What does "Do selected tasks" mean?

Bug #486133 reported by MarcRandolph on 2009-11-21
This bug affects 4 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
computer-janitor (Ubuntu)
Declined for Maverick by Sebastien Bacher

Bug Description

Binary package hint: computer-janitor

I opened the Computer Janitor and it is not going to be 100% clear to a less experienced user what the tool is planning on doing. I have one item listed: "Adobe-flashplugin" under the "Unused" column, and then there is a button which says "Do selected tasks."

What exactly is the "selected task" that it is going to do? Is it going to remove that plugin? If so, the column should probably be "Unused items to remove". The "Recommended" title is even less unclear. I assume is meant to be "Recommended for removal", in which case, we should say that.

I have no clue what might appear in the optimize column, and if it did appear there, what action the tool is going to perform on something listed in that column.

Lastly, Help provides no help.

$ apt-cache policy computer-janitor
  Installed: 1.13.3-0ubuntu2
  Candidate: 1.13.3-0ubuntu2
  Version table:
 *** 1.13.3-0ubuntu2 0
        500 http://astromirror.uchicago.edu karmic/main Packages
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status

komputes (komputes) wrote :

I had the same first impression, but when you click on the name of a task it gives you a good explanation of why it is available.

Changed in computer-janitor (Ubuntu):
status: New → Incomplete
MarcRandolph (mrand) wrote :

You are indeed correct. Good find. Of course, if you had the same first impression, than other new users will too. I certainly did, and I am far from a new user.

I believe it is completely unintuitive to click on a name next to the check box and expect to get more information - there are no other user interfaces in existence that I'm aware of that operate that way.

A hackish solution would be to change the title to:

Unused packages to remove
(click item name for more info)

Very hackish. In reality, that note should not be necessary and the UI itself should be made to be more obvious that clicking the package name provides information. For example, a small icon with the letter i (presumably in blue) next to the package name would be a perfect way to let the user know where to click to get more info.

Changed in computer-janitor (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → New
Barry Warsaw (barry) wrote :

This is a tough one because CJ can do more than just remove packages, however I do think that's it's primary functionality. Maybe a better phrase is "Perform selected clean ups".

As for the mysterious click-on-name-to-get-details, I agree. I think it would be better to put a little reveal arrow on the right of the package name (right aligned in the column). Note that the column names have already been improved in CJ 2.0.

I'll see if I can get the usability team to take a look at the current package and provide some feedback.

Changed in computer-janitor (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
importance: Undecided → Low
assignee: nobody → Barry Warsaw (barry)
milestone: none → maverick-alpha-1
tags: added: usability
Colin Watson (cjwatson) on 2010-06-03
Changed in computer-janitor (Ubuntu):
milestone: maverick-alpha-1 → maverick-alpha-2
Changed in computer-janitor (Ubuntu):
milestone: maverick-alpha-2 → none
hawthornso23 (hawthorn) wrote :

 I am scared to use the application at all because I literally have no idea what it will do.

The list of applications selected by ticks suggests that when I click the "perform selected tasks" button the applications selected will be removed. They are SELECTED. "Perform selected tasks" suggests that something will be done to the selected stuff - i.e. it will be removed.

But when I go to deselect an application from the list (because some of the stuff on it is stuff I installed manually that I want to keep), I am asked to authenticate with the message "Removing Unused Packages Requires Authentication". This immediately confuses me. Indeed the wording suggests that DESELECTING an application will remove it.

At this point I honestly have no idea (I'm not bullshitting you here - I literally cannot decide) whether it is the selected or delected applications that will be removed were I to click on the "Perform Selected Tasks" button. I reckon I have about a 50% chance of having it do the exact opposite of what I intend. And I'm not a computer illiterate.

Not liking those odds I decided the safest thing to do was close the Janitor and not use it. And seek help of course from ...


The problem is very real. From my point of view this application is completely ambiguous.

Alf (hubbuntu) wrote :

Yes, it's completely unclear what the checkboxes and the "Do selected tasks" button actually do. Not only that, but after unchecking a checkbox (and thus authenticating to "Remove" the package), the next time Computer Janitor is loaded those packages aren't in the list any more, even though (according to Synaptic) they are actually still installed.

Barry Warsaw (barry) on 2012-09-12
Changed in computer-janitor (Ubuntu):
assignee: Barry Warsaw (barry) → nobody
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