Can Of Code

To update, or not to update, This is the Question

Let me begin with my frustration with Fedora. A while ago I had decided in true geeky fashion to get a Linux Distribution, install it on a spare PC and have a little play. So I had a little play… well to be honest, I spent hours trying to install graphics card drivers, but that counts as play.

Anyway… A few weeks later i decided to go back to the spare PC and have another look around Fedora. I learnt that there was a new Release of Fedora OS. This annoyed me greatly!

Why? well as a user, it meant that I had to go and download the new version which was no easy tasks when you think these disc images are normally 4GB and my internet connection was around 1Mbps. That is a long time to wait and if I remember correctly I only had a 10GB download limit at the time, so it was also a risk. The second point of frustration was that I would have had to format the hard drive and lose my hours of Nvidia driver progress.

Updates, diffrent for diffrent people

So am I saying that Linux is frustrating? Well kinda, But the point I’m makIing is, How frequently should updates occur?

Firstly as far as i can see there are two methods of rolling out updates:

Nagging Updates

Restart or... restart, The choice is yours

The Nagging Update is one where you have to do something before it updates, Like in OS X when the little icon is bouncing up and down in your dock until you finally go insane and click it! Windows can be just as frustrating when it asked to restart after installing updates. It will pester you more and more frequently until you finally give in to it.

Home users hate nagging updates, because well… they nag and nag until you do something. To be honest the users don’t even have a clue what the update is for. So they have to do something even though they don’t have a clue why. Rather like if they were at work? The System Admin types like nagging updates as long as they can turn the nagging off and do some magical updating procedure in the middle of the night, pretty much turning them into ninja updates.

How frequently should I do nagging updates? This depends on how much you want to annoy your users? because who likes being nagged at. If you decide to go for a nagging approach, the less updates you have to release the better!


Ninja Updates

Ninja update in progress

Ninja update in progress

The ninja update is sneaky. When you least expect it, it will update your software and the first thing your know is something looks slightly different.

Your basic home user likes ninja updates because they don’t have to do anything. The key issue is, if something goes wrong, they wont understand why on earth its happened. System Admins hate Ninja updates because they are very protective over there software, they don’t want it updating itself without them doing some kind of testing to make sure this update doesn’t break everything.

Nobody really notices that a ninja update has happened so it doesn’t really matter how frequently it occurs. But of course you can still annoy users if your ninja updates keep moving the save button to different places because the development team cant agree where it should belong.

So we have now established that there are different methods of updating and each one will annoy a different type of user.. Great! 500 words down and I am yet to come up with a solid answer to how frequently you should release updates. But one key point we have discovered is, ninja updates can be done more frequently and nagging updates less so.

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