Important fix for MATE – Feedback needed

An important bug fix is coming towards Linux Mint 12 for the MATE desktop. This fix addresses the following issues:

  • 100% CPU usage with certain themes
  • Panel disappearing with certain themes
  • Notification daemon freezing with certain themes

What was the cause of the issue?

The issue was a compatibility problem between the Ubuntu version of GTK and MATE which affected users depending on the theme they were using. Some themes were known to work well (Carbon, Mint-Z-Mate, Clearlooks), but most were problematic and made MATE both buggy and slow.

We removed an Ubuntu patch in GTK (010_make_bg_changes_queue_repaint.patch) and repackaged it in Romeo (the unstable branch of the Linux Mint repository).

With this new version of GTK, MATE seems stable and fast with all themes.

How to test the fix?

If you’re using MATE in Linux Mint 12 and you’re interested in testing these fixes before they become available to everyone else, please follow the steps below:

  1. Open the Update Manager
  2. Click on “Edit”->”Software Sources”
  3. Enable “Unstable packages (Romeo)”
  4. Click on “Close”
  5. Click on “Refresh”
  6. Sort the list of updates by version number
  7. Apply all updates which version is “2.24.6-0ubuntu5linuxmint1”

Once the updates are applied you will need to log out and log back in.

Why is this going through Romeo?

Romeo isn’t often used, and when it is it’s usually for a few hours and within a small group of people. Community testing usually happens between RC and stable releases. GTK is a core component in Linux Mint and so it normally wouldn’t be modified once the RC release is out. Because these bugs severely impact the stability and performance of MATE, we don’t want to wait until Linux Mint 13 to release this fix to you, but we need to ensure some level of community testing is applied to them before we let it out.

With your feedback we want to ensure this fix improves MATE and causes no other regressions.

What is the future of MATE?

In the future, MATE will likely be the only available implementation of a Gnome 2 desktop and it’s extremely important it gains in stability and features to get to the point where it can act as the true successor of Gnome 2.32 and give people who do not want to change desktops a path in future releases.

In the RC release of Linux Mint we included a first version of MATE with mintDesktop support. In the Stable release we significantly improved the MATE experience by porting mintMenu to it, by adding Mint-Z-Mate, and by fixing a critical bug which caused Caja to crash.We then followed up with updates for mintMenu and we’re now introducing this update which should put an end to most of the critical issues users are facing while using MATE.

Once we manage to get a stable desktop, the next step is to add additional features to it and to configure it so that it looks and behaves exactly like Gnome 2 did in previous releases of Linux Mint. Ultimately, our goal with MATE is to reach the stage where you can’t tell the difference with Gnome 2. It might take a while before we get there but as MATE gains momentum, it should happen eventually.

We consider MATE yet another desktop, just like KDE, Gnome 3, Xfce etc… and based on the popularity of Gnome 2 in previous releases of Linux Mint, we are dedicated to support it and to help it improve. The most popular Linux desktop was, and arguably is, Gnome 2. It is no longer possible for Linux Mint to provide Gnome 2 but there are two promising alternatives available, Gnome 3 which is stable and which could lead to an even better desktop than the one we previously had but which lacks features and flexibility at the moment, and MATE which design is identical to Gnome 2 but which lacks stability at the moment. The future will tell which of these desktops will eventually become the most popular. In the meantime we’ll be working hard to bring more features and configuration options to Gnome 3 and more stability to MATE.


I’d like to thank all the people who will participate in this test, for their help and for their feedback.