how-to software

Ubuntu MATE 15.10 Beta 1 in VirtualBox 5.0.2


Anymore when it comes to Linux distros I prefer a Debian/Ubuntu base and the MATE (maté) Desktop Environment (again, my desktop Linux distro of choice is Linux Mint MATE edition). Just give me APT + MATE + Firefox, please.

Earlier this year I jumped at the chance to try the official MATE spin of Ubuntu 15.04 Beta, as I do like to try out new builds but I can’t stand Unity (or GNOME3 for that matter). Overall, it seemed like a fine OS but I saw no reason to switch from Mint.

Ubuntu MATE 15.10 Beta 1 was announced recently so I decided to check it out as well. This time I’m using a PC I built with 6 cores and 24GB of RAM, running Windows 10 RTM, so Microsoft will also probably have some decent data on how well this runs. 😉

Downloading the ISO and VirtualBox

This time I grabbed the .torrent for the Ubuntu MATE 15.10 Beta 1 ISO and it downloaded a lot faster (~4.4MB/s average).

I had already downloaded & installed VirtualBox v5.0.2 prior to this.

Installing VirtualBox

I uncheck a few things when I install VirtualBox:

  • VirtualBox USB Support
  • VirtualBox Bridged Networking
  • VirtualBox Host-Only Networking
  • VirtualBox Python 2.x Support

Creating the VM

I created a new VM with default options except:

  • Memory size: 4096 MB
  • 10.00 GB VDI

Change VM Settings

Since the ISO was still downloading I decided to change some more of the VM’s Settings to my liking:


Shared Clipboard: Bidirectional

Drag’n’Drop: Host To Guest


Boot Order: unchecked Floppy

Pointing Devices: PS/2 Mouse


Processor(s): 4 CPUs

Extended Features: check Enable PAE/NX


Video Memory: bump up to 32 MB

Acceleration: check Enable 3D Acceleration


Removed the IDE Controller

Checked “Use Host I/O Cache” for the SATA Controller

Checked “Solid-state Drive” for the UbuntuMate.vdi

Added an empty Optical Drive to the SATA controller

Changed the ports so the Optical Drive is Port 0 and the SSD is Port 1


Audio Controller: Intel HD Audio


Unchecked “Enable USB Controller”


Some of the above settings won’t have any effect until after the Guest Additions are installed.

Installing Ubuntu Mate

I booted to the ISO and immediately started the install instead of trying the Live version.

During install I checked both “Download updates…” and “Install 3rd-party software” boxes.

However, after reading the comments in latest DistroWatch Weekly, I deviated slightly from my standard VM partitioning scheme leftover from the magnetic hard drive days (2GB swap at the beginning, and Ext4 the rest for /), and chose to try XFS instead Ext4.

Note that the ~8GB should be plenty of space to try out a distro (as long as it’s not one of the ones that include EVERYTHING), but I’ve run out of space in the past doing things like downloading & building open-source software & games.

I also set it to logon automatically and didn’t bother with encrypting the home directory.

Once the install was complete I hit the Restart Now button, then pressed Enter after verifying the Installer did indeed eject the ISO (disc icon is grey at the bottom of the VirtualBox window), and let it reboot.

Initial Login and Updating

Close the Welcome screen. Optionally uncheck “Show this Welcome when I log on.” so it doesn’t show up again when you reboot.

Then let’s make sure our fresh installation is up to date:

Open a Terminal — There are few ways to do that:

  • Press F12 to show Tilda, a drop-down terminal similar to Guake, which is based upon the ~-activated consoles in games like Quake
  • Right-click on the Desktop (or something on the Desktop) and choose Open In Terminal
  • Applications -> System Tools -> MATE Terminal


sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo reboot

Installing Guest Additions

In the VirtualBox window’s menu, choose Devices -> Insert Guest Additions CD image…

Then back in the VM, hit Cancel at the Autorun prompt (it won’t work anyway). A disc icon labeled “VBOXADDITIONS…” should now be visible on your desktop.

Right-click on the disc icon -> Open in Terminal, then:

sudo ./

The installer complains about missing headers but continues on to build the modules and eventually we don’t need to keep hitting Ctrl to escape the mouse cursor, so good enough pour moi.

Reboot just to make sure the Guest Additions stuff is all loaded:

sudo reboot

All Done?

We’re done with the Guest Additions disc for now, so right-click on it and choose Eject.

It’s all set up, updated, and ready to be customized, etc.

Mildly interesting is that Firefox is only at v38.0 — v40.0.3 is released as of this writing.

Below are my usual next steps with notes regarding this specific install.

Totally optional things I also like to do

  • change the resolution
    • I usually choose 1280×960 because it fits nicely above the Windows Taskbar, however the Monitors configuration opens then closes immediately
      • An error reporting dialog opened allowing me to send info re: Monitors crashing to Ubuntu, which I did.
    • Workaround: manually resize the VM window itself and it will adjust the VM’s Desktop
      • upon rebooting it keeps the new resolution
  • get rid of the Welcome screen for good
    • uncheck “Show this Welcome when I log on.”, click Close.
  • disable autolocking when the screensaver starts
    • Control Center -> Screensaver
      • OR System -> Preferences -> Look and Feel -> Screensaver
    • uncheck “Lock screen when screensaver is active”
  • change to 12-hour clock, add my city so the temperature shows
  • reduce the # of Virtual Desktops Workspaces to 1
    • I don’t use them and don’t want to accidentally hit some hotkey that switches to a different one
  • rearrange the desktop Panels:
    • delete the bottom Ppanel
    • move top Panel to the bottom, remove Menu Bar & Power button, and add/move missing elements:
      • MATE Menu, and remove the Button text
      • Window List
      • Show Desktop
      • a shortcut to Terminal
    • Ends up looking like this:
  • Firefox:
    • set the browser start page to something related to the current distro
      • In this case:
    • change the default search engine to DuckDuckGo
  • install a couple more things:
    • localepurge
    • apt-fast
      • OR setup mirrors in your sources.list