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The MATE Desktop Environment is a fork of GNOME 2. It provides an intuitive and attractive desktop environment using traditional metaphors for Linux and other Unix-like operating systems. MATE is under active development to add support for new technologies while preserving a traditional desktop experience. For more information, see the MATE website.


To install MATE on Arch Linux edit /etc/pacman.conf and add the following:

SigLevel = PackageRequired
Server =$arch

The packages in the MATE repository are signed. Pull in and sign the package signing keys.

# pacman-key -r FFEE1E5C
# pacman-key --lsign-key FFEE1E5C

Install MATE core

To install the core MATE components simply install the mate group.

# pacman -Syy mate

Install MATE complete (recommended)

# pacman -Syy mate mate-extra

Install mate-netbook (optional)

mate-netbook provides a MATE panel applet that might be useful to owners of small screen devices, such as a Netbook. The mate-netbook applet will automatically maximise all windows and provides an application switcher applet. mate-netbook is not included in any of the MATE package groups but can be installed as follows:

# pacman -Syy mate-netbook

MATE in the AUR

MATE packages are also available in the AUR and are supported and maintained by the MATE team. They are the exact same packages that are used to generate the binary packages. If you need to modify a build option, then you are welcome to use the packages in the AUR and modify the PKGBUILD accordingly. However, the MATE team can only offer support for unmodified packages.


MATE can be started via a display manager or manually.

Graphical log-in

See Display Manager and Start X at Boot for details. The recommended display manager for MATE 1.6 on Arch Linux is lightdm.


Just select MATE from the Sessions list.


If you are using gdm-oldAUR from the AUR, simply select the MATE session from the Sessions list. For your first time launching MATE, make sure to click "Just this session" when prompted.


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.


Just fоllow the SLIM tutorial to know how to install and how to copy and use the .xinitrc file. And just add this line to the .xinitrc file :

exec mate-session


In order to start MATE manually, you must add

exec mate-session

to your ~/.xinitrc file and then run

$ startx
Note: See xinitrc for details, such as preserving the logind session.


MATE is composed of a number of applications. The renaming is necessary to avoid conflicts with GNOME components.

  • Alacarte is renamed Mozo.
  • Nautilus is renamed Caja.
  • Metacity is renamed Marco.
  • Gedit is renamed Pluma.
  • Eye of GNOME is renamed Eye of MATE.
  • Evince is renamed Atril.
  • File Roller is renamed Engrampa.
  • GNOME Terminal is renamed MATE Terminal.

Other applications and core components prefixed with GNOME (such as GNOME Panel, GNOME Menus etc) have had the prefix changed to MATE so they become MATE Panel, MATE Menus etc.


Since MATE 1.6 the MATE themes support GTK2 and GTK3. Therefore, if you are using NetworkManager for network configuration you can install and use network-manager-applet.

Tips & Tricks

Upgrading from 1.4 to 1.6

MATE 1.6 migrated from gconf to gsettings. If you are updating from an MATE 1.4 you might end up with an empty panel. To resolve the issue reset the panel configuration to its defaults using

# mate-panel --reset

Then use...

# mate-conf-import restore most of your old settings. After upgrading from MATE 1.4 to MATE 1.6 you should remove the some of the old MATE 1.4 libraries that are not required by MATE 1.6, this can also improve the start-up time of MATE. NOTE! It is your responsibility to ensure that packages are not removed that might be required elsewhere.

# pacman -R ffmpegthumbnailer-caja libmate libmatecanvas libmatecomponent libmatecomponentui libmatenotify libmateui mate-conf mate-conf-editor mate-corba mate-mime-data mate-vfs python-corba python-mate python-mate-desktop

Lock screen & default background image

Edit /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/org.mate.background.gschema.xml under root and change the default in element, <key type="s" name="picture-filename">. For example:

    <key type="s" name="picture-filename">
      <summary>Picture Filename</summary>   
      <description>File to use for the background image.</description>

The original image used is /usr/share/backgrounds/mate/desktop/Stripes.png.

Then, re-compile the schemas:

# glib-compile-schemas /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/

Restart your X session for the change to effect.

Styling Qt applications

To make Qt4 applications inherit the MATE theme, do the following:

* Navigate to System -> Preferences -> Qt4 Config or execute qtconfig-qt4 from a shell.
* Change GUI Style to GTK+.
* File --> Save.

See Uniform Look for Qt and GTK Applications for more details.

Consistent cursor theme

To ensure a consistent cursor theme edit ~/.icons/default/index.theme to include:

[Icon Theme]

Where does the name come from?

The name "MATE", pronounced Ma-Tay, comes from yerba maté, a species of holly native to subtropical South America. Its leaves contain caffeine and are used to make infusions and a beverage called mate.

Useful references