Raspberry Pi Ubuntu MATE Updates to 22.04

The Ubuntu MATE interface
(Image credit: Ubuntu MATE)

Ubuntu MATE, an official derivative of Ubuntu that uses a fork of the Gnome 2 desktop environment instead of Ubuntu’s Gnome 3 graphics extravaganza, has unleashed its latest version for Raspberry Pi boards, based on this year’s 22.04 LTS release of the popular Linux distro.

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“Ubuntu MATE for the Raspberry Pi provides a complete, familiar, desktop environment that can be used for basic desktop computing. It is also of interest to makers and device hackers who want to target Ubuntu for their projects,” reads the introductory text on the website, clearly targeting the hobbyist developer demographic with this release. “You can prototype homebrew ARMv7 or ARMv8 based IoT devices in a comfortable desktop environment, including building and testing your apps as snaps. The full Ubuntu archive is available to you. For hobbyist projects, you can stick with Ubuntu MATE for “deployment”. But, if you have something more professional in mind then the applications and snaps you’ve prototyped with Ubuntu MATE can be used with Ubuntu Server or Ubuntu Core.”

There are two versions of the new OS release, one for 32-bit Pi boards, mainly older models, and another for those for which a 64-bit OS makes more sense, like the Pi 3, 4, and all-in-one 400. The 8GB Raspberry Pi 4 especially needs a 64bit OS to access its full memory allocation. The images are optimized as much as possible for the Pi without sacrificing the full desktop environment. This means GPIO access via GPIO Zero and WiringPi (which could improve HAT compatibility) , USB booting, audio can now be routed to the HDMI or the 3.5mm socket, and working Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Under the hood, there's a 1GiB zswap RAM cache compressed using lz4 by default, and there's hardware acceleration courtesy of the full VC4/V3D KMS graphics driver. Otherwise, there's nothing particularly special going on here, it’s Ubuntu with the MATE desktop optimized for the Raspberry Pi, and the world is better for having it.

Pi 2 and 3 owners should note that there is an issue with the 32bit OS booting to a black screen unless changes are made to config.txt as detailed on the MATE website. This will be fixed in an Ubuntu update due in August.

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.