After five and a half months of development (yay, we’re basically on time this go around!), I’m proud to announce the release of version 1.4.0 of the Muon Suite. The Muon Suite is a set of package management utilities for Debian-based Linux distributions built on KDE technologies. Due to a data center maintenance on Canonical’s part, PPA packages for Kubuntu 12.04 will be delayed. Once the data center move is completed, the packages will be in the QApt PPA. Sorry for the inconvenience. Packages are also available in the development release of Kubuntu 12.10, codename “Quantal Quetzal”.
The 1.4 series new features all around, as well as a preview of what will be the “next big thing” in the Muon world. In the process, all applications within the Muon Suite have become more robust and bring a streamlined user experience.
I would like to also thank the KDE translation team for their awesome work this cycle. The Muon Suite is now over 70% translated in 32 different languages, (three more than last time!) making it accessible to a wide variety of users across the world. Here’s a round of applause for kde-l10n!
Muon Discover Technology Preview
Muon Discover is the experimental new frontend in the Muon Suite. It was written by Aleix Pol Gonzalez as part of his employment at Blue Systems. You can read more about it here.The idea is to create a Muon frontend that makes finding new software super-simple, and doing so with a little bit of flair. It’s no secret that even though the existing Muon Software Center has some nifty graphical effects here and there, the interface is still somewhat “spartan”.
Muon Discover will eventually replace the Muon Software Center, but not just yet. Muon Discover is young, and its interface is written entirely in QML. KDE has not issued a set of comprehensive UI guidelines for QML usage on the desktop, and currently Muon Discover is using the Plasma QML components for several of the controls in its interface. While we wait for a set of guidelines, the classic Muon Software Center will remain the default software center application of the Muon Suite, allowing Muon Discover to mature in the process. The QML Desktop Components (slated for release sometime around Qt 5.1 or 5.2, or so I have heard rumored) and KDE Frameworks 5 will likely be a big part of KDE’s QML standardization, so expect Muon Discover to replace the Muon Software Center in around that time period.
Muon Software Center
With all the buzz around Muon Discover, you may think that nothing has been done with the Muon Software Center. Well, never fear, as there are several cool new features and user experience improvements that have been made for Muon Suite 1.4.
- Thanks to work done by Aleix, the Muon Software Center no longer has to reset the view back to the main page when it reloads the APT cache. This provides for a much smoother experience whilst installing multiple applications.
- A progress view has been added for displaying currently running and pending transaction.
- All Muon frontends now use the KDE proxy, if set. (Before it only used the system proxy and APT proxy settings) Priority goes: KDE proxy, APT proxy, system proxy.
- Additional pages of application reviews can be fetched now.
- A busy throbber has been added to the main page to provide feedback during launch.
- Application views can now be sorted by Name, Rating, Buzz and search relevancy.
- By popular request, non-application packages can be toggled for application views. (Though you’re still probably better off using the Muon Package Manager for package management.)
- Ratings are cached locally so they can be accessed in the absence of an internet connection.
- Language and localization packages for applications are now automatically and transparently installed when the “check-language-support” utility provided by Ubuntu is installed. Systems without this utility will work as before.
Muon Package Manager
The Muon Package Manager has not been forgotten, either. Highlights for the 1.4 release mainly include tools for better handling Multi-Arch packages on 64-bit systems.
- By default, when a package is available for both the native and foreign CPU architectures, only the native package is shown. Installed packages of any architecture are shown. This means no more duplication of most every single package in the archive polluting the Muon package view.
- A new architecture filter has been added, allowing you to filter packages by their architecture.
- The new Debian package categories “Education” and “Introspection” have been added to Muon’s category filters.
- A package’s archive component is now displayed in the technical details tab. (E.g. universe, main for Ubuntu packages)
Muon Update Manager
- Technical package items in the “System Updates” category are now displayed by their package name, as the description is not always descriptive enough.
- The version of the available update is now shown in a separate column of the update view.
- Updates are now sorted alphabetically
The QApt Deb Installer now has a dialog where you can see what additional changes are required for the installation of a .deb file.
Additionally, the QApt Deb Installer can install multi-arch enabled foreign-arch packages (such as Skype on a 64-bit system) without issue.
I’ll do a proper overview of the future direction of the Muon Suite in a separate post fairly soon. I’d do it now, but there’s some things I can’t reveal for another few days. (How’s that for a tease? ;-)) For now, you can take a look at Aleix’s post to see a preview of some of the things happening for Muon Suite 1.5.
There hasn’t been movement on the LibQApt front as vigorously as in previous releases, but there are still some new things that application developers might find useful. I think it’s a testament to the quality and maturity of the software. But at any rate, here’s what’s new:
- Add an origins() function to QApt::Backend to return a list of machine-readable origin names.
- Added a function for retrieving a list of origins by its host URL.
- Use a faster QString -> const char * conversion when looking up packages by name.
- Added a method to retrieve a list of CPU architectures supported on the system as reported by APT.