"Software Sources" design (Re: An update repository for a custom distro?)

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at canonical.com
Wed Jan 3 00:22:10 UTC 2007

Hash: SHA1

On Dec 26, 2006, at 8:55 AM, Sebastian Heinlein wrote:
> ...
> Furthermore I would welcome feedback about the software-properties
> dialog layout and the underlaying infrastructure. I am currently 
> working on making it more derviat friendly.
> ...

General feedback:

1.  It is a shame that this window needs a "System" > "Administration"
     menu item of its own. (This seems to be a symptom of Synaptic,
     Add/Remove Applications, and Update Manager being three separate
     programs, which is bizarre and confusing.)

2.  The authentication alert refers to "software-properties", but the
     window is called "Software Sources". These should be reconciled.

3.  In Synaptic, the item that opens this window should be labelled
     "Software Sources...", not "Repositories".

4.  The window gives no indication of what it's actually for. I see many
     checkboxes, but their labels are almost all noun phrases, and there
     is no verb phrase introducing them.

5.  The organization of tabs is awkward. Three of the five appear to be
     for listing sources of software, and two of the five aren't. And the
     first is labelled "Ubuntu 6.10", which (probably wrongly) suggests
     that the other four are about some other system. I'll be more able
     to make a suggestion about improving this once #4 is fixed.

6.  Some of the checkboxes are in indeterminate [-] state, but no reason
     for this is provided. Further, clicking such a checkbox three times
     should return it to the indeterminate state (-> checked -> unchecked
     -> indeterminate) , but it doesn't. (The only way to do this seems
     to be clicking "Revert", which presumably forgets all the other
     changes I wanted to make too.)

7.  The "Help" button doesn't seem to give any help on this window at
     all. It displays help for Update Manager instead.

In the "Ubuntu 6.10" tab:

8.  "Community-maintained" and "Canonical-supported" are short adjective
     phrases, which should therefore use dashes.

9.  The "Download from:" menu contains two items: "Main server" and
     "Server for Zimbabwe". I don't even live in Africa, let alone
     Zimbabwe, so I don't know why the second option is there nor how to
     fix it.

10. "CDROM" should be "CD-ROM".

11. The "CDROM/DVD" section is disabled with no explanation. Maybe the
     box could, when disabled, contain a short sentence describing what
     to do to make it enabled.

In the "Internet Updates" tab:

12. There is no explanation of the difference between "Important" and
     "Recommended" updates. Why is it possible, for example, to have the
     former turned off and the latter turned on?

13. There is no explanation of what "Proposed updates" and "Backported
     updates" mean.

14. The final three checkboxes contradict each other in two ways.

     -   If I uncheck "Check for updates automatically", and check
         "Download updates automatically, but do not install them",
         updates apparently both will and won't be downloaded. This can
         be fixed by disabling the final two checkboxes when "Check for
         updates automatically" is turned off.

     -   If I check both "Download updates automatically, but do not
         install them" and "Install security updates without
         confirmation", security updates apparently both will and won't
         be installed automatically. This can be fixed by replacing the
         checkboxes with an "Install them automatically:" menu containing
         three options: "Never", "Security updates only", and "Always".

In the "Third Party" tab:

15. "Third Party" is an adjective phrase, and there is no further
     explanation of what this list is for. Tell me what it's for, and
     I'll turn it into a label or a caption. :-)

16. "Add" should be "Add...", and "Edit" should be "Edit...".

17. "Cdrom" should be "CD-ROM".

18. The "Add..." and "Add CD-ROM..." buttons should not use the same
     icon. Perhaps the latter could use a CD icon.

In the "Authentication" tab:

19. There is no explanation of what this list is for.

20. "Import Key File" should be "Import Key File...".

In the "Statistics" tab:

21. Using an entire tab just for a single checkbox is excessive. How
     this should be solved depends on #5 above.

22. The description shouldn't be above the checkbox and in italics. It
     should be under the checkbox, and indented the same amount as the

23. "To improve the user experience of Ubuntu"? Really? Has that ever
     happened? If so, be more specific. If not, remove the checkbox.

24. The description needs shortening and rewording. For example, "Take
     part in the popularity contest" suggests, if you don't read the full
     description (and few will), that it is a contest of people rather
     than software. And "on a weekly basis" can be shortened to "weekly".

- --
Matthew Paul Thomas
Version: GnuPG v1.4.1 (Darwin)


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