Revision 4 as of 2012-02-01 12:32:21

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This is a 75%-incomplete specification for how software channels and update settings should be configured in Ubuntu. Your help to implement any of this is welcome.

System Settings (gnome-control-center) should contain a “Software & Updates” panel, with tabs for “Ubuntu Software”, “Other Software”, “Updates”, and “Authentication”. That is, for now, it should be a direct port of software-properties-gtk.

“Software Channels”

Choosing a download server


In the “Ubuntu Software” tab, if mirrorbrainz has been implemented yet, the “Download from:” menu should begin with a “Fastest detected server” item (the default), then a separator. Regardless, the menu should then have a “Main server” item, an item for whatever custom server you have chosen (if any), a separator, and an “Other…” item which opens the dialog for choosing a different server.


“Additional Drivers”


The third tab, “Additional Drivers”, should contain a listbox listing each device for which proprietary drivers could be installed — for example, “Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 6210” or “Printer: Canon XFI-2400”.

Each device in the list should have an indicator light: red if no driver is being used for the device, yellow if an open-source driver is in use but a proprietary driver is available, or green if a proprietary driver is in use. Below the device name should be a caption reflecting this state: “This device is not working.”, “This device may work poorly without a proprietary driver.”, or “This device is using a proprietary driver.”, respectively.

The following radio buttons should be of the form “Do not use the device”, “Use {driver name} ({license type})”, or “Use {driver name} ({license}, tested)” — for example “Use Nvidia driver v165 (proprietary, tested)”.

Whenever no drivers are being installed or removed, below the leading side of the listbox should be text of the form “No proprietary drivers in use” or “1 proprietary driver in use”, and at the trailing side “Revert” and “Apply Changes” buttons. Both buttons should be sensitive only if you have made no changes.


Whenever any drivers are being installed or removed, the text should instead be “Applying changes…”, and the buttons should instead be a progress bar and a “Cancel” button (insensitive once it’s too late to cancel).

And when changes require restarting the computer to complete, the text should instead be “Restart the computer to complete these changes.”, and there should be an extra “Restart…” button before the “Revert” button. (“Restart…” should open the standard Restart dialog.)

At the bottom of the tab should be this small print (fixing bug 660669): “Proprietary drivers have private code that Ubuntu developers can’t review or improve. Security and other updates are dependent on the driver vendor.”

Prompting to install additional drivers


Ubuntu should present a prompt, to suggest that you install proprietary drivers, whenever all of these are true:

  • There are any devices for which proprietary drivers could be installed but currently are not.
  • Software Updater is not open.

  • You have never previously responded “Not Interested” or “Choose…” to the prompt.
  • You have not chosen “Ask Me Later” to the prompt in the past week.

Choosing “Choose…” should open System Settings to the “Additional Drivers” tab of the “Software & Updates” panel.