Authorization and updates

You know, a lot was made of Vista’s security feature that would ask a user to approve something before it was allowed. I’m sure you’ve even all seen the Mac commercial parody of it. But it’s interesting that in my tests with using Ubuntu on my desktop, that’s where I see this same sort of behavior all the time, having to enter my administrative password to install a new program, or download software updates, etc.

Speaking of updates, I’ve gotten pretty much used to having new updates to download at least every 2-3 days. That’s a lot.

Now, as an IT professional, I understand the need for these security warnings, and the near-constant stream of patches and updates, but again a big part of this “experiment” for me is trying to figure out how a typical home user might feel about using Ubuntu. It seems like a lot of work for someone who just wants to turn the PC on and check some email and maybe the score of the ball game, doesn’t it? Then again, if that’s all you really used your PC for, you could do so without much need to enter your admin password. 🙂

Ironically, using Vista now might make it easier for typical Windows home users to switch to Linux, since they won’t be surprised by the need to enter a password to make changes to the PC, which was one of the things that really does surprise someone when they first sit down at a Linux workstation. Of course, if some one is irritated with that feature, Linux would not be a good alternative for them.

I still wonder, though, if maybe there shouldn’t be a way to do the software updates in the background (like Automatic Updates can be done), or on a fixed schedule instead of checking every time I boot the machine. Just something so that the home user doesn’t have that “software updates are available” message quite so often? Working at a helpdesk, I’ve seen first hand what that kind of message can do to users. 🙂

Tags: Ubuntu, Vista, Updates

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  1. Under Debian (of which Ubuntu is a derivative AIUI) one could install the package cron-apt. Be default, this just downloads updatable and security packages, but the config can be changed to automatically install them too, IIRC. Have you looked at the config for the update app? You may find the command dpkg -L [updater package name] useful in locating them.

    Obviously these are actions that would be performed remotely by a maintenance engineer for a home user.

  2. How about software sources in the latest version of Ubuntu (8.04). There is a tab called updates, that allows the user to apply security updates on a timed basis.

  3. robotil, I haven’t seen that, mostly because upgrading to the latest version is still on my “to do when I have time” list! Thanks for the tip!

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