Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Some applications seems unlucky to find their way in the hearts their intended users.

Reading today  thread  "What does this error message mean?", I can see Apper sinking another few notches.

Is it Apper's fault?

The answer is not, but being visible component that appears when disharmony in software management shows up, it can fall as a victim. Use Google to find out about "opensuse apper" and you can read about a lot of problems, and advice to remove it was given so many times that new user has no problem to find it. 

Do we need simpler software management?
For sure, yes. YaST module Software Management is old guy that is exactly what old Linux users need, versatile tools for software management, not simple install or remove software  utility that we can see in some popular distros. But, times are changing, old, technically inclined computer users that were almost only Linux users are now in minority, and new generation wants to use computers, not to deal with them.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Step back - New stuff is not always better

It is time to step back and look again at few applications that I use.

KMail2, the most recent incarnation of a mail client software KMail, is slow on pretty current hardware that consists of Quad Core 2.66 and 8 GB RAM. I have to wait longer to see an email then with single core 1250 MHz Athlon on 1.5 GB RAM. 

I can see my Inbox filling up while mail filters struggle to deal with incoming emails  and deliver them to respective folders. That never happened in old KMail, in other words serious step back.

Transition is not completed as all mails are not imported.  I guess that my mix of mailbox and maildirs was too much for simple mind of KMail migration tools. I landed with mix because on old computer mailbox storage was far faster then maildir, so all large folders were converted to mailbox.

For instance migrating Thunderbird based mail system is just a bit longer then plain move of its directory from one installation to the other. 

Apper, the latest rewrite of PackageKit frontend for KDE, managed to annoy me more then any previous. With its default settings and bugs, it was more distraction then help.

In normal circumstances YaST Software Management, or zypper, when they spot that package management is locked, they will:
  • give you warning that is locked
  • ask you if you want them to ask another process to quit
  • if you want, they will send  appropriate signal to process
  • another process quits and releases lock
This works fine between zypper and YaST, but not with Apper. You see every time the same PID that ignores messages. In the moment it was asked to quit it was refreshing repositories metadata and that process  can be stopped at any moment with only drawback that you have to repeat it later. 

When you attempt to stop it manually with:
   ps x | grep apper  ## to get apper PID
   kill <apperPID>    ## to stop it
it will be restarted by KDE service manager and start scanning for updates extending package management lock. In this case PID is changing, as previous Apper instance actually exits, but new is started almost instantly, preventing you to use YaST Online Updates (YOU) needed to actually run updates that Apper was unable to do. To end daily wrangling I removed Apper from installation. 

In a recent email is mentioned that it can be disabled using configuration utility Configure Desktop, which in email is called systemsettings. Also, I took time to explain this in a wiki page  http://en.opensuse.org/SDB:Apper_troubleshooting .

To be clear, I'm not opposing to refresh package management with design that is easier for new users. My problem is that new software must have very easy to find Quit button, not some option buried in depth of System Settings, that even experienced users have trouble to find. 

PS. Apper is back on my computer, although it is not used right now, not even as notification daemon. 
I see some improvements in the interface, like list of repositories, which is very cute, but also usability glitch with configuration hidden behind wrench, with no text, while other settings have text :) 

openSUSE Education on SourceForge

I found out late that openSUSE Edu is on a SourceForge main page as a project of the month.

Congratulations to small, but skilled and diligent team that is keeping high quality of openSUSE Education since its beginning.