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> and that it's our own fault

Whose fault exactly is it?

Has anybody in HN worked with a company which does this crapware bundling, let alone creating? Or does anybody know anyone who's "in the business"? Because I, quite honestly, can't understand how or why people would be doing this. Is it really that "Well, I know this shit is going to infect thousands of machines with software which nobody would like to have, but hey, it gives me my salary, fuck yeah!"?

It's just sad that there are people scamming others like this, and people who jump into it because hey, paycheck!

> Has anybody in HN worked with a company which does this crapware bundling, let alone creating?

If anyone here has worked for Adobe (Flash included crapware for a long time), Oracle (Java updates used to or still do include crapware), Google (browser toolbar was crapware), or Apple (Quicktime for Windows attempted to install iTunes and Safari), then yes.

Every sane piece of Mac software: download a big disk image (dmg), mount it, copy the application folder to /Applications. To uninstall, drag it to the trash.

Adobe software: download a tiny disk image, launch the hideous Adobe installer program, give it root, have it download and install God-knows-what to God-knows-where. To uninstall, open a terminal and go medieval on everything with a name containing "Adobe", "Macromedia", "Flash", etc.

Adobe creates the most user-hostile software that is not pure malware.

Adobe creates the most user-hostile software that is not pure malware.

I have always had a problem with adobe, and I used to say it was because 'they specialize in non-standards', but I think you have a much better point. It just feels like you're getting screwed every time you see that A.

> 'they specialize in non-standards'

I think you have the nub of it here. I first learned to loathe Adobe almost 20 years ago, with Acrobat for X11. Every other X11 program would spawn a new process and a new window when you typed "program ... &" in your xterm, but "acroread ... &" would talk to the One True Acroread Ur-process instead. This, of course, caused all sorts of unpleasant and non-standard behavior when opening and closing PDF files. Not to mention that the interface was a bloated nightmare compared to xdvi and ghostview.

Then they bought Macromedia and Flash, with its ability to create non-standard horrors on the web. It was like watching the formation of a black hole of abusive software, and I still wait for AOL and RealPlayer to be sucked in by Adobe's evil gravitational pull.

They have, sadly, been doing this on MacOS for years. It was like that in the Classic days as well, they were always one of the few companies who actually used an installer, and cleaning up after one was an annoying process of combing extension and preference folders for lingering cruft. Fortunately there were apps to help find useless leftovers, but it was still a pain compared to how otherwise pleasant the MacOS software experience generally is.

Whenever you install Chrome (not sure if other Google product that does the same),

you got GoogleUpdate as ..

  - startup trigger
  - firefox addon (!!)
  - scheduled task
And it's not Google alone, big players are the worst malware distributors as part of they _own_ products

Stallman was ALWAYS right.

Ah, GoogleUpdate... Trying out Chrome gave me the unfortunate opportunity to learn about launchctl(1), Apple's version of cron(8). I haven't used Apple software on Windows in awhile, or vice versa, but I bet both are similarly awful. I didn't know about the Firefox addon, but that's a clever little extra bit of evil.

So, while I may be a baby-killing enabler (I work for the DoD), at least I've never bundled crapware with my software.

The truth is, if you look far enough, you can always find something to be guilty about. I'm not going to blame programmers working for any of those companies, but I will squarely place the blame on companies with hypocritical culture.

Apple upper management: Hey, let's bundle all this crap with something that people actually want!

Years later

Apple upper management: Wow! People are bundling crap with things that people actually want! We should put a stop to that by fucking over our customers' right to choose in a free market!

Ooh, that's right. Stupid Ask toolbar in the Java updates.

Pretty much, yes - if there's a buck to be made and the law isn't being broken (in a way that will be meaningfully prosecuted), someone will do it.

To answer your first question, someone from HN should surely about this given: http://www.istartedsomething.com/20130115/y-combinator-is-fu...

Extensive commentary at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5059806

Yeah, pg even defended a YC-backed company that had built a business model around exactly this kind of bundling, saying that it wasn't a big deal because their installers always asked for permission before installing the bundled crap. (Which they did in exactly the same way as these download.com installers - by making the prompts look like EULA acceptance screens.)

pg "investigated" that crapware company a couple of years ago [1], but they still apparently exist, and continue to collect MAC addresses.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5062133

What was the result of that investigation? Can't find any info in the original thread.

I don't know, but I'm guessing that the comment solved the PR problem, so there was no need to do any investigation, or to act on the results of one.

EDIT: pg's response was basically "suck it": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5092711

Our fault, collectively, just as it is our fault that the environment is being destroyed, or that third world clothing manufacturers pay peanuts to their employees.

If 'we' wanted to, we would at least work on getting rid of this kind of behaviour. In an alternative world, the equivalent of GreenPeace would parade the C|NET offices, newspapers would write angry editorials about them, harmed users would write them millions of complaint letters, and class action lawsuits would be filed.

Problem is that 'normal' users have been slowly subdued into "it's my fault" mode.

Nobody has time for all that. Humans just don't have the attention bandwidth to solve problems like this. Not in conjunction with everything else going on in the world.

> Whose fault exactly is it?

People who think that software should be free, as in beer.

Developers have to be paid. When people paid for software with dollars, this exchange was much more straightforward. But now people think that software should be free as in beer, which means it comes with ad software or "sponsored software" that in turns sells ads, or spies on everything you do, or something to pay the bills.

Well, I disagree. There's a ton of software that is being developed and distributed for free because the authors actually care about solving a problem. Not all software needs to be sold, not all developers do it for money. For many people money is the problem (you need to put time to get it which could be better used to build useful stuff), not the goal.

Some developers choose to sell their software, and they have their perfect right to do so. Hard work needs to be compensated, and if someone wants that compensation to be money, then so be it. Just label it in clear terms. Ad-software is not a legitimate earning method, it's robbery. What it tells is that you don't give a damn about neither problem you're pretending to try to solve (otherwise you wouldn't let your app to be polluted with worthless crap) nor your users, who will have to live with malware (which, on global scale, is a huge negative utility in terms of lost productivity and health lost to stress/anger).

(I skipped here over the big, expensive software - things like Photoshop, Matlab, etc. That they are result of hard work of people who need to get paid is obvious, and everybody knows that they should buy that software if they needed, and they will receive something valuable in exchange.)

Not all software needs to be sold,...

I'd go a bit farther: not all software can be sold. Making some extremely niche software fills that niche, but there may be a very small audience for, say, combinatory logic interpreters, or theorem provers. If we as a society demand that every piece of software be sold, and maybe the bulk of the members of the society have a weird idea that the price of something has to reflect the cost of that good plus profit, then a lot of software will never get written, and a lot of ideas won't get tried out, and a lot of niches will go unfilled.

I think you two might agree, but are talking past each other.

Of course TemMPOraL is right: There's nothing wrong with someone who truly wants to give away software for free. Saying that's wrong is saying that any act of generosity, kindness or charity is wrong.

But Daniel is not saying that free software is the problem, but that "People who think that software should be free" is the problem. When people expect software and web services to be free, producers who can't afford to give it away free are forced[1] to resort to other means. And when he says that for people paying "for software with dollars, this exchange was much more straightforward", he is echoing Maciej Cegłowski[2] of pinboard in his call: Don't Be a Free User[3].

The real problem is not free software, but software that dishonestly claims to be free. Ad supported software is not free[4]. Software that is monetized by pushing other software is not free. Software that sells your data is not free. Software that hooks people first and then pushes in-app purchases[5] is not free.

I'm actively working on how to get us out of this mess. If you're interested give me a holler.


[1] I'm being generous. I think anyone who is ethical and honest with themselves wouldn't allow themselves to be forced into doing anything dishonest. "You can't get permission for the wrong thing and don't need it for the right thing" (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8877192)

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=idlewords

[3] https://blog.pinboard.in/2011/12/don_t_be_a_free_user/

[4] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8585237

[5] I call this the drug dealer business model. Microsoft perfected this in they way they got everyone hooked on DOS, then Windows and then Office, and then took it to a new level by giving away IE for "free".

I don't think your argument is valid. If you market your software as free, then it should be. You can't just fill the computer of the person with trash without asking just because "but I have to be paid!!!!". Now, some of these softwares did ask for permissions, I am just responding to your comment.

If it's going to spy on you, it should tell you right up, not in small prints in the EULA.

Also, the assumption that developpers have to be paid is wrong, some people might do it for charity or for other non-profit reasons.

Developers have to be paid. When people paid for software with dollars, this exchange was much more straightforward.

There are plenty of services I pay for that sell data about me and/or show me advertizements.

So this is an appealing story, but it only works until someone decides "I could get paid, AND sell the user to advertizes/data harvesters." It's always easy to make now-impossible scenarios into appealing hypotheticals, and I'm sure that market forces COULD mean that none of the software or services currently supported through advertizement and data harvesting invasive and advertizement wouldn't do so, but nobody can say for sure.


Hey look:  -> "App store... (3 new)"

Pretty sure I bought this laptop. ($2000) But there sits an advertisement, right in my GUI. Yes, this one is pretty harmless, but it is still there.

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