I’ve just upgraded my desktop and laptop to the latest beta of Ubuntu Hardy Heron, 8.04. Not wanting to sound like a broken record, but this process is still confusing for the average user. I was asked a number of questions that most people would have no idea of the answers to.
The first popup I got was the this top one:
What is a user supposed to make of that? There’s no “install x-ttcidfont-conf” button. Checking afterwards, it seems that the upgrade installs it anyway. So why bother telling me about it? Why not just do it?
The second popup told me it had to restart some services to use the new libSSL.
Then, I had a succession of five popups asking about replacing or keeping modified configuration files – smb.conf, bash_completion, cupsd.conf, ntp.conf and /etc/default/bluetooth. This bugs me for the following reasons:
- These popups appeared at various points in the long upgrade process and, given that my screen went into standby, it was easy to not notice them. Disabling screen standby, or beeping, would have been sensible.
- There were two different forms of popup (see pictures 2 and 3). Why?
- These config files were changed because I changed something in the GUI. If I’d edited the file by hand I’d have less cause for complaint but why can’t the system know how to merge changes made through the GUI with new options? Most packages seem to manage this fine.
- Accepting the defaults on cupsd.conf disabled remote printer sharing, without telling me it had done so. Remote printing just stopped working. And ticking the “Shared” box next to the printer in the Printer Configuration applet isn’t enough; you also need to tick “Share published printers connected to the system” in the Server Settings area. What’s the difference between sharing and publishing? Why do I need to check two boxes? What’s a print server anyway? Grr.
- Accepting the defaults on ntp.conf removed my configured ntp server, again without telling me it had done so.
- The bluetooth one was especially bizarre as my desktop doesn’t have bluetooth.
Lastly, it asked me if I wanted to remove obsolete packages. If they are obsolete, remove them. If they aren’t, keep them. How am I supposed to know?
When I’d finished, Gimp no longer had the useful “Gutenprint” print capability. No idea why. The package had just gone. This was standard in the last release, I think – I certainly don’t remember installing it manually. I knew where to find it and reinstall it – but would an ordinary user know what was wrong?
The Ubuntu team needs to work on making packages which know how to merge in updates to their own configuration files – particularly updates made through the official configuration GUI for those packages.