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For Ubuntu 8.04 we should make conservative changes to Add/Remove Programs, Synaptic, and Update Manager to make them simpler, more grammatical, and more consistent.

Release Note

None of these changes are important enough to feature in release notes.


Ubuntu 8.04 will be a an LTS release, so we want to make small conservative improvements. We will not be doing anything big like switching to PackageKit tools, implementing session management, or localizing changelogs.



  • We should introduce a consistent icon for "supported by Canonical" (preferably part of an icon theme), and use it in Synaptic and Add/Remove Programs.

ScottJamesRemnant: during hardy, different packages will have different terms of support. The installer should clearly say whether the package is supported for 3 years or 5 (in remaining months), and whether the package would be supported if you installed it (we don't support KDE packages installed on Ubuntu Desktop).

Update Manager

To make update descriptions understandable to more people, we should:

  • SRU template in dch would be helpful, like the security update template.
  • Remove the "from version to version" from update-manager since it's in the changelog entry as well (it's almost always something unusable anyway, like package0.9.2-ubuntu1 to package0.9.2-ubuntu2).

For other UI improvements, we should:

  • Change "You can install n updates" to "You can install n updates." [done] (./)

  • Remove the "Software updates correct errors" sentence from the "Starting Update Manager" and "Checking for Updates" windows, because the same sentence is already present in the main window. [done] (./)

  • Align the text of "Download size:" exactly with the text of the "Check" and "Install Updates" buttons. [done] (./)

  • Change "Downloading package files" to "Downloading Package Files". [done] (./)

  • Remove the "The package files will be cached locally for installation" sentence, because it's not relevant. [done] (./)

  • Abolish the "You can close the window now ( Close )" window. [done] (./)

  • Stop telling me that "Software updates correct errors" etc when there are no updates to install. Instead, tell me what time you're next going to check for updates. [half-done, shows when the last check was performed]
  • Challenge: Show packages as applications, like gnome-app-install does, and show non-application packages in a new section that is collapsed by default. Sebastien Heinlein will work on this so it can be considered for 8.04 vs. 8.10.
  • Challenge: Merge the "Downloading Package Files" and "Applying Changes" windows (and their progress bars).

Also done:

  • show different icons depending on whether security updates are available or not in update-notifier
  • if broken dependencies are found on the system, try to fix them automatically if update-manager
    • is called
  • show warning if the last package information refresh was done a very long time ago in update-notifier
  • have a consistent way in libapt to perform apt-get update like operations ( and support pre-update, post-update hook scripts (important for update-time keeping)

Add/Remove Programs

To make it easier to uninstall applications, we should:

  • Change "Installed applications" to "Installed applications only". [done] (./)

  • Make the list sortable by the checkbox column (like in Synaptic), so that all installed applications can be listed first.

To make the categories and search more understandable, we should:

  • Extend the category list to the top of the window, so it is no longer underneath the search field. [done] (./)

General improvements:

  • Use the "homepage" field if available [done] (./)


To relieve some annoyances, we should:

  • Fix Synaptic so that when someone adds a new repository, it doesn't tell them to click Reload, it just reloads automatically.
  • Challange: Replace the "Search" button with a live search field.

Test/Demo Plan

Since these changes are entirely in the UI, and we don't yet have a UI testing framework, they should be tested by human use.

Future work

  • It would be nice to have a way to update only .deb repositories (we waste like 30 seconds of user interaction refreshing source packages in update manager, gnome-app-install, and synaptic). We do not want to disable source repos by default because the default way to install a source package in Ubuntu is apt-get source. We could rely on user to run apt-get update on a terminal if he wants updated source information.
  • See if Update Manager can use vertical space better.
  • Include Web links or images in the Add/Remove Applications description.
    • Web links should go to launchpad in case they change after release
  • "Integrates well into the Ubuntu desktop" isn't understandable (emblem), we need a better text here.
    • The meaning itself is difficult to summarize into a tooltip: that it's a GTK application designed for Gnome or a KDE application designed for KDE. Since users reading this tooltip won't know what that means unless they already understand the difference between Gnome and KDE, it would be sufficient to simply provide an icon without any explanatory text, since the icon conveys the same information.

Not discussed

These applications were not discussed:

  • apturl integration
  • adept
  • adept_installer
  • adept_updater
  • gdebi


TomaszD: I'm not really sure if comments are allowed here, but anyway, just a minor thing to think about when doing this spec. Synaptic still has these two absolutely hideous and outdated icons that haven't been replaced by Ubuntu (Human, etc.) icons. The "Mark everything for update" (I'm using Synaptic in Polish so I'm guessing what the English label says) button has an ugly icon (it also appears in the Edit menu) and the icon beside the Filters menu item in Settings. I don't think that a lot of effort is needed to change these. I'm not an artist, so I cannot help you, but surely someone from the Artwork Team would.

CharlesPax: I suggest that Add/Remove Applications allow the user to filter by desktop type. If I have things set to show "All available application," having both Gnome and KDE applications clutters things up. Perhaps it would be best to have a column displaying an icon indicating the program is either for Gnome or KDE.

DaengBo: No exactly within the spec here, but I've always thought (and proposed a few times) that the main menu should have a "Remove this package" choice when right-clicking an entry. This would make it a lot easier to remove unneeded programs or ones which the user tries then does like (or which don't work at all, which seems to be a problem with multiverse).


DesktopTeam/Specs/PackagingToolsUsability (last edited 2008-08-06 16:21:16 by localhost)