MATE for Raspbian


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by marsman2020 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:02 pm
Sorry to hear about your continued USB issues, Mike. I found a mouse/keyboard that works with my hub. The mouse does drop connection and re-discover every few minutes as you describe, but it doesn't seem to impact it's usability...

Unfortunately I still have not received any reply on my github bug about the USB from anyone involved with the Pi team. I went to the trouble of borrowing an oscilloscope and spent several hours troubleshooting the issue and posting detailed information on what I did and what I found. The fact that no one has replied really bothers me. I agree if USB doesn't get straightened out, the Pi will be in danger of not succeeding in its stated goals. Too many devices that work find on other computers fail to work with the Pi right now.

I have tried plain openbox, openbox+tint2 panel, jwm, and LXDE on the original pisces images. I'll try the new MATE image next and give some feedback. The new armel Debian Wheezy image is also very usable and despite my gripes about the USB, I am happy with the rapid pace of everything else in the Pi universe.

The recent SD card improvements (I now get 20MB/s sequential reads instead of 4.4) might also make things grind to less of a halt when swap gets hit.
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by mpthompson » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:40 am
Trying to use Midori and IceWeasel on the Pisces+MATE image.

IceWeasel is just slow as molasses. I don't think this has anything to do with MATE, but rather just IceWeasel/Firefox being a pig of an application to run on the Raspberry Pi. I guess it runs, but not in anyway that could be described as being useful.

With Midori, I can browse the www.raspbian.org site fine. It's not fast by any means, but it does work. However, the whole system comes to a grinding halt if I view the www.raspberrypi.org site. Twice the system just locked up and a third time I was able to view some pages, but I clicked on one of the embedded YouTube videos and the whole system went 100MB into swap before grinding to a halt. :o

This is the first time I tried web browsing with the Raspberry Pi and it just seems to be really painful. Is this other people's experience as well? Is this specific to MATE or is browsing similar on all the desktop environments? Yeesh...
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by marsman2020 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:11 am
I've found it to be very page-dependent. One thing that helped a lot was going into the Extensions menu and turning on the AdBlock plugin for Midori, which removes a lot of taxing things from web pages.

Firefox has bloated a lot since it's beginning as Phoenix. I'd expect Midori to be faster.

On the original offical armel Debian Squeeze 4-29-12 image, Chromium seemed more responsive then Midori... It's too bad building it is currently broken for Raspbian and the new official Wheezy beta.
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by mpthompson » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:47 am
Following some advice from the IRC channel, I've installed NetSurf. It's the best I've found so far. It's not incredibly fast and it feels like web surfing back in 1999, but it's at least functional and responsive across a wide variety of web sites. NetSurf is included in the Raspbian repository and can be installed with:

apt-get install netsurf-gtk

My interest is just having a "useable" web browser that kids could at least use to look up documentation on a web site and for casual web browsing. From what I've seen of IceWeasel and Midori, those are far from useable and kids would have no patience for them. NetSurf is very basic, but that may not be bad in some respects.
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by john.mills » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:26 am
Great news as usual,

Looking at the GTK screen shots on the project site it looks like the GTK integration is pretty good:

http://www.netsurf-browser.org/about/screenshots/#gtk

Looking at the official Wheezy repositories Debian are using version 2.9, which is the latest. Is this the version you are using Mike? I tend to agree that the chosen browser does not need to support the whole html5 spec to be useful but that it should be functional enough to use broadly and be compatible in a way that online teaching media can be delivered to students. The browser is a very important software component of any modern desktop OS. Speed and reliability is very important. In all the reviews I have read about the Pi, invariably people always comment about the browsing performance.

You mentioned you used this across a number of sites, did you generally experience many problems or was things acceptable and do you think this would provide a good experience to students?

Best regards,

John
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by mard0 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:19 am
Thats a pretty interesting browser, I never heard of it before....
Aspecially the SDL backend could be interesting for this project I have, using the pi without X
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by mpthompson » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:41 pm
john.mills wrote:You mentioned you used this across a number of sites, did you generally experience many problems or was things acceptable and do you think this would provide a good experience to students?


My comments are mostly driven by my impression of IceWeasel and Midori that their performance would be completely unacceptable to give to kids (and adults for that matter). I have no idea how standards compliant NetSurf is, but it at least rendered pages with reasonable speed without hitting swap.
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by mpthompson » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:43 pm
mard0 wrote:Thats a pretty interesting browser, I never heard of it before....
Aspecially the SDL backend could be interesting for this project I have, using the pi without X


I have never heard of it either. When finding things useful for the Pi I believe we're going to have to cast a pretty wide net as in many cases the most obvious candidate applications will be unsuitable for the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi.
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by RandomDuck » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:37 pm
Not sure if it is the same issue but I found Midori (ironically) froze on the Raspberry Pi site front page. Following some advice I set vm.min_free_kbytes =16384 in /etc/sysctl.conf and Midori no longer freezes.
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by mpthompson » Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:55 am
RandomDuck wrote:Not sure if it is the same issue but I found Midori (ironically) froze on the Raspberry Pi site front page. Following some advice I set vm.min_free_kbytes =16384 in /etc/sysctl.conf and Midori no longer freezes.


Interesting. Thanks for the tip. I'll give it a try to make sure it works for me and add it to the Wiki notes associated with the MATE image.
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by mpthompson » Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:11 am
One of the nice things about MATE is that it can use the rich variety of Gnome 2 themes that are available all over the web to improve the look of the MATE Desktop. To demonstrate this, I went ahead and ported all 15 Bisigi Project themes to MATE and they are now part of the MATE repository. Go here to preview which themes are available:

http://www.bisigi-project.org/?page_id=6&lang=en

Then use the following apt-get commands to install a specific theme. Remember to use apt-get update before attempting to install a theme to make sure your apt sources are current.
apt-get install airlines-theme
apt-get install aquadreams-theme
apt-get install balanzan-theme
apt-get install bamboo-zen-theme
apt-get install eco-theme
apt-get install ellanna-theme
apt-get install exotic-theme
apt-get install infinity-theme
apt-get install orange-theme
apt-get install showtime-theme
apt-get install split-theme
apt-get install step-into-freedom-theme
apt-get install tropical-theme
apt-get install ubuntu-sunrise-theme
apt-get install wild-shine-theme

Some of these themes include SVG files and other features that may slow down the MATE desktop. You'll have to use your own judgement as to whether the improved eye candy with the overhead.

Here is an image of my desktop with the Bamboo Zen theme:

Image
Click here to enlarge image
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by john.mills » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:45 am
Looking good Mike!

If you run a memory command now is there much difference to the stock desktop in RAM usage?

With the addition of a few applications I would be very happy to give that desktop to a student to learn on. I think you will double your user base right away... it is amazing what a good theme does.

In respect of Netsurf the project page claims :

'Most of HTML 4 and CSS 2.1 are implemented which enabled NetSurf to access most of the web, however, JavaScript is currently unimplemented. This means NetSurf currently lacks support for certain dynamic content.'

To save posting a list in this thread you can take a look here:

http://www.netsurf-browser.org/documentation/progress#Web

I think Netsurf looks very promising if Midori is as unusable as you say. It will be interesting to contact some Netsurf developers if needs be.

Regards,

John
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by mard0 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:55 pm
mpthompson wrote:One of the nice things about MATE is that it can use the rich variety of Gnome 2 themes that are available all over the web to improve the look of the MATE Desktop. To demonstrate this, I went ahead and ported all 15 Bisigi Project themes to MATE and they are now part of the MATE repository. Go here to preview which themes are available:

http://www.bisigi-project.org/?page_id=6&lang=en

Then use the following apt-get commands to install a specific theme. Remember to use apt-get update before attempting to install a theme to make sure your apt sources are current.
apt-get install airlines-theme
apt-get install aquadreams-theme
apt-get install balanzan-theme
apt-get install bamboo-zen-theme
apt-get install eco-theme
apt-get install ellanna-theme
apt-get install exotic-theme
apt-get install infinity-theme
apt-get install orange-theme
apt-get install showtime-theme
apt-get install split-theme
apt-get install step-into-freedom-theme
apt-get install tropical-theme
apt-get install ubuntu-sunrise-theme
apt-get install wild-shine-theme

Some of these themes include SVG files and other features that may slow down the MATE desktop. You'll have to use your own judgement as to whether the improved eye candy with the overhead.

Here is an image of my desktop with the Bamboo Zen theme:

Image
Click here to enlarge image


You might wan to take a look at http://simpledesktops.com/ If you're looking for some nice simple wallpapers to pimp your pi. I think that spacially "brain" is a really nice one. And they should load pretty fast on the pi because of their small size.
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by mpthompson » Sat Jun 23, 2012 12:00 am
RandomDuck wrote:Not sure if it is the same issue but I found Midori (ironically) froze on the Raspberry Pi site front page. Following some advice I set vm.min_free_kbytes =16384 in /etc/sysctl.conf and Midori no longer freezes.


I tried this out and it works. Thanks again. I still find Midori painfully slow and I can see that it just gobbles up tons of memory.

The specs for my iPhone 3G are roughly equivalent to the Raspberry Pi, and my iPhone only has a fraction of the memory. Need to find a browser solution for the Raspberry Pi that runs at least as well as Safari on the iPhone 3G.
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by mpthompson » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:58 pm
Has anyone made use of the MATE image? Is it working for you? Do you feel MATE is worthwhile on the Raspberry Pi?

Basically I want to get a feel from other users if it worth my time and attention to continue to maintain MATE binaries for Raspbian. I prefer to use MATE myself verses the alternatives such as Xfce and LXDE, but maintaining it for my own use is probably not a wise investment of my time.
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by john.mills » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:15 pm
Hi MIke,

I think you are certainly not maintaining this just for your own use. One thing to consider is that now the Pi hardware is only being distributed in limed numbers to those concerned with tinkering and using the Pi in a way it likely will not be used typically once it is in a school / class room environment. The GNOME 2 desktop has been tried and tested for many years and is very functional and provides an excellent basis for a desktop distribution. I would say that once the Pi hardware is shipped it will prove to be very popular.

LXDE is also a good choice, I posted a link to ROSA Linux yesterday : http://www.linuxbsdos.com/2012/06/22/rosa-2012-lxde-review/, this shows just how nice but like you I also feel it is not as functional as GNOME 2 and the experience is not as complete. With MATE you can make a very beautiful looking desktop and have your application integrate together very well this is important. Consistency is a goal to strive for. When more people start to use the MATE / RASPIAN desktop I am sure you will get a lot of encouragement. If you look at the other early 'desktop' targeting releases none of them are striving to produce a really well integrated experience. With MATE and Raspbian the opportunity is there. My Pi should arrive in about 2-3 weeks, I would be very happy to try and make a functional, fast and beautiful desktop facing release. I think it will prove that you are on the right track.

I hope the Raspbian community rallies around this idea and we can make something of the ilk of Mint and Ubuntu.

Regards,

John
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by Steep » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:02 pm
I tried it but it was to my mind slow and heavy. I tried to install (I think it was Cheese) but it wanted to uninstall Gnome first which would have been daft, gone back to Pisces R2 for now.

/edit p.s. would love to see that bamboo-zen-theme on plain Raspbian :)
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by rleyden » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:25 pm
mpthompson wrote:Has anyone made use of the MATE image? Is it working for you? Do you feel MATE is worthwhile on the Raspberry Pi?
.

Mike,
I've been using your MATE for a few days and it's been the best (out of 4) Rpi images I've tried. I especially appreciate that you've pre-loaded many useful applications and have it configured in a ready-to-use fashion. I personally would rather download a larger image even if it has some feature I don't need.

That said, I may not be the best to evaluate of this image.since my main focus is to get a webcam server working. I'm mainly using the x desktop for debugging and testing related programs like cheese, guvcview, and camorama. Once everything works, I plan to run it headless.
Nevertheless, I can report with MATE loaded I can also run apache2 (serving a auto-reloading html to my laptop) and fswebcam in a continuous loop mode (-l 15 {15 seconds between captures}}). The cpu load peaks at about 15% and 114M free ram. This seems amazingly economical use of resources.

I do have an unresolved problem, probably unrelated to MATE. I'll report it here because I'm not sure of a better spot.
After running the system over night, I noticed new images were no longer being captured and the system seemed very sluggish. Strangely, "top" showed unchanged (low) cpu useage and still plenty of free ram. The same webcam has run months on end on a Windows system and also seems fine under Ubuntu. I may be able to work around this by using cron to schedule system reboots occasionally.

Your efforts are appreciated,

Rich
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by ScoobyDoo » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:41 pm
I've had a quick play with it and think its quite snappy and enjoy the look of it.
I've set it up on a friends pi as his main desktop and I've installed netsurf as his main browser.

Netsurf runs fine and is far quicker than midori, it's never going to be as quick as a x86 desktop to surf the net but it's usable.

Thanks for getting mate out in the open, it gives people another option and we really appreciate it.
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by chrisw2 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:12 pm
mpthompson wrote:Has anyone made use of the MATE image? ...

No, nor do I intend to!

So I would rather see your time & attention go elsewhere.

Sorry but you did ask :)
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by mpthompson » Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:27 pm
chrisw2 wrote:No, nor do I intend to!

So I would rather see your time & attention go elsewhere.

Sorry but you did ask :)


No problem. I did ask for feedback.
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by mpthompson » Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:33 pm
rleyden wrote:I do have an unresolved problem, probably unrelated to MATE. I'll report it here because I'm not sure of a better spot.
After running the system over night, I noticed new images were no longer being captured and the system seemed very sluggish. Strangely, "top" showed unchanged (low) cpu useage and still plenty of free ram. The same webcam has run months on end on a Windows system and also seems fine under Ubuntu. I may be able to work around this by using cron to schedule system reboots occasionally.


Thanks for the feedback. Sorry I don't have anything specific suggestions on this issue. My guess would be some type of memory or other resource leak related to the webcam or USB driver that doesn't appear in the system resource monitor. I would encourage you to post this issue into a thread of its own as others may have ideas on how to diagnose why the system suddenly gets slow after an extended period of time. I've been running Raspbian/MATE for many days in a row without such issues.
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by jerry.tk » Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:26 am
Seems there is/was USB driver memory leak indeed. See this commit.
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by Evilbadger » Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:45 am
mpthompson wrote:Has anyone made use of the MATE image? Is it working for you? Do you feel MATE is worthwhile on the Raspberry Pi?


I've not tried the MATE image, but I have installed MATE on top of a basic Raspbian install (much love to jerry.tk for his work on the installer).
I've always found MATE (formerly Gnome 2) to provide the best "out the box" user experience, and while it may not be the most pretty/functional/etc. desktop environment it does at least provide enough for the majority of users.

I would appreciate it if you continued to maintain your port of MATE for Raspbian.
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by CalcProgrammer1 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:54 am
I just installed this image yesterday and I have to say it's quite nice. I've always been a fan of GNOME 2 and was mad when Ubuntu left it for Unity, causing me to switch to Debian for a few months until they too switched to GNOME 3. The Mate project restored sanity to the Linux universe and let us be happy again. I'm glad to see it made its way to the Pi, and it runs very well. I'm using LXMusic on Mate and it works well, VLC was a bit laggy.

I was listening to music on it and the sound was pretty good, but then I ran rpi-updater and now the sound is horrible (analog jack->amplified speakers->headphones). I saw in the git commit log that they were messing with sound, but all it seems to have done is make the quality worse. The high end is completely gone. I might revert to the older firmware until they resolve that problem.

Overall this is a great release! It makes the Pi feel like a useful, powerful computer. Now I just need to hook some cool stuff up to the GPIO lines, haven't got to play with those yet.
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