MATE is a fork of the Gnome 2 code base, created in response to the many breaking changes in Gnome 3, many of which were met with disapproval by long-time Gnome users.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Works great on old machines
Because it's older codebase is based on Gnome 2 which was the champion for desktop environments for a long time, it's very stable and has plenty of features which work perfectly for old machines.
Pro Very stable
Code base is very stable and virtually bug-free.
Pro Decently customizable
Can customize a lot of its aspects, and using a window manager like Compiz.
Pro Traditional desktop experience
The goal of MATE is to maintain the look and feel of Gnome 2, while maintaining compatibility with Gnome 3. To that end, it has also forked and renamed many of Gnome's core applications. It benefits from the years of work and polish that have gone into Gnome project, and has already been adopted as one of the default environments for Linux Mint.
Pro Distraction-free environment
Pro Multiple panels work great across multiple displays
This is very simple, but it is something much appreciate: the panel's window list is per display. So if you move a window over your second display, it gets transferred to the window list on the second display's panel. Multiple display support works very intuitively, right out of the box, with minimal tweaking.
Pro Has menu icons
MATE has icons in every popupmenu which makes navigating through them very fast.
Pro Has window borders
Other than GNOME, MATE has not introduced OSX-alike Client Side decorations
Pro MATE is a serviceable choice
MATE is a solid serviceable choice for a DE. It is reliable and easy to customize. However, it lacks the panel management and rich choices of panel applets found in Xfce, and it lacks the icon placement in multiple monitors found in Cinnamon, KDE, or Windows.
Pro Pays its developpers
Thanks to the Patreon page, money is collected to pay for the developpers maintaining and adding new features to MATE
Con No official forum
Instead of having an official forum, users are redirected to their distributions support forums.
You might get help at the Ubuntu MATE or Linux Mint forums but they are still mainly for distribution specific issues.
Con Not really user friendly
Some apps have really rough edges, for example:
- Caja: by open an SVG-file and get a Dialog with 4 Buttons(Run in Terminal, Display, Cancel & Run) at least two of them make no sense. You can also right click on them to choose the application, however you default application for that filetype is not on this list.
- Panel: Empty panel applets are about 1px wide so you really cant resize or move them to organize your panel.
Con Requires XML for wallpaper slideshow.
As described on Gnome 3, Mate being a fork of even older GNOME technologies requires for (some unfathomable reason) to create a curated XML file for a desktop slideshow, instead of the more logical and modern systems used by other DEs, which consists of simply pointing at a folder and the DE figures the rest out.
Con MATE lacks customized desktop icon placement on multiple monitors
MATE does not permit placement of desktop icons on the monitor of choice in a multiple monitor setup. For example, with 2 or 3 monitors, with MATE you cannot place the desktop icons on the right-hand monitor -- they always move to the left-hand monitor. By contrast, you have control of desktop icon placement on multiple monitors with Cinnamon, KDE, and Windows.
Con Unfriendly and hostile developers
Con Not very likely to have new features
Since it's basically a fork of Gnome 2, and it's created to satisfy Gnome 'purists' it's very unlikely for it to add new features more in line with modern DEs.
Con Issues with changing users permissions and access
Con Dated look and feel