Suggestion for getting Announcements to users

Preamble

A common issue for help requests is the user not seeing the announcements and more importantly, at least concerning help requests, the wiki posts accompanying the announcements.
I'd like to put forward a Feature Request to help remedy that a bit. Nothing can replace the user taking an active role in updating their systems on a rolling release and keeping apprised of important changes and fixes/workarounds.

The Concept

Obviously there have been efforts to put this information more upfront for the user who is unaware that such announcements for each release are posted on the forums.
Octopi has a tab for news. Which is a good idea but I think there's a better way.
EndeavourOS (And I believe Antergos before) had an Arch-like icon in the tray that would alert you to news and important interventions needed for updates.
While a good idea to get those important pieces of information in-front of the user it was spammy.

Here' a couple of screenshots from EndeavourOS (Kindly provided by @kdemeoz :hugs: )

The Feature Request Suggestion

@linux-aarhus has a great post about setting up rss feeds to help get that info to the user. Sadly I doubt many will use this excellent guide if even knowing the announcements are there is beyond their knowledge.

My thought was this. By using that rss feed technology, making some sort of tray notification that works with pamac notifier. So that when pamac does the check for updates (Default is every 6 hours I believe?) it lets the user know there is updates as it always has but it also lets them know there is an announcement to be read.

Unless it's something that people think should be included, I don't think it should pull the whole announcements/wiki post down (Let's not tax the forums anymore than they are). It gets into spammy territory like the EndeavourOS tray alert. Just a clickable notification that opens the web browser. Or heck, it doesn't even need to be clickable really, although that would be optimal, just a notice to please see the Announcements section of the forums for complete information.

Wrapping up

I honestly think this is a good way to help with some of the help issues. Many of the helpers and mods end up merely linking wiki posts in thread after thread for people who honestly have no idea this information exists.

I think as long as there is a way to turn the notification off easily then it would do much more good than harm. Enjoy the Simplicity should also help get the users involved or at least informed.
I can't code but I would be willing to help in any way I can. If it's something I can do, I'll do it.

I hope I haven't wasted your time.

Thanks for reading.

Fire away.

17 Likes

Wouldn't hurt to have the information provided to the users in a more convenient location right on their computer before they blindly jump into an upgrade. Especially if it uses something like the RSS feeds so that the Manjaro team doesn't have to create more content to explain what they are already clearly explaining in the forum posts.

However, people that blindly jump into upgrades will eventually get burnt and are just as likely to not read the popup in their notifications. It's kind of like backups, usually those that don't backup their data regularly just haven't lost important data yet, or they have tons of free time on their hand and don't mind re-creating everything from scratch.

3 Likes

I very much agree. I also think it's important to try to get that info to them. For every knuckle-head there's those out there trying to understand their system and linux better who for whatever reason have no idea about announcements.
Especially coming from Windork. Your announcement that there's an update available is usually a pop up saying "Rebooting! Good luck moron hope you saved your homework!". :rofl:

Perhaps that EndeavourOS notification thing can be forked and recombobulated to fit with pamac.

I wish I could code, I really do. This would be a project I'd very much like to I think.

1 Like

It looks like Archlinux had something called Alunn. Looks like it was written in 2005.

https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=23422

However, it seems to have disappeared (it is no longer in the AUR and last mention of it I can see where bug reports in 2009.

https://bugs.archlinux.org/task/15813

The website where it was mantained was someone's personal website I'm assuming that at least right now when I tried to go to it was not responding. (Might be my VPN but I have a bunch of things going on right now so I don't really want to shut down my VPN to see if I'm just being blocked from the website.

http://www.nedrebo.org/kode/alunn/

That might help point someone in the right direction. Sounds like it had a lot of gnome dependencies that caused issues from reading what I could find out about it though.

2 Likes

It should be possible to clone that an modify for manjaro.

I found the source at github

The kalu app does a lot more than that. It is configured at build time through the configure instructions.

It seems viable to change the source of the rss feed to Manjaro URL and compile

4 Likes

Yeah it sounds like it was scrapping the information from the Archlinux homepage which lists the latest news.

2 Likes

Actually I've started developing such an application a while ago but then lost interest because I thought, ok, people can just go to the news page via browser as well.

The app was basically creating a tray icon and reading the rss newsfeed (https://forum.manjaro.org/c/announcements.rss). For each entry it would add a menu item which can be opened.

And there would be a settings screen where you could select which type of news you're interested in. f.e. testing / stable / unstable update announcements, general announcements, etc.

If there is serious interest I might consider picking up development again...

10 Likes

Nice - you grabbed my thought. I would just recompile the kalu with Manjaro URL but I will have to test it.

It has some nice features for executing the updates and for watching AUR.

It was very easy to build I cloned the AUR pkg build and modified the ./configure command

./configure --prefix=/usr --with-news-rss-url=https://forum.manjaro.org/c/announcements.rss

Then run

makepkg -i

When launched - it was the Manjaro rss feed that popped up.

7 Likes

Also a nice idea. It might require some changes here and there (seems it even has a built-in update function as well). I'm just not too much into C I must say though :slight_smile:

3 Likes

Thanks for your replies. :grin:
Honestly I wasn't sure how the idea would go over.
I'm excited to see the response.
So, I'll let you experts do your thing and get out of the way now.

3 Likes

Sounds like a wonderful idea. May I ask if it will be possible to give similar notification in the terminal itself.

say when I type pacman -Syu if there is any known issue and work around to be done, the suggestion must present itself....maybe not possible as part of pacman, but maybe in pamac ?

4 Likes

I don't think that's a bad idea but I'm hesitant to have the update process during a pacman or pamac cli upgrade be halted for something like that.

It sounds like that would be better as a pacman hook as an option for users who have a little more knowledge. Even then, it would probably be best to only have a notice and not a wall of text thrown at the user.

It sounds, I'm not a programmer so forgive me if I'm incorrect, like that would present quite a bit of work to integrate into pacman and/or pamac in cli also.

2 Likes

anything more than "this update may require special instructions, please read blah blah blah before updating" would be controversial since the people that really need an announcement like this are the GUI for everything type. for those that use pacman for everything i dont think will like it too much, an optional applet/tray icon seems like a good compromise.

or if it's worked into pacman, something less invasive.

~ >>> sudo pacman -Syu                                                                                                                                                                                             
:: Synchronizing package databases...
 core is up to date
 extra is up to date
 community is up to date
 multilib is up to date
 herecura is up to date
:: Have you read update announcements? [Yes/No/Dont ask again] 
:: Starting full system upgrade...

where "No" would cancel the update and open the update announcements.

5 Likes

Yes, this is exactly what I was going for...Just a little pointer informing the user that something might go wrong and it is expected...

But then again this pop up should not come for every update, lest it will lose its importance and users would simply ignore it like the consent screen in every Application Installers..

2 Likes

short of adding an electric jolt to the update process, this will always happen. but it's the fault of the user choosing to ignore such prompts and no amount of coddling will change that.

but electric shock :bulb:, i mean how many times does one piss on an electric fence? :flushed:

maybe this used like yubikey for updating :sweat_smile:
https://pavlok.com/

4 Likes

Looks nice. For which desktop environments was it designed? What tech was used?

1 Like

What about just preinstalling a simple RSS reader with presetup feeds added?

1 Like

Thanks for the suggestion.

The problem is there's like a million of them and there's no promise that a user new to linux/Manjaro will be aware of it and/or use it, much less see it on a fresh install.

Something in the tray with a little notification is a much easier way to get in the users face, so to speak.

I thought about that when I was writing the Feature Request but for the reasons cited I decided against it.

@linux-aarhus's thread I linked in the OP is a great alternative for having an rss feed.

I myself use Feedbro for FF.

I need to find a new rss reader I did used to use Akgregator but no longer run KDE Plasma, I am back on GNOME now and staying put :slight_smile:

I also thinking to packaging this app made by @Kreon in this days to do a shot...

2 Likes

Forum kindly sponsored by Bytemark