How to install Mate Desktop GUI on Ubuntu 20.04 WSL 1 or 2- Windows 10

WSL -Windows Subsystem Linux on Windows 10 doesn’t come with a Graphical user interface, thus, the command line is the main way to interface it. However, still, if you want to install some Linux Desktop environment then here is the tutorial in it.

We already have created a tutorial on installing the GUI interface on WSL using XFCE, however, this time here we are using MATE Desktop. It is a lightweight and traditional-looking system.

Note: This is just to learn, however, access to WSL with GUI wouldn’t give the performance as some native Linux Distro with Graphical Desktop environment running on PC, laptop, or Virtual Machine.

Enable WSL on Windows 10

Before showing the further steps, I am assuming that you already have the WSL 1 or WSL 2 installed on your system. If not then see these two tutorials: Enable WSL 1 and then WSL 2.

Open WSL Linux Distro and Update

Now, open the Ubuntu WSL Linux distro app and run the update and upgrade commands to make sure all the packages installed on the system are up to date.

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

Install Mate Desktop GUI on WSL

To install the Mate Desktop environment, we don’t need to add any third-party repository. The packages for setting up the Mate are already on Ubuntu 20.04 or 18.04 LTS. Thus, use the below command:

sudo apt install mate-desktop

Install tigervnc server

To access the graphical user interface we need some tools such as VNC. So, we install the open-source VNC server on our WSL machine.

sudo apt install tigervnc-standalone-server tigervnc-xorg-extension tigervnc-viewer

Once the server is installed:

sudo vncserver -geometry 1600x900 :0

After entering the above command it will prompt to set the connection password, and it will prompt to enter it twice,

1600×900 in the above command is the resolution in which we want to get the GUI Desktop interface of Mate, whereas :0 means the desktop port number is zero.

The resolution and port number can be changed at will, as long as there is no error.

Install VNC client or viewer on your Windows 10 system

There are a handful of good VNC clients available online such as open-source RealVNC Viewer. You can download it on your PC using this link.

Once installed, run it, and enter the localhost address with the display port number of the VNC server. Example:

When it asks for the password, enter that you have set it while setting up the resolution and display port.

Enter password for WSL GUI connect to WSL desktop envrionment


Once connected you would get something like this:

VNC viewer to access WSL 2 desktop Ubuntu 20.04 LTS WSL with Mate Desktop GUI environment min WSL Ubuntu 20.04 GUI desktop running terminal

Google Chrome on WSL

I also installed Google Chrome on WSL GUI using the terminal. Initially, it gave an error — Sandbox is required. Thus, I used a command:

/usr/bin/google-chrome-stable --no-sandbox

It opens perfectly and also when it comes to loading the websites keep getting crashed. However, soon I will solve this problem and provide a tutorial on the same.

Google Chrome on WSL


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