Making Update Manager less obtrusive

C. Cooke ccooke-ubuntubugs at
Mon Mar 2 10:43:09 GMT 2009

On Mon, Mar 02, 2009 at 09:33:42AM +0000, Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:
> Jordan Mantha wrote on 27/02/09 21:28:
> >...
> > Is there going to be *any* indicator that says "you have updates"
> > without actually launching a program?
> >...
> Not by default. I'm sure if there is sufficient demand, someone will
> come up with a script that advertises updates in the terminal for the
> benefit of those who install them using the terminal.

Having read through the policies for the new notification system, it
looks like there is a (possible) easy answer to this:

We handle persistent information in the same way any other application is 
supposed to handle it.

Looking here:

By definition, notifications like "You need to reboot" or "There are
updates ready if you want to install them" fall into the "Can Wait" and
"Don't need user input" categories. They *could* take user input, of
course, but they do *not* need to: There are existing routes to all of
this functionality.

According to the guidelines, notification falling into this category
should go into a normal window: "When a notification is not
time-critical, and there is a relevant window to display it in, present
the notification as a banner or other text in that window. Depending on
its importance, you can have the window request attention. And if the
window is not currently open, you can open it automatically, in the
background to minimize accidental clicks."

This is good, but the specification fails to specify what happens if
there *is* no normal window - as is the case where the notification is
about Ubuntu as a whole.

So, a possible solution (Using Gnome terminology only for clarity, but
easily stretched to other environments): Create a gnome-panel applet
designed to display important status notification. It'll need a minimum
size of a couple of words and the ability to sides-croll text if the
message is too long. It'll also want reasonable message length limits. 
Do not add this to the panel automatically. If the applet is running,
display the message there; if it is not running *AND* the message is
important ("You need to reboot now or things will be broken"), spawn a
new gnome-panel at the top or bottom of the screen (configurable) with 
the applet taking the full width. For less important messages ("There
are updates ready if you want to install them"), do *NOT* create a

This solves the lack of persistent notification of serious conditions
(Such as will happen if you close the security update or you-need-to-reboot 
window). It also means that those of use who want to see the
*unimportant* notifications get to see them: We just add the applet to
or panel. Since the notification is text and not an icon, it remains

I realise this is almost certainly too late for Jaunty, but it's a
viable possibility for Jaunty+1; what's more, it's something simple
enough that I could probably code up a working model before Jaunty
releases if anyone wants to test it (Although if anyone else who already
knows the interfaces wants to volunteer, be my guest: I've done little
gnome coding :-)

(Of course, it's always possible that I've misread the spec and this is
entirely horrible - or was already discussed somewhere I don't have
(findable) access to and dismissed as egregious and wrong. But hey, I
don't know that yet)

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37?k=1,j-=8:0));echo -ne "\E[$k;$j"mE;done;echo -e \\E[0m;done # Charles Cooke
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