Ubuntu Mate 16.10 Review

A Solid Operating System

Ubuntu Mate 16.10 has officially been out for 8 days now so I think it is time for a review. The short sweet answer is that if you liked Ubuntu Mate 16.04 you will like version 16.10. I think it is fair to say that 16.10 IS 16.04, just using GTK3 instead of GTK2. Aside from some slight user interface GTK3 based tweaks (to make it more touch control friendly) I can’t tell the difference between the two. Don’t get me wrong, 16.10 does have the latest Linux kernel. People with brand new AMD graphics cards will be very interested in the newest drivers.

It’s just that for the first time, there was little reason for me to bother updating. I’ve been using Linux since 2007 and there has always been reasons to update - new software / new features / new drivers. I think the various Linux distributions have reached a point of software maturity within this past year. The only improvements happening in the Linux ecosystem right now are the competing approaches to adding containerization to software packaging.

That does look like the shape of things to come. Major distribution releases to update the lower level infrastructure every year or so. Containerized software for higher level programs (browsers, music players, video editors) being updated whenever new versions are released.

Bottom line is that Ubuntu Mate 16.10 continues to be a solid traditional desktop Linux distribution. At a time when so many other desktop environments are aping the worst aspects of smart phones, Mate further polishes the Gnome 2 legacy. If you are currently using 16.04 there’s not a lot of reason to upgrade. Version 16.04 is a Long Term Support version, which means it has 3 years of support instead of the usual 9 months.

I first came across Ubuntu Mate when I was trying it out on a Raspberry Pi. At the time it was the only serious alternative to the Raspbian operating system. Since then more alternatives have appeared as more and more Raspberry Pi drivers make their way into the Linux kernel. Fedora is the most recent Linux distribution to support the Raspberry Pi. At the time of this writing, Ubuntu Mate is only available for Raspberry Pis in the 16.04 version. I can’t find anything to suggest a newer version is in the works. I’ve been using Ubuntu Mate on my Raspberry Pi 2 & 3 for months now and I’ve been very pleased by it. A great deal of care went into its creation.