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Helping Ubuntu MATE Users

Updated: 12-Jun-2018
Ubuntu MATE User Guide book cover

In 2015, I was honored to be asked by Martin Wimpress of the Ubuntu MATE distribution to contribute to the Introduction and Features sections of the Ubuntu MATE Welcome application introduced in the 15.10 release. Unlike other simplistic pop-up welcome windows provided with other distributions, the Ubuntu MATE Welcome application is actually useful. Ubuntu MATE Welcome is a utility unique to Ubuntu MATE that helps orientate new users. It guides them through post-install configuration such as installing drivers and adding language support. I find myself referring back to it on a regular basis.

Ubuntu MATE Needs Help

One reason I refer to Ubuntu MATE Welcome regularly is that it serves as an excellent source of information about Ubuntu MATE. It acts like a Help system or user manual. This got me to wondering about whether or not there actually is a complete set of help topics offered within the operating system itself. I decided to test it out. I pressed the F1 key at the desktop. The MATE Desktop Manual appeared. Well, that makes sense. I saw a Help icon in the System menu, so I clicked on it. The MATE Desktop Manual appeared again. Hmmm. Not so good. I would have expected that the "System Help" would be help for the whole Ubuntu MATE system rather than just the desktop environment. After looking through the help system, I discovered that there was no built-in help for the operating system.

Improving Discoverability

In true Open Source fashion, I suggested to Martin that it was time to scratch that itch and develop Ubuntu MATE Help. I learned how the help system works in Ubuntu and Ubuntu MATE. I learned how to use the tools to author and edit help topics. I consolidated all of the great material I could find that was scattered within Ubuntu MATE Welcome and the Ubuntu MATE website, then added a dash of information from the Ubuntu MATE forums. I made the source materials available to Martin and his team. In October of 2017, the 17.10 release of Ubuntu MATE included an early draft of the Ubuntu MATE Guide. The most recent version of the Ubuntu MATE Guide has been included with Ubuntu MATE's 18.04 release in April of 2018. It is a comprehensive introduction to Ubuntu MATE including how to use everthing shipped by default, along with detailed instructions on how to tailor, tweak and customize Ubuntu MATE to suit your taste.

Try It Out Now

In addition to creating help topics for inclusion in the operating system, I have converted the original documentation into HTML form and into PDF form as a User Manual. If you would like to view or download the PDF, you can find it here: Ubuntu MATE 16.04 User Guide.PDF You can try the help system (updated for 17.04) in your browser here: Ubuntu MATE Help


If you are looking for an ebook or print book to get you started, look here: Ubuntu MATE Guide.

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