Papercut: Visual diff - "Replace your changes" shows someone else's "Changes"

Bug #1253448 reported by floid on 2013-11-20
6
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
debconf (Ubuntu)
Undecided
Unassigned

Bug Description

The brittleness of "/etc/gnome/defaults.list" should be another bug*, but happens to show up a more basic problem with ambiguity in the "helpful" visual diff dialog.

The software asks the user whether it should be allowed to:

"Replace your changes in '[file]' with a later version of the configuration file?
"If you don't know why the file is there already, it is usually safe to replace it.
"Changes:"

Options: [Keep], [Replace]

The ambiguity is that the text refers to "your changes", but the "Changes" shown are what would be wrought if one chooses to "Replace" their own changes. So instead of showing you something you can "Keep" or "Replace", the diff is really showing changes to "Refuse" or "Accept".

There are a dozen ways to fix this. At minimum, the text strings could be disambiguated:

"Changes proposed:" (or "Proposed changes:"; or "Changes in new version:")
[Diff]
"These changes will be applied if you choose "Replace.""

...

* Does someone have a patent on the "BSD-style" approach of tossing untouched distribution defaults in "/etc/defaults/" with local overrides a level above? Having an "/etc/gnome/defaults/defaults.list" with local changes in "/etc/gnome/defaults.list" would solve the underlying bug of signing up to be nagged forever once you've installed acroread or another "global" application that should be recognized by default.

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 13.10
Package: debconf 1.5.50ubuntu1
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 3.11.0-13.20-generic 3.11.6
Uname: Linux 3.11.0-13-generic x86_64
NonfreeKernelModules: fglrx
ApportVersion: 2.12.5-0ubuntu2.1
Architecture: amd64
Date: Wed Nov 20 17:08:34 2013
MarkForUpload: True
PackageArchitecture: all
ProcEnviron:
 TERM=xterm
 PATH=(custom, no user)
 XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=<set>
 LANG=en_US.UTF-8
 SHELL=/bin/bash
SourcePackage: debconf
UpgradeStatus: Upgraded to saucy on 2013-10-24 (27 days ago)

floid (jkanowitz) wrote :
floid (jkanowitz) wrote :

[Attachment: In this case, the changes necessary to make acroread work by default cause the system to forever more ask the user which foot they'd like to be shot in.]

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