Installing opensuse 13.2 MATE

Now that MATE is part of the opensuse software, I decided to try it out.

I began by booting the DVD installer image (on a USB).  This was the 64-bit edition for opensuse 13.2.  I already knew that MATE was not directly installable from the DVD image.  So I was prepared for that.

Starting the install

The install began in the usual manner.  I first had to agree to the license.  Next there was a screen to configure my wifi card.  Then there was a screen to add online repos during the install.  It might have been easier to do that, since MATE is in the online repos.  But I decided to stick with an offline install anyway.

Next came the partitioning, the user account setup and the timezone setup.

Selecting a desktop

Somewhere along the line, there was a screen where I could choose a desktop environment.  The choices were “KDE”, “Gnome” or “other”.  As expected, MATE was not offered.  So I chose “other”.  The next screen gave me a choice of “XFCE”, “minimal X” or “minimal server”.  I went with minimal X.

This was followed by the summary screen.  I made a minor change to the boot configuration.  And I told it to enable the “sshd” server and open the “ssh” port.  Otherwise, I went with the defaults and proceeded to the actual install.

The install itself did not take long, probably because so little was being intalled with that “minimal X” selection.

After the reboot

The system rebooted, and I was presented with the rather basic XDM login screen.  I logged in, and found that I was in an “Icewm” session.  This was about what I had expected.

I checked the network.  I was not connected.  Perhaps I had mistyped the wifi security key during the install setup.  So I went into Yast network settings, and reconfigured the wifi card.  This time the network started properly.

Installing MATE

Once I had a network connection, I started Yast Software Management.  With the “View” selection, I chose “Patterns”.  Then, using the “Patterns” tab, I selected “MATE base system” and “MATE desktop environment”.  I then switched to the “Search” view, and installed a few other software components that I normally use.

I clicked the “Accept” button, and the MATE install began.  I still had the install USB plugged in, and about half of the installed software came from there.  But most of the MATE-specific components were downloaded over the network.

The login manager

The next step was to change the login manager.  XDM was already configured, but that is not as flexible as some of the other choices.  So I decided to go with “lightdm”, which was installed when I selected those MATE patterns.

I used Yast “/etc/sysconfig” editor to make that change.  There, I selected

Desktop –> Display Manager –> DISPLAYMANAGER

and changed the value from “xdm” to “lightdm”.  I saved the results, and rebooted.

Using MATE

Upon reboot, the “lightdm” login screen came up.  I selected “MATE” as the desktop, and logged in.

I was greeted with an error message.  I did not write down the message, so I am unable to give the exact wording.  It said something about a Gnome menu, and said that it was missing.  I gave me an option to delete it from the configuration (I did).

I’m not sure what that was about.  I think the MATE desktop may have been configured to use a Gnome menu.  But, because Gnome was not installed, the Gnome menu was unavailable.  This looks like a bug, but I have not reported it.  I would want to repeat the install before reporting.

Once I was logged into MATE, the desktop had a pleasing appearance.  But there was no menu to start applications.  I was able to use ALT-F2 to start a specific program.  I started an “xterm” so that I could look around.

There was a panel at the bottom of the screen, including a few tray icons (for power, sound volume, etc).  There was a network icon, but it showed the network as disconnected.  I later switched from “wicked” to “NetworkManager”, and after that change the network icon became useful.

Right clicking on the panel, there was an option to add additional panel elements.  I selected that.  I was presented with a number of choices.  One of those was for the MATE main menu.  I selected that, and clicked the “Add” button at the bottom.

I now had a menu.  And it seemed to be a pretty good menu.

Overall summary

Installing MATE was not too difficult, though it did involve a few more steps than installing KDE or Gnome.  Once installed, it seemed to work pretty well.  I’ll probably stick with KDE, but MATE is a desktop that would work well for me.  I would prefer it to Gnome 3.

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About Neil Rickert

Mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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  1. More on MATE and opensuse 13.2 | Thoughts on computing - 2014/11/19

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