PackageKit provides an option to suppress update checks on mobile broadband. It would be useful to generalize this to other network types, especially wireless, by allowing the user to select certain network connections which should not be used to check for updates (or, alternatively, only allow updates on whitelisted connections). This would be useful for avoiding update checks on heavily-capped connections such as tethered mobile connections.
For usability, it may be good to integrate this with NetworkManager, so there is an option in the connection settings dialog to enable/disable fetching updates over each connection, and then expose that setting over D-Bus for PackageKit to consult before automatically fetching update information.
Have you had any ideas on what the UI would look like?
If the UI is provided through NetworkManager, which seems to be the cleanest way to do it, then it could be a checkbox added to the connection settings dialog. This checkbox could be "Check for updates over this connection". This feature on that side cold be much more general, however, so it could be "Use this connection for background transfers" or "Disable background transfers on this connection". The most logical place for this checkbox is probably directly above or below the set of tabs, as it does not seem to belong in any tab.
PackageKit would then just check that flag in the network properties and respect it. Other tools such as BitTorrent clients and anything else with optional network operations can also use this flag. I'm not sure how best to communicate to users that respecting this flag requires support in each software package, though.
If the feature is implemented entirely in PackageKit, then the UI becomes more complicated. Perhaps an "Advanced..." button in the Software Update Preferences dialog. That would bring up a dialog with a "Use these network connections to check for updates" panel, which could be a ListView of NM connections with check boxes beside them to disable network checking on them.
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