Mate vs Xfce - in the future


Given the very slow development of Xfce in contrast to Mate, I wonder if with the generalization in the near future of Wayland then the arrival of Gtk 4, if the distributions based on the Xfce environment should think migrate to Mate.
This is the path I took myself, and I am amazed at the result. I have almost exactly the same appearance, especially with the arrival of the Brisk-Menu. In my opinion, today Mate is a safer path than Xfce and has a more certain future. Mate 1.18 will surely be one of the best version and will do a lot of twists to Xfce.
Should not Manjaro think of going to Mate for his flagship?

What do you think guys?

PS: This is only my thought and this doesn’t reflect the Manjaro team.

Why not drop XFCE and use Mate as default?
Gtk2 XFCE vs gtk3 MATE.. opinions?

If there will be a new flagship then make it KDE. There is no other DE than KDE. :slight_smile:
Thing is, Mate is based on Gnome, and no Gnome for me. Not now, not ever.


When I say flagship I mean “Official” ;). Xfce is Gtk like Mate. So, I just want to debate around the pros and the cons of a replacement of the XFCE edition by a MATE edition.


I would recommend sticking with XFCE specifically for the reason you are suggesting MATE should be considered. This being a rolling release should have at least one DE that will remain stable. XFCE has weathered the GTK3 storm quite well, and will have it’s GTK3 upgrade completed as the toolkit stabilizes. That is the beauty of XFCE it knows what it does well and generally takes the turrtle vs hare approach.

On a personal taste note, I find all the Gnome based desktops feel restrictive in what I can and cannot easily configure. KDE and XFCE both offer a greater degree of freedom. I think they have worked together very well so far, having one truly cutting edge DE and one old boring stable one.


Well, definitely no KDE on my part. Never.

But to get back to your suggestion. I have been thinking about this lately as well. XFCE is becoming outdated now. It is why I switched to Cinnamon. I like it better than Mate, but Mate is nice as well. And development is much more active on Mate compared to XFCE. I think switching XFCE out for Mate would be a good thing. Mate is, for as long as I ran it (this is about 9 to 7 months ago though), pretty much as stable as XFCE.

Jazzy June (2017) Screenshots

@nadb Maybe Xfce is stable, but stable doesn’t mean without bugs: there aren’t many developers who takes care of it every day. Mate is actively developed and I think it could be considered more stable in the way it is more tested and more reviewed.

@CykloTronic86 I’m a user of Gnome based-environment but I’m glad that we have Gtk and Kde versions.


I have used both a lot and find XFCE is fine. It has some better features than Mate so I would not agree with the proposed change. An example is the pulse audio applet that can go higher than 100, which is what I have been looking for a long time.

XFCE is being developed just at a different rate to Mate. Regarding performance I have found no real difference betweeen them.


@AJ100 are you sure that you can’t go higher?


Yes I could do that but had to open it and do that, which was not as nice as the applet where I can move over 100 from the panel. Other people use my PC and they really liked that it could be increased from the panel.

The other thing I liked about XFCE was the whisker menu, but the brisk menu has evened things.

I used to be a big supporter of Mate but the gtk3 breakages made me change my opinion.


Xfce is manjaros flagship DE, i dont think it would be wise to jump ship to Mate after all the hard work that has gone into Xfce. Xfce is solid as a rock, it would better to build on what is already known and further its capabilities into the future.

Dont get me wrong, Mate is a great de, but so is Xfce.



I agree.


I have had problems with MATE crashing and getting buggy pretty much any time I play around with the panel layout, and I have found it to be comparatively slow (nothing to do with the compositor settings) in starting some apps, but hey I have an extra machine laying around and will give it another shot. Maybe it has improved since my last test drive a couple of months ago. Really though I don’t support any changes in the official DE’s because quite frankly the numbers don’t lie. If users were clamoring for MATE it would already be there, and the most common mistake I see with distros, and apps is generally developer forced changes. Look at Gnome 3 :wink: The number of users on KDE and XFCE outstrips MATE by a large margin and the idea that changing this is just a matter of official support is a conceit. That is how you lose users. The only right way to do it is to add support, not to add by subtraction, and if the resources are not there to do that then I don’t see it as a realistic option. If on the other hand the DE falls into a state of disrepair so to speak, and is no longer usable then yes dropping it would be an option, but I don’t think XFCE is there, and it does have quite the track record for sticking around.


Thank you for taking the time to think about it. It’s cool to have different opinions and I suspect that Xfce will remain the official flavor for quite a while. I speak mainly of a future a little far even if it is impossible to guess what will happen. I put a hypothesis in the case where Xfce would fall behind the new technologies (Wayland, Gtk3, then Gtk4, …). It’s true that I think more like a developer. I find it aberrant that we are still dragging Gtk2.


Wayland, would you please get here already…X wont be going away for a long, long time even once Gnome and KDE fully implement it. Old tech tends to linger. I would love to have all the nice new shiny, but the nice new shiny likes to break, as Gtk3 proved, again, and again, and again. I think you can thank that for us still dragging around Gtk2.


If it wasnt for developers like yourself posing such questions it would be a boring old windows world. Maybe a in the future some hybrid collaboration to make the best known and used DE’s give birth to a totally new one that brings the best of both worlds together.


I think the slow and stable development of xfce is a good combo with rolling release. I think we get gtk3 xfce before we get fully functional wayland ecosystem. Then converting xfce to wayland might be just a matter of changing window manager.

I think that the fact that xfce is lighter than mate also works in its favor. This means that it suitable for wider range of machines, though the margin is narrower than compared with say, gnome or KDE.

But I think mate could be a good candidate for official edition too. I don’t have much experience with it though. But it has fairly large user base because of mint and ubuntu mate, and is not the forefront of new technologies. Both of these should contribute in its stability.

I think for official edition, some important attributes are:

  • stability
  • full featurednes / completeness
  • approachability
  • security (= points for wayland)
  • not tied to one initsystem, because manjaro supports two
  • lightness (manjaro has users without access to premium hardware)


I love the editions officially supported but I can not imagine the new user who has the choice between three different desktops. Already, when he has just changed his system and his choice has focused on Manjaro, he still has a choice to make.


Although this is not the kind of desktop I would use myself. I prefer bleeding edge and diy approach, so it’s gnome and my own patchwork bspwm desktop for me. But I don’t they have similar potential for official editions.


no future


@eugen-b about what?