Monday, March 8, 2021

Installing Ubuntu Mate on a Virtual Machine

If you're looking for a lightweight and robust Linux distribution, check Ubuntu Mate. A lighter version of Ubuntu but not not less powerful
Ubuntu MATE's default desktop

Before switching to Linux permanently, it's recommended to test it first on a virtual machine so that you can feel the experience before making permanent changes on your system.

On this tutorial, we will continue revisiting the best lightweight distributions of 2021 and learn how to install Ubuntu MATE on VirtualBox in Windows 10.

This process should be pretty similar to accomplish in either VirtualBox or VMWare Workstation player.

About Ubuntu MATE

Ubuntu MATE is a lightweight and simplified Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. It's stable, easy-to-use and comes with the lightweight (and familiar) MATE desktop environment. It is ideal for those who want the most out of their computers and prefer a traditional. Another advantage is that it requires modest hardware requirements.

Another advantage of Ubuntu MATE is that it runs from modern workstations, to single board computers and IoT. Ubuntu MATE makes modern computers fast and old computers usable.

Downloading Ubuntu MATE

Head to Ubuntu Mate download page an grab the ISO by clicking on 64-bit PCs/Macs > 20.04.1 LTS Focal Fossa. For this tutorial we'll use Ubuntu MATE 20.04 LTS which's the a version supported until April 2023. The file should be around 2.5 Gb in size so go grab a coffee while it downloads.

An ISO is simply an image of the installer containing all the files needed to boot and install that distribution in your system.

Installing Mate

With the ISO downloaded, let's start the process. Open VirtualBox:

VirtualBox's main screen

Click New, enter the name of the VM, set Type = Linux and Version = Ubuntu (64-bit) and specify its save location:

Choose the memory size (4Gb or more is recommended):

Create a Virtual Hard Disk:

As Hard disk file type, Choose VDI (VirtualBox's default format):

Set it to Dynamically Allocated (slower) if you don't have much disk space or Fixed Size (faster) if you do:

Specify file location and size (recommended: 20GB), click Review > Create:

After clicking Create, you should see a summary of your new VM:

Booting the VM

Okay, so it's now time to boot (load) our VM so we can install it in the virtual hard drive. On the screen above click on Start to have your VM initialized. We'll first need to attach our ISO as if it were a virtual CD-ROM. Click Add and select your downloaded ISO from your Downloads folder and click Create to set it:

Installing Ubuntu

Once your VM boots, you will be asked to choose a language in the very first screen:

And will be prompted with this pleasant menu:

For our setup, choose the third (3) option: Install Ubuntu MATE. A few seconds later, you should see the loaded installer where you'll again be able to choose your language:

Select your keyboard:

Choose what/how to install and if you would like to download updates during installation:

On the Installation type screen, choose Erase disk and install Ubuntu MATE (don't worry, none of your files will be deleted):

Select your time zone:

And the installation begins. Give it 10 minutes or so and have fun with the information provided:

Installation Begins

You'll see nice progress, tips and tricks during the install

Once it ends, you'll be asked to reboot:

First Login

With the installation done, let's login the first time. Enter your password as specified during the installation on the login screen:

Default Desktop

After login, you should see Ubuntu MATE's beautiful desktop:

Ubuntu MATE's default desktop

Next Steps

There you are! Feel free to have fun with your new Ubuntu VM! We will cover some more interesting topics in the future but we recommend that you play with it in the meanwhile.


On this tutorial we learned how to install Ubuntu MATE in a VirtualBox virtual machine (VM). Installing Linux on a VM is the first step you need to explore Linux in its multiple variations. The next step is obviously, replacing your Windows or Mac. But take your time!

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