Auto-launching of applications

Steve Langasek steve.langasek at
Fri Feb 20 22:13:36 GMT 2009

[Is this the best place to provide feedback such as this, or would you like
comments directed somewhere else, e.g., ubuntu-desktop@ or Launchpad?]

On Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 11:14:45AM +0000, Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:
> > Apparently the window is supposed to open in the background, but I think
> > that users may wonder why a program is seemingly running without them
> > wanting it to.

> > Also, I'm sure I'm not the only person who doesn't use update-manager.

> > Can anyone explain to me why autolaunching programs is a good idea?

> update-notifier has always auto-launched, as long as it has existed in
> Ubuntu. The only thing that has changed in Jaunty is how it presents
> updates, when there are any. Instead of displaying an icon with a bubble
> pointing at it inviting you to click it to show the available updates,
> it shows the available updates directly.

Minor nit here; in the past update-notifier has always been present and
running in the background, displaying an icon as needed.  update-notifier
takes up about 20MB of memory on my amd64 system to fulfill this function.
The new behavior launches update-manager, which is a much more involved
program that takes up over 100MB when it's launched.  I know this is small
potatoes compared to, say, firefox, but I think we should be aware of these
costs since in aggregate they can certainly be an issue.

Indeed, I would think that a user with a low-end system would find it
aggravating to leave update-manager open and taking up memory in the
background until they were ready to deal with that task, and be inclined to
close the window instead.  Now, with no update-notifier icon at all, that
would give the user no way to get back to the updates without drilling down
through System -> Administration -> Update Manager.  Personally, I find the
set of choices:

 - leave the update-manager window open until you're ready
 - hunt update-manager down in the menu when you're ready
 - act on the update request immediately even though it's interrupting your
   work to do so
 - close out the window and leave security fixes unapplied until the next
   notification (or the next, or...)

to all be unsatisfying compared with the previous behavior.

But then, I recognize that I'm going to be a hard sell here, because I was
madly in love with the earlier update-notifier behavior from the first
moment I saw it.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                          
slangasek at                                     vorlon at

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