Muon Suite 1.2.0 released

After six months of development, I’m proud to announce the release of the Muon Suite, version 1.2.0.

The Muon Package Management Suite is a collection of package management applications that make package management easy on Debian-based systems, whether or not you know what “package management” means. Packages for Kubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” are available in the QApt  PPA. Packages for the development version of Kubuntu 11.10 are available through the official repositories.

The focus of this release has been adding features to the existing Suite applications, as well as refining existing ones.

I would like to also thank the KDE translation team for their awesome work this cycle. The Muon Suite is now fully translated in 20 languages with 9 more languages over 70% translated. There are four new fully translated languages since 1.1.0. Awesome work all around.

What’s New

Muon Package Manager

Lots of work has been put in to refining the user interface of the Muon Package Manager to make it even more convenient and usable. Additionally, several new features have been added to give you greater control over your packages. Many of these changes also apply to the Muon Update Manager, which shares components with the Package Manager.

New features and improvements:

  • A history view like the one included with the Muon Software Center has been added as a dialog. You can access it from the “View” menu, or by using the Ctrl + H shortcut.
  • Added an option to the configuration dialog to make APT treat a package’s “Suggests” as dependencies. For those who don’t care about disk space. ;-)
  • Modifying settings that require administrator privileges to apply now turns the “Apply” button’s icon to the key icon, as in KDE’s System Settings.
  • An option has been added to control whether Muon warns you about installing untrusted packages, or disallows the installation of them entirely.

  • Multiple packages can now be selected and marked all at once by selecting them and choosing an action from the right-click menu.
  • A package in the package view can now be de-selected, hiding the details widget, by ctrl-clicking on the package.
  • Packages can be locked at their current version via the right-click menu. Locked packages have a little lock emblem on the package graphic. Additionally, a “Locked” filter has been added to the status filter box.

  • The layout of the status bar has been improved. These improvements allowed me to remove the frames around the status bar labels.

  • Space-saving improvements were made to the package detail tab widget. The sides and bottom of the tab widget frame were removed, leaving less borders around the edges. The marking buttons were moved to the line with the package short description, and the “screenshot” button was removed since most packages don’t have a screenshot, and the Muon Software Center handles this functionality much better. The support label was also moved to the package description view. The end result gives much more space to actual detail content, wasting less on chrome.

Ever been in a situation when you’ve needed to install packages on a computer without internet access? In version 1.2, the Muon Package Manager makes it easy to do this. First, mark the packages that you wish to install as normal. Go the “File” menu and select “Save Package Download List”. Next, take this file over to another computer with Muon and select “Download Packages From List” from the file menu. After pointing it to your USB stick, Muon will happily download your packages and place them on your USB stick. Lastly, take your USB drive back to your internet-less computer and go to “File -> Add Downloaded Packages”. Once this is done, you can hit “apply” and install your packages as normal.

Muon Software Center

There are several new, nifty features for the Software Center this time around.

  • Installed packages now have a checkmark emblem, as shown here.
  • The “Addons” view and “Reviews” view (more on that in a second) can now be collapsed.
  • The application launcher dialog that appears when you install new applications has been replaced by a less intrusive in-window notification, with animated appearance/disappearance. (Based on your KDE widget effects settings, not related to desktop effects.)

  • Non-application packages are now shown in PPA views, since many PPAs host software not in the Ubuntu application database.
  • Added some Debian branding love.

  • Miscellaneous optimizations to make browsing applications even faster.
The biggest feature for the Muon Software Center in 1.2 is support for the Ubuntu Ratings and Reviews API. Previously, PopCon usage statistics were used to determine ratings given to all applications in the Muon Software Center. This was really a bit unfair, though, since it could mean that a perfectly good application that wasn’t widely used would get a seemingly low amount of stars. Using the ratings from the Ubuntu application ratings server means that ratings from normal people determine how many stars an application gets.
Read Only support for full application reviews has also been implemented. I know that it kinda sucks that you can’t submit reviews from the Muon Software Center at this point, but I figured this is better than not being able to see them, either. :) The reason that full read/write support is not implemented is that there is as of now not really a suitable way for C++ Qt/KDE applications to interface with the Ubuntu Single Sign On service, which is necessary to submit reviews. Work on an SSO interface was started by the unstoppable Harald Sitter during his Ubuntu One GSoC project last year, but the SSO API has since changed and the KDE SSO stuff will need a fair bit of work before it is useful again. I plan to work on this during the next release cycle to ensure full review awesomeness. As a note, this is also the reason why support for the Ubuntu Software Store has not been added yet.

QApt Utilities

Several new utilities are bundled with QApt to help seamlessly integrate package management with the desktop. These include:

The “Command Not Found” Plasma Runner

Yes, the one-and-the-same Plasma Runner that I mentioned over a year ago here. Back then QApt hadn’t had a stable release, and I didn’t really have a venue to publish it. (I could have published it by itself, but I’m lazy like that. :P) It functions exactly the same as I mentioned in the original blogpost. If you type the name of an executable that is not currently installed, this runner will suggest the package that provides this binary. This is especially useful on new installations where you may not have remembered to install something.

The QApt Deb Installer

This utility functions much like GDebi, with some bonuses like included icon support and less memory usage.

Now I’m putting on my Kubuntu hat. As was mentioned back with the announcement of Project Timelord, Kubuntu wanted to move away from python-based tools for the default installation due to their resource-hungriness and proneness to runtime errors. Now that the Ubuntu Software Center is Ubuntu’s primary .deb installer rather than GDebi, it makes even more sense to use the QApt Deb Installer. (I know that GDebi is still being maintained, but the KDE UI is somewhat dead at any rate, with nobody to step up to give it the maintenance it deserves.)

The QApt Deb Thumbnailer

This is a thumbnailing plugin for KDE. It offers thumbnail previews of .deb files in KDE file browsers. (Dolphin, open/save dialogs, Konqueror, etc) Not much else to say, but pretty nifty if I do say so myself.

The QApt GStreamer Helper

This utility provides a helper that integrates with GStreamer’s codec installation API, which Phonon uses to automatically install missing codecs for multimedia playback. It uses QtGStreamer which makes dealing with GStreamer a whole lot easier.

The Future

For Muon Suite 1.3 I plan on polishing existing features, as well as providing some new ones. Things I have on my todo list in no particular order that may or may not get done are:

  • Support for submitting reviews to the Ubuntu Ratings and Reviews server.
  • (Optional, I know some people would prefer not to have it) Support for the Ubuntu App Store.
  • Configuration for the save on quit warning. (Impossible to re-enable once disabled)
  • Rewrite the Muon Update Manager to look less like the Muon Package Manager, and be more usable/appeal to a wider target audience skill-wise. (Read: simplification. Power users are probably already using the Muon Package Manager for upgrades already, since you can control what gets upgraded, and likely compulsively check for updates like I do. :P)
  • Further refinement of the new utilities distributed alongside LibQApt.
  • Add a magnifying glass when hovering over the screenshot thumbnail in the Muon Software Center, to signify that it can be made bigger.
  • Add an option to always be notified of dependencies to be marked for install in the Muon Package Manager. You can already can (and should) hit the review button before you hit apply, but apparently some people just like a dialog. :P
  • More (optional) data columns in the main view of the Muon Package Manager. This has been requested before, but I have had higher priorities such as package lock support and multiple package selection, etc.
  • Currently the Muon Software Center resets to the home screen after all pending installations has finished so it can let APT reload its internals. I’m fairly sure that this is unavoidable, but I think it’d be nice if afterwards it took you back to where you were, if the package you were still exists, etc.
One thing I’ve already gotten done is a replacement for the screenshot popup dialog in the Muon Software Center.
Instead of an external dialog, it is now an overlay over the application view. It animates in nicely and can be dismissed by clicking anywhere. If possible, I’d also like to see about blurring the background behind the overlay for extra fanciness. This is was the last popup (except for the external software sources editor program, error dialogs, and such) in the Muon Software Center, keeping with my vision that popups are unwieldy and annoying.
Debian packages are still coming soon, in the Debian sense of the term. All of the dependencies are packaged, so all that’s left is to actually package and upload. The Kubuntu packages should be 95% of the way there, so all that should need to be done is to review and make changes as necessary. I’ve no specifics on when it’ll finally be “in”, but there is progress on that front. :)

Geeky Stuff

If you’re a developer developing a package management frontend using QApt, then QApt 1.2 will have some very nice new features, especially in regards to handling raw .deb files. Here’s an overview of what’s new on the QApt front:

QApt::DebFile

The new DebFile class is an interface for information about .deb files. All debian/control fields are accessible, as well as the file list, a list of included icons, a getter for the .deb file’s md5sum, as well as functions to extract the .deb’s contents to an arbitrary location. You can do pretty much anything you’d ever want to do to a .deb file with the class. The QApt Deb Installer and Deb Thumbnailer are two good references for using this class.

QApt::DependencyInfo

This class provides detailed relational dependency information about packages and debfiles, such as depends, recommends, conflicts, replaces, breaks, etc. It is very useful for resolving dependencies with .deb files, where APT cannot be used for dependency resolution.

Both DebFile objects and Package objects have several functions returning DependencyInfo objects in 1.2.

QApt::Package

  • Added the ability to pin and unpin packages via writing files to /etc/apt/preferences.d/. Refer to the docs in package.h for more info.
  • Added an upstreamVersion() function to the Package class to return the upstream  version of a package. Also include a static version in case we have a package version without a Package object and want the upstream version without having a Package object instantiated.
  • Added a static method “compareVersion()” to the Package class to compare the  versions of two packages, returning the standard strcmp() less than 0, 0, or greater than zero when appropriate.

QApt::Backend

  • Added Backend::saveDownloadList() to create a download list of all packages that are marked and need downloading, usable by the new downloadArchives() function.
  • Added a downloadArchives() function to download a list of archives to an arbitrary directory. The worker will emit package download signals as usual. This can be useful, for example, for downloading packages to a USB stick for a user.
  • Added Backend::addArchiveToCache(), whichs adds .deb files for the candidate versions of existing packages to the apt .deb cache. This function can be used to add .debs from e.g. a USB stick so that computers without internet connections can update packages.
  • Added an installDebFile method to QApt::Backend and the QApt Worker. This method starts the installation of the given .deb file, complete with a DebInstallStarted event signal on start, DebInstallFinished when finished, and a debInstallMessage() signal in between for dpkg output. A new error, WrongArchError, has been added to QApt::ErrorCode for when a .deb file cannot be installed due to incompatible CPU architectures for binary packages. (No multiarch support yet)

Full changelogs for both the Muon Suite and LibQApt can be found here and here.

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36 Responses to Muon Suite 1.2.0 released

  1. Stephan Goosen says:

    Glad to hear that 1.2.0 is finally released!

    But, on reading through the article, I just thought that I spotted a potential typo. I think you meant to say that packages would be “available for the development version of Kubuntu 11.10″ and not “10.10″.

  2. How did you capture these screenshots? Excellent job!

  3. kokekai says:

    Simply amazing. This has grown to be probably the most advanced set of graphical packagemanagment utilities in existence in about year or so? Anyhow it’s nice to see Kubuntu catching up to Ubuntu in terms of ease of use and KDE getting more and more powerful apps. It’s kinda shame that I’ll probably never get to use it because of the distro dependency though,

    I remember reading somewhere about QML Muon (Active), is there any news on that regard?

    • A QML Muon UI geared towards Mobile devices was thrown around as an idea between me and Harald Sitter, but nothing has been done since we discussed it in May. I would like to see one eventually.

  4. Great work. Looking forward to 1.3 with Ubuntu Software Centre integration.

    • Yes, having the possibility to purchase software using Muon is a must!!!
      There are more and more game publishers using Ubuntu Software Center as a platform to deliver their software, and having it on Kubuntu without having to install USC would be sweet!!!

  5. Bugsbane says:

    Sweet! I must admit I’ve been a love of PackageKit for it’s simplicity and ease, and up to this point, while I’ve appreciated your work, I’ve yet to find anything missing from it. With this release, to me, it feels like Muon suite has finally surpassed PackageKit with a number of nice features like the easy (keyword is easy, here) package locking, showing app icons in Dolphin, automatic package cache cleaning, nicer screenshot displays… All in all this is a really impressive update!

    Great work and thanks for your effort!

  6. Victor says:

    Thanks, man! Great product!

  7. TheGhost says:

    Great Work on Muon, you rock !

  8. Michael says:

    I’m stunned and excited by this progress! The attention to detail, the follow-through, the commitment are excellent, excellent, excellent. Thank you!

  9. Nomad says:

    This application package is amazing, however, I’d like to suggest that you add a feature that allows the status of packages to be represented by coloured icons, such as in synaptic. It would save some space, and would also allow users to better identify the status of packages at a glance.

  10. JanKusanagi says:

    So many screenshots! You really know what people love.

    The Deb thumbnailer is a nice touch :)

  11. Josef says:

    I testing Muon Package manager 1.2.0 but no worked settings repository software

  12. RiTorMark says:

    Solo 2 palabras: Excelente trabajo.

    Grandioso poder encontrar colaboradores que usan su valioso tiempo para desarrollos tan importantes como estos.

    Es de mi parte agradecerle a usted y hacerle saber que hago uso ahora mismo en Kubuntu el Muon 1.2.

  13. Mick K says:

    where can i get packages for debian squeeze? packages from ppa couldn’t be installed

  14. Mick K says:

    Can you provide .deb files for squeeze? I can’t find any repository with your packages. Anybody know?

  15. Muon Suite says:

    [...] Além de ter um Package Manager superior ao KPackageKit o Muon possui um aplicativo de gerenciamento ao estilo do Software Center do Ubuntu em sua versão GTK (Gnome, Unity, Gnome Shell). Lógico que mais em: muon-suite-1-2-0-released. [...]

  16. Laurent Lacôte says:

    Hi,
    I discovered the Muon Suite with 11.10 beta.
    I’ve long been a Mandriva User, and despite its flaws, their own package manager was one of the most user-friendlys.
    Synaptic has always been a mess imo (search never worked, packages not sorted by name by default), then came KpackageKit which brought most essential features to me :
    - nice view of applications (icon, short description, installed or now)
    - history of changes
    - view of applications
    - import / export list of packages.

    Now, being “forced” to test Muon Management Suite, my feedbacks
    Muon Software Center
    + indeed, much faster than KpackageKit
    + rating views (will come to KPackageKit though)
    + view packages “by origin” (nice idea)
    + still a link in menubar to go and configure sources lists and updates
    + full panel information (although collapsable details view of PackageKit is nice too, question of taste here).
    +++ view of addons available for software: it’s not a revolution for experienced users, for newcomers it’s THE added value of your solution.
    - no import/export list
    - information is less clear than in KpackageKit: I know that you want a concise view, but for people with bad view like me it’s a hassle. The “1 information, 1 column” of KpackageKit is much clearer. Although, just changing color of text and icons could be enough.
    - no filters: you can only view graphical applications here. I know that comes directly from splitting actions and features into 2 applications, but still, like this you come back to Ubuntu’s old annoyances (how long was I lost between the “reduced” software installer and full-fledged software manager…).

    Muon Package Manager
    + aims at being an admin’s dream, and I can feel it already: tremendous amount of information provided, in neat tabs.
    - have to go through it to check and apply updates > have to go through a complex interface just to update software.

    Well, I guess there are many good reasons as to separate features in 2 soft (at least avoiding cluttered interfaces) and many good ideas in Muon. But so far, I prefer the unified-type style. I may change mind with next version though ;)

    Cheers,

    Laurent

  17. lunarcloud says:

    Yes, ability to purchase games from the Ubuntu Software Store will be a fantastic thing, a must.

    Also, I’d like to see a Kubuntu Editor’s Picks and stuff you see on the Ubuntu Software Centre.

  18. [...] az új, integrált csomagnak, amely kifejezetten a Debian stílusú csomagkezeléshez készült. Jonathan Thomas blogján további információk találhatóak (angol [...]

  19. pablo173 says:

    Personally, I find it confusing whether to use Muon Package Manager, or Muon Software Center, or QApt for what I want to do. I know that KPackageManager had its detractors, but it always worked perfectly for me and took care of installing, removing, searching for, and updating packages.

    • lunarcloud says:

      Well, if you’re looking for software, or just consider yourself a normal user – use the software center.

      If you need to do nice advanced things – you’re really looking to manage packages.

      The rest is transparent, libraries or tools that pop up when you click to install a deb or when there’s updates.

      • “…if you’re looking for software…” what if the search function is not working?! ;-) just installed and in center or package manager, searching brings no results. (i still have to read possible “known issues”).

      • NickElliott says:

        I have also found that searching doesn’t work in Muon, as soon as I enter more than 1 character in the search bar I get no results.

  20. [...] Muon Suite — nowy pakiet narzędzi do instalacji i zarządzania oprogramowaniem [...]

  21. [...] az új, integrált csomagnak, amely kifejezetten a Debian stílusú csomagkezeléshez készült. Jonathan Thomas blogján további információk találhatóak (angol [...]

  22. [...] με τη διαχείριση στυλ πακέτο Debian. Αναχώρηση Blog Jonathan Θωμά για περισσότερες [...]

  23. Ian says:

    Muon ‘hangs’ if you try to install an App but have no internet connection – e.g. using wifi that has lost connection – and there is no way to close it. Shutting down the PC is intercepted and prevented. The only way I could get out was to kill the Muon process. Then on restart Muon says another package manager is in use. I have been searching Google to see where to report this bug but haven’t found anywhere other than here.

  24. Really, I see this Muon seems more and more intuitive than Synaptic…

    Aaah! I like it! Just installed.

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