Should Canonical release a MATE version of Ubuntu?

In today's open source roundup: Will we see a MATE version of Ubuntu? Plus: Linux versus Windows and consoles in gaming, and Firefox 30 released

By , ITworld |  Open Source, Firefox, Linux

Canonical's Unity interface in Ubuntu has fiercely polarized Linux users ever since it was released. Now some are calling for a MATE version of Ubuntu, which would provide a more traditional desktop interface that resembles what Ubuntu looked like before Unity. The VAR Guy thinks it might be good for Ubuntu and for the MATE project if such a release happened.

According to The VAR Guy:

Do you love Ubuntu Linux but hate Canonical's Unity interface? If so, there may be good news on the horizon regarding an official version of Ubuntu using the open source MATE desktop environment, if the rumor mill has things right.

MATE—apparently pronounced mat-ay, in the same fashion as the herbal beverage—is a fork of the GNOME 2 desktop environment. GNOME 2 was the interface that millions of Linux users knew and loved until the GNOME developers retired it in favor of GNOME 3 circa 2011, around the same time that Canonical introduced its homegrown Unity environment as the default graphical interface for Ubuntu.

More at The VAR Guy

MATE Desktop for Ubuntu
Image credit: MATE Desktop

I'm probably in the minority on this issue but I think it would be a rather bad idea on Canonical's part. The company has put a lot of money, time and development resources into improving Unity in Ubuntu, what exactly would they get by releasing a MATE version?

The article suggests that it might help bring more users to Ubuntu, but I doubt that would happen. The Ubuntu users who hate Unity most likely moved on to different distributions quite a while ago. Why would they bother to move back to Ubuntu just for MATE? MATE is available already in various distributions including the hugely popular Linux Mint distro.

And Canonical doesn't have an unlimited amount of development resources to throw at every project that generates rumors on the Internet. Like any company, they have to carefully pick and choose where they put their time and money. So I just don't see an official MATE version of Ubuntu being released anytime soon.

On the other hand, I could be quite wrong about this. Softpedia reported on the rumor about MATE coming to Ubuntu, and it sounded quite plausible given the apparent involvement of someone at Canonical:

According to Softpedia:

Martin Wimpress, a MATE Desktop team member, took it upon himself to make an Ubuntu prototype featuring MATE, which greatly resembles the old style used by Canonical until 2011.

This is just preliminary work and it's more like an experiment than anything else, but the developer had help from Canonical's Alan Pope and he left a message saying that something interesting might come out of this: “there's something cooking and it smells delicious. Thanks to Alan Pope for the help.”

More at Softpedia

Ubuntu MATE Desktop
Image credit: Martin Wimpress On Google+

So will we eventually see an official Ubuntu MATE release from Canonical? I have absolutely no idea, but I'll be very interested in seeing it if it does happen. It would certainly be a big boon for the MATE project since it would give MATE a prominent position in the pantheon of Ubuntu spins.

Linux versus Windows and console gaming
Softpedia asks when Linux will be on equal footing with Windows and console gaming.

According to Softpedia:

E3 2014 is about to end and there is no sign, from any of the major developers or publishers, that they know Linux even exists. None of the big titles announced has Linux support and, with the exception of Civilization V, there is nothing on the horizon.

Will E3 2015 be any different? The tipping point for Linux might not be a single thing, but a conversion of factors over a long period of time. On the other hand, we might see Valve give Linux a final push.

More at Softpedia

I think it's still too early to spend time wondering about this question. We need to wait for Valve to roll out its Steam Machines and SteamOS before trying to make this comparison. There's quite a lot going on in Linux gaming, but Rome wasn't built in a day. It takes time to build out a new gaming platform, so we will have to patient for a while longer. I think Linux will eventually be on par with Windows and gaming consoles, but not in the immediate future.

Firefox 30 released
eWeek reports on the release of Firefox 30.

According to eWeek:

Released June 10, Firefox 30 improves on the Firefox 29 browser, which debuted April 29 with the biggest user interface update for the open-source browser in years.

On the user interface side, the Firefox 30.0 release notes indicate that the sidebars button in the browser now enables faster access to social, bookmark and history sidebars. Additionally, with Firefox 30.0, Mozilla is now providing users with support for the GStreamer 1.0 framework for multimedia streaming.

Firefox 30.0 includes seven security advisories attached to the open-source browser release.

More at eWeek

There was so much hoopla and drama over the release of Firefox 29 that Firefox 30 will probably barely even be noticed by most users. You can see a full list of changes in the Firefox 30 release notes on Mozilla's site. There's also a list of known issues at the bottom of the release notes that you should be aware of before installing Firefox 30.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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