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Fedora 20 & GNOME Software | Tips and Tricks

First I apologize for doing only Fedora. This isn’t a dis-respect to other distros, neither means that Fedora is better from Arch or Ubuntu or Gentoo or whatever else. I may write a post why I ended up to use only Fedora, but for now unfortunately, I’m not sure that the things I will try to explain will work for Arch and Ubuntu-Gnome users, which I think are the majority.


gSoftware brings significant changes in Fedora 20 (& beyond), and changes the way that system updates internally, it changes the way that end-users update software, and even changes the way that application developers publish their software.

One of the technical goals of gSoftware and his main developer, Richard Hughes, is to create a high-level Framework that will work distro-agnostic. When Canonical launched Software Center (USC), it was (and it still is more than ever) an Ubuntu-specific application. Other communities couldn’t simply port USC to their distro, either for technical or licences reasons -or both.

None really blamed Canonical for that, because it is perfectly understandable. It is hard to write “generic” applications, applications that will run everywhere, as this may reduce quality for your own platform, while at the same time it will acquire more resources.

gSoftware even if it is designed to run in any distro, it prioritizes Fedora and it treats Fedora as a first client citizen, and this is something that I could say for the whole Gnome. This is my personal thought, and it doesn’t deflect GNOME’s position in any case. At some point, I will try to collect some opinions from developers around that..

Anyways, Fedora and gSoftware!


Fedora 20 & GNOME Software

Note that I am not reviewing gSoftware, but I am just point out some kinda hidden things.

gSoftware is the only pre-installed UI for installing software under Fedora 20. gSoftware makes updating simple.. maybe too simple. By “update”, I both mean updating an existing software to a newer version, or installing new packages.

When we have a set of updates coming, Shell send us a notification and ask us if we want to update.

software-update-shell

View button opens gSoftware, which I have already on anyway. Notice that gSoftware lets me know that I only have 9 updates, when in reality there are than 30, plus 3 removals. This is due a grouping mechanism, that categorize various packages into  parent-levels.

software-parent-levels

gSoftware list acts like a tree and we can navigate into 2 levels. First level displays all the children of the parent category, and in second level each child shows us more info about itself. Fantastic work on this, it will satisfy both new-comers and more experienced users.

On the bellow figure something strange is happening.  Yum shows me that there are updates, while gSoftware doesn’t.

software-update-empty

That’s because gSoftware notify for updates only after has downloading them silently on background. gSoftware uses idle bandwidth to download packages, but whats the definition of idle bandwidth? When someone plays FPS, the last thing he wants, is an updating on background.

In any case, the user should be able to control auto-updates and even disable them. gSofwtare at least in this version doesn’t permit that -and actually doesn’t give any option at all.

As a matter of fact, gSoftware doesn’t handle downloading, this is a job of gnome-settings-deamon.


Hack gSofwtare Options through GSettings

In order to get some control over how gSoftware works, we will need to install Dconf-Editor, the front-end of GSettings. In my opinion Dconf-Editor is the first tool that we have to get in any Gnome installation, as it provides lots of useful options for every aspect of Gnome.

Get it either from gSoftware or from terminal.

$ sudo yum install dconf-editor

Navigate to org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.updates schema.

software-dconf

GSettings code has been changed for F21/Rawhide, so this it will be deprecated

In this section you will find anything that you need. You can disable auto-download, you can change the updating- time and you can disable auto-updates. Frequency of updates is set to 86400 seconds, that’s 24h. This is a day, I think ;)

This is a very self-explanatory section, so I won’t go though all the options. What I will highlight here, is that if you disable the auto-download-updates key, you will never get an update notification from gSoftware, because it only notifies when has downloaded the updates. Of course you can disable the whole plugin, with the 1st option.

I did an extensive testing of those options, and I needed many times to manually set last-updates-notification key, to my current date time-stamp. To get your system time-stamp you can use the date command.

$ date +%s

One of the reasons that took me a long time to test this and drive me into confusion was because GSettings (actually Dconf) got bugged. Hopefully, GSettings provides a monitor option that lets you know when a key is changing, so I managed to track it.

As a side note if you want to restart gnome-settings-daemon you have two choices.

Restart it

$ /usr/libexec/gnome-settings-daemon -r

Or Kill it

$ killall gnome-settings-daemon

Kill will actually restart the deamon because is an auto-restart service. As an extra info you can check on Desktop file.

$ gedit /etc/xdg/autostart/gnome-settings-daemon.desktop
...
Exec=/usr/libexec/gnome-settings-daemon-localeexec
OnlyShowIn=GNOME;
NoDisplay=true
X-GNOME-Autostart-Phase=Initialization
X-GNOME-Autostart-Notify=true
X-GNOME-AutoRestart=true #You can set this to false, to disable auto-restart

Installing Packages on gSoftware

Right now, gSoftware includes all available applications from Fedora Repos, but not single packages like libraries. That’s not going to change in the future as this is by-design decision. So the only available option to search and install a library in Fedora 20 is the command line.

I would prefer to have an advanced mode in gSoftware, that it would let me to install single libraries. As an alternative we can use the old way.

package-kit-sofwtare

You can install them by:

$ sudo yum install gnome-packagekit-installer gnome-packagekit-updater

Those will work fine as everything goes through PackageKit and so works together, but I reckon you to avoid them, since the command line does the job much better.


gSoftware Next Day

gSoftware is progressing very nicely and very fast. You can see some of the new things that have landed, and the truth is that gSoftware 3.10 was meant to be a Tech Preview, while the stable release is scheduled for GNOME 3.12. I am not quite sure why Fedora 20 ships it as the *only way* to install and update software.

There are some more things I want to talk about, like how fast this thing is, but I guess I would do that on another post.


Screenshot Of The Day

software-funny

Honestly, I didn’t set this up!

Yum gives 31 updates, Dnf gives 15 updates, PackageKit gives me 50 updates, and gSoftware insist that everything is up to date.

Yeap, Linux is all about choice ;)


 
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  • Brian Robles

    Very excited for gnome software. Will it be available to debian based distros?

    • alex285

      AFAIK it should work in any Gnome 3,10 based Distro!

      • eyome

        I am not sure this will work safety with Arch based… When some manuals interventions are needed, you shouldn’t use Gsoftware or whatever appstores or others gui frontend, even octopi, as far as I know… :(
        It’s the life !

        • Michael Catanzaro

          Currently Arch’s PackageKit uses shell notifications for such messages, so at least you won’t miss anything. It’s not really a good user experience.

      • Eduard Gotwig

        No that cant work. How should it know how the software packages work under which systems? Arch is not supported AFAIK, and Mageia is definitly NOT supported

    • Michael Catanzaro

      Debian has a good PackageKit backend already (miles better than Fedora’s), but unlike other major distros, I don’t think they’re generating appstream data yet (which means there will be no applications for GNOME Software to display — it’s not a package manager). It might take a little while for Debian to get that infrastructure set up.

      AFAIK only Fedora and openSUSE currently have appstream data.

  • http://my.opera.com/rafaelluik Rafael Luik

    Hi I’m a new Fedora/GNOME user and came across your blog, it’s great!

    Things are a little hard to couple but I’m trying to understand them. I installed Fedora 20 (final, I suppose) via the net install CD without customizing anything (I suppose) and I’m finding the system very raw.

    It’s weird when I just read here that gSoftware is the only way to manage/install apps. I thought gnome-packagekit-installer and gnome-packagekit-updater weren’t in my system due to a bug or something! I mean, I installed a couple of software by double-clicking .RPM files I downloaded and them couldn’t find any way to uninstall them because the gSoftware won’t display them…
    Also, the number of software in gSoftware is too low and there’s no place where to graphically manage the installed repositories anywhere in the OS!

    And the ultimate weirdness:
    Alex, uninstall gnome-packagekit-installer and gnome-packagekit-updater. Now go to the Settings -> Details -> press the Install updates button. *Nothing happens.*
    Reinstall gpackagekit, go to the same place and press the button, gnome-packagekit-updater pops up!

    An app which is not installed by default handles system updates? Please enlighten me. :/

    • alex285

      I can’t really enlighten you. Obviously this is a bug. gSoftware should be ready in 3.12. If you give gSoftware some time it will find again the updates. You can file this in bugzilla. I think is known though.

      • http://my.opera.com/rafaelluik Rafael Luik

        I’ve reported it in the bug tracker. Thanks…
        It’s very strange that this slips into a final release.

        • alex285

          If you understand how gSoftware works, you will understand why this happens. It is a usability bug, but is bug by design, rather technical bug.

          gSoftware isn’t ready yet. I think they included by default in Fedora 20, because the previous method (PackageKit UI) was even worse ;)

          • http://my.opera.com/rafaelluik Rafael Luik

            You mean gnome-packagekit-installer and gnome-packagekit-updater? They’re fully functional and will actually let you manage the configured repositories.

            I’m a Windows user who only tried Mandriva in the past. I installed easyLife for Fedora and Opera from opera.com .rpm and after that I went crazy because you can’t find where to uninstall these 2 software anywhere!
            They wanted to include gnome-software in the final release and that’s OK, but while it doesn’t include that basic gnome-packagekit* functionalities it makes no sense… That “Install updates” button in system details calling for packagekit when it’s not installed by default is a glaring bug.

            Doesn’t Fedora aim to be user-friendly? Because if it does it failed with 20.0. I had to take leaps to discover what Fedora uses for managing packages and that it (yum) lacks any GUI. (Then I discovered yumex by accident and gnome-packagekit* after that.) A regular user will never want to use the terminal, it’s like having to learn a programming language to uninstall an app, for instance I didn’t even bother to know what’s the command to uninstall an app via yum.

            Another thing that took my time considerably was finding a software to manage GRUB… Scarce .rpm for Fedora in the web… Why do I need to go through this?

            My question is: does Fedora aim to be simple and user-friendly or not? Because that’s what I would admire in software (so I can setup it easily and fast, recommend to other people, etc), and before trying it looked like Fedora is in that direction.

          • Anthony Thomas

            User friendliness is NOT the goal of Fedora
            Taken from: http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux
            “Fedora is a general purpose system that gives Red Hat and the rest of its contributor community the chance to innovate rapidly with new technologies.”

            If you want user friendliness, I would suggest another linux distro (maybe Linux Mint or PCLinux OS to name two).

          • http://my.opera.com/rafaelluik Rafael Luik

            I don’t want KDE or Cinnamon, I wanted to try Fedora because I wanted a high quality GNOME-focused distribution.

            I suggest you to read this page: http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/User_base_-_computer-friendly

          • Anthony Thomas

            Actually, my reply was mainly directed toward Michael CatanzaroI’s post.
            I mentioned Mint and PCLinuxOS not for the fact that they use alternatives to Gnome (I actually like Gnome 3.10 a lot). I mentioned them because out of the box they are both extremely user friendly (i.e. codecs loaded, useful tools pre-loaded, useful right-click functions added, etc, etc). User friendliness, in my opinion, should go beyond just the gui and should extend to all the elements that make up the entire user experience. Most linux distros fail at that… yes we all know that there are some legal issues with including certain elements of a complete user friendly desktop, but it still would be nice to dream. lol.

          • http://my.opera.com/rafaelluik Rafael Luik

            You said “User friendliness is NOT the goal of Fedora” but the link I posted to the Fedora Wiki doesn’t seem to back up your information…

          • Anthony Thomas

            “Computer-friendly” does not equal “User Friendly.”

          • http://my.opera.com/rafaelluik Rafael Luik

            Please READ!

            Users aren’t expected to automatically have the skills and knowledge that some Fedora contributors have. We don’t assume a user:
            - Knows the technical dictionary or jargon used by Fedora contributors
            - Understands operating system internals
            - Knows how programs and libraries are related or interact
            - Evaluates new releases of existing software without context
            - Mitigates unexpected changes in existing software
            - Debugs software crashes
            - Diagnoses system hardware problems
            - Understands command-line interaction with the system
            - Knows file-level system configuration practices”

          • Anthony Thomas

            Lol….

          • Michael Catanzaro

            Fedora aims to be the best GNOME distributor, and GNOME aims to be the simplest, most user-friendly desktop environment. I’d argue that it is more successful than not. Regrettably, sometimes Fedora compromises that user-friendliness by moving too fast….

            Anyway, the System Settings bug was noticed and fixed a couple of months ago, but accidentally did not get backported into GNOME 3.10. I took care of that last week. If you filed a bug on this, could you please request it be marked a duplicate of https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=710595

            Also, you might be interested in https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=711638

          • http://my.opera.com/rafaelluik Rafael Luik

            Thank you for replying here.

            Actually I filled these bugs in the Fedora/RedHat bug tracker because I couldn’t determinate whether it was GNOME’s or Fedora Project’s fault.

            I don’t have interest in command-line-only apps, but if you’re talking about handling external apps installed via .RPM I’ve also filled a bug related to this in the Fedora bug tracker (at least for uninstalling them, which the system GUI presents no way to do it).

            -> Bug 1045645 – Clicking “Install updates” does nothing
            -> Bug 1045648 – There’s no way to configure repositories graphically in Fedora
            -> Bug 1045685 – No way to uninstall apps from external sources in GUI