GNOME Firmware Updater

A few months ago, Dell asked if I’d like to co-mentor an intern over the summer. The task was to create a GTK “power user” application for managing firmware. The idea being that someone like Dell support could ask the user to run a little application and then read back firmware versions or downgrade to an older firmware version rather than getting them to use the command line. GNOME and KDE software centers deliberately show a “simple” view of firmware, only showing devices when updates are pending.

In June I was introduced to Andrew Schwenn, who was our intern for the summer. This blog isn’t about Andrew, but I will say he did amazingly well and was soon up to speed filing excellent pull requests even with a grumpy anally-retentive maintainer like me. Andrew has finished his internship now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we work again with him in the future. Most of the work so far is from Andrew, so I can’t claim too much credit here.

GNOME Firmware Updater was designed in the style of a GNOME Control Center panel, and all the code is written in a way to make a port very simple indeed if that’s what we actually want. At the moment it’s a seporate project and binary, as we’re still prototyping the UI and working out what kind of UX we want from a power user tool. It’s mostly complete and a few weeks away from it’s first release. When it does get an official release, I’ll be sure to upload it to Flathub to make it easy for the world to install. If this sounds interesting to you the code is here. I don’t have a huge amount of time to dedicate to this power user tool, but please open pull requests or issues if there’s something you’d like to see fixed.

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Richard has over 10 years of experience developing open source software. He is the maintainer of GNOME Software, PackageKit, GNOME Packagekit, GNOME Power Manager, GNOME Color Manager, colord, and UPower and also contributes to many other projects and opensource standards. Richard has three main areas of interest on the free desktop, color management, package management, and power management. Richard graduated a few years ago from the University of Surrey with a Masters in Electronics Engineering. He now works for Red Hat in the desktop group, and also manages a company selling open source calibration equipment. Richard's outside interests include taking photos and eating good food.

7 thoughts on “GNOME Firmware Updater”

  1. I’m very interested to see what will happen with this software, the software released by System76 and the integration with GNOME Control Center. We are converging to a better way to deal with firmware updates on Linux.

  2. Being new to the whole LVFS thing, anything that helps automate/simplify the traditionally terrifying firmware update process for a non-developer user like myself is welcome news. Seriously, I would not have known fwupd even existed if I hadn’t clicked on a Star Labs ad on Distrowatch a few weeks ago. Alas, having Star Labs hardware shipped to my part of the world is too impractical (in terms of warranty coverage and repairs), so I’m stuck waiting for my ThinkPad X390 to (hopefully) join the list on Thank you for doing all that you do, and keep up the good work.

  3. Interesting. I wonder if this will replace the current fwupd functionality built into GNOME Software.

  4. Awesome work, thanks Andrew and Richard! I suggest to either make this part of Gnome Software or the Control Center.

  5. Richard, I really appreciate your work. I have been so inspired. I feel that there should be a parental controls panel. Gnome Safety. It is great to have ideas, but where to start ? I’m not a C programmer. In fact I am not competent in any programming language.

    1. I don’t think coding is required, often clean and clear design is 90% of the work anyway. If you can do IRC, jump on the #gnome-design channel where you can offer help and ideas to the designers. I know there are some designs already, although I’m not sure it’s designed specifically for safety.

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