Welcome to the Ubuntu mate on Raspberry Pi 3, The most complete Desktop experience? available on Raspberry Pi devices.

Today we shall rate Ubuntu Mate along the general criteria such as :

  • User Interface (UI)
  • User Experience (UX)
  • Multimedia Performance
  • Internet Performance
  • Community/Developer Support

Ubuntu “MATE” aka Project GNOME 2 is an great alternative to Raspbian or any other desktop OS, and a lot of fun to experiment with. It is more resource-hungry because of its enrich GUI and a bit sluggish sometimes, But the Pandora of software’s available on it make Ubuntu Mate a great choice for multi-purpose SBC.

The Install : Getting Ubuntu On Raspberry Pi 3 !

You can grab the .img compressed archive of Ubuntu Mate on its official website here, They dont provide any instructions, But the process of installing is very simple. You may use any image burner, But we recommend ETCHER, an open source burning app :

etcher.io
Anyway if you decide you’re a more tech-savvy type of person, You can also use PINN, a multi-boot loader for RaspberryPi devices, Which can reinstall, repair and create swap partitions to ensure your Pi works flawlessly. We did a post on PINN here :
rPi 3 : Easy multiple OS booting with PINN Tutorial.

Ubuntu MATE : User Interface :

The User Interface is just wow, Bringing the complex full-desktop GNOME2 layout on raspberry pi, Ubuntu Mate deserves applause, Its closest competitors (Raspbian, Fedora) looks prehistoric with their minimalist desktop environment.

ubuntu mate on raspberry pi 3

Mate is polished all-around, And most customizable. There are no render issues anywhere and we found that all the menus and icons fulfill the common tasks, Such as radios, brightness, power options and sound controls. Truth to be told, Its desktop rivals ones on PC’s and laptops.

Second Test : User Experience : mate welcome screen

UX is not the most strong point of Ubuntu Mate, Altough they have taken as many steps as possible to make the experience smoother. On First boot the Welcome Screen shows you all the options one needs to get started.
There are several package-managers available, offering about 500+ software and tools, including GIMP, Audacity and VLC media player.

There are many issues of WiFi connectivity and No Sound, Which have no solve except to tinker with config or complete reinstall. There are many issues of sluggishness, But can be minimized using these overclock rates in your config :

arm_freq=1300
core_freq=500
over_voltage=4
disable_splash=1
force_turbo=1 #Voids Warranty!
boot_delay=1 #helps to avoid sdcard corruption when force_turbo is enabled.
sdram_freq=500 #RAM Overclock.
sdram_schmoo=0x02000020
over_voltage_sdram_p=6
over_voltage_sdram_i=4
gpu_mem=320

(Edit : People report external dongles for WiFi works flawlessly.)

Multimedia Performance :

Ubuntu Mate is not the OS  for rpi3 perfect multimedia machine. The OS itself is too heavy to let higher-quality videos run properly, and H265 is a myth. While Ubuntu mate comes with hardware support for videos, Via VLC and OMXplayer :

H/w Accelerated Videos on PI3
H/w Accelerated Videos on PI3

Despite its low-performance in multimedia tasks, Ubuntu mates does’t disappoint. There are a few frames drop here and there while streaming media, but it is watchable. We still recommend Libreelec & Android for top-notch multimedia performance.

Watching IPL ( & Live Indian TV) on Raspberry Pi 3 !

Internet Performance :

Spolier, Preinstalled Firefox does NOT work. You’re better off with Epiphany,Midori or chromium (just works). However if you find a web-browser, Ubuntu mate can easily handle online office-suits such as Google Office & content rich websites. The page rendering times are quick and the overall net browsing experience seems fine.
There are a number of software available, From FTP-servers, smb’s, Zeroconf, apache/nginx, upnp & A2DP, And even a server for Minecraft, all of them works just as intended and using Mate is a solid choice for running servers on your Pi.

Community/Developer Support :

Ubuntu 16.04.02 is a LTS release, You can get support from the official Ubuntu mate forum for time to come. Solutions to almost any issue is readily available, As Raspbian tweaks an tricks also works on Ubuntu Mate.

Useful Links :

Install Ubuntu Mate @ ubuntu-mate.org
Debugging Wifi on mate @ askubuntu.com
Sound output device error @ raspberrypi.org

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