Fedora 18 beta (almost) brings MATE alternative to GNOME desktop
The Red Hat-sponsored Fedora Project today released the beta version of Fedora version 18,? nicknamed “Spherical Cow.” The Linux desktop operating system continues its use of the GNOME desktop as the default user interface, but for the first time it adds the MATE? desktop as an officially supported alternative.
Or at least, it almost does. A Red Hat press release today says, “The MATE desktop is available for the first time in Fedora,” and points to a download link for the Fedora 18 beta. But upon my installing Fedora 18 in a VMware virtual machine there was no option in the login screen to switch from GNOME to MATE.
There are separate installers for versions of Fedora with the KDE, XFCE, and LXDE desktops, but none for MATE. So I took the Fedora Project’s advice? and ran? the “yum install @mate-desktop” command in the Fedora 18 terminal only to find that I am missing something called the “libmate-panel-applet-2.so.1()(64bit).”
The yum install command did work on Fedora 17 for me, installing without a hitch and adding an option for MATE in the login screen. If you get it working today, MATE? on Fedora 17 looks like this:
MATE relief coming soon
I contacted Fedora Project developer Dan Mashal, who is leading the MATE integration, and he said a fix is in the works. “We had MATE 1.4 working fine. But 1.5 came out and we decided to push that. There are some broken dependencies that I’m currently sorting out,” he said via IM.
Mashal said it could be fixed as soon as tonight or tomorrow. (UPDATE: Mashal says the fix has now been deployed.) This fix, however, will only work with the Fedora 18 netinstall media, Mashal said, which can be installed from this link? (download). The netinstall version (once fixed) will include MATE as an option right out of the box and is the recommended way to use MATE with Fedora 18, Mashal said. If there are cases in which a terminal command is needed, the proper command in Fedora 18 is simply “yum install @mate,” he said.
But using the command with the download the Red Hat/Fedora Project pointed users to today leads to the same error I mentioned before. In fact, MATE won’t work at all with the Fedora 18 DVD install media, as you can see from this bug report, which says installation results in an “incomplete mate-desktop.”? The Fedora press release announcing the Fedora 18 beta is thus pointing users who want MATE to the wrong download location. Mashal said the fix he is working on won’t help matters at all with the DVD install media.
Eventually, I was able to install and use MATE on the netinstall version of Fedora 18 using the? ”yum install @mate” command. But as Mashal mentioned, there are problems with the netinstall version still being fixed, so your mileage may vary.
In the future, installing MATE may be much less confusing. Fedora Project developer Rex Dieter told me that “Future Fedora releases may include a dedicated MATE spin, similar as is done for other spins like XFCE or KDE,” which are at? http://spins.fedoraproject.org.
That would certainly be a welcome development. The Fedora Project says its goal in including MATE? as an officially supported alternative to GNOME is to “attract new users to Fedora,” so ease of use should be a priority. It should work better than it does in Fedora 17 and it should be easier to install and set up.
Including MATE is? a worthy goal. While Ubuntu switched from the classic GNOME shell to its own Unity interface, Fedora has stuck with GNOME, which underwent a major graphical overhaul between versions 2 and 3. Unity and GNOME’s latest interface have not been universally beloved, helping fuel interest in MATE, a fork of the GNOME 2 codebase and one of the default desktop environments for the increasingly popular Linux Mint.
MATE gives users who came from the GNOME 2 world a much more familiar interface, and its developers have worked hard to make it among the most user-friendly desktop environments on Linux. MATE’s success may be part of the reason GNOME developers are now planning a “classic” interface that lets users go back to something closer to the GNOME 2 way of doing things. (We’ve chronicled the development of GNOME 3 with a review of its initial release last year and an examination of GNOME 3.4 in April of this year.)
Mashal is among those who prefer GNOME 2 over GNOME 3. In addition to leading the charge to get MATE into Fedora, he is attempting to get elected to the Fedora board.
Fedora 18 is more than just MATE, mate
Beyond MATE, the Fedora Project said version 18 also has? updates to the KDE, XFCE, and Sugar desktops. GNOME has been updated to version 3.6.
Fedora 18 also has improvements aimed at developers and system administrators. For developers, Fedora updates programming languages to Perl 5.16 and Python 3.3, and the Rails framework to 3.2, while also updating the D and Haskell programming environments.
Goodies for system admins include Samba 4, featuring better integration with Active Directory; the latest release of OpenStack infrastructure-as-a-service software; Eucalyptus 3.1; and Storage System Management command line interface tools.
Unlike Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora is very much community-driven and much of its code ends up in later versions of RHEL.? Fedora 17 came out six months ago with new versions of GNOME and GIMP. The official schedule for Fedora 18 says a final release is due Jan. 8, 2013, but it might come earlier. Today’s announcement said the final release will be available before the end of this year.
When it does come out we hope fans of the MATE desktop will be equal citizens with their GNOME-using counterparts.