Installing Firefox in Kubuntu 8.10

adeptfailed_croppedI have repeatedly been unable to update Firefox to the latest version in assorted Linux distros over the course of a few years.

For the most part, I see this as poor user interface design by the developers of the assorted software update applications. For example, I don’t recall a big CHECK FOR UPDATES NOW button on any of them. Nor do I recall any of them externalizing the date/time that they last checked for updates. Plus, they use language that speaks to experienced Linux users but not to new users. 

To be clear, I’m talking about manual updates. Linux distros have auto-upate facilities that likely would have, eventually, updated an installed copy of Firefox. Updating Firefox is my test for whether a distro is newbie friendly. 

Today I downloaded and tried a new distro, Kubuntu version 8.10. 

Kubuntu doesn’t come with Firefox pre-installed so this is about installing the browser rather than updating it. The software update application in Kubuntu is Adept version 3.0 Beta 4. I don’t like that it ships with beta software, especially for such an important component.

I also found the overall user interface, KDE version 4.1.2, particularly frustrating, echoing the sentiment that Computerworld blogger Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols expessed both about KDE version 4.1 and about KDE version 4.2.

Adept groups applications, and Firefox was not in the Internet group. I did a search within the program for “Firefox” and came up empty. I clicked on everything I could find to click on and stumbled across an option (under Adept on the menu bar) to fetch the package list. This seemed to run fine but Firefox was still not in the Internet group. However, a search for “Firefox” now returned a long list of extensions and version 3.0.5 of the browser itself.

If updating the package list is a necessary function, as it seems to be, you’d think Adept would do it automatically. At the least, it should warn the user that the update has never been done or hasn’t been done in a long while.

Firefox can install extensions all by itself, a process that works the same in Linux as it does in Windows. So it’s not clear why Adept bothers with Firefox extensions. And the list of available extensions is a very small percentage of the total available. Plus, why show the user extensions to a browser that isn’t even installed?

Clicking on the Firefox entry in the list opens up a checkbox option to install it. Fine. But then what? There is no Apply button, no OK button, no Next button. Adept is like a command line interface, in that the burden of knowing what to do next is on the end user.

Turns out you have to click on “Adept” on the menu bar and then on “Apply changes”.

This failed with an APT “Package download failed” error. The specific message (shown below) was “I wasn’t able to locate a file for the python-pyorbit package. This might mean you need to manually fix this package. (due to missing arch).”

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