CentOS Update Notifier

I have been content with my virtual machine (VM) that provides me a way to interact with work computers but remain isolated from personal work flows. After several weeks of use I realized I had no convenient way to remind me to update the system. While yum-cron remains the darling geek tool for such notices, I do not want or need mail services on the VM.

When I had a CentOS 7 desktop installed on my laptop I remembered that I had graphical desktop notifications using yumex.

I installed yumex in my VM. I soon discovered that there is no direct support for providing automated update notifications. Fortunately I still had backups of the original CentOS 7 desktop. I had to dig a little to remember how to obtain update notifications.

To enable update notifications on the desktop requires three steps.

  • Create a yumex.desktop file.
  • Add the user to the yumex group.
  • Configure yumex.

As my VM is used for limited purposes, I copied my original yumex.desktop file from backups to $HOME/.config/autostart. I could have copied to /etc/xdg/autostart/. The contents of the file:

    [Desktop Entry]
    Comment=Install, update and remove applications
    Comment[C]=Install, update and remove applications
    Exec=/usr/bin/yumex --update-only

Next was to add the normal user account to the yumex group. The yumex package installs a pkexec policy file that does not need to be modified.

The last step is to configure yumex. I ran yumex once, which then creates $HOME/.config/yumex/yumex.conf. I then manually updated the file with a text editor using the original CentOS 7 backups.

    autorefresh = 1
    recentdays = 14
    proxy =
    exclude =
    debug = 0
    color_install = darkgreen
    color_update = red
    color_normal = black
    color_obsolete = blue
    plugins = 1
    yumdebuglevel = 2
    start_hidden = 1
    win_width = 1092
    check_for_updates = 1
    close_to_tray = 1
    cleanup_requirements = 1
    typeahead_search = 0
    use_sortable_view = 0
    skip_broken = 1
    update_startup_delay = 15

With those changes I then could log into the desktop and after the configured 15 second delay, I would have an icon in the system tray of the MATE panel. A green check mark indicates updates are current. A black number indicates the number of updates available.

This is a nice mechanism for having a desktop update notifier.

Now the final point. Why isn't this the default configuration? This is an example of developers not providing usable desktops. The package installation should have installed /etc/xdg/autostart/yumex.desktop. The installer should automatically add the primary user to the yumex group. The yumex defaults should be based upon wanting a desktop notifier. These should be the defaults because otherwise why would anybody install yumex? Instead the user is left to untangle this mess. The Year of the Linux Desktop awaits.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: CentOS

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