Never ever rush … software installation

I should have known better but how hard could the task really be?  Download some free or open source software from the internet, configure it, and presto I then have all of the tools necessary for my “homework” assignment.

The task was to create a small restful server and a small client application to make a number of calls to this server.  I think that one of the other preconditions was that the resulting program also used something from the SDK installation. I really cannot remember all of the details other than don’t rush.

I wanted to get the program done in the next week and had some quiet time on Sunday to get everything installed and setup.  Instead of getting a working environment I ended up getting a crapware installed environment that was doing an amazing job of hijacking all of my web browsers.

I was lucky that my friend Mikhail was able to decrap remove the malware so I didn’t need to reinstall windows.  I didn’t want to reinstall windows as the big M makes some simplifying assumptions about how many operating systems will be on the newly installed computer.

Lets be honest, I didn’t pay enough attention when installing each of these packages.  Who hasn’t downloaded and installed some viewer or other tool to see that the vendor has teamed up with a anti-virus company.  If not that then some vendor also includes a must have “tool bar” for your browser despite the fact I have gotten along quite nicely without their offering.

It must have been one of those types of packages that installed this extra special payload.  I downloaded both software from both very respectable firms as well as a download site or two.  I think that mainly that is where by problems began.

software bundles

Nobody with an ounce of business acumen will advertise that they are providing goods or services that you don’t want and probably would never want.  Not only don’t you want it but the odds are it will have negative effects.  I guess software bundles sounds much nicer.

This isn’t really new, computer companies have been bundling their own software, utilities and other third party software.  The companies call it bundling while some of the users and media call that particular solution bloatware [0].  I have always wondered why companies would exchange a few dollars per machine when eventually what they were doing would give them a negative image.

This type of behavior has taken some of the fun out of computers.  Now you need to have virus checkers and malware checkers just to turn on the computer.  It might be a bit paranoid but testing out unknown software should probably be now be done in a virtual machine.

The same would be true when receiving any emails with attachments from people you don’t know.  This can be true for people you do know but where the content appears suspicious compared to previous correspondence (sorry mom).

This level of paranoia is certainly not within the ability/effort of the casual computer person and so the bundler’s win.

The solution

In the situation where download sites are injecting extra software [1] [2][3] [4] the only real solution is to get the software from the projects own website.  This works well for the big projects that have their own sites such as Firefox, Gimp, VLC just to name a few.

This isn’t the only possible solution, although it is probably the easiest one.  In the last few years computers have not gotten that much more powerful but their cost and the cost of disks and ram have come even further down in price.  My next article will be about using software to create a virtual computers for testing software or risky web sites.







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