I don't get an update-nofitication icon automatically on the gnome desktop. The package update-notifier is installed. I also ran 'software-properties' and the option 'check for updates automatically' is set on daily. To get the notification I need to run 'apt-get update' and then after a minute the icon appears on the desktop.
My position is that the update-notifier is for people who are mainly concerned that Linux should be "just like windows." It'll never see the light of day on any system that I use or assist in maintaining.
Once a week, or so, ...
# aptitude update
# aptitude full-upgrade
... will keep you current.
If you've been using the obsolete apt-get, you should run "# aptitude keep-all" once before converting to aptitude.
If you use Gnome, I suppose you could activate the update-notifier using the gnome-applets GUI app.
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