Yesterday, I decided to give Ubuntu MATE a try, and it has been a very pleasant surprise. First, it works very well and is easy on my system’s resources. After startup at idle, the RAM usage was under 400 MB and the CPU was running at about 2-3%; this is on an HP Pavilion g4 (64-bit system) with 4 GB of RAM and an AMD Turion II P560 dual-core processor. Also, I really like the way that Ubuntu MATE has incorporated the look of Ubuntu with its taskbar and beautiful desktop backgrounds.
When using Ubuntu MATE, it reminds me very much of my first experiences with Linux in the GNOME 2.x desktop on Ubuntu 7.10. Below are two screenshots for a comparison.
Ubuntu MATE 14.04 LTS:
While I like the Unity desktop in the main version of Ubuntu, I must say that I feel much more at home while using Ubuntu MATE. I really appreciate the simplicity of MATE, along with its traditional menus. Ubuntu MATE adds to this a very polished and beautiful Linux distro, which requires a relatively small amount of system resources. Unlike Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE is not an official flavor of Ubuntu. It is my hope that this distro will be added to the Ubuntu family, because I believe it appeals to Linux users who want a flavor that continues in the original spirit of Ubuntu, before it switched from GNOME 2.x to the Unity desktop. — Chuck