But as said, there are certain aspects (installing/uninstalling applications) where you might get you into trouble. In the old days there weren't much GUIs for package management thus you had to do everything by using the command line. But the times has passed and different distributions have package mangers of their own (including a decent GUI, hopefully).
But because of the simplicity + the very little system resource needs of the command line tools... many users still prefer the command line while installing applications as well.
Anyhow, it took sometime for the Fedora team to come up with a decent GUI for the "Yum" package manager and even though they came up with a GUI around the version 4-5 yet it wasn't that impressive and at that time the package manager didn't even support installing packages from CD/DVDs!.
But, from the beginning, Debian team had the best/robust/stable package manager called "APT" (usually used with the command = apt-get). Later came its GUI called the Synaptic, GUI written in GTK+ which made managing packages in Debian based GNU/Linux distributions like Ubuntu for instance, much much easier.
But, Synaptic is not perfect and at the moment do lack very few things, otherwise I think most will agree to the fact that it's perfect, almost :). For example, have a look at the below screenshot. Now as anyone can see, basically it has a search box and a left "panel" which displays the installed/available packages in categories.
So if you want to know about a certain package, then all you gotta do is just search for it. You don't even have to use a specific package name these days. Say that you wanted to install a "music player", then just use the term "music player" and do a search, Synaptic will give you applications that falls into that category!.
So, it's pretty much user friendly. But to be honest, it does lack a bit of a simplicity. Because having a lot of text around (anything) can be a bit confusing.
If we could do something like, replacing category names such as "Development", "Multimedia", "Games", "Utilities", etc with icons... then not only it'll add more simplicity but as soon as the eye hits the icon, it'll give the same expression as the texts would, in a much better way. Right?.
That's what the Ubuntu/Canonical developers have come up with. There is a separate package manager "suite" in Ubuntu Linux (I know you know this, but gotta write about :D) called "Ubuntu Software Center" which has exactly the above mentioned attributes. Basically it is almost everything that Synaptic is not.
It's not loaded with words/texts that much but use icons and as a result the interface is much more simpler.
They've also done excellent things such as, when you enter the main window, to the lower sections of the Software Center, now we have "featured applications" and whenever we click on an application, we can see a screenshot (which is available via Synaptic, but not displayed by default), shows the web site of the developer and most importantly, there are "actual" reviews/feedback by those who have used the app for real.
Further more, it has a "star points" which represents the quality level of the applications as well.
Although I don't own a touch-screen device such as a Tablet PC... but when looking at the two applications, the advantageous Ubuntu Software Center have over Synaptic is obvious, I think. And Canonical has been planning to replace Synaptic for a while now and the latest news is that, they'll do so by removing Synaptic from the upcoming Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot.
To be honest, I actually like the Ubuntu Software Center, although at times it feels like slightly "heavier" on my system resources... other than that, it is pretty easy to use and has an excellent user friendly GUI.
Although I used to think that it uses a lot of my memory (RAM) than Synaptic because every time I use it had a low response time. But then I did a bit of a memory check and actually realised that they both use similar amount of system resources!. Have a look at the below screenshots, which were taken separately, then the two package managers were opened (while running the home screen).
|Synaptic uses 25.2MB....|
|USC uses about 27.3MB... marginal difference..., this is also true while installing applications too (at least while I tested them).|
So what was it that gave me the impression that USC is slower/heavier (slow mouse pointer responsiveness, etc)?.
Well I guess it's just that, it uses a lot of your network (Internet connection) because unlike with Synaptic, USC has to download icons, screenshots, user reviews, its featured applications related data, etc from online sources thus it uses higher Internet connection bandwidth.
So, having a bit slower connection is actually the bottleneck here, at lest in my experience anyway +, when an application has to work with a lot of outside networks or web sites, it can use a bit of your CPU especially, which is usually "represented" by an unusually slower mouse pointer as well.
Synaptic on the other hand does not use a lot of your Internet bandwidth by "default" because there are no default screenshots (unless you manually enable it) or icons... it's basically a text-oriented GUI ... so the responsive times can be quite quicker since the Internet connection is not "busy" than while using USC.
Anyway, I'll always be using Synaptic in the future, because it is still a way powerful utility than USC since it has so many advanced/useful features that are not implemented in USC at the moment.
On the bright side, Canonical won't completely wipe out Synaptic from their distribution and it'll be available via their repositories. And if you don't like this "move", well, we have a lot other GNU/Linux distributions, just in case as well :).
What do you think??.