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New desktop features provided by new version of update-notifier

Fellow Debianers,

I'm writing to you all in order to present some new features added to
the Debian Desktop, and to discuss how we could make use of them in
some of our subsystems.

I just uploaded update-notifier 0.42.12-1 to unstable. Unfortunately I
lost dinstall for the day, so we'll only see the results in unstable
many hours from now, though I've uploaded them to a public location[0].

update-notifier is a program made by the Ubuntu guys which puts a
notification icon in the notification area and warns the user about
updates being available, and allowing them to run update-manager (a
simple upgrade manager tool based on Synaptic).

This version of the Debian package brings some more robust utnubu work,
such as making the reboot required notification and Debian CD insertion
detection work.

The first feature is useful for those packages which are critical, and
which really want a reboot after upgrade, such as kernel, perhaps libc,
and any library or package fixing security problems. These simply need
to run /usr/share/update-notifier/notify-reboot-required (which will
touch /var/run/reboot-required) on postinst, and a notification will
appear to the user at his desktop telling them that a reboot is
required, and allowing them after the package manager is done "applying

This is done in Ubuntu by communicating with GDM through a nice program
called gdm-signal, which was built using code from gnome-panel and some
more written by Rob Taylor, and which is distributed in Ubuntu's
powermanagement-interface package; I included this work in
update-notifier as a private program, for now, but maybe we should add
it to our gdm package? Ubuntu does not seem to have provisions for KDE;
if our KDE guys know how we'd go about doing the same for KDM, let me
know; same goes for XFCE and other desktops which support the
notification area protocol, and would, thus, be able to run

The second feature is quite cool; update-notifier uses hal to detect
that a new CD/DVD was inserted and tries to figure out whether that is
a Ubuntu CD; I patched the program to also look for Debian CDs, and to
avoid messing with translations, the messages have Ubuntu replaced by
Debian in runtime, after the translation is got from gettext if the CD
that was inserted is a Debian CD.

I'm writing to all of you so that you are aware that these nice desktop
features are now included in Debian, and so we can discuss whether and
how we'll make use of them to accomplish a nicer Debian Desktop. Please
follow up issues related to a specific "subteam" in the approppriate
mailing list, but please keep me CC'ed.

For coolness effect, here's the first time I saw a Debian CD being
detected in my desktop:


See you,

[0]: http://people.debian.org/~kov/stuff/

Gustavo Noronha Silva <kov@debian.org>

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