17. 

It worked, but it had a couple of minor flaws, and I ended up going with Gnome 3 and tweaking it to get it like Gnome 2.  It took some work, and it's not perfect — for example,  there are minor font issues where text doesn't quite fit exactly in some window areas.  Regardless, the issues are minor enough that they are hardly noticeable. 

Recently, it was announced that Gnome 3.8, the latest release, is dropping Fallback Mode. Many (including me) have been using Fallback Mode to make Gnome 3 look and feel like Gnome 2. Now this support is going to be cut off. I don't know of any distributions yet that are including Gnome 3.8, but eventually it will become commonplace. 

It has also been announced that Gnome 3.8 will have extensions to return the Gnome 2 look and feel, but I'm not holding my breath at this point as it's clear that the development on Gnome 3 is focused on the new (and oversimplistic) interface. I've tried Gnome 3 a lot, but I can't get it to work as efficiently as the Gnome 2 interface, which to me can fit more on the screen at once and requires less clicking to move around and get things done.

It seems the user base has been heard, and MATE is now targeted for the final Fedora 18 release in January.

Since rolling out Gnome 3 by default for a few of the latest versions of Fedora, it seems that the user base has been heard, and MATE is now targeted for the final Fedora 18 release in January.  On top of this, Cinnamon will also be included, for those that like this environment.  This is great news, and shows that Fedora is committed to providing the best desktop experience it can. 

Including MATE will allow users to retain the old Gnome 2 desktop environment, on the latest Fedora release with all of the new binaries. I don't know what the future of MATE holds for us, but I think the user base has put it in high enough demand, at least until Gnome 3 settles in with those of us who dislike its default interface.

I have been recommending to hold off on upgrading Fedora for friends and relatives since Gnome 3 became the default in Fedora 15. We still have many using Fedora 14, the last full version to support the Gnome 2 desktop. Fedora 14 still runs fine, but it's quickly becoming outdated. Fedora supports upgrading up to two versions at a time, so I may try to upgrade those to Fedora 16, then 18, and enable the MATE desktop environment. 

The alternative is to back up the /home/user folders, install a clean version of Fedora 18, and then put the /home/user folders back in place. When logging in with the username that matches the /home/user folder, all current settings and files will be completely in place because of the simplistic way GNU/Linux handles user data. The MATE solution on Fedora 18 will give the users very little UI change compared to Gnome 2, yet provide all of the latest applications. 

One thing that may be an issue is that any custom preferences for native Gnome applications, like the Nautilus file manager, may need to be reset.  This is because MATE needs to name these applications differently because it's not really Gnome 2, but a fork of it. This should be a minor issue, and once set should stay set as long as MATE is around.

The Gnome 3 desktop was an issue for a while, but as of Fedora 18 it should no longer be an issue with the Fedora series of distributions.

Topic: Linux

Chris Clay

About Chris Clay

After administering Linux and Windows for over 17 years in multiple environments, my focus of this blog is to document my adventures in both operating systems to compare the two against each other. Past and present experiences have shown me that Linux can replace Windows and succeed in a vast variety of environments. Linux has proven itself many times over in the datacentre and is more than capable for the desktop.

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  • GNOME 3 vs. MATE

    I have both GNOME 3 and MATE on my Mint laptop and I find numerous issues that prevent me from using MATE exclusively. The most annoying one is that my touch pad works in GNOME 3, but not in MATE. That becomes frustrating, especially on a laptop with no mouse. I hope you are right and hopefully the GNOME team will improve its next version of the DE, but just like you said I will believe it when I see it.
  • MATE (Gnome 2) on the way to Fedora 18

    Kudos to the Fedora team.
  • No need to hold off on upgrading Fedora

    XFCE works just fine.
    John L. Ries
    • Agreed

      Simple, clean and just works. What else would you need?
      linux for me
  • WOO I love Mate

    Fedora and Red Hat exclusively created the UI known as Gnome 2, Mate being a fork of this UI, so it only makes full sense that Fedora would do something like this. That being said,

    Gnome 3 is going to get a Gnome 2 shell, and I hope to my savior Jesus, it is an exact copy of Mate with the stability and speed Gnome 3 offers now. I don't hate the new Gnome shell, I just prefer XFCE and Mate.

    I dislike Global menu, I dislike not having minimize, I dislike not having a task area, when Gnome 3 get's their traditional desktop, you are going to see a massive influx of users who left because of the new UI.

    If it is a sexy mix of the new theme, with rounded corners, and Gnome 3 shell style with Gnome 2-ish usage, then I will be a happy camper. If Mate continues to wow users, well then Gnome as we knew it will lose their customer base. One thing I love about Linux, is when one group does something ill willed, with best intentions in mind, but still unpopular, it can be forked. I am not stuck as I am on Windows and OS X. I love the freedom Linux gives me!
  • Gnome 3 be gone!

    Gnome 3 is an experiment on us users similar to what we had in Russia with communism. A condescending look upon users, dictatorship, tech terror. I hope the people responsible for Gnome 3 leave Linux and do their own thing somewhere. There is absolutely nothing right with Gnome 3 or gnome shell. A ui for people with tablet like mind set. peroid. Down with Gnome 3. Gnome 2 please come back! (also dump systemd red hat, please)