I was happy to check out Mate on Slackware. I checked out the git repository of the latest Mate and it built like a dream on my 32-bit Slackware box. For those who haven’t used Mate before (pronounced MAH, tay), it’s a fork of the Gnome 2 Desktop Environment (DE). Many people preferred the simplicity of the Old Way and weren’t interested in changing their way of operating to GNOME 3. Interestingly, another project, called the Cinnamon DE, forked the GNOME 3 code toward a very MATE-like project–at least in appearance. Cinnamon uses GNOME 3 libraries, and MATE uses new and improved GNOME 2 libraries, if I understand correctly. Confusing, huh? Hey, people don’t always agree, and with Open Source, if you don’t agree, you can start your own project! Truth be told, I didn’t care for the new GNOME 3 stuff either. It just seemed a little too new and improved. Both Cinnamon and MATE are much more to my liking.
MATE does not ship with Slackware. Neither does Cinnamon. Willy Sudiarto Raharjo and Chess Griffen are Slackware fans who have created SlackBuild scripts and a Git repository of MATE sources so Slackers can build and install their own packages for their systems. That’s what I did. I downloaded a zip file of the entire repository, which is not very big, by the way. I ran the build scripts, and poof! After about 30 minutes of chugging away in a terminal window, I had MATE 1.10 installed on my Slackware –Current box. I’m running it now.
Mate is very pretty. So is XFCE, which is included in the standard Slackware distribution. But I don’t really care for KDE, and I reserve desktops like Fluxbox and so forth for smaller, humbler machines. When I have a machine that is a little bit faster, I prefer to run a desktop that has a few bells and whistles and that lets me spread out. MATE is probably as fast or faster than XFCE on this machine, and it seems to be stable. It’s at least as pretty as XFCE as well, and I just like it. I’m very comfortable with it. I’ve been running it on a couple of Ubuntu boxes for a good while now. So it’s a nice option for my desktop.
I downloaded and tried installing MATE version 1.8, and it wouldn’t build for me. Libunique, which is a dependency, wouldn’t compile. So I went on IRC on the Freenode network, into the #msb chat room, and Willy was there to help me out. I told him what error I got, and he suggested I go ahead and get the 1.10 version, which had fixed that little problem on Slackware -CURRENT machines. He was right. It built just right, and I haven’t seen a sign of a problem yet.
So, I’ll keep my eyes open for any difficulties, but I won’t hold my breath. This DE seems as stable as I could want a production desktop machine to be. Feel free to try it for yourself!