Linux Mint: Mate vs XFCE

New-ish to Linux. I have a few questions but it’s best if I dedicate each question to a single thread.

I love both of these desktop environments. Don’t really know which one to go for.

Which one is ‘better’: More stable, more supported, etc.

What are the differences between the two? I have heard that Mate is on its way out. Is that true?

Also, why does XFCE have two terminals? That really annoys me. They seem to be the exact same thing. One is named the terminal emulator and the other is labelled the command line. Or something like that.

Also, which one is more friendly for lower end hardware. I have an ultrabook i3 - 5th gen (cba to look up the name for this generation) with 8GB RAM. So I’m not entirely on low end hardware, though I would prefer the Linux being as lightweight as possible.

Hello Alair,

From what I can tell, Xfce is lighter on resources than MATE. My best guess for resource usage of UIs or DEs --from lightest to heaviest-- would go something like this:

Command line only, Windows Managers (e.g. Openbox, Fluxbox, etc.), an LXDE-style DE (e.g. Peppermint), Xfce (e.g. Xubuntu), MATE (e.g. Ubuntu MATE), GNOME (e.g. Ubuntu GNOME), Ubuntu, KDE (e.g. Kubuntu).

I can personally attest that Xubuntu is as solid as a rock! MATE is very popular too, and I’ve never heard anyone complain about it --ever. Personally, I like Xfce better than MATE. If you like the menu of MATE, then I would suggest trying Peppermint --because, in my opinion, the menu is even easier to use than MATE’s, and you also get the added benefit of having Peppermint’s support forum too.

I don’t know where you heard that MATE was on its way out. Although MATE is based on an older style of GNOME, MATE seems to be increasing in popularity over time --not decreasing. I guess going retro is hip these days! But, lets not forget, Xfce is retro too --twenty years old! Xfce just isn’t getting the press it deserves. :frowning:

For lightness and practicality, I, personally, would either go for Peppermint or Xubuntu. But, in fairness to Ubuntu MATE, it’s supposed to be quite good on resources too, and a lot of people now think it’s the best flavor of Ubuntu around.

Alair, why not try all three of these distros for yourself --using either a flash drive or some inexpensive DVD-Rs. Peppermint, Xubuntu, and Ubuntu MATE are all winners really! I don’t think you can go wrong with any one of them. :wink:

Alair, I don’t know why there are so many terminal options with Xfce. I just pick the one that says terminal, or terminal emulator. I pick the one that looks like a normal terminal, and then I use it and forget about the others. But your question is still a good one. But don’t let it bug you. There must be some reason for having two terminals. These developers really do know what they’re doing. Whatever the reason, it’s not accidental. :slight_smile:


I’d also suggest giving Peppermint 6 a whirl too … it’s lighter than both Mint MATE and Mint Xfce, and cherry picks the best components from a few DE’s (LXDE / Xfce / Cinnamon / Gnome / MATE) and integrates them into a cohesive whole, so you end up with the lightness of an LXDE session but with the benefits of more feature rich components from the other DE’s

But yeah I’m with perknh … test them ALL out on a LiveUSB, and make up your own mind, otherwise you’ll generally get 100 different opinions from 100 different people (that’s the way the Linux world works … lots of opinions and choices is not detrimental in fact it’s a Linux strength, but it can be confusing for a new user, so it’s usually best to listen what others say then make your own choices).

Anyone that tells you “xxxx” is the best distro (without saying why, and offering alternatives) is just giving a fanboy opinion that should probably be ignored … there is no one size fits all “best” distribution … the most people can offer is general advice such as “if you’re new to Linux it’d probably be best to start with an Ubuntu based distro (such as Mint / Peppermint / *buntu /etc.) simply because of the wealth of available “support” resources (forums / large user base / docs / dedicated websites / online tutorials / etc.)”.

For disclosure - I help make Peppermint 6, so obviously it’ll fit closest with what I consider to be “best” (otherwise I’d change it), this doesn’t make it “best” for everyone … drawing your own conclusions is really the only way forward, so try as many distros as you can.

Then choose Peppermint 6 … only kidding :wink:

I know you’re saying this in jest, PCNetSpec, but that ended up being scifidude79’s conclusion too – from over at Peppermint’s forum. scifidude’s favorite version of MATE is from Mint; his favorite version of Xfce is Xubuntu, but, pound for pound, the best of them all, according to scifidude79, remains Peppermint 6 --which, to all of us who have tried it agree, is both a jewel, and an LXDE-styled masterpiece, within the world of Linux!* :slight_smile:

*All of us, that is, except veggie! :wink:

+1 !

Many years ago, I was a Unix sys Admin, and whilst I have forgotten most of it, I have to say that, of all the distro’s I have tried, Peppermint 6 makes the most sense to me, and I have nothing but praise for it, and for its development team.

I fully accept that a distro is a personal choice, but it is top of my list now as a recommend, and several friends and family members (PC’s) have been “Pepperminted”.

They are both stable, the same as far as I know. This is one of the benefits of Mint, it doesn’t use the latest Greatest Updates from Ubuntu Repositories, but only what they call Level 3 Updates. You can configure easily to allow up to Level 5 Updates if you like, but are slightly less stable.

Forget about the two Terminals, maybe one is for root only. There is a technical reason but I could not explain it to you.

IMO Mate is just a bigger better OS and best for your pc, but Xfce is also very nice and quick, AND, has an expandable Menu…and I just love that! From what I could tell they both use the same amount of resources at idle and to open Browsers. Now…opening the file manager or Word processor will be a little quicker in Xfce but with that pc it probably don’t matter, dual core 3mb cache!.