When I wrote the first addendum it was with a sense of disappointment, because I had to inform the readers that my assumptions were in error. That is, it was not possible to activate the update notifier for an unprivileged users [1.]. However, I had promised to pursue the issue on Canonical's Launchpad site by reporting my problems. Surprisingly, I am here now to report the success of that approach.
After joining Launchpad [2.], I filed Bug 288099, that may be read [3.] without becoming a member. Despite the labeling, in my first line I stated my opinion that this was a design issue, not a code flaw (a.k.a. bug). Moreover, I understood the rationale for the change.
An early response suggested running the command update-notifier with the force option, which left me uneasy. However, not too long after my replying I found a message that code changes were made to allow [4.] the notifier to appear. The changes were limited by other considerations. Therefore, it took awhile for me to understand the steps required to get the behaviour I desired.
I cannot trace the reason for my believing that the requirement that the change had to be compiled into the kernel. That alone delayed my making any immediate further effort to confirm the fix. Nonetheless, my misapprehension might have been the key role in getting the update notifier icon operational on my system. In the recent two hour interview of Mark Shuttleworth there was the mention of backports. I learned to effect backport updates a change in the repositories was necessary:
as the sudo user. Select the Update tab, then look down the list and select "Unsupported updates (hardy-backports)" [5.], it was the "Unsupported" designation that left it off my original set. Having made that change I manually checked for updates. I found the update-notifier listed in two packages. Moreover, upon adding it and the others I noticed that a reboot was required to effect the change, which means the kernel had been altered. Once that change had been made and a few other steps taken after startup, my unprivileged user account saw the update notifier icon appear.
I suspect that the steps that I found necessary to have the update notifier active may seem excessive to some. However, I think it unlikely that one would like to have all unprivileged accounts be allowed to see the update notifier. Hence, even these simple steps automatically place a limit the number accounts exposed. For those requiring more accounts exposed, the administrator could perhaps write a script to have the update notifier run upon startup.
I began by opening a terminal window and seeing if just having the update-notifier packages available sufficed, they did not:
[regular user]@[machine name]:~$ ps -ef |egrep update 1001 5942 5922 0 06:43 pts/0 00:00:00 egrep update
Then I tried to activate it:
[regular user]@[machine name]:~$ update-notifier ** (update-notifier:5943): WARNING **: \ not starting because user is not in admin group
Fine, I planned to live with that in any case. However, I knew how to force the issue:
[regular user]@[machine name]:~$ update-notifier --force &  5944
Note the ampersand at the end that throws the command into the background. I then checked to see if the notifier was operational:
[regular user]@[machine name]:~$ ps -ef |egrep update 1001 5944 5922 0 06:43 pts/0 00:00:00 update-notifier --force 1001 5946 5922 0 06:43 pts/0 00:00:00 egrep update
However, I soon had a surprise:
[regular user]@[machine name]:~$ PID TTY TIME CMD 5715 ? 00:00:00 pulseaudio
Essentially what I had seen and remarked upon in the bug report. So my standard procedure is to close off that operation with a Ctrl-C and to recheck the update processes running on my machine:
[regular user]@[machine name]:~$ ps -ef |egrep update 1001 5944 5922 0 06:43 pts/0 00:00:00 update-notifier --force 1001 6044 5922 0 06:50 pts/0 00:00:00 egrep update
As seen above, it is there. Moreover, I soon learned, indeed, the notifier is active and functional. A short time later an icon appeared indicating security updates were available. As a result I left the regular user's account and openned the sudo account for the first time that day to update my system.
Getting It Working
The steps required to activate the update-notifier has just enough hassle factor to be self limiting to the set of user accounts where this really is a desired feature. The way I run it is to hit Ctrl-r keys and a few characters to pull the desired commands from my command line history. All that I use now are update-notifier with the force option, after a period when I see the terminal line filled and the audio application I hit Ctrl-c to return to the prompt and the usual process query filtered on "update" to be assured the notification is active. To me it is utter simplicity, whereas I think some others might think it to be an onerous task. Therefore, this feature should be reserved for only for those both wanting and needing to be informed of update availability.
I had mentioned using a script, there may or there may not be some difficulties. However, I suspect the tty and pulseaudio lines might not be that big an issue when it is out of sight. For me this is not a big issue as I indicated above, hence, at this time I am not pursuing the scripting option.
Overall, so far, my Launchpad experience has been very positive. However, for those without patience or resolve the experience may differ. For example, I have submitted two reports of my having difficulty being recognized when logged onto specific areas within Launchpad. I sent one report by email in late October, so far without a response. Very recently (11th November, 2008) I filed the bug report 298123 that may attract some attention. However, if there is neither a response nor a timely resolution I will be filing another bug report that I would have preferred to post as a question.
Corrections, suggested extension or comments write: H. Cohen.
© Herschel Cohen, All Rights Reserved
____________________________________________________________________ 1. The option existed to make more users administrators, however, that compromised the Ubuntu security model. Return 2. Much easier than I expected. Return 3. Along with all the responses. Return 4. Pay attention to the notes where it is stated not all possible changes could be implemented without other unwanted breakage. Return 5. I am running version 8.04, use the version that is correct for your machine. Return ____________________________________________________________________