Yes, I mean the Software Manager. Then, after doing some kind of action that caused a refresh, it also shows the latest version of Opera, so it must have been just a refresh problem (closing and restarting it was not enough).
Regarding the package management: I agree with you that it's very comfortable to have all the software available with just a few clicks. If you don't have particular needs to update your system frequently, that's it. And maybe this is the case for 90% of the software you install on your system. But what about the case when you absolutely want/need the latest version of an application and it is not made available by the distribution maintainers?
Take Firefox for instance. I recently installed Linux Mint KDE 10, which is the latest stable one. However, the latest version of Firefox available for it is 3.6.x (I can't remember precisely). No sign of Firefox 4 or 5. What should I do if I really want a newer version of Firefox? First of all I feel uncomfortable now, because I have to do something different from the "normal process"... and I have to learn something new. After passing the first psychological block, I start to think and search for a solution. The most natural way I can think of to solve the problem is to go to the official Firefox website and download the application from there. Then, some considerations follows:
- first of all, I am back to the "Windows way" of installing the software; so, the benefit of using the package management has been lost
- secondly, what often happens is that there's no single "Linux download" on the author website, but many of them... depending on your distribution; and what about the case when your distribution/version is not present? This is not the case of Firefox (which only presents you a single "Linux version")
- then, another problem: there's no standard way for packaging applications outside the world of package management: someone lets you download an executable with an installer (just like the Windows world, except for the fact that often the installer is text-only), someone gives you a tgz archive, someone else (like Mozilla) a tar.bz one, other times you're provided with .deb/.rpm packages, and so on...
- in any case, you have to remember to uninstall the package provided by your distribution before installing what you have downloaded by yourself; and what about those terrible cases in which you can't remove a package because it's needed by other packages? Or when you must remove other packages together with that you want to remove, with the possibility that something else breaks? (I don't know if such kind of problems still occur today, but they did in the past...)
One final problem I find is that often the package maintainers enjoy to move things around (some files here, other files there, etc.); so you find yourself in situations where you are trying to configure a software following an administration guide and you can't find things because you installed the software using the package management of your distribution and the files are placed in different directories... and this becomes annoying when the package maintainer, after moving things around, forgot to adjust something in order to make all work as it should (my most recent experience of this type was with the installation and configuration of Bugzilla on a Debian Sid... after one day of troubles, I removed the distribution package, downloaded and installed the application directly from the Mozilla website and in a couple of hours all was working fine...).
Sometimes also happens that some complex software is packaged the wrong way. For instance, with Linux Mint 10 KDE the Eclipse is packaged wrong: when I try to apply some updates from its own built-in update manager, I get conflicts. Moreover, I think that in cases like this, the distribution package management and the built-in Eclipse plugin management can hardly live together, so I find the distribution packages useless and even harmful in these cases.
So, my own experience makes me think that package management is a great idea in theory. It's also very powerful in practice as long as your distribution is maintained and kept up-to-date (and the maintainers do a good job). This is especially true for servers and for embedded devices (like NASes, routers, etc.). But when you're dealing with a desktop PC and your distribution starts to become old/unsupported (and, unfortunately, this happens quite rapidly, much more than in the Windows world...), troubles start to arise and the time I have to spend to administrate my system increases a lot. Even if I consider myself a "power" user (I work with PCs all the day, I'm a software engineer) and I like to experiment and get my hands dirty on computers, I can hardly accept to be forced to do that on my everyday use of a computer, especially since the time Windows became a stable and productive operating system (that is, from Windows 2000/XP on).
Nevertheless, today I'm here to give Linux another chance for my desktop (although just in a virtual machine) and my choice was to try Linux Mint 10 KDE. It seems like a good distribution and I like the intentions of the maintainers. So I follow their work with interest.