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Announcing apt-watch: a Gnome 2 panel applet to check for upgrades

  This is just a note to anyone who's interested.  I still have some
more finals, and then a bunch of Real Life stuff, so I won't be working
on this much in the near future (next week or two)

  A month or so ago, I wrote a Gnome 2 panel applet which periodically
performs the equivalent of an "apt-get update", and notifies you if
upgrades are available.

  Well, I've finally got around to doing the work needed to make a
proper build system, and uploaded the source to people.debian.org,
URL http://people.debian.org/~dburrows/apt-watch-0.1.tar.gz .

  All the real work is done by a suid helper; this means that the applet
doesn't run as root and it should be "simple" to write a frontend for,
say, kicker or the "notification area".  On the other hand, I'd
appreciate it if people would find the security bugs in the helper and
send me patches (I'm sure there must be at least one ;-) )

  The following things are unfinished:
    - The applet menu should have an option to start a full apt frontend
      (preferably graphical)

    - Icons are desperately needed.  Currently the applet just prints
      out some text indicating its state; I'd prefer something like:

        * Rotating arrows to indicate that it is presently checking for
	  new updates.

	* An icon, perhaps a flashing "!", to indicate that updates are

	* An icon for when it's not doing anything.

        * Maybe an icon for when there's an error condition.

        * Informative tooltips in all states.

      Artists are welcome to draw icons for me, but I suspect I'll end up
      scavenging them from other packages (I think Galeon has the rotating
      arrows somewhere, for instance)

    - The applet should probably appear in menus as "Update Watcher" or
      "APT Update Watcher" or something, not "apt-watch".

    - The interval at which to check for new package lists should be
      configurable.  I envision a radio group something like this, but
      probably with fewer buttons.

      ( ) Every hour
      ( ) Every [x] hours
      ( ) Once per day
      ( ) Every other day
      ( ) Once per week
      ( ) Once per month
      ( ) Never check automatically

    - Speaking of which, the applet doesn't keep track of the last time
      it checked, so if you had it set (as above) to check once per
      month, it would still perform a check every time you logged in.

    - The applet presently terminates when almost any error is
      encountered.  It should be more robust.

    - The authentication is currently as strict as possible: each time
      the applet starts, it grabs the keyboard and asks the user to
      enter the root password.  It might be a good idea to relax this,
      particularly for home systems.  For instance, perhaps some defined
      set of users could execute the program without entering a
      password, or users could enter their own passwords (a la sudo).

      (perhaps another option is to download the package lists to a
      directory other than the global one)

    - Using a separate authentication program would be nice, but I
      couldn't find anything that fit my needs.

    - It would be nice if this understood aptitude's auxillary cache
      information.  On my system it reports available updates when the
      packages in question are on hold in aptitude.

    - i18n support doesn't exist right now.


/-------------------- Daniel Burrows <dburrows@debian.org> -------------------\
|           Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you              |
|           tied them the usual way.  This happens to us all the              |
|           time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining.            |
\----------------- The Turtle Moves! -- http://www.lspace.org ----------------/

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