Ubuntu Mate On Pi3 Review

Hello reader,

Normally I’d post this in Linux in spite of it being for an SBC. This is mostly because I’d expect a casual Linux user to maybe try the distro for themselves and then possibly want some configuration tips.

Ubuntu Mate On Pi 3

The good… It’s as reliable as a desktop Ubuntu distribution with Mate, it feels familiar, works reliably well, and has that new OS feel provided you are running it on a capable class 10 SD or better. Many of it’s original quirks have been sorted out from my perspective, including a sound issue on hdmi which mercifully only required the addition of a boot.config file, which is now installed by default. (To be fair the last time I tried it, I was on a different SD card and that may have contributed to the no sound issue.)

The bad… Some configurations are arguably better on Rasbian, and much further improved on DietPi. Hardware support and particularly gpu support is reported to be better, and video performance is one of those key areas. However if you are using Chromium, (Which you are because Firefox is broken) enabling h264 goes a long way to better video performance. Chromium>More Tools>Extensions>Get More>Search Box. (h264) Naturally, “Firefox is broken” requires an explanation, but the short answer is, “Use Chromium.” While it is possible to enable your system to use older versions of Firefox, you’ll be downloading those from SourceForge and that isn’t all, those versions won’t get security updates.

The Ugly… Well that depends on how you feel about Ubuntu. Some of you have mixed feelings and will reluctantly use it and thank a higher power that we aren’t stuck using Fedora. Others will say: “if there is a Debian that’s what they will always prefer.” Others still might prefer Arch, but possibly haven’t been seen or heard from in years because the basement door can be locked. Honestly this is so far, head and shoulders better on Pi 3 than I ever expected. For me, “Ubuntu” was historically always the old fat lumbering resource hog, that was only good for a packaged base for things like: Mint, Backbox, and Elementary OS. I’m so glad it doesn’t have the stupid side mount panel, I’m even gladder it isn’t another Xfce – not because I dislike Xfce, but I do dislike Xubuntu.

This distro with Mate isn’t terrible, and that’s awesome.

Performance 4 Not nearly as quick as DietPi, (or as small or as configurable on setup.)

Stability 5 No hanging or freezing, multi-tabbed browsing is entirely possible.

Looks 4 No issues, the snappy design is excellent, the fonts are gorgeous.

Flexibility 4 No Firefox, makes Tor a bit rough, openvpn is possible with tweaking – lengthy tweaking

User Friendliness 5 It doesn’t get much easier.

4.4 Overall


We applaud the Ubuntu community for a job well done and hope to see this distro find wide use and acceptance among the maker community. If possible a port to Tinker Board would be a welcome addition and would undoubtedly outperform the existing Linux distributions already in use on that device. I’m enjoying this Ubuntu on Pi 3 very much.

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About @AlwaysInTao 52 Articles
Author of 20 books and over 1000 articles, programmer in 8+ languages, website and software developer, Linux administrator. Certified ethical hacker

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