In a previous post, I discussed the results of users attempting to add the Wine PPA using Synaptic Package Manager, so they could download the latest version of Wine. Users found instructions using web search, and followed those directions to add the PPA and update to the latest version of Wine.
Most users followed the instructions easily despite having no previous experience with adding a PPA. After the users had successfully updated to the latest version of Wine, I asked them how confident they were that they had successfully updated to the latest version of Wine.
About half of users were confident that they had successfully completed the task and the others were not certain. All stated that they were fairly confident that the instructions told them how to do what they wanted to do, and that they had followed the instructions correctly, but most users did not know any way to determine if the version of Wine they had was actually the latest version. The version number of the installed package is shown in Synaptic Package Manager, but only one user thought to check there to see if the version number shown there matched the latest version reported by the Wine website.
Providing this feedback is a challenge for package managers. It is trivial for the package manager to determine if the installed version is the latest available in the repository, but it is difficult for the package manager to determine if there is a PPA that has not been added that might contain a newer version. This is problematic because the default repositories used by the open source package managers we tested usually lagged behind the most recent versions available.
An index of known PPAs, as mentioned in the previous post where users attempted to add the Wine PPA, would make it possible to let the user know that the version they were running was truly the latest version available.