"click the icon" instruction dangerously confusing

Bug #175166 reported by Steve Alexander on 2007-12-09
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
update-notifier (Ubuntu)
Nominated for Jaunty by Nicholas Christian Langkjær Ipsen

Bug Description

I just visited a friend of mine. She's not all that technically oriented. I installed Ubuntu on her laptop for her a while ago, and she's very happy with it.

Now, 6 months later, I visited her house, and watched her start up the computer and use it to browse a website.

She started it up, and logged in.

After login, the panel etc. loaded up. There's a white-on-orange star in the panel to indicate that there are software updates. Attached to this is a floating speech-bubble style notification.

The notification contains an icon, and some text. The text says something like "there are important updates to apply to your system. click the icon to install them."

I watched my friend apparently dismiss the notification, and continue with loading up firefox. I said "wait a minute -- those are important updates. they probably include security updates. you should apply them." She replied "I keep trying to, but it never works. It says to click the icon, so I do, and then the box disappears and the system doesn't do anything about it."

She'd been clicking the large icon in the notification balloon. Not the icon in the panel.

So, all this time, she'd never been getting updates.

This is a serious security/usability issue. I'm checking the "security vulnerability" box, because the usability error probably means many people out there are not keeping their system up to date, despite their best intentions.

It would probably be fixable by removing the "wrong" icon from the notification balloon. Or by making that icon actually work to launch update manager.

Tags: ui Edit Tag help
Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

The exact text is "Click on the notification icon to show the available updates." Removing the icon from the bubble itself might help, but the text would still expect people to (a) know what an "icon" is and (b) realize that, despite appearances, the orange-and-white blob is an icon.

I'm going to be boring here and suggest the same solution I've been suggesting since 2005: abolish the icon and bubble, and instead open the updates window directly. That way the updates would be easier to understand and require fewer clicks to install.

Changed in update-manager:
status: New → Confirmed
Changed in update-manager:
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
status: Confirmed → Triaged
era (era) wrote :

If it were possible to have a clickable link in the dialog itself, it could be hooked to a function to open the update manager as well. See also bug #302876.

Steve Alexander (stevea) wrote :

I don't understand why this is a "wishlist" bug rather than a a bug of higher importance. The result of a usability problem is that probably many people are not receiving security updates.

If this were a pure software bug that was preventing people receiving security updates, it would surely be rated "high" or "critical". Usability bugs that cause security issues should be treated the same.

Jean-Baptiste Lallement (jibel) wrote :

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your feedback. I've initially set the importance to "wishlist" because this is not really a bug but a suggestion for a change that needs to be discussed, and this doesn't seem to be an issue for a lot a users. According to the guidelines ( https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Bugs/Importance ) I'm increasing the level to low because this is a cosmetic/usability issue that does not limit the functionality of an application.

Maybe the devs or the usability guys will decide to increase the importance. You should discuss with them on the appropriate list or on irc ( http://www.ubuntu.com/support/community/mailinglists might be a good start for determining which mailing list to use - try the lists ubuntu-desktop or ubuntu-devel-discuss or #ubuntu-desktop on irc )
There is also a usability wishlist available at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DesktopTeam/UsabilityWishlist for Desktop applications even if in this case this is not directly a desktop app.

Thank you for your help to make Ubuntu better.

Changed in update-manager:
importance: Wishlist → Low
Vincenzo Ciancia (vincenzo-ml) wrote :

This bug is going to be solved by disabling the update notification icon in the panel and opening an unfocused background window instead. What I would suggest instead is to put a clickable button in the bubble (like gnome-power-manager does), having the same effect as clicking on the update notification icon, _plus_ correcting the text so that it says "click on the orange icon in the panel to execute system upgrades".

Just my two cents.

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Fixed in Jaunty, by opening the window instead of pointing a bubble at an icon. Thanks for the bug report.

Changed in update-notifier:
status: Triaged → Fix Committed
Michael Vogt (mvo) wrote :

Thanks for your bugreport.

Auto open is now the default in jaunty, closing this bug.

Changed in update-notifier:
status: Fix Committed → Fix Released
David Fokkema (dfokkema) wrote :

I'd like to ask to seriously reconsider this. I don't want to start a debate here, but I'd really like to have the option of the notification icon. Automatically opening update manager for security reasons, fine. But for other updates, only once per week? And what's more: I _do_ know about the icon, and I _don't_ like windows opening in my face.

I don't mind if this is some obscure setting somewhere, I'll find it. I applaud the ubuntu team for trying to resolve these kinds of usability issues, but I'm not too happy about dropping very convenient options, ;-)


Nandan Vaidya (gotunandan) wrote :

I believe one can get the old functionality back by doing this (as mentioned in the release candidate, release notes)

Change in notifications of available updates

Ubuntu 9.04 introduces a change to the handling of package updates, launching update-manager directly instead of displaying a notification icon in the GNOME panel. Users will still be notified of security updates on a daily basis, but for updates that are not security-related, users will only be prompted once a week.

Users who wish to continue receiving update notifications in the previous manner can restore the earlier behavior using the following command:

gconftool -s --type bool /apps/update-notifier/auto_launch false


On Fri, 2009-04-17 at 02:13 +0000, Nandan V wrote:
> I believe one can get the old functionality back by doing this (as
> mentioned in the release candidate, release notes)

> gconftool -s --type bool /apps/update-notifier/auto_launch false

Nice, thanks! (I've read the release notes, now that they're available.
Thanks for the pointer!) I'm happy now, sorry for the earlier tone of

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