Tuesday Jun 09, 2009

Update Center: Updates Made Easier

The Update Center toolkit has already made applying updates to projects like GlassFish, MQ and Web Space Server easy.  With the release of Update Center 2.2 that process just got easier.

In prior releases the Update Tool GUI or the pkg(5) CLI were the primary mechanisms available to apply updates.  This had its limitations.  For example if a developer wished to update multiple applications, each need to be selected, "Available Updates" checked and then applied before repeating for the next application in the list. Easy enough if only one or two applications are being maintained.  More than that and the process becomes fairly heavyweight.

Enter Update Center 2.2.  In this release we have introduced a new streamlined update mechanism.   The new Software Update GUI can detect and apply updates simultaneously across multiple application images maintained on a system.  Applying updates is as easy as two mouse clicks (1. accept the license 2. click Install) to update the applications.

Here's a look at the new Software Update GUI:

Software Update GUI Image

How does it work?

The new Software Update GUI is typically started by clicking on the notification balloon generated by the Update Center desktop notifier. The tool checks for updates in the application images registered with the Update Tool.  Only those applications with pending updates are displayed. These applications will be preselected in the tool.  To apply the updates just accept the license and click Install.

The tool will then apply the updates in a serial fashion to each of the selected applications.  An install dialog tracks the progress:

Applying an update

Details of each update are available for review after the update completes.

There are a couple of other features of the tool worth mentioning.  If an application update contains security related fixes or enhancements they will be identified with the security emblem:

You can also select an application to view more details about the update:

The Software Update GUI is also connected to an atom feed that allows it to recommend featured add-on software that is applicable to the applications which are already installed.  Select the add-ons you wish to install and they will be included in the update process when you click Install.  If the add-on can be applied to more than one image you will be prompted to indicate which images to apply the add-on to.  Overall a fairly streamlined process.

The Update Tool is still available to provide finer grain control over which components in an application are updated.  To access the Update Tool simply click on the "Manage Details" button at the bottom of the tool.

Friday Nov 21, 2008

Update Center: Desktop Notifier Start Up

In my  entry last month I discussed some ways to manage the Update Center's desktop notifier.   In the upcoming release  of version 2.1 of the Update Center project  the team added some additional mechanism to launch the notifier.  The most noticeable change is the update preferences accessed via the updateool GUI:

Preferences Dialog

The "Automatically check for updates" check box is used to indicate whether the notifier should be started automatically when  you log in to your desktop.    If this check box is selected when this dialog is applied the notifier will be registered  as a log in start up task.   The notifier will also be started immediately at that point.   If the notifier is already running the newly started notifier will silently exit.

If the "Automatically check for updates" check box is not selected when the dialog is applied the notifier will be unregistered as a log in start up task.   Any currently running notifier instances will be shutdown when the dialog is  dismissed.    By selecting or deselecting (and applying) the check box the current notifier operation can be controlled.

In UC 2.0 the updatetool GUI would automatically (as a background task) register the notifier shortly after it is started if the update check frequency is set to daily, weekly or monthly.   This still occurs in UC 2.1 (if the "Automatically check for updates" check box is selected).  New in version 2.1, the updatetool GUI will also start the notifier automatically shortly after the GUI is launched.  This instance of the notifier will silently exit if another instance of the notifier is already executing.

We also added the ability to stop the notifier from the command line:

% updatetool --notifier --shutdown

This command has no output.   It simply sends a message to the running notifier to shutdown.    This command is useful on Windows in the scenario where a user wishes to move or delete an application folder but is blocked because the running notifier instance was started from within the folder.   Windows will not allow a folder to be deleted if files within the folder are still in use.  

 Current builds of Update Center can be accessed through our download site:


 These changes will appear in build 18.


Chris Kasso-Oracle


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