Two package managers are more usable than one

The package managers that were examined in my usability study had a variety of interface styles. Most package managers I initially examined resembled Synaptic Package Manager, which was not very popular with most of the users I tested with. Some of them indicated that if they were a more experienced user of Ubuntu, they would probably make Synaptic their main tool rather than Ubuntu Software Center. Novice users preferred a tool that more closely matched their mental model, and did not want to be overwhelmed by information and jargon that they did not understand. Software Center was seen as being a tool that matched the mental model of novice users. However, some users wanted to have the ability to use a tool which provides more detail. Synaptic was perceived as being the more powerful tool and one which provided greater detail.

Ubuntu includes both Software Center and Synaptic Package Manager, and the two package managers appeal to different sets of users. Puppy Linux also provides two package managers aimed at different sets of users. Most of the GNU/Linux based operating systems that were used in the study provided only one graphical package manager. The findings from the user studies suggest that having multiple interfaces, aimed at different users, provides a more usable system than system that provided only one graphical package manager. The addition of a second package manager added value rather than being redundant.

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