[Jaunty] Update Notifier icon would provide useful status information / new update-manager behaviour is annoying

Bug #332945 reported by Noel J. Bergman on 2009-02-22
This bug affects 156 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
One Hundred Papercuts
Undecided
Unassigned
update-notifier (Ubuntu)
High
Unassigned
Nominated for Karmic by Strongman332
Nominated for Lucid by Noel J. Bergman
Jaunty
High
Unassigned

Bug Description

I am referring to the removal up the update-notifier in the Gnome notification area. The discussion of it is embedded in the thread headed by:

  https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027416.html

Specific messages worth reading are:

  https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027434.html
  https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027451.html
  https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027454.html
  https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027437.html
  https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027445.html

Matthew Paul Thomas says that the desired behavior is:

* When there are security updates, Update Manager will open and show
    them (plus any other available updates) within a day.

* When there are non-security updates, Update Manager will open and
    show them *one week* after it was last opened (whether it was last
    opened manually or automatically, and regardless of whether updates
    were actually installed then).

* When there are no available updates, Update Manager will not open
    automatically at all.

Desired by whom? And where was discussion of this change that effects the entire Ubuntu community? Because some percentage of users don't apparently understand that the notification area has meaning, we are not going to use it for updates? Chow Loong Jin raised a valid point that if update notification is now done by opening the entire update manager program, perhaps evolution and similar should open their application UIs rather than use the notification area. And there are concerns about unintended functional consequences of this ill-conceived change, discussed in the thread.

Personally, I predict that opening the Update Manager window while people are working will piss off a lot of users when it happens, and may result in them wanting to disable automatic checking. Yes, that'll be highly desirable, won't it?

In other words, this change should be corrected, and a notification icon should be displayed when updates are available.

------------

The window currently opens far too often when security updates are available: this is because of bug 369198, which is awaiting testing before it can be fixed in Ubuntu 9.04.

------------

To disable the new behaviour and get the old behaviour:

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

(Take into account that this gconf change is not supported.)

To have the update manager launch immediately when updates are available, use this:

    gconftool -s --type int /apps/update-notifier/regular_auto_launch_interval 0

Charlie Kravetz (charlie-tca) wrote :

I am confirming this bug report. I too feel that removing the update-notifier is more a move in the direction of degrading Ubuntu. At least with the update-notifier-icon, I made the decision to install the updates. If the update-manager simply opens, I will have to continue with the work I am doing. Since I have several applications that run when my system starts, having update-manager think I want to run it is not really a desired function. I normally run my updates when I am not busy.

This appears to be one more thing getting in the way of productive work. I have to wonder how many businesses are going to decide that is just one more thing in the way. Doesn't that give the average business and personal user one more reason to quit using Ubuntu?

Changed in update-notifier:
importance: Undecided → High
status: New → Confirmed
Noel J. Bergman (noeljb) wrote :

Further reading for people:

  http://www.markshuttleworth.com/

which links to:

  https://wiki.ubuntu.com/NotificationDesignGuidelines
  https://wiki.ubuntu.com/NotifyOSD

And I do like the new OSD. I just disagree with removing the presence of a notification icon, which is a persistent notice of some event or condition, and certainly disagree with the proposed behavior of launching the update manager.

John Vivirito (gnomefreak) wrote :

One thing people didnt notice or left out of bug. It only happens when using dist-upgrade interminal upgrade doesnt trigger u-d to open.

John Vivirito (gnomefreak) wrote :

Also it goes against the idea you not being able to run 2+ apt/dpkg sessions. Since it is opening for me during dist-upgrade (it may be every 2 days but i do updates everyday so i dont notice if it happens more so. I that idea it would not be possible for it to open let alone run update as it is doing upon opening.

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Curses, our secret plan has been uncovered! Canonical is indeed trying to degrade Ubuntu, make it less secure, and drive average business and personal users away. The orange star icon was a paragon of obviousness and clickability, so it just had to go.

But seriously, we did not design this behavior yesterday on the back of a napkin. We discussed it publicly at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in December. It's part of a long-term plan to clean up the notification area, and in particular to stop using it for things that it cannot actually recognizably notify people of. If you have learned to both notice and recognize the orange star icon, then I'm sorry that skill will no longer be required, but we think making update installation more obvious will make Ubuntu more secure for more people.

Of course the new behavior is a bit rough around the edges, but the problems are fixable. As I write this, the auto-opening interval is being changed (now that we know it works) from two days to seven. Compiz needs fixing so that when windows open unfocused (as Update Manager does when it opens automatically) they're in the background too. And any patches to reduce Update Manager's memory footprint are more than welcome.

Changed in update-notifier:
status: Confirmed → Invalid
C. Cooke (ccooke) wrote :
Download full text (3.4 KiB)

(bear with me on this one; I'm stuck at home ill, so this may be less coherent than would be ideal)

I can think of a few use-cases where the new implementation may/will cause problems as it's currently laid out:

Problems relating to the window being opened for you:

1) If it appears at the bottom of the Z-buffer, it might be behind a long-running application such as Firefox. It may even appear behind a long-running application on a virtual desktop the user doesn't visit often; it's entirely possible that the window won't be noticed for days or weeks.

2) If it appears at the top of the Z-buffer, it will be distracting to the user; it's supposed to appear unfocussed, but what if the user has focus-follows-mouse? Will the window appear under the cursor, steal focus and (if the user happens to be typing at that moment) immediately start updating packages?

3) There's no single place to look to know you're up-to-date. In fact, for the average user, there will be no simple way to know they're up to date at all. It seems to be a "harsher" user interface - and thus it fails to follow the principle of least astonishment. (windows appearing when you don't expect them is astonishing; *notifications* appearing when you don't expect them is... expected!)

Some thoughts on mitigation:

1) could be mitigated partially by making the window appear on all workspaces.
2) open at the bottom of the Z-buffer. Any other solution is still going to cause unwelcome astonishment sometime, with some (common) sets of options.

Some thoughts that might, possibly, help:

The new design specifies two different concepts of notification: "informational" and "demanding": Informational notification is ephemeral and can vanish quickly; it should never need a response. "demanding" notifications must have a response within a short time limit, so they pop up a window grabbing attention.
I have to say, I very much like that... but I can see a third class of notifications that are not covered at all. "Patient" ones: something that needs a response but has a very long time limit. It seems that we're trying to force all notifications of this type into one of the other two, and this doesn't work well in all cases - such as this one. Icons in the taskbar *without* a bubble would be perfect for this: They call attention, but they don't demand it *now*. Based on some logic, they can be converted into a "demanding" notification later, if there's a good opportunity or a time limit is approaching.

What would be really nice for the specific example of the update notifier is this:

1) When there's any update, assign a "passive" time limit (~30 minutes for security updates, ~2 weeks for upgrades). Pop up an icon in the taskbar that will launch or focus update-manager. Do *NOT* notify in any other way; hover text for the icon should be a nice, frendly explanation of what's up.
2) automatically convert to a demanding notification on login or (if the passive time limit is more than half used) when the system has been idle for some sane pre-determined time - 5 minutes, say. Having the window ready when you come *back* to the computer is much less astonishing than having it suddenly break you...

Read more...

Please read [1] & [2] for more information:
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/NotifyOSD#Update%20Manager
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/NotifyOSD#update-notifier

--
Hi, I'm BUGabundo, and I am Ubuntu (whyubuntu.com)
(``-_-´´) http://LinuxNoDEI.BUGabundo.net && Ubuntu LoCoTeam Portugal http://ubuntu-pt.org
Linux user #443786 GPG key 1024D/A1784EBB

@C. Cooke: that would need to be (at least) 24h for security updates, as many people delay installing fixes until the beginning or end of a day, to minimize the interruptions...

@Matthew Paul Thomas: one problem with the "popup update-manager" method is that it is not persistent. If I close that window (which I do because I don't want to install them now and it pollutes the "window list"), there is no (permanent) reminder for the updates anymore.

Noel J. Bergman (noeljb) wrote :

> Curses, our secret plan has been uncovered! Canonical is indeed trying to degrade Ubuntu,
> make it less secure, and drive average business and personal users away.

No one has said that there is any malicious intent. That's just a defensive reaction on your part. But nor do we like the direction that you have taken with this change.

> We discussed it publicly at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in December

Yes, I was there. Oh wait, no I wasn't. Nor was more than an insignificant fraction of the Ubuntu community. Most of us first got wind of the change when it dropped in our laps, and now we're letting you know how we feel about it. And it isn't just one person complaining. Actually, I'm still trying to find anyone who likes the change. In the e-mail chain, people disagreed with you. In this bug report, we disagree with you. And I certainly do not consider it appropriate for you to mark the report as invalid, anymore than it would be a generally acceptable policy for a reporter to mark their own bug as confirmed.

So now lets get away from the irrelevant defensive nonsense and talk about the problem:

> It's part of a long-term plan to clean up the notification area
> Of course the new behavior is a bit rough around the edges, but the problems are fixable.

The first is fine, and the second is a good starting point for your admission.

The unfocused window solution is NOT the desired solution for that "third kind" of notification as C Cooke classified it. And I really don't care what technology is used to get it. The end result is what matters, and I'm sure that a suitable solution can be found. After all, it is all 1's and 0's in the end. But we want some sort of persistent, dynamic, notice.

One way of looking at it is that this is a condition, not an event. it may be set & cleared by events, but it is not an event - it is a persistent condition.

2009/2/24 Noel J. Bergman <email address hidden>:
>  Actually, I'm still trying to find anyone who likes the
> change.

You now found one. I like it. It's _unfinished_ and buggy (I have
reported a couple of bugs to help in that regard), but I like the
concept and look forward to it being finished and polished.

I realise this is just a bug report, and as such we should be focusing
on _bugs_ not necessarily opinionated rants. I just wanted you to know
there _are_ people out there who like it.

Alan,

You like the new OSD? So do I. It is very nice, and that is not the problem. But do you like the lack of a persistent notification for the presence of a condition, and feel that launching the handling application, in this case the update manager, is the correct solution?

The bug isn't the new OSD. The bug is the lack of a persistent notification for the available updates condition.

Vincenzo Ciancia (vincenzo-ml) wrote :

"Instead, Update Manager should open automatically, unfocused and in the background. (When opened manually, Update Manager should still open focused and frontmost as usual.) "

So a pop-under is a solution for system upgrades? It seems to me rather a way to emulate one of the most annoying web spamming techniques on the desktop. Changes like these should have a broader discussion IMHO.

Vincenzo Ciancia (vincenzo-ml) wrote :

As my previous comment may sound more aggressive than it is, let me explain this a bit better. Quoting from above

"But seriously, we did not design this behavior yesterday on the back of a napkin. We discussed it publicly at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in December."

And quoting from the top

"Specific messages worth reading are:

  https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027434.html
  https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027451.html
  https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027454.html
  https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027437.html
  https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027445.html"

None of these messages contains ubuntu-devel-discuss as the target. That wouldn't probably suffice anyway. In my opinion, ubuntu is a successful distribution because of the effort of the community in publicising it. If it looses community consensus it may die. The effort of people is not for free: big changes should be discussed with the active community in my opinion, not just with the developers.

That's my 2 cents, and what I would really like to see. I contributed a lot of my free time in the past but I am really getting "pissed off" by serious regressions not being taken care of because changes have to be introduced, and by disruptive changes which most users won't like, that "can not be reverted because we are too late in the development cycle, and have already been discussed in <insert here a place which is not commonly accessed, or accessible at all, by users>"

More public discussion, and even being keen to change "ubuntu's mind" on some topics, would help a lot in the relationships between the community and ubuntu itself.

No aggressive tone intended here. Ubuntu is still yours more than mine, and if I really wanted to I could even fork it.

since discussion on the devel ML tended to a possibility of having UN back, i'm setting this to NEW.

Changed in update-notifier:
status: Invalid → New
Vodka (vodkaneat) wrote :

We need a method for notification of updates and we have a notification area. I don't really understand the issue. I can agree applications clutter the notification area but surely this is a real notification. I ended up here as I want passive update notification and thought it was broken.

Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :

This is seriously annoying. I fully agree that the notification area icon is just not obvious for most users, and I fully support popping up update-manager once a week to grab the attention of those users who haven't updated their system yet.

However, as someone who likes to install updates as soon as they arrive (for example, for testing *-proposed packages), the lack of notification area icon is annoying at best and a severe usability regression at worst. In Intrepid, I would be automatically notified of the updates when they arrived, prompting me to update. In Jaunty though, I have to keep manually opening update-manager every day to check for updates, whereas this was not necessary before. When Jaunty becomes stable, I'm going to find myself doing this manual checking every day when there might only be updates once a week or so, which is a real waste of time.

I think the notification area icon should remain, but still pop up update-manager once a week for those users who don't notice the icon.

I don't get it. How else am I being informed that updates are pending?

kimus (kimus) wrote :

I was wondering why I wasn't notified of updates... no update-notifier?! that sucks!!! :-S
*I want my notifier back* and I really don't care about libnotify popups (tough was good)... a icon it's fine by me.... please :-D

Brian Curtis (bcurtiswx) wrote :

Although I understand the high importance of this bug, this is really a wishlist bug as the removal of update notifier is what has been planned and you are requesting that it be reversed.

Changed in update-notifier:
importance: High → Wishlist
Jan Claeys (janc) wrote :

According to https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Bugs/Importance "Wishlist" should be used for "a request to add a new feature to one of the programs in Ubuntu".

This bug is about a regression, not about a new feature.

(I personally think it should be marked at least "Medium", as it impacts a core application, but I'll leave it to more experienced people to decide how serious it is.)

On Wed, 2009-03-18 at 22:35 +0000, Jan Claeys wrote:
> According to https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Bugs/Importance "Wishlist" should
> be used for "a request to add a new feature to one of the programs in
> Ubuntu".
>
> This bug is about a regression, not about a new feature.

I absolutely agree that this is a regression. I had update-manager pop
up right in front of all of my work today out of nowhere. How much more
annoying can this new UI design get?

Another thing I've noticed: this auto-launching update manager doesn't even achive its stated purpose of having people install updates:
Just yesterday, I booted a drive I hadn't booted in 5 weeks.... and update-manager, of course, auto-launched....
The only problem: it didn't update the PACKAGE CACHE first... so it was showing... 5-WEEK OLD updates! That strikes me as rather stupid. I had to manually hit "Check", and only then did it show recent updates.

Jan Claeys (janc) wrote :

@Dana: that would be another bug (please file a new bug report, if one doesn't exist yet).

Brian Curtis (bcurtiswx) wrote :

So what I am understanding from everyone, is that they don't mind the pop-up BUT the fact that theres no after-reminder and/or after icon to let them know updates are available is the regression/issue? If this is the case then, i will switch it off of wishlist. There is a fine line between a regression and a wishlist, sorry if i couldn't distinguish this first.

Benjamin Fogel (benjaminfogel) wrote :

It may be a better idea to give the user some sort of control over when the pop-up will occur. That way, those who want the defaults (1 day for security, 5 days for some others, etc...) will be able to leave it like that, and the rest of us will be able to get the minute-by-minute notifications we want after running a manual "apt-get update" :)

C. Cooke (ccooke) wrote :

Brian:

Yes, I think that's the main problem. According the spec, update-manager should be a morphing window by the time this piece of work is "finished", right? That will solve pretty much all of the problems relating to it becoming a pop-up, I believe. I expect we'll end up needing to file a few usability bugs to get it all sorted and user-friendly - for instance, it's not currently a morphing window and if a partial upgrade is needed, it pops up a *focussed* window. If these aren't currently being sorted, they should be bugs... but they're not as important as the loss of passive information in *this* bug.

The basic regression, then, is thus:

1) No *continuous* reminder that a reboot or log-out is necessary. A pop-up window is a terrible thing for this: If it can't be closed, it's a constant annoyance. If it can, it's not continuous!
2) No policy for what happens if the user closes the update-manager window after it pops up. Do we really want to leave them a day (presumably) when there are security updates? Or another week if there are upgrades? The lack of some continuous reminder is a regression.

There are other issues with the *current state* of the new system which should be split out into new bugs - but those aren't regressions.

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Brian J. Murrell, the problem with Update Manager appearing in front of everything else is bug 333284.

@Brian the bug here is the removal of Update-Notifier.
It can be set on gconf (not as discoverable as wished)

But this bug introduces a few ones like Cooke mention: no control of the popup/popunder, no notification of reboot

Brian Curtis (bcurtiswx) on 2009-03-19
Changed in update-notifier:
importance: Wishlist → High
status: New → Confirmed
Jens Gottfried (jug) wrote :

I also like the Ideas behind the new notification system and I love the idea of cleaning up the notification area, but does this mean notification area is deprecated?

Agreed, there are far too many applications abusing these icons by presenting completely irrelevant icons. Mainly applications stating »Hello, I am running and there is nothing to do« should not go there.

BUT: Update notifications are a perfectly valid example of reasonable notification icons. An update is an event that requires action, sometime in the near future.

Open windows like that update notification waste space in the window list and they do appear in the application switcher (alt-tab) - Notification icons do not. They are in no possible way ever in the way of the users work flow. But with a glimpse you could determine that some action is required.

--
And now for something completely different:
Windows implements an option to install updates on shutdown. So maybe update-manager could be coupled with gnome-session-save to display the update-notifications on shutdown. That would could be another solution to the problem of users not realizing the notification icon. Of course with an option to not install the updates, because sometimes you’re in a hurry an want the system to shutdown fast.

~jug

Alethea Mack (halow8888) wrote :

I really cannot say that I'm in favor of the way this is projected, but I find myself in most agreement with the points that:
1) this should be adjustable, and
2) that there needs to be a more persistant way of notifying for needed reboots and updates not attended to (most especially security updates).

With Ubuntu's ever growing popularity, more security flaws are found, more quickly, but also stand to be exploited more often as well, in my opinion. I also believe that this should be left to be decided by the (at least more informed) people, as Ubuntu is supposed to be Linux for the people.

riban (brian-riban) wrote :

The update notifier icon (as implemented in Intrepid) is fantastic. It is clear and obvious and no one I know has been confused by it. It is only there when it needs to be. The user can decide what to do about the notification of updates. I am pretty computer savvy but relatives and friends that I have encouraged to use Ubuntu (because it is so simple to use) are not, yet find the current update mechanism good. The idea of a nag-box popping up when you don't want it reminds me of other operating systems. Such annoying prompts are a pain.

In Intrepid, I see the update. At a time that suits me (usually quite quickly) I check out what has been updated and why. I then perform the update (if appropriate).

I can't understand what is better about the new mechanism. Surely we don't want to upset our current and future users. Please keep the existing mechanism, it is great!

What feedback I do have on updates is to offer a simpler description option for non-geeks. I like the full descriptions and am worried when one is not available but others just get confused by descriptions that appear to be a different language. I know it is difficult to describe technical detail in simple (normal) terms but this would be appreciated by the non-geeks out there. (I understand Ubuntu is aimed at them!)

Steve Jackson (aearenda) wrote :

I echo what riban said. I'm likely to just disable the update-notifier altogether rather than risk having ugly pop-unders (and maybe pop-overs by mistake) happening in the middle of a presentation. Losing the existing 'gentle' mechanism for persistent reminders in favour of a 'bullying' one is a worrying development in my (forgetful but freedom-loving) mind.

ktp420 (ktp420) wrote :

I will quote:

I was wondering why I wasn't notified of updates... no update-notifier?! that sucks!!! :-S
*I want my notifier back* and I really don't care about libnotify popups (tough was good)... a icon it's fine by me.... please :-D

Can I get an option to have the icon show up if I want? Even windows gives me that option. This way if you don't care for it leave it disabled.

On Mon, 2009-03-23 at 23:06 +0000, Steve Jackson wrote:
> I echo what riban said. I'm likely to just disable the update-notifier
> altogether rather than risk having ugly pop-unders (and maybe pop-overs
> by mistake) happening in the middle of a presentation. Losing the
> existing 'gentle' mechanism for persistent reminders in favour of a
> 'bullying' one is a worrying development in my (forgetful but freedom-
> loving) mind.

What they said. I don't need to interrupted while I'm busy trying to
achieve my work task to deal with updates. I will deal with them in an
albeit expedient, however convenient time frame.

I also want to vote for the free choice.

I support innovations but please also keep an option for the more conservatives. ;-)

jerrylamos (jerrylamos) wrote :

Intrepid update notifier was fine. An applet appeared on the top line, I could attend to it at an appropriate time.

I certainly don't want a drop down window interrupting what I'm doing.

Since I'm running alpha jaunty much of the time when I boot up I invoke update manager and then do a check. If it reports "partial" then I do sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade.

Intrepid update notifier wasn't broken. "If it isn't broken don't fix it".

Jerry

Kyle Jones (mutiny32) wrote :

This is a case where I actually agree with the philosophy of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Perhaps the logical progression would have been to make the update notifier configurable in a way that could be configured to do it the "old" way instead of changing it without an easy way to change it back and piss off everyone who likes their systems updated constantly.

And also, if something crashes, it's going to make people not report bugs because Apport tells them that their system is out running old crappy software, update to the new version, and then file a bug when something crashes. Sure, it may cut down on invalid bugs, but it also increases the chances of a bug slipping through the cracks when the perfect combination of things are done to cause it to show up.

In short; don't change the behavior, we don't like it your way. Ubuntu is the software equivalent of Burger King. Make it my (our) way.

bigal50 (bigal50) wrote :

That is one of the features that I liked about Ubuntu. When a security update became available the little red arrow icon would appear on the top taksbar. I then had the option to open the Updater and see what was available and then decide if I wanted to do it or not. I also had the option to make it automatic which I didn't use.

I agree with others that removing this is like taking a b ig step backward and I don't quit see why Ubuntu would want to do this.

I think most of us are used to the red arrow informing us ooof Security updates and would like for it to stay in future versions or at the very least ask us and show us the options.

Vadim Peretokin (vperetokin) wrote :

What a horrible change. I just accustomed my mom to looking at the notification area for a red arrow (update now) or an orange starburst.

And now she needs to either manually open the window and check for updates, or be interrupted in the middle of her work for them? What happened to "let the user decide their schedule" idea?

Jamin W. Collins (jcollins) wrote :

I can't agree more with the sentiment of those that want the old functionality back. Security update or no, I don't want to wait a week to be notified and then be either notified by an abrupt "in your face" pop over or a "you'll never see me" pop under.

Since starting to test Jaunty I've repeated encountered application crashes (npviewer.bin, as I recall) that apport won't let me report as the system is lagging behind on updates I wasn't aware were available since I was expecting the old behavior.

In short, security update or not, I would like to be notified in a obvious and unobtrusive manner that there are updates available as soon as my system knows that they are there. I would like said notification to be persistent but unobtrusive. I felt the method used in Intrepid and prior worked fine. I don't care for what I've seen of this new method at all.

Steve Beattie (sbeattie) on 2009-03-26
Changed in update-notifier:
assignee: nobody → dxteam
assignee: dxteam → canonical-dx-team
Changed in update-notifier (Ubuntu Jaunty):
status: Confirmed → Won't Fix
summary: - [Jaunty] Removal of Update Notifier is WRONG
+ [Jaunty] Update Notifier icon would provide useful status information
Changed in ubuntu-release-notes:
importance: Undecided → Low
description: updated
Changed in update-notifier (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Won't Fix
Steve Langasek (vorlon) on 2009-04-16
Changed in ubuntu-release-notes:
status: New → Fix Released
Steve Langasek (vorlon) on 2009-04-20
affects: ubuntu-release-notes → null
Vish (vish) on 2009-04-25
description: updated
description: updated
Moritz Baumann (mo42) on 2009-04-27
description: updated
Vish (vish) on 2009-05-06
description: updated
summary: - [Jaunty] Update Notifier icon would provide useful status information
+ [Jaunty] Update Notifier icon would provide useful status information /
+ new update-manager behaviour is annoying
Paul Sladen (sladen) on 2009-06-23
description: updated
Paul Sladen (sladen) on 2009-06-23
description: updated
description: updated
description: updated
tags: removed: dxteam
386 comments hidden view all 466 comments
hdante (hdante) wrote :

Sorry, the previous message is probably not addressed to Ayatana tem, but to whatever team that has decided to change the behavior of update notifier.

hdante: Your snide remarks made me chuckle for quite a while. I'm all for a program that does that!

Seriously, though, at 31 dupes, more subscribers than I can count, and a 100 percent (I believe) consensus from the community that this behavior is stupid, I'm a little sad to notice that there's nothing being done. Or rather, nothing ALLOWED to be done. It seems to be beyond the point of "the average user as opposed to the power user". The sheer, overwhelming number of people, power user or no, that agree that this *needs* to be changed for the better should be a fair indicator.

I'm not terribly miffed if a faulty program is shipped by default in Ubuntu (Hardy's PulseAudio - what a mess), but I am extremely sad that my favorite cause has to become so distinguished in its tact (or lack therof). I'm just trying to illustrate the reality that this is truly offensive to some people. This and the whole Ubuntu One naming fiasco is something that I think needs much revision. I really adore Canonical, and I think you and Shuttleworth all have done wonders for the community, but you must remember that this relationship is symbiotic! Without each other, there's no Ubuntu, just another distro!

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Rajeev Nair, if Update Manager appears for users who do not have permission to install updates, please report a separate bug about that. (That would be just as wrong for a notification icon as it is for Update Manager.)

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: New → Invalid
Lionel Dricot (ploum) wrote :

I don't believe personnal opinions are relevants when we talk about user experience. I was personnaly not against the current behaviour as I thought "why not".

But now, I have some numbers. I've converted my whole family and most of my circle of friends to Ubuntu. Once in a while, I help them to upgrade to the new version because, most of the time, it breaks ( the story is here : http://ploum.frimouvy.org/?203-upgrading-an-existing-ubuntu-the-kill-your-desktop-machine )

I've already upgraded a few of them to Jaunty and, so far, I've had a 100% return rate of "I have a bug, I always have this popup". I mean "100%". Every single user complains !

I took the time to explain them but :

- It appeared that most users were aware of ugrades but didn't do it because it already broke, at least once, the installation (see my previous link).
- The other users were not aware of upgrade because the notification area was too busy ( see http://ploum.frimouvy.org/?219-the-aristocratic-desktop-part-3-there-s-no-tray-icon-in-gnome )
- Users didn't like being forced to do the upgrade (and, indeed, that's basic user experience, guys !)
- Users that did the upgrade were completely pissed off when they still had upgrades the day after (indeed, an new upgrade could happens during the night but they didn't realized it as it was "upgrade").

The last point is one of the worst, I believe.

So far, it looks like there's one problem that we should adress : people don't do the upgrades.

My experience identifies two root causes :
1) people don't feel confident enough to upgrade.
2) peopel don't see the upgrade icon because notification area is too crowded.

Ubuntu solution to force users to do the upgrade when the system want it (and not the user) is just ignoring the causes and trying to solve the symptoms. As this bug popularity demonstrates it, it added a lot of other problems and, yet, didn't solved anything. Indeed, I've discovered that now users just take the habit to cilck cancel when they see this windows, just like in Windows !

So, what's next ?

Disabling the cancel button to force the upgrade with a countdown ? Or just try to think a bit more about the root cause of the problem ?

This is of course a post-mortem analysis, Perhaphs it has to be tried and I think we, people working in usability, have learned a lot from this real-life usecase. But sometimes, we have to just accept that it, retrospectively, was an error and step back to a saner default until we can come with a better solution.

Rajeev Nair (rajeev) wrote :

Hi Mathew P Thomas

Any user who knows the admin password can install updates, so iam not sure what you mean by 'update manager appears for users who dont have permission to install'

Anyways, glad you still are present in this thread.Iam expecting something spectacular for notifications in karmic.

But as of now,i dont see anything at all.No notify osd or anything.Sometimes it shows if some app crashed.
Just one question, since the osd goes off in some seconds, how does the system handle notifying the user again?

On Mon, 2009-08-17 at 15:04 +0000, Rajeev Nair wrote:
>
> Any user who knows the admin password can install updates,

That's a pretty long stretch -- assuming that all users have the admin
password. This is *exactly* the mentality that has lead to millions of
windows machines being exploited and botnet soldiers. "Users" should
not have the admin password.

> so iam not
> sure what you mean by 'update manager appears for users who dont have
> permission to install'

Again, not all users have admin rights. You need to stop thinking about
the simplistic case of "home user" that installs Ubuntu on their own
machine. In a properly managed corporate environment, the "users" won't
have admin rights.

Jonathan Marsden (jmarsden) wrote :

Rajeev Nair: You said: "Any user who knows the admin password can install updates"...

Did you actually test this with a user who is not in the admin group? What "admin password" do you have in mind, since Ubuntu systems do not normally have a root password? I think you are mistaken. Only users in group admin can install package updates, as far as I know, and as far as my own testing here on Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty and Ubuntu Karmic Alpha4 shows.

komputes (komputes) wrote :

A side effect of this decision causes update-manager to give /var/lib/dpkg/lock errors when automatic security updates it turned on.

See this papercut Bug #369706 for details.

A friend that was test driving Ubuntu said the following:

"I think it's not horrible, but not as good as the little notification would be".

She also stated, "It's annoying".

Just an update.

_dan_ (dan-void) wrote :

karmic update forced new behaviour on me *again*.
just annoying.

Ralph Little (rlittle) wrote :

Just another voice to add to this discussion which echos a fair amount of what I have already read.

- When I upgraded to Jaunty, I noticed that the update icon did not appear.
I assumed that this was a bug introduced during the update.

- upgrade manager "juat appearing" on its own is a really bad idea. It looks like malware.

My opinion for what it is worth.
The notification panel works great for me.
The notification icon is one of the things I think is great in Ubuntu. Its removal is a backwards step.
Launching the update manager is a retrograde step.

If the designers think that the update icon is being ignored by a lot of people, then why not let it make a nuisance of itself if it has been ignored for a specified length of time, say a fortnight or a month. Make it flash, change colour etc. That way people will have to pay attention to it.

To my mind, the old method was ideal.
I like the notification area - I don't mind the number of things in there and I DO like the notification icon.
Just changing it into what we have at the moment is pretty unforgiveable.

Tessa (unit3) wrote :

This change is absolutely idiotic, despite all the rationalizing I've seen here. The proof is in the actual use cases.

Everyone I know who has upgraded thought they broke something, because they were no longer getting update notifications, since the OSD notifications happened when they were AFK, and were not persistent. My parents and grandparents (who I've gotten quite well-trained at doing their updates, and cause me virtually no support hassles since I switched them to Ubuntu) haven't done updates in weeks because they didn't know there was any.

Change it back. Flat out. This is horrible. It doesn't work for the users at all, from low end to high end. People aren't updating their systems. Any usability testing with real users would've told you this. It simply doesn't work the way you think it should.

Lionel Dricot (ploum) wrote :

Graeme > the number of duplicates speaks for itself. But it seems that, for some reason, no usability is involved in this bug (the current behaviour is against nearly *every* usability rule ). I assume (and I hope) that this "more-important-than-usability" reason worth it and I would like more communication from the people responsible of this behaviour.

Vish (vish) wrote :

On Tue, 2009-11-17 at 08:11 +0000, Lionel Dricot wrote:
> Graeme > the number of duplicates speaks for itself. But it seems that,
> for some reason, no usability is involved in this bug

What is intriguing with Graeme's user scenario is, why have the users
been ignoring the window which was popping up?

Why were they not updating when the window opened and dismissing it
instead? [not to troll , Just curious.]
Isnt it because the users were instructed to depend on the icon only?
If they were told to update when the update-manager window opens wouldnt
this have been solved?

> (the current
> behaviour is against nearly *every* usability rule ).

As in?

> I assume (and I
> hope) that this "more-important-than-usability" reason worth it and

I'm not a huge fan of this change , but it has its merits.

> I
> would like more communication from the people responsible of this
> behaviour.
>

mpt has explained this change plenty of times on this bug report.
you can see the number of comments he has made , kindly read them.
Not sure how much more it can be explained.

OTOH , the update manager window ,as well, is going to be improved for
Lucid.

Lionel Dricot (ploum) wrote :
Download full text (3.3 KiB)

mac_v > I've posted some answers in this comment : https://bugs.edge.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/update-notifier/+bug/332945/comments/430

It's up to the user to choose when he wants to update. Forcing him is *never* the good time. Poping up a window will *always* be annoying. When a normal user open his computer, it's because he needs it, maybe urgently. So any popup is an annoyance and immediately dismissed. 100% of the Ubuntu users I support (close friends, family, related) told me that they had a bug because the update window was poping up *every time* without reason (they didn't ask for an upgrade so it was considered as a bug and they are right)

Basic usability rules :

1) Never do something unexpected except if it's critical to preserve user data.

Other usability rules :

2) Never popup a window without being asked for it. It will always when you do not want it (typical example : a public presentation with your computer plugged on a beamer)

3) Never ask anything at start. Starting the computer is not a special event and, generally, when the user boot his computer, he want to do something. This something might be urgent (like checking train timetable or the hour of a meeting quickly in an elevator). Anything that slow him is a bug.

4) Listen to the user. If the user close without doing an upgrade, don't open it again a few minutes/hours/days later. I've often heard : "I did the upgrade! It still appears! There's no way to make this window disappearing once for all?" (there are some upgrade nearly every day in the weeks after a release)

5) Allow user to discard and recover later : if the user closes the windows, it's hard to find how to do the upgrade if he doesn't know the administration menu (most users don't and it should not be required). With the notification icon, the user is warned but can keep it for later. My mother used to say "there's the orange icon. I will wait the next time you come here to do that upgrade so you can solve it if there is any trouble". Since Jaunty, she had not do any upgrade at all, only complained about the popping window.

6) Never force the user to do anything. It's simply bad experience. People hate being forced to do stuff, even if they know they have to. Say "you have to drink water when doing sport" and people will listen. Give a glass of water, put in the mouth of someone and say "drink!" is simply not an accepted behaviour (even by thirsty people). (this analogy is seen by many researchers as one main reason why people dislike current technologies. They feel that they are not empowered but, au contraire, that they have to fight the technology. But I disgress…)

In fact, I tend to believe that only geeks that have their computer always on can consider the current behaviour as "not too annoying". I'm sorry, but none of the comments I've read answered my questions (I might have overlooked some, given the high number). I still cannot find any usability point that were improved with the current behaviour. Disabling the updater daemon is now part of my installation routine for newbies. (well, I'm still looking for someone that will find that useful so I do it only when they tell me they have a ...

Read more...

>Disabling the updater daemon is now part of my installation routine for newbies. (well, I'm still looking >for someone that will find that useful so I do it only when they tell me they have a bug with a window >appearing all the time).

Why disable it? Just use gconf and recover the old (and good) behavior.

Paulo

--
Paulo José da Silva e Silva
Professor Associado, Dep. de Ciência da Computação
(Associate Professor, Computer Science Dept.)
Universidade de São Paulo - Brazil

e-mail: <email address hidden> Web: http://www.ime.usp.br/~pjssilva

Lionel Dricot (ploum) wrote :

Paulo > because I didn't know. Thanks for the information :-)

markba (mark-baaijens) wrote :

Or, in a one-liner: gconftool -s --type bool /apps/update-notifier/auto_launch false

Please fix this. Even as this CLI-entry is not much work, I'm trying to keep my post-install tasks to the absolute minimum.

Everything what can be said, is already said here above, well put, especially by Lionel (Dricot); I've really nothing to add. Let work this out (restore the old behaviour) and point our energy to more important work, there's enough to do.

mac_v wrote:
  > What is intriguing with Graeme's user scenario is, why have the users
> been ignoring the window which was popping up?
>
> Why were they not updating when the window opened and dismissing it
> instead?

On all computers I've installed Karmic (and Jaunty before) the
update-manager windows opens in the background (either in minimized
mode, or behind other windows, or on the wrong desktop). Since Linux
users aren't used to closing one program before opening another (and I
believe Windows users don't really have to do that any more in recent
Windows versions), the user never knows there are updates available,
because they always have at least one other application on top.

Opening the update-manager window on top of all other windows is not
good either, since it disrupts the user's workflow (which would end up
with the window being closed by the user).

I believe the developer(s) that advocated the new behavior have a
different workflow, and thus doesn't have any problems with it. On the
other hand, when the new behavior was still in discussion, they promised
us that they would study the ratio of people updating regularly,
compare with the previous ratios, and revert if it proved unsuccessful.
I still haven't seen those numbers elsewhere, and up now we can only get
anecdotal evidence that it doesn't work. Eventually, it all depends if
you find it important or not that Ubuntu users install security updates
or not, and if you don't there's no way any more comments on this bug
report are going to make you admit it if you were wrong (especially if,
at an individual level, you prefer the new behavior for whatever reasons).

Lionel Dricot (ploum) wrote :

As a personal sidenote, I want to add that, during the early discussion, I
was not opposed to the idea. I had a lot of doubt but it has to be tried. I
was kind of agnostic so "let's try and see". Now, I can say that I've seen.
It's not a matter of personal preferences : it's a matter when user you
support report you a "bug" when it is supposed to be a feature.

Tessa (unit3) wrote :

mac_v> "What is intriguing with Graeme's user scenario is, why have the users
been ignoring the window which was popping up?"

This is important to look at, I think. Others have mentioned reasons for this that overlap what I've seen: windows pop up minimized, or behind other windows so they don't get seen. Plus, they've been trained by the operating systems they use that important things notify from the system tray or the notification area, and that anything that pops up without them requesting it is broken or is some hassle come up with by some marketroid. In my parents case, and the case of some of the other users where I work, they dismiss it before even seeing what it is. As long as they've got that tiny notification icon saying there's updates, they'll do them when they're not busy, and they're quite good about doing that. Otherwise, they will just continue to dismiss the intrusive update-manager popup, and get back to what they're doing.

So, from my observations, the new "system" of notification for updates is essentially trying to retrain users away from what is intuitive and unobtrusive for them, to something that's part of a potentially harmful set of behaviour on other platforms (read: Windows) that they also have to use.

The fact is, when you're talking about having to retrain your entire user base (especially the least technical users), and your solution is for them to remember to run an arcane console command only documented in a bug report hundreds of comments deep? You've lost your usability argument. Straight up. Finding out why and fixing the behaviour is the next step, but you need to accept the changes you've made simply aren't working for people.

Download full text (5.0 KiB)

> What is intriguing with Graeme's user scenario is, why have the users
> been ignoring the window which was popping up?

Users ignore this kind of popup behavior because the internet, and viruses
do this crap all the time.
The same way you filter out ads online, in the store, on tv, wherever you
are... you don't see an ad trying to get your attention and say OH DAMN,
MUST PAY ATTENTION!

There *was* one place we knew we could always look when we had updates...
and now it's lost in the shuffle of random crap in the background.

On Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 4:07 AM, mac_v <email address hidden> wrote:

> On Tue, 2009-11-17 at 08:11 +0000, Lionel Dricot wrote:
> > Graeme > the number of duplicates speaks for itself. But it seems that,
> > for some reason, no usability is involved in this bug
>
> What is intriguing with Graeme's user scenario is, why have the users
> been ignoring the window which was popping up?
>
> Why were they not updating when the window opened and dismissing it
> instead? [not to troll , Just curious.]
> Isnt it because the users were instructed to depend on the icon only?
> If they were told to update when the update-manager window opens wouldnt
> this have been solved?
>
>
> > (the current
> > behaviour is against nearly *every* usability rule ).
>
> As in?
>
> > I assume (and I
> > hope) that this "more-important-than-usability" reason worth it and
>
> I'm not a huge fan of this change , but it has its merits.
>
> > I
> > would like more communication from the people responsible of this
> > behaviour.
> >
>
> mpt has explained this change plenty of times on this bug report.
> you can see the number of comments he has made , kindly read them.
> Not sure how much more it can be explained.
>
> OTOH , the update manager window ,as well, is going to be improved for
> Lucid.
>
> --
> [Jaunty] Update Notifier icon would provide useful status information / new
> update-manager behaviour is annoying
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/332945
> You received this bug notification because you are a direct subscriber
> of the bug.
>
> Status in One Hundred Paper Cuts: Invalid
> Status in NULL Project: Fix Released
> Status in “update-notifier” package in Ubuntu: Won't Fix
> Status in “update-notifier” source package in Jaunty: Won't Fix
>
> Bug description:
> I am referring to the removal up the update-notifier in the Gnome
> notification area. The discussion of it is embedded in the thread headed
> by:
>
> https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027416.html
>
> Specific messages worth reading are:
>
> https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027434.html
> https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027451.html
> https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027454.html
> https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027437.html
> https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027445.html
>
> Matthew Paul Thomas says that the desired behavior is:
>
> * When there are security updates, Update Manager will open and show
> them (plus any other available updates) within a day.
>
> * When there are non-security updates, Update Manag...

Read more...

Dave Stroud (bigdavesr) wrote :

There is a simple solution to this problem Turn off auto update And check it manually.

Tessa (unit3) wrote :

Dave> The root problem with all of this, for me, is that users aren't doing their updates. Your "solution" is simply to make the problem worse. No thanks.

Leandro (leandromartinez98) wrote :

Yes, Dave, this is what I do in all machines I install. Simply put, most machines I install (family and friends) only get updated when I really have nothing else to do. This is only because I want these people to like Ubuntu and that popup is extremelly annoying. Fortunatelly updates are not that important. Since I found that I could turn off the update notifier I was happy and this bug does not botter me anymore. But I still think it is a great regression.

Leandro (leandromartinez98) wrote :

The problem "was" that users were not applying their updates. Now the problem is that
an annoying popup (or popunder) is jumping on our desktops, and the first problem
was aggravated for some people posting here (the statistics of that is missing, as noted
before).

Also, can you imagine the security absurd for a
unexperienced user which gets used to the system
popuping something AND asking for root privileges?
How easy is to mimic that with a website popup?

Paulo J. S. Silva (pjssilva) wrote :

2009/11/17 Leandro <email address hidden>:
>
> Also, can you imagine the security absurd for a
> unexperienced user which gets used to the system
> popuping something AND asking for root privileges?
> How easy is to mimic that with a website popup?
>

That is a major point. If there anyone can mimic the pop-up behavior
using a website maybe, and I mean just maybe, we can get the
developers attention on this possible security role. However it would
need to be done very carefully so that the developers can not counter
argument (I have the feeling that I have already something on this
subject in Ayatana list, but it didn't catch up). If we had a web site
that could mimic the behavior so that a innocent user might give away
his root password then we may have a real situation to complain once
again.

Unfortunately I don't have the resources (knowledge and time) to try
to do it myself.

Paulo
--
Paulo José da Silva e Silva
Professor Associado, Dep. de Ciência da Computação
(Associate Professor, Computer Science Dept.)
Universidade de São Paulo - Brazil

e-mail: <email address hidden> Web: http://www.ime.usp.br/~pjssilva

Le mardi 17 novembre 2009 à 21:17 +0000, Paulo J. S. Silva a écrit :

> That is a major point. If there anyone can mimic the pop-up behavior
> using a website maybe, and I mean just maybe, we can get the
> developers attention on this possible security role.

This should *NOT* be a developer decision as it's only a matter of
checking a box in GConf.

This is an usability decision (and maybe also a security related
decision).

Some of the best developers out there are simply not able to think about
usability (even if they often think they are) and some of the best
usability specialists cannot write a Hello World. Definitely not the
same job.

Lionel,

Whoever made the decision (in this case probably some usability
expert), will have to at least reconsider his/her decision in face of
a real security risk even if to confirm it later. In my email, please
read developer in a more general sense, as someone in the development
team who is responsible for such decisions.

Paulo

2009/11/17 Lionel Dricot <email address hidden>:
> Le mardi 17 novembre 2009 à 21:17 +0000, Paulo J. S. Silva a écrit :
>
>> That is a major point. If there anyone can mimic the pop-up behavior
>> using a website maybe, and I mean just maybe, we can get the
>> developers attention on this possible security role.
>
> This should *NOT* be a developer decision as it's only a matter of
> checking a box in GConf.
>
> This is an usability decision (and maybe also a security related
> decision).
>
> Some of the best developers out there are simply not able to think about
> usability (even if they often think they are) and some of the best
> usability specialists cannot write a Hello World. Definitely not the
> same job.
>
> --
> [Jaunty] Update Notifier icon would provide useful status information / new update-manager behaviour is annoying
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/332945
> You received this bug notification because you are a direct subscriber
> of the bug.
>

--
Paulo José da Silva e Silva
Professor Associado, Dep. de Ciência da Computação
(Associate Professor, Computer Science Dept.)
Universidade de São Paulo - Brazil

e-mail: <email address hidden> Web: http://www.ime.usp.br/~pjssilva

Leandro (leandromartinez98) wrote :

This is what I can do in one minute, and I'm no hacker or webdesigner:

http://www.ime.unicamp.br/~martinez/leandro/test1.html

Click on the "click here" and then click anywhere on the image.
I myself got confused while doing this because the first image is totally
realistic on my system and I had the update manager and the "site"
opened at the same time.

Paulo J. S. Silva (pjssilva) wrote :

OK Leandro,

I just sent an email to Ayatana list with your mockup and presenting
the argument on the possible security flaw. Let us see how it goes.
However, I would not be very hopeful, it seems like people in
Canonical are convinced that the new behavior is good.

best,

Paulo

On Wed, Nov 18, 2009 at 10:05 AM, Leandro <email address hidden> wrote:
>
> This is what I can do in one minute, and I'm no hacker or webdesigner:
>
> http://www.ime.unicamp.br/~martinez/leandro/test1.html
>
> Click on the "click here" and then click anywhere on the image.
> I myself got confused while doing this because the first image is totally
> realistic on my system and I had the update manager and the "site"
> opened at the same time.
>
> --
> [Jaunty] Update Notifier icon would provide useful status information / new update-manager behaviour is annoying
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/332945
> You received this bug notification because you are a direct subscriber
> of the bug.
>

--
Paulo José da Silva e Silva
Professor Associado, Dep. de Ciência da Computação
(Associate Professor, Computer Science Dept.)
Universidade de São Paulo - Brazil

e-mail: <email address hidden> Web: http://www.ime.usp.br/~pjssilva

On Wed, 2009-11-18 at 13:13 +0000, Paulo J. S. Silva wrote:
> OK Leandro,
>
> I just sent an email to Ayatana list with your mockup and presenting
> the argument on the possible security flaw. Let us see how it goes.
> However, I would not be very hopeful, it seems like people in
> Canonical are convinced that the new behavior is good.

People can get emotionally attached to an expended time and effort (with
the alternative being to throw the result away and feel like your time
has been wasted) and start to put up blinders to the real issues.

This is similar to the phenomenon that allows projects to run 10-fold
over time and budget. At every progress report on the overage, the team
is convinced that they only need [insert small amount here] more to
complete the project. Then, the more management invests in a project
the more likely they are going to continue to throw good money after bad
to finally see it through rather than cutting bait early on in the
disaster.

After-all, who wants to say "we blew $$$$ and have nothing to show for
it" rather than continuing the fantasy of eventually having something,
even though it cost you 10 or 20x your original budget.

Hopefully this is not what is happening here.

Changed in null:
status: Fix Released → Fix Committed
status: Fix Committed → Fix Released
Rajeev Nair (rajeev) wrote :

So, any news on getting old behaviour back? or any changes to existing popup ?

Fredrik Sjögren (fsj) wrote :

This is just useless .. *sigh*

Fredrik Sjögren (fsj) wrote :

I get no window popping up and no icon in the notification area - I get no updates at all. How can I get at least one of them working? I prefer the icon.

Noel J. Bergman (noeljb) wrote :

See Bug 549799. Now (recent change to Lucid) the icon now longer shows up at all, even setting auto_launch to false.

Jamin W. Collins (jcollins) wrote :

Another interesting problem from this change is Bug #414181. If the user doesn't respond to the automatically opened update-manager in a timely fashion the Install button becomes non-functional.

R. Steve McKown (rsmckown) wrote :
Download full text (5.4 KiB)

I recently upgraded from Kubuntu 10.10 to Ubuntu 10.10. I find the new update notification "window" method far inferior to the "icon" method (I update regularly and timely). I have seen the updater pop up one time so far, and that was over a week ago. Please read on.

1. The update window is disruptive to my workflow. Updates can cause system instability, so I don't do them until lunch, end of day, etc. The window offers me no benefit but costs me an interruption in my work.

2. I dismissed the update notifier window, but I received no future notification of updates being available! This over a week with the system shut down and powered up several times. So, I completely forgot about updates being available and didn't notice this condition until I interacted with Synaptic to install a new package.

3. Sometimes an update requires a reboot. I do hope this situation triggers an icon in the notification tray rather than the window approach used to initiate an update. The alternatives of having to reboot on the spot or remembering to do it later without any helpful prompt seem unreasonable.

While update notification may need some improvement, this step seems to be an obvious step in the wrong direction. E-mails don't automatically open upon receipt. Heck, my telephone doesn't automatically answer when it receives a call. I think the cure is worse than the disease.

My desktop is my point of interaction with all things virtual. I decide what thing is the most important to next interact with, and what interruption I take vs. which I defer to later. User unsolicited pop-up windows serve to do more harm than good in any workflow scenario I can think of. Please consider reverting this 'feature'. This is a slipperly slope that does not lead to a good place.

In reviewing this thread, I find the reasons why this change is bad to be generally reasonable. Additionally, I find the justifications for the change to be bordering on rationalization. I'd like to respond to this message: https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027434.html regarding the reasons as to why the pop-up window solution is a good idea.

*point* The basic reason is that it's more obvious: a 22*22-pixel icon in the
"notification area" could never convey the idea that there are software
updates available to a usefully large proportion of our users, no matter
how good the icon designer was. An actual sentence saying "Software
updates are available for this computer" can do a much better job

*response* This is uncomfortably shaky logic. A new user only has to figure this out once. We would never consider it a productivity benefit to have the e-mail client auto-open urgent messages. If notification behavior is changing because users aren't updating fast enough, the root cause has nothing to do with the fact that users don't know which icon to press.

*point* a notification bubble pointing atxthe icon... they disappear
           after a few seconds
*point* or they persist and get in the way of whatever else you're
           working on.
*point* if two of them happen to appear pointing at different
           icons simultaneously, the bubbles coll...

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I'm going to come clean.

After all the garbage that I cannot believe I wrote in the last two years I must admit that the current model far outstrips the previous one.

While it sports some interesting downsides to consider I feel that the model works somewhat beautifully. As of Maverick there is a pop-under window that presents itself - When the user decides to update, it's smooth and unnoticable enough that you may continue your activities. Should a restart be required, there's no pop-up window. There's no bubble, notification, MS Bob bouncing around. There's a simple, easy-to-see box in the update-manager that informs the user and presents a nice little button. Also, the power indicator glows red. Simple, beautiful.

With Unity around the corner I imagine this will get even better. I'm guessing that there will be a shiny little launcher in the left panel that will sexy up the process a little bit. And with the smaller, iconic paradigm there will be far less clutter.

I admit that I was the victim of stubborn resistance to change - even when I thought I was sensible enough to detect the behavior. I would like to thank Ayatana for the great and hard work being done. I would also like to thank and apologize to Matthew Paul Thomas; it is the mark of a great worker to be able to bear the weight of unfounded flames and you've shouldered that for a long time now.

I'm marking this bug as not affecting me: The model has outclassed any other forms of updating that I've yet encountered.

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

R. Steve McKown: All except one of your points have been addressed several times previously. The one that hasn't been is "Bubbles dismiss themselves." In notification-daemon, that was dependent on the bubble (expire_timeout). But a bubble that dismissed itself (as they always do in Notify OSD) would be no notification at all, if it opened at a time of day when you were never at the computer; and conversely, a bubble that didn't dismiss itself would be more annoying than an alert box, because it would float on top of every window.

Chauncellor: Thanks for the kind words, but I'm under no illusions that the current presentation is perfect. :-) We can improve the settings to encourage automatic updates, make the window less annoying by making its default size smaller, improve its layout and text, and reduce the number of windows that open by merging the progress window into the main window. See <https://wiki.ubuntu.com/SoftwareUpdates> and <https://code.launchpad.net/update-manager> if you're interested in helping out.

Curtis Hovey (sinzui) on 2011-02-28
Changed in update-notifier (Ubuntu):
assignee: Registry Administrators (registry) → nobody
Changed in update-notifier (Ubuntu Jaunty):
assignee: Registry Administrators (registry) → nobody
Curtis Hovey (sinzui) on 2011-11-11
no longer affects: null
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