SparkyLinux MATE is an open source Linux distribution built around the MATE desktop environment and based on the stable branch of Debian GNU/Linux. It provides users with a very fast, simple and traditional computing environment. The SparkyLinux operating system comes with multiple desktops, support for most wireless and wired network cards, and a straightforward installation process.

Distributed as 32-bit and 64-bit Live DVDs

The MATE edition of SparkyLinux reviewed here is distributed as Live DVD ISO images that support both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures. They can be deployed on USB sticks or DVD discs and used as-is.

Another great aspect of using the Live DVDs of SparkyLinux is that they are supported in several languages, including English, Romanian, Spanish, French, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, German, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Hungarian, Slovak, Czech, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Hebrew, Greek, Hindi and Italian.

Boot options

Users who encounter graphical issues with any of these options, should use the failsafe or text modes and start the graphical interface from there, using the startx command. If that fails, then you’re out of luck, as your video card is not supported.

MATE is the default and only desktop environment

The MATE desktop, a clone of the traditional GNOME 2 user interface, is comprised of a single panel located on the upper part of the screen, and a dock (application launcher) on the bottom edge of the screen.

Default applications

Default applications include the Iceweasel web browser, Icedove email client, Pidgin instant messenger, uGet download manager, Transmission BitTorrent client, XChat IRC client, Liferea news reader, gFTP FTP client, LibreOffice office suite, Exaile music player, GNOME MPlayer video player, VLC Media Player, and GIMP image editor.

All the standard MATE applications are included in this edition of SparkyLinux, such as the Caja file manager, pluma text editor, Eye of MATE image viewer, MATE Calculator, MATE Terminal, Engrampa archive manager, Atril document viewer, and MATE system monitor.

Bottom line

SparkyLinux MATE is a recent, but trusted Linux distro that proved to be stable enough for daily use. It is used with success by home users and office workers alike for more than the common daily tasks.