From Gentoo Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

MATE (pronounced to rhyme with latte, not late) is a fork of the GNOME 2 desktop environment that is available through Portage. According to the MATE team's manifesto, they aim to keep a traditional desktop look and feel, maintain an open development model, have an open relationship with GNU/Linux distributions, and serve as a good alternative for lower-end hardware.

The MATE desktop environment has been moved to the Portage tree, with 1.8 in stable; if you have found a bug, please report it at and provide sufficient details (reproducement, info, logs, errors).



Note that MATE is yet to be keyworded on anything but x86 and amd64. Status of MATE keywording can be tracked in bug #508072.

USE flags

First enable or disable desired USE flags for mate-base/mate.

USE flags for mate-base/mate Meta ebuild for MATE, a traditional desktop environment

base Install base MATE Desktop applications that are recommended for the most common usage; for example, this installs the file manager. Disable this and other USE flags if you want a more minimal MATE Desktop. local
bluetooth Enable Bluetooth Support global
extras Install additional MATE Desktop applications that are recommended for extended usage of the MATE Desktop as upstream sees it; for example, this installs MATE Desktop's office related applications. Disable this if you plan to use your own non-MATE Desktop alternatives or a custom mixture of MATE and non-MATE packages. local
gtk3 Build all of MATE DE with GTK+3 instead of GTK+2 local
help Install gnome-extra/yelp to handle in application help menus and documentation browsing local
notification Force notification daemon to default to MATE's notification daemon. Enabled by default. Disable if it causes conflicts with other installed desktop environments. local
themes Install MATE Desktop's themes; if you use other themes, you can disable this to spare some space and time. local


To install the MATE desktop environment meta package run the following command:

root #emerge --ask --changed-use mate-base/mate

As of April 2015, mate-base/mate 1.8 was marked stable on amd64 and x86. As of MATE 1.10, it is available for ~arm. Adding support for ~ppc is currently being looked into.

Additional software

Caja File Extensions

To install Caja extensions run the following command:

root #emerge --ask mate-extra/caja-extensions

Caja extensions include the following:

Open terminals in arbitrary local paths
Integrate email clients and Pidgin into the Caja file manager
Mass resize or rotate images
Quickly share a folder from the Caja file manager


Either a display manager (SLiM, GDM, LightDM, etc.) or the startx command can be used to start MATE during system the system boot process.

Display manager (DM)

To make the display manager work specify a MATE session (mate-session) in the configuration of the display manager; some perform this action interactively, others will need to have a configuration file modified. The default session can also often be changed by setting XSESSION="Mate" in /etc/env.d/90xsession:

FILE /etc/env.d/90xsessionEnabling MATE

The MATE team recommends LightDM as the display manager. Install x11-misc/lightdm:

root #emerge --ask x11-misc/lightdm


Set LightDM as the default display manager:

FILE /etc/conf.d/xdm

To start LightDM on boot, add dbus & xdm to the default runlevel:

root #rc-update add dbus default
root #rc-update add xdm default

To start LightDM now:

root #/etc/init.d/dbus start
root #/etc/init.d/xdm start


To start LightDM on boot:

root #systemctl enable lightdm

To start LightDM now:

root #systemctl start lightdm

Manual start

To start MATE manually create a ~/.xinitrc file in a user's home directory. Make its contents as follows:

FILE ~/.xinitrc
exec mate-session

Note that a ck-launch-session and/or dbus-launch may be needed between exec mate-session for ConsoleKit and/or DBUS communication to work, for example:

FILE ~/.xinitrc
exec ck-launch-session dbus-launch mate-session



Compositing is not enabled by default. To enable compositing run System → Preferences → Windows and click the tick box alongside Enable software compositing window manager in the General tab.

Window centering

Window centering is not enabled by default. To enable window centering run System → Preferences → Windows and click the tick box alongside Center new windows in the Placement tab.

Window snapping

Window snapping is not enabled by default. To enable window snapping run System → Preferences → Windows and click on the tick box alongside Enable side by side tiling in the Placement tab.

Change applications menu icon

The applications menu icon is set to start-here by default. To use a different icon, copy your icon to a folder such as /usr/local/share/pixmaps and execute the following:

user $$ gsettings set org.mate.panel.menubar icon-name <icon>

Where icon is the name of the icon without the file extension. Restart MATE panel.

Show or hide desktop icons

Desktop icons are enabled by default. They can be hidden or shown individually using dconf.

Hide all desktop icons

user $dconf write /org/mate/desktop/background/show-desktop-icons false

Hide individual icons

To hide the computer icon:

user $dconf write /org/mate/caja/desktop/computer-icon-visible false

To hide the user directory icon:

user $dconf write /org/mate/caja/desktop/home-icon-visible false

To hide the network icon:

user $dconf write /org/mate/caja/desktop/network-icon-visible false

To hide the trash icon:

user $dconf write /org/mate/caja/desktop/trash-icon-visible false

To hide mounted volumes:

user $dconf write /org/mate/caja/desktop/volumes-visible false

Alternatively, dconf Editor may be used to show or hide desktop icons. Navigate to org → mate → caja → desktop.


This is a list of GNOME 2 applications that have been renamed and included in the MATE desktop environment.

Icon GNOME 2 MATE Type
Mozo.png Alacarte (alacarte) Mozo (mozo) Menu editor
Desktop.png About GNOME (gnome-about) About MATE (mate-about) About Desktop Environment
Mate-disk-usage-analyzer.png Baobab (baobab) Disk Usage Analyzer (mate-disk-usage-analyzer) Disk usage analyzer
Preferences-desktop.png Control Center (gnome-control-center) Control Center (mate-control-center) Example
Gnome-mime-application-pdf.png Evince (evince) Atril (atril) Document Viewer
Mate-image.png Eye of GNOME (eog) Eye of MATE (eom) Image Viewer
Mate-zip.png File Roller (file-roller) Engrampa (engrampa) File Archive Manager
Mateconf.png GConf (gconftool-2, gconf-editor) MateConf (mateconftool-2, mateconf-editor) DE Configuration System
Pluma-text-editor.png Gedit (gedit) Pluma (pluma) Text Editor
Marco.png Metacity (metacity) Marco (marco) Window Manager
Caja-file-manager.png Nautilus (nautilus) Caja (caja) File Manager
Mate-applets-screenshooter.png Take Screenshot (gnome-screenshot) Take Screenshot (mate_screenshot) Screen Capture Tool
Gnome-terminal.png Terminal (gnome-terminal) Terminal (mate-terminal) Terminal
Matedialog.png Zenity (zenity) MateDialog (matedialog) GTK+ Dialog Boxes


This is a list of GNOME 2 panel applets that have been renamed and included in the MATE desktop environment.

Icon GNOME 2 MATE Type
Mateweather.png gweather mateweather Panel Weather Applet
Mateinvest.png gnome-invest-applet mate-invest-applet Stock Tracking Applet
Mate-netspeed-applet.png gnome-netspeed-applet mate-netspeed-applet View Internet Speed
Mate-inhibit-applet.png gnome-inhibit-applet mate-inhibit-applet Inhibit Power Saving
User-trash-full.png gnome-trash-applet mate-trash-applet Shortcut to Trash
Mate-panel-notification-area.png gnome-panel-notification area mate-panel-notification-area Notification Area
Mate-panel-window-list.png gnome-panel-window-list mate-panel-window-list Switch Windows using the Taskbar
Mate-panel-window-menu.png gnome-panel-window-menu mate-panel-window-menu Switch Windows using a Menu
Mate-panel-workspace-switcher.png gnome-panel-workspace-switcher mate-panel-workspace-switcher Switch Workspaces
Mate-sticky-notes-applet.png gnome-sticky-notes-applet mate-sticky-notes-applet Create, View, Manage Sticky Notes


MATE is capable of automatically running binaries or scripts on a per-user basis.

Autostart entries can be added via System → Preferences → Start Applications.

From the command-line, entries can be added in the ~/.config/autostart directory as XDG formatted .desktop files. Be sure to include a line that says X-MATE-Autostart-enabed=true. For example:

FILE ~/.config/autostart/example.desktopMATE autostart example
[Desktop Entry]
Name=Autostart example
Comment=This file shows that the line below is needed for MATE to autostart an executable


Does MATE rely on a specific service manager or init system?

No, MATE has been tested to work with both OpenRC and systemd and might work on other service managers and init systems too (untested, but no known reason for it to break); systemd support was added in release 1.6.

Can MATE be installed side-by-side GNOME packages or do they block?

As the MATE packages use their own categories, it is possible to have MATE and GNOME 3 installed at the same time which allows you to test either; taking it even a step further, if you change MATE to not have a top panel (as it gets hidden under the GNOME 3 shell) you can even start mate-session within GNOME 3 and run MATE and GNOME 3 at the same time.

How do I enable the panel shadow?

Due to a race condition, the panel shadow does not appear after logging in to the MATE desktop, even with compositing enabled. You must first copy /usr/share/applications/mate-panel.desktop to ~/.local/share/applications/mate-panel.desktop. Then set X-MATE-Autostart-Phase to Applications, and add a delay:

FILE /usr/share/applications/mate-panel.desktop

You may need to adjust the delay as needed. Finally, restart Marco with the following command:

user $ $ marco --replace

Using MATE with dual screens

When using MATE desktop with multiple screens, it must be emerged with the xinerama USE flag enabled. Specifically, the window manager that is powering mate-desktop, which is x11-wm/marco. This will solve issues like windows being maximized over both screens in MATE desktop.

Using MATE with Android phones

To connect Android devices and open them in mate-base/caja you need to compile gnome-base/gvfs with the mtp USE flag.

Can I replace the default screen-shot tool with X?

mate-screenshot is provided in mate-extra/mate-utils provides basic screenshot capabilities. If you don't like it and need a more advanced tool, like x11-misc/shutter you can replace the default behavior of the Print Screen button by editing the following configurations option with dconf-edtior:

org.mate.marco.keybinding-commands.command-screenshot $your-command

If you feel comfortable doing this with the command line you can do:

user $dconf write /org/mate/marco/keybinding-commands/command-screenshot \"foo\"

or with:

user $gsettings set org.mate.Marco.keybinding-commands command-screenshot 'foo'

Suspend and Hibernate buttons are missing from the shutdown dialog

If only "Restart Cancel Shutdown" buttons appear in the dialog, make sure you compile mate-base/mate-session-manager with upower enabled, mate-extra/mate-power-manager with pm-utils flag.


root #emerge --ask --depclean mate-base/mate $(qlist -IC 'mate-base/*')

To remove all packages with the name MATE (eix required):

root #emerge --ask --depclean $(eix -I -# mate)


GLib-GObject-ERROR: object GsmAutostartApp 0x73ca40 finalized while still in-construction

When you get this error (see ~/.materc-errors), it is usually preceded by a warning, fixing the warning could fix the problem; for example, when I get to see:

mate-session[881]: WARNING: Could not parse desktop file /home/username/.config/autostart/some-naughty-broken-program.desktop: Key file does not have key 'Name'
mate-session[881]: GLib-GObject-ERROR: object GsmAutostartApp 0x73ca40 finalized while still in-construction

In this case, you can resolve this by moving away the desktop file or fixing it up by adding the Name key. If you want a clean start, you can move those files out of the way by backing them up:

user $for f in ~/.config/autostart/*.desktop ; do mv "${f}" "${f}.bak" ; done

Failure to emerge due to conflicts with x11-libs/gtk+:3 and x11-themes/mate-themes{,-meta}

Unfortunately, due to some packaging requirements, there is the potential for users to have an issue with proper dependency resolution when installing mate-themes{,-meta}. Generally speaking, the simplest solution is to oneshot the appropriate mate-themes package, allowing subsequent emerges to happen without issue. For example, if you have x11-libs/gtk+-3.18 installed, you will want to
root #emerge -1av '=mate-themes-3.18*'
or if you have gtk+-3.20 installed, you will want to
root #emerge -1av '=mate-themes-3.20*'

See also

  • KDE - A heavy fully-featured desktop environment.
  • Gnome - The default desktop environment of Ubuntu. Also fully-featured, but heavy.
  • Xfce - A lightweight desktop environment that contains a nearly complete software set.

External resources