How to Install the GTK3 Version of MATE on Arch Linux

If I were to describe one of the current Linux trends as of late, it would be lightweight desktops. A lot of interest has been generated around projects that create a desktop Linux experience that has the ability to run lighter on your machine.

Perhaps the most notable is the Mate project. If you don’t know about it, here’s a quick overview. Mate is the spiritual successor to the extremely popular Gnome 2.x. They’ve taken the source code from that old project and converted it into something a lot more modern.

The Mate desktop is pretty great. It’s light, efficient and people don’t have a hard time figuring it out. There is one problem though. The software it’s built on is getting pretty dated and isn’t as good as it could be. How do we solve this issue? Simple! Upgrade Mate to GTK3.

Note: upgrading Mate from GTK2 to GTK3 is unstable. Do this at your own risk.

To upgrade your Mate install, you’ll need to add a repository to your pacman configuration file. You can easily do this by editing this file (as root) in your text editor of choice. Open up a terminal window and enter the following.


sudo nano /etc/pacman.conf

Once you’ve opened your “pacman.conf” file, paste the code below into it.

SigLevel = Optional TrustAll
Server =$arch

When the repository has been added to “pacman.conf”, save it (Ctrl + o) and exit nano (Ctrl + x). After that you’ll need to update pacman to reflect the changes you’ve made. Enter the following into the terminal window.


sudo pacman -Syy

Now that pacman is updated and sees the new repository, you can finally update Mate from GTK2 to GTK3.


sudo pacman -S mate-unstable-gtk3 mate-unstable-extra-gtk3

When the command above is entered, pacman will prompt you to replace a whole lot of Mate GTK2 components with GTK3 ones. Say yes to all of them.


When all of the components are replaced, you’ll have the GTK3 version of the Mate desktop instead of the GTK2 version.

Reverting from GTK3 back to 2 is fairly easy. Just enter this command into a terminal to remove it completely.

sudo pacman -Rsc mate-unstable-gtk3 mate-unstable-extra-gtk3

Once this command has finished, you’ll have removed the GTK3 version of Mate.

If you want, you can also go back into your “pacman.conf” file and remove the repository. Doing this is considered optional as both versions of Mate are marked as different packages.

Note: you may need to re-install the GTK2 version of Mate after removing the updated one.

Mate is an awesome piece of software if what you are looking for is a lightweight experience. It’s great. It has everything that you could ever ask for when it comes to a functional desktop. The only real issue is that GTK2 is starting to show its age. This is why I’m really glad there’s a version running with something a bit more modern.

What version of Mate do you prefer? Tell us what you think in the comment section below!