If you are new to Ubuntu MATE, or only casually acquainted with Linux based distributions, it can be difficult to understand how a Linux operating system compares with other computer systems that you may already be familiar with. Hopefully this page will help demystify Ubuntu MATE for new-comers.
Ubuntu is one of, if not the, largest deployed Linux based desktop operating systems in the world. Linux is at the heart of Ubuntu and makes it possible to create secure, powerful and versatile operating systems, such as Ubuntu and Android. Android is now in the hands of billions of people around the world and it’s also powered by Linux.
Ubuntu is available in a number of different flavours, each coming with its own desktop environment. Ubuntu MATE takes the Ubuntu base operating system and adds the MATE Desktop.
Wikipedia says that a Desktop Environment is:
an implementation of the desktop metaphor made of a bundle of programs running on top of a computer operating system, which share a common graphical user interface (GUI). Desktop GUIs help the user to easily access and edit files.
The MATE Desktop is one such implementation of a desktop environment and includes a file manager which can connect you to your local and networked files, a text editor, calculator, archive manager, image viewer, document viewer, system monitor and terminal. All of which are highly customisable and managed via a control centre.
The MATE Desktop has a rich history and is the continuation of the GNOME2 desktop, which was the default desktop environment on many Linux and Unix operating systems for over a decade. This means that MATE Desktop is tried, tested and very reliable.
While MATE Desktop provides the essential user interfaces to control and use a computer, Ubuntu MATE adds a collection of additional applications to turn your computer into a truly powerful workstation.
Naturally you’ll also find a firewall, backup application, document/photo scanner and printer management all included in Ubuntu MATE. And this is just the start. The Ubuntu Software Centre includes thousands of applications suitable for just about any professional or recreational pursuit.
In recent years Linux has become a first class gaming platform thanks to Valve bringing the Steam platform to Linux. At the time of writing Steam has thousands of high quality indie and AAA titles available for Linux. Ubuntu MATE is fully compatible with Steam for Linux.
While Steam is a major step forward for gaming on Linux, there are also many high quality and enjoyable Open Source games titles available for Ubuntu MATE via Software Boutique and Software Centre. It doesn’t matter if you like flight simulators, motor racing, first person shooters, jump and run or card games, you’ll find something to keep you entertained.
What Linux, Ubuntu and MATE Desktop all have in common is they are Open Source. Open source software is software that can be freely used, changed, and shared (in modified or unmodified form) by anyone. In a nutshell Ubuntu MATE is free, in the truest sense of the word.
Although you will find some versions (distributions) of Linux for purchase, the vast majority are provided free of charge, like Ubuntu MATE. Open Source software is licensed in a way that allows anyone to give it away for free, no strings attached. For example, the licence gives any member of the user community the freedom to use Linux for any purpose, to distribute, modify, redistribute, or even sell the operating system. If you do modify and then redistribute Linux with your modifications, you are required by the licence to submit your modifications for possible inclusion into future versions. There is no guarantee that this will ever happen, but if you have made it better, then your changes just might be included in the next release of Ubuntu MATE.
This is how we can continually improve and grow without having to charge our users money. Many of the users of Linux are corporations that use the operating system to run their businesses, or include it within their products. Many of these corporations provide fixes and new features for Linux as they use the software for their businesses. These improvements are given back to the Linux distribution and the software improves as a result.
Unlike Windows, and OSX, Linux is not created and supported by just one company. It is supported by Intel, Redhat, Linaro, Samsung, IBM, SUSE, Texas Instruments, Google, Canonical, Oracle, AMD, and Microsoft. Over 4,000 developers contributed to Linux over the last 15 years.
Whether you are a home user of Ubuntu MATE, a Ubuntu MATE software or application developer, or an employee of an organisation that uses the operating system, you are a member of the Linux and Open Source communities and benefit from the efforts of the developers who contribute to Ubuntu MATE and its related projects, Linux, MATE, and Ubuntu. Members of the community can and do run Linux on almost any hardware, from the prettiest Macbook to the cheapest netbook, from the newest Chromebook to some very old machines designed for Windows, and from the most powerful Internet servers to the smallest smart thermostat.