A few more thoughts about upgrading Linux Mint
It all started with an inexpensive printer/scanner/copier and my wife’s laptop, which was running Linux Mint 13. Which, as you may or may not know, I installed on that computer after a hard drive failure in August, 2012.
Overall, it worked out well. But when we moved abroad, we bought a Canon PIXMA multifunction printer. Although it’s OK for what it is, there were a couple of problems with it. My wife could only print in colour and she couldn’t use the scanner, even with Canon’s drivers and software. I figured out that it was a problem with the device not playing nicely with Linux Mint 13 (or earlier versions).
So, in early January 2013 my wife decided that I should upgrade the operating system on her computer to version 14 of Mint. I followed the same process that I described here and the upgrade went smoothly.
Until, that is, I tried to restore my wife’s software with Mint Backup.
Mint Backup displayed an error telling me that I needed to fix some broken packages before could continue. The problem is, there were no broken packages — after doing some research, I ran various commands in a terminal to determine that.
I was getting frustrated, but I did have one clue: Mint Backup couldn’t find Acrobat Reader in any software repositories. My wife needs Acrobat Reader to read some Chinese PDFs; when viewed in Evince, the Chinese fonts don’t render. The interesting thing was that Mint Backup could find Adobe’s Chinese fonts and Asian character maps in a repository.
From my research, I vaguely recalled someone mentioning that Canonical removed Acrobat Reader from its software repositories and that people who ran into problems with broken packages often reported problems with Adobe’s software.
I unchecked the options for the Adobe fonts and character maps in Mint Backup. Guess what happened next? The restore worked.
See the problem?
That problem was simple: I wasn’t given any indication of what packages were broken. Or, at least, what packages Mint Backup considered broken. And there weren’t any recommendations about what to do.
While I’m no guru, I do know my way around Linux fairly well. In this situation, I was stymied. I was frustrated. I can only imagine what a Linux user with less experience than me would feel.
A little help goes a long way
As a professional technical communicator, I understand the need for user assistance within an application. Mint Backup can obviously detect when a package is broken, so it shouldn’t be much of a stretch to be able to tell a user the name of that package.
Using that as a launching point, Mint Backup could display a message telling the user which package it thinks is broken, and to tell the user to clear the option and to try again. Perhaps it could also include help explaining how to fix a broken package instead of forcing users to turn to the web to hunt down that information.
Doing something like that can save users time and mitigate their aggravation and frustration.