Comment 324 for bug 332945

Changing the way users are notified of important information is a noble and worthwhile goal. I agree that a tiny icon can not convey much useful information to the users. On the other hand, notifying users of something with a pop-under window is far from ideal. Applications should not run unless I ask one too. This update was premature without a better way to notify users already in place.

The fix then, is to improve the way users are notified by applications or the OS. This will require several things in order to improve on both the old icon notification behavior and the current opening of an unrequested application behavior.
    1. It must convey more information than an icon can provide.
    2. It must be persistent if need be.
    3. It must not open an additional application or otherwise forcibly interrupt a user's work.

I see two fixes for this.
    1. An application that gathers notifications from other applications. It pops up in the current notification area and lets you know that other applications or the OS wishes to let you know something. When clicked upon it gives a list of current applications with notifications. Clicking then on the application in the list will give you a detailed and verbose message. "The computer needs to be rebooted after those last updates." "Firefox must be restarted" "There are 12 new updates available, 3 of which are critical security fixes." etc.

The problem with this approach is we again have to convey to the users via an icon that this is something they should click on for more information. This can be worked around perhaps with libnotify popping up briefly and telling a user that they should click on the icon for more information. Eventually a user would be at the computer for one of these and notice it and learn what the icon means. Also, each application would have to be changed to work with this new system.

    2. A portion of the desktop be reserved for such notifications. No icons would be able to be dragged into this location and accidentally cover it up for instance. (Say a 'sidebar' location on the right hand side of the screen). In this 'sidebar' would be a list of recent messages from the applications or OS to which the user should be notified. It should have enough room for a basic message "Updates available", "Please restart computer", etc and a way to click on this new 'sidebar' to have the appropriate application either run or move to the front of the screen and acquire user focus.

The problem with this approach is that its completely new to everyone and would possibly take substantial coding effort just to get the framework running and more to convert each application to it. It would also be hidden from users who have a window blocking that portion of their desktop. This at least could again be worked around with a brief libnotify message. If they miss it, they'll certainly see it when they close their last window and are prepared to do something else, or stop using the computer entirely. (or on next boot before working)

Both of these solutions would require a not insignificant amount of work but would go a long way to solving the original problem that started this whole mess - That the notification area can't really notify of much. I'd love to see a fix make it in time for Karmic, either one of these or some other better approach.