If you want to install a desktop environment/GUI such as Mate in FreeBSD, it’s a fairly simple process that can be done with the built-in package manager. You first have to install the X.org display server (for the X Window System), then you would install Slim, and finally Mate itself.
The ‘pkg update’ and ‘pkg install’ commands mentioned herein require the use of sudo if a non-root account is used.
Start up FreeBSD and update the package list using the ‘pkg update’ command:
The next step is to install Xorg (X.org):
pkg install xorg
If it can’t find an installation candidate, then try searching for xorg package names and then run the command again with the exact package name and version.
pkg search xorg pkg install xorg-x.x.x
Once that is complete, you can now install Slim, an X11 login manager:
pkg install slim
If it can’t find it, then try what I said above using the ‘pkg search’ command and install it using the exact package name.
Only two steps left! Install Mate and then modify your .xinitrc file so it will start when you run startx.
pkg install mate
Once the installation of the Mate desktop environment is complete, add the following line to your ‘.xinitrc’ file (located right in your home directory) so that Mate will start when you run the ‘startx’ command. You can do this in the Nano text editor (run ‘pkg install nano’ to get it and then run ‘nano .xinitrc’ to open the file).
Now run ‘startx’ and you should see Mate load shortly!
Tested on FreeBSD versions: