Software Updater Changes in Ubuntu 13.04

Thanks to Matthew Paul Thomas’s specification and work by Dylan McCall and myself, there is a proposed patch to change the Software Updater’s details panel.

I’m excited about the work and just wanted to highlight it here. See the difference for yourself:

Old ViewNew View

This hasn’t landed yet, but there is enough time before 13.04 that I’m confident it will make it.

A bit about what you’re seeing in that new view:

  • The “Backup” text and icon is being pulled from the .desktop file for the app.
  • “Backup” has subitems because there are some updates that only “Backup” depends on.
  • Updates that are not apps but are part of the base system (i.e. “on the CD but no .desktop file”) are under “Ubuntu base”.
  • For flavors, that should intelligently change to “Xubuntu base” or whatever and use the right metapackage.
  • Notice that the package name is no longer shown, so make sure your package descriptions are high quality!

30 thoughts on “Software Updater Changes in Ubuntu 13.04

  1. Hi,

    looks really great, more clear and concise… BUT, why let identifiers (package names) down in favor on unriliable descriptions, that change from one localization to the other ? Please, keep the package name ! How can “easy to use DVCSS” be the _only_ information you display ? This can be a legitimate description for bzr, git, mercurial, etc…

  2. This looks great!

    Maybe as a solution to the lack of package names, could you allow the mouse hover text on individual lines to show the package name and more full description?

  3. Thanks for doing all the hard parts, Michael! :)

    One other bit of fun in here is Software Updater will intelligently respond to packages with the XB-Restart-Required key in their control files. This means, if packages start to use that key, we can tell you that an update will require a restart before you install it.

  4. This is a catastrophe. So much ambiguity. Should I make my App description like «MyApp | Easy to use Myapp for everything» or what? 

    Why aren’t you guys using something in one line but with the package name included, e.g. my example: MyApp | This is my app etc. pp.

  5. On the whole, I love the changes. The vast number of updates and their incomprehensible nature is worse does confuse users, and we need some good design to fix that. This is good stuff.

    Unfortunately, I do agree with the other commentators that using the first line from the Description field of the control file is not a good choice. The bzr example is good evidence: it’s not clear at all what is getting updated, bzr or git or what. Unfortunately, control files don’t seem to have a Human-name field like a Description field, so we have to use the non-internationalised package name to identify updates.

    Here’s an idea: why not fit all updates that don’t fit into a .desktop application or “Ubuntu base” into one big category “libraries and command-line utilities”? When expanded, you would see the individual updates, prefixed with the package name, with the one-line description as well.

    I’m interested to see if the content under the “Technical description” expander has been changed too.

  6. Jeremy, I see. But I guess it’s kind of a problem anyway (it also states that »The display software knows how to display this already, and you do not need to state it«) So I guess the update manager is wrong on this one :)

    As much as I love the new design and the cleanliness, I still think it’s also too vague about what exactly gets updated, information you can’t easily get from the description alone.

    Anyway, I am sure you guys will make a good and benifitting decision (sorry if I sounded like one of those »unity«-whiners who hate everything that’s changing… )

    Cheers and keep up the good work.

  7. A decent improvement indeed.

    You people should look into the software sources as well.
    I did an upgrade to Raring today, and was about to enable sources that had been disabled during the upgrade.
    What met me was a complete chaos. Just about every listing was described as ” Disabled during upgrade” – followed by a non-informative hyperlink.

    After a period of getting PPAs from web sites to install software that is not found in Software Center, you easily loose track of what repository is belonging to what software.
    And the listing in Software Sources is not even trying to give me any idea either.

    You have a big challenge making this intuitive as the Software Updater

  8. Jeremy, I think there used to be documentation on that, quite a long time ago. The infornation stopped being produced by packages because it wasn’t being used by anything, but there were a few different possible values. I’ll see if I can surface some useful information. With the way it’s hooked up here, the restart required indicator should only appear if the package will touch the system restart required file. (If it appears in any other case, that’s probably a bug).

  9. Please let the package name information inside and dont remove it. Maybe display it in an extra column between install and download. Or better, give the packiage name information in lower case under each “package-install-name” (like previeus version).

  10. If Ubuntu is being targeted at the non-technical user then the basic update interface needs to be a simple as possible and I think there’s an argument for an automatic updates option too for those users. Let the technical users have a more advanced updater based on synaptic as an option. Pleases both maybe ?

  11. Kubuntu has this in 12.10, and I think it had it in 12.04. It’s nice to see Ubuntu getting it, too.

  12. The increased ambiguity is aggravating the problem that already exists… inability of user to match what has been installed and the packages he or she has downloaded… Definitely a step backwards from that perspective.

  13. I definitely like the new look, it’s much cleaner and easier to see all updates at a glance.

    Regarding package names, I had the same thought as Mario, show them in hover text. Or maybe you can offer an “expanded detail” checkbox (default=off) that pushes the parent lines apart and inserts detail lines under each entry (package name, full description, ppa source, dependencies).

  14. I absolutely agree with other commentators that there should be a way to view the package names. Perhaps an optional setting, off by default?

  15. I should have mentioned this in the post, but you can view the package name if you click the “Technical description” expander.

  16. What the hell made you think removing the package names was a good idea ?
    Well I guess I’m back to using aptitude for package updates.

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