Ramblings and questions regarding Fedora, but stemming from gnome-software and desktop environments

Alexander Ploumistos alex.ploumistos at gmail.com
Sun Dec 28 17:08:13 UTC 2014

2014-12-28 15:02 GMT+02:00 Richard Hughes <hughsient at gmail.com>:

> GNOME PackageKit is still available (and maintained upstream) and is
> what I use for installing things like mingw packages that I need for
> development. Just type "Packages" into the dash and gnome-software
> will install it for you :)

Oh, that was so nice! After typing the root password to install software, I
got another prompt with "The software is not from a trusted source". Is
that a rawhide issue?

How are user queries correlated to the package suggestions in the dash? I
do not always get what I would expect, e.g. when I type IDE, I get Anjuta,
Gnote and Rosegarden, with 3gp I get Frogr, Banshee, Xnoise and mpc yields

And a third, irrelevant question: has the "hot corner" been disabled or is
it because I run f22 in a VM?

2014-12-28 4:15 GMT+02:00 Michael Catanzaro <mcatanzaro at gnome.org>:

> * GNOME Software is not a package manager, and it is unlikely to become a
> package manager.

I get that now, thank you.

> * p7zip, being a command-line tool, is something "normal users" should
> never need. If Archive Manager needs it as a plugin, it can install it with
> PackageKit if it's not detected, or it should be a dependency in the RPM if
> Archive Manager doesn't support that. Hunting down a magic package name to
> install is not an acceptable user experience, and not something we should
> encourage or optimize for. Alternatively, it could include an appdata file
> so that it's listed as an Archive Manager plugin in GNOME Software, but I
> think that would be non-ideal in this case, since users should never have
> to worry about having the right packages installed to unzip an archive.

So this means that a default Workstation installation should have a large
number of non-graphical programs installed by default, or that the various
applications will be compiled with every possible dependency, e.g. Archive
Manager will pull in every possible compression/decompression back end?

> * But if we're wrong, and normal users really do need to install packages,
> then we should probably include a graphical package manager so that users
> can actually find packages. I submit that improving GNOME Packages (aka
> gpk-application, the thing we installed by default until F20), something
> that's already used by other distros (notably Debian), would be a better
> use of our time than working on a Fedora-specific solution like yumex.
> Especially considering that yum is not going to be installed by default in
> F21.

And that could lead to more confusion, at least from the "normal user"
perspective, having both a package manager and a software center...

I just checked and there is now a yumex version based on dnf.

> * I have to install packages all the time, and I'd much rather use a
> graphical package manager to find packages than to use yum or dnf.

De gustibus non est disputandum. I find it easier to use yum, but when I
need to check a lot of similarly named packages to identify the one I want
or browse through a certain software category for programs, a graphical
package manager is faster and less fussy.

> The question is: is it more confusing for novice users to include a
> graphical package manager by default, or to not include it? We're only
> talking about novice users here: an experienced user can always take 20
> seconds to install his preferred graphical package manager with GNOME
> Software, so we don't care about what the experienced user wants for
> himself.

This is not an easy question to answer. When I set up a computer for a
"normal user" I ask them what they want to do with it, so I configure
third-party repositories, install all the packages that offer the
functionality they expect, which usually includes several proprietary
applications and drivers as well. Finally I explain to them how package
management on linux differs to that of windows and how to use a graphical
package manager, searching either for the package name, or its definition
(e.g. audio editor) and what sort of packages they should download from
online sources (.deb/.rpm, x86_64/i686) when they aren't available in
distro repos. Depending on their computer literacy, sometimes I show them
how to install software from the terminal. Of the hundred or so linux
installations I've done for others in the last few years, only two users
stayed with my initial configuration and that is because they performed a
limited set of tasks.

With all the others, the results were mixed. Most (but certainly not all)
users have managed to install software successfully using package managers,
namely yumex, GNOME PackageKit, an old version of YaST, Synaptic and
Ubuntu's software center, but at times there was some confusion and
frustration. A small number of users have tried to install windows
executables and quite a few succeeded in doing that, because somehow WINE
got pulled in. An equally small number have installed packages for the
wrong architecture or for an older distro version. Then there were some
surprises, with people compiling programs from source or installing
commercial applications by following the vendor's instructions, but they
seem to be the exception. The overwhelming majority of users that had to
use the terminal to perform package management tasks because something
broke along the way, struggled with the concepts of commands, flags,
arguments and paths. They needed me to explicitly state where whitespace
and slashes should be inserted, even if they had been regularly using the
same or similar commands, albeit mostly via copy & paste. All of these
people had different backgrounds, skills and, interests, but I wouldn't
consider my sample representative.

I vaguely remember filling out a wizard-like questionnaire on the first run
of a distribution, that collected some hardware and user information. There
were questions like "Do you know what a window manager is?", "Do you
compile your own programs and if yes how often?", etc.. Perhaps we could
put together something similar to help us answer that sort of questions and
combine it with the council's survey proposal. I could help with that and I
could also reach out to some of my "test subjects".
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.fedoraproject.org/pipermail/devel/attachments/20141228/c600c10d/attachment.html>

More information about the devel mailing list