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Google Earth 5.0 Silently Changes Update Policy 535

Posted by kdawson
from the jumping-the-shark dept.
mario_grgic writes "Recently announced Google Earth version 5.0 adds interesting new features like images of ocean floors and some detailed images of Mars. But it also brings another unwelcome change for Mac OS X users. Google Software update daemon is installed when the application is launched for the first time. The user is greeted with an uninformative message that does not really explain what is about to happen. After the user accepts, Google Update Agent is downloaded and installed. It updates all Google applications and not just Google Earth. Also, it runs on an unchangeable schedule of its own (instead of, say, only when one of Google's apps is launched), consuming system resources. Worst of all it can not be simply removed, since it is downloaded and installed again once Google Earth is launched. Users really have only two choices: live with it, or uninstall all Google apps. There's a discussion about the updater in this Google Group, including details of a way to disable it (not for the faint of heart). So fellow Slashdotters, has Google crossed the line?"
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Google Earth 5.0 Silently Changes Update Policy

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  • It's my computer (Score:4, Informative)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:45AM (#26752607) Homepage

    And I want to be in control of if it's going to crap or not.

    • Re:It's my computer (Score:5, Informative)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:46AM (#26752647)

      So don't install Google Earth.

      Wow, that was easy!

      • Re:It's my computer (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:06AM (#26753073)

        It's modded funny, but it is accurate. If you don't like Google's policy and they won't change it....vote with your feet. I actually uninstalled google earth because of this.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Daimanta (1140543)

          If you dont want to fight, retreat. If you keep retreating you will lose a war without a single battle being fought, a cowards way to go out.

          If a company is acting abusively you need to punish it via the government. If you `vote with your feet they will take away every right you have. Companies should not be able to modify your computer at their discretion, EULA or not.

          • by jlarocco (851450) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:39AM (#26753731) Homepage

            If you dont want to fight, retreat. If you keep retreating you will lose a war without a single battle being fought, a cowards way to go out.

            No, actually, because companies need customers to survive.

            If a company is acting abusively you need to punish it via the government.

            Wow, that's just scary. Wait, I get it... I'm feeding a troll, right?

            Companies should not be able to modify your computer at their discretion, EULA

            And they're not. People are voluntarily installing the software Google provided and agreeing to the terms they set. The article summary clearly points out that the software warns that it's going to install the updater. If a person doesn't agree to the terms, then they shouldn't use the software. It's that fucking simple. Where did you get the idea that you get to set the terms at which you get other people's stuff?

            If Google has something, and you want to use it, you're gonna have to play by the rules they set for it, or not use their shit. That's just the way it works. What would you do if Google said "Well, we're just not going to release Google Earth at all."?

            • by Amazing Quantum Man (458715) on Friday February 06, 2009 @12:16PM (#26754417) Homepage

              No, actually, because companies need customers to survive.

              But in the case of Google, you're not the customer, you're the product. Google's customers are the advertisers, and they're selling your eyeballs.

          • by Zakabog (603757) <john@jm[ ].com ['aug' in gap]> on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:41AM (#26753765)

            If you dont want to fight, retreat. If you keep retreating you will lose a war without a single battle being fought, a cowards way to go out.

            This isn't a war... If you don't like Google's policy don't install the software. That's not retreating, that's taking power away from Google (the less people using their software the less power they have.) If everyone "retreats" Google loses (it's hard to maintain a company with no customers), it's as simple as that.

            If a company is acting abusively you need to punish it via the government.

            What is Google doing that's worthy of government intervention? Google isn't breaking into your home and installing their software on your computer. You make the choice whether you want to use their software or not, if you don't like what the software does then don't install it.

            If you `vote with your feet they will take away every right you have. Companies should not be able to modify your computer at their discretion, EULA or not.

            I'm sorry but what rights do you have as far as Google's concerned? Software companies can't take away your "rights" since your rights aren't granted by the software companies. As long as you aren't being forced to install Google's software (and you're not) you still have your rights.

            • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2009 @12:20PM (#26754479)

              This isn't a war... If you don't like Google's policy don't install the software.

              Yes, it is.

              I remember when CDs were CDs. Not disks that fit into my CDROM drive and install rootkits.

              On Windows, every piece of software wants to install a daemon like this Google one into the tray thingy and periodically yell at you about updates and stuff (Sun's JVM does this, do most people even know what java is?).

              My point, is that if we don't install any software, then what is the point of having a computer? Its easy to say, don't install X or Y, but when every company has a PHB who thinks its cool to have these terdlets that run outside of the program that I intended to install, well we have to put a stop this somehow. So, yeah, I would consider it a war in some sense.

              • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday February 06, 2009 @01:20PM (#26755415) Homepage Journal

                On Windows, every piece of software wants to install a daemon like this Google one into the tray thingy and periodically yell at you about updates and stuff (Sun's JVM does this, do most people even know what java is?).

                My point, is that if we don't install any software, then what is the point of having a computer?

                That's like saying, "My Yugo sucks. What's the point of having a car?"

          • by mrvan (973822) on Friday February 06, 2009 @12:00PM (#26754109)

            Sun Tzu says:

            A good general can fight a hundred battles and win them all

            A great general can win a war without fighting a single battle

            (or something like that, with apologies to the Master :-))

            Guerillas all over the world are winning from large armies by retreating and refusing to fight a large battle. If you don't use google and badmouth google to your less tech-savvy friends, they will feel the pain.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Alrescha (50745)

          "It's modded funny, but it is accurate. If you don't like Google's policy and they won't change it....vote with your feet. I actually uninstalled google earth because of this."

          It's not funny. I also uninstalled all Google software from my machine, and then ran the directories removing any leftovers.

          A.
          (and don't blather on about Apple Software Update - you can turn that off/tell it how often to update/etc.)

      • Re:It's my computer (Score:5, Informative)

        by samkass (174571) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:41AM (#26753767) Homepage Journal

        I actually got this upgrader on my system from installing Google SketchUp on my Mac last month, so I don't think Google is limiting this to Earth.

        • Re:It's my computer (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Homr Zodyssey (905161) on Friday February 06, 2009 @12:06PM (#26754233) Journal
          Isn't there a similar updater being installed with Google Apps on Windows? I installed Chrome, found that it installed "Google Update Service". I uninstalled both, and I've refuse to use Google Client-side apps since.
          • Re:It's my computer (Score:5, Interesting)

            by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Friday February 06, 2009 @12:46PM (#26754899) Homepage

            For goodness sake. Am I the only one that likes the Google Updater?

            Let's review the benefits it has:

            • Apps are upgraded silently, with no notification. Yes this is a benefit. If you have a Mac you'll know what a pain in the ass it is that every app you start feels the need to dump an assload of ChangeLog in your face every other week. Do I really care that Adium updated to the latest libpurple? What does that even mean to me? 99.9% of the time I can't tell any difference. I trust the Adium developers, I wish they'd just do their job and let me use their app without bugging me. Of course replace Adium with any other modern app for the Mac. Except iTunes which is just as annoying except you don't even get a changelog.
            • Updates are downloaded as binary deltas, and on Windows it's done in such a way that it only uses the connection when idle (Windows Update does the same thing). So it's not intrusive.
            • The updater goes away if you uninstall all the apps which use it, so there's no problem there.
            • It takes about 500k of RAM and virtually no CPU, but it ensures I get security updates in a timely manner. For instance if there's an exploit discovered in Chrome, the wrong time to apply that update is at the end of my next session, by which time it's too late. The right time to apply it is when my computer is idle, before I start using Chrome again.

            I think people overestimate the resource drain this app has. Really, this should be a core part of Windows. I'd much rather desktop apps behave like web apps and just get silently better instead of expecting me to give a rats ass about the existence of a 0.0.1 point release.

            • Re:It's my computer (Score:5, Interesting)

              by vadim_t (324782) on Friday February 06, 2009 @01:52PM (#26755909) Homepage

              For goodness sake. Am I the only one that likes the Google Updater?

              Looks like it

              Apps are upgraded silently, with no notification. Yes this is a benefit.

              No, it bloody isn't. That's the sort of thing malware does. My computer is mine and things on it get installed and updated only under my consent.

              I think people overestimate the resource drain this app has.

              It's the principle of the thing. This action alone ensured nothing else of Google's will get on my computer.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Toonol (1057698)
          You get the upgrader with Sketchup for Windows, too. I deleted Sketchup and had to do some registry monkeying to get rid of the updater.

          This really does confuse me. Google should be smarter than this.
      • by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:57AM (#26754047)
        Why can't something that has nothing to do with Google Earth not be installed? People want to install Google Earth. They DO NOT want to install Google Updater. What's so hard about that to understand? What is Google trying to be, Microsoft? (Movie Maker, IE, Outlook Express, Messenger, etc. etc.)

        why not make it a "check for updates on startup" (of the app), and allow the user to disable that? Is that so hard? OR, be forthright enough to tell users AT THE TIME OF THE INSTALLATION that they're agreeing to install an app that they have no control over, and one that keeps coming back even if you get rid of it? I don't see the point, nor do I see why Google insists on making it some kind of requirement that they are obtuse about in their instructions? What happened to "Don't be evil"?

        I remember what these sorts of things are called... malware. :) It really is my computer. If I choose to install something, I should be at the very _least_ aware of the consequences of the installation. AND if I remove it, stop trying to put it back. If it isn't on the computer, there _is_ a reason. So, I'm not installing Google Earth until they fix it. It's not worth the hassle and wasted cpu cycles.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Saint Gerbil (1155665)

        The complaint is for the use on OSX, and yet Apple basically did the same thing with iTunes\Safari updater.

        Its all wrong no doubt but people in glass houses...

        • by M. Baranczak (726671) on Friday February 06, 2009 @12:56PM (#26755051)

          No, it's not the same thing at all. The OS X system update daemon (which is responsible for updating the OS and a few applications that came with the OS) can be disabled by the user, and the user has the option of refusing individual updates. The default behavior is to download the updates automatically, but prompt the user before installing them. The Google updater, on the other hand, gives the user no control whatsoever.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:49AM (#26752707)

      ... so you bought a Mac???

      • by b96miata (620163) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:56AM (#26752881)

        the troll has a point. Apple is the king of installing background crap on your computer. (well, they are if you use their software on windows, at least)

          Even if you kill apple software updater, no matter how many times I click "no" and "don't ask me again" iTunes still pops up a (@*&(#*&$@(* do you want to update box whenever I start it.

        • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:11AM (#26753185)

          I have you beat. Everytime I close iTunes (without my iPod plugged in even), it decides I didn't really want to do that and opens back up again. I have to camp on the process monitor and premptively kill the process two or three times before it'll stop trying to come back to life.

          I've been told an uninstall/reinstall will fix it, but if it does, the problem seems common enough that it only 'does' for a couple of runs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by RoFLKOPTr (1294290)

          Apple is the king of installing background crap on your computer. (well, they are if you use their software on windows, at least)

          Indeed. That's precisely the reason I do not have iTunes or Quicktime installed on my computer (and if somebody really wants to show me a quicktime-format video, I tell them to encode it to something else).

          We all know Google runs Windows on all their computers... maybe this is their way of secretly getting back at Apple for all the trouble they've caused our RAM chips.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DrSkwid (118965)

            I do not have iTunes or Quicktime installed on my computer because apparently Windows 2000 is not shiny enough for watching mov files. /me thinks it is drm related

            • by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:54AM (#26753987)

              I do not have iTunes or Quicktime installed on my computer because apparently Windows 2000 is not shiny enough for watching mov files. /me thinks it is drm related

              Or you can't read... here's a clicky-clicky link [apple.com].

              Here's how I got there:

              1) www.apple.com
              2) Click on "iPod + iTunes" button at the top
              3) Click on "Download iTunes"
              4) Scroll down, just under the Spanish option, you see, OMG - "Windows 2000 Users". If you have NoScript enabled, the link may be obscured behind the text, but it's at the left column at the bottom. Not at the very bottom of the page, though. If javascript is enabled, it's plainly visible.

              It's not iTunes 8, but they're apparently still supporting iTunes 7.5.2.

              Anyhow, remember to right-click on the QuickTime icon and set your QuickTime preferences to not startup at windows startup to eliminate that annoying process.

      • by King_TJ (85913) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:45AM (#26753839) Journal

        Oh, come on..... I've been primarily a Mac user since around 2000, and yes, one reason I did so was because I want to feel in control of my computers.

        That is, I don't like web sites arbitrarily pushing out and launching apps/applets via Active-X and security vulnerabilities in Windows, and I don't like having to run a bunch of resource-intensive software in the background to help "shield" my PC from malware.

        Apple's built-in updater in OS X allows you to deselect any update you'd like it not to install, and it lets you select the frequency it goes out to check for updates. As updaters go, I always thought it was quite well-behaved and well-integrated.

        (By contrast, look at something like Microsoft's whole "Microsoft Updates" thing. They've got the process that you can let run in the background to notify you and optionally auto-install any "critical updates" they push out. But at the same time, you have to visit their "Microsoft Updates" web page and manually select the rest of the stuff. Many times, it wastes double the bandwidth because you'll visit their page to grab a slew of updates, only to find the background process is ALSO simultaneously trying to download the critical updates the update site tagged and is downloading. It's not smart enough to integrate the two together.)

    • Re:It's my computer (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:50AM (#26752735) Homepage

      Right. Updaters are fine, I love them, but I want to be in control, and I want to be able to turn them off if I want to. I should be able to run them when I want to run them, not on their schedule.

      (I also would like to choose which applications get the auto-update).

      • Re:It's my computer (Score:5, Informative)

        by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:03AM (#26753015)

        You can turn it off with Lingon [tuppis.com] which is a launchd [wikipedia.org] editor. I would suggest taking this route over trying to just delete all the files. You can probable even change the schedule to only trip every night at 3 am or so. The program may see the config files are gone and just re-install them.

        Second, does this 'run constantly in the background' or is it launched like a cron event? For those that don't know, launchd [wikipedia.org] is Apple's replacement for "init, rc, the init.d and rc.d scripts, SystemStarter (Mac OS X), inetd and xinetd, atd, crond and watchdogd". You can set up launchd events for about anything. Launch on startup, launch every X seconds, launch when a folder is changed, etc, etc. I can't imagine that this is actually a daemon but instead just a scheduled event.

      • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:06AM (#26753071) Homepage

        and users should also be allowed to pick & opt out of any update they want. i hate how Apple Software Update, which comes with the Windows version of iTunes, will keep prompting the user about the same "updates" (often completely unrelated to iTunes or any other application the user has installed) until the user downloads and installs it. if you don't, the update will keep popping up or remain in the notification area/system tray.

        just because i want to keep iTunes updated doesn't mean i want to install Safari (how is that an update anyhow?) or Bonjour/Rendezvous. at least now Apple makes an attempt (though a feeble one, as they're still using their "updater" to peddle unrelated & unsolicited software).

        • Re:It's my computer (Score:5, Informative)

          by idobi (820896) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:16AM (#26753283) Homepage
          Or you can select the "update" you don't want, and go to Tools -> 'Ignore selected updates' and never see it again.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by lysergic.acid (845423)

            yes, that's what i eventually did. but it certainly would have been nice if Apple had made that option more visible instead of hiding it in a "Tools" menu--or they could simply use the updater to provide updates to installed applications.

            really, these are almost malware-like tactics clearly designed to frustrate the average user into installing software that they neither need nor want. using an updater to push other applications is simply dishonest and undermines the purpose of an automatic updater, destroy [jubjubs.net]

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ajs (35943)

        All of which is entirely fair, and should apply equally to iTunes for Windows, which forever wants to keep installing more and more of the MacOS desktop instead of fixing the fact that it's by an order or magnitude (no exaggerating, here, really) the least responsive app on my desktop.

    • Dang straight. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by El Jynx (548908) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:53AM (#26752813)
      Exactly so. I also don't want to be disturbed with whatever I'm doing by an updater happily sloshing in data in the background. I love Google Earth, but it's been uninstalled now; I might try killing the updater later with the command line, but can't be bothered right now. Seems to be, the best thing we can do is bombard Google. Send them emails with complaints. They'll get the picture, and I think they'll adjust the code - at least enough to only run when you want it to, or on selected components. Now, this might be part of a bigger plan of theirs (world domination, anyone?), likely to force updates of Chrome and other software, but they usually do listen to public opinion. We just have to make it public, and this /. articls is a good start.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      That is a blow I really enjoy using some applications that Google has produced I didn't want to be forced to install all of them I believe I am going to uninstall all of them. Man what happened to Google did they become Microsoft.
    • by mario_grgic (515333) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:27AM (#26753457)

      Yes indeed. It just strikes me that Google is beginning to show it's true face of an advertising empire that it is, with a technology front to keep our minds from thinking about it too much.

  • I'm more angry... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:47AM (#26752659) Journal
    about the EULA not allowing it to be in the Ubuntu repositories.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pmarcondes (846921)
      There is make-googleearth-package in debian testing. Although that is the name of the program, not the package itself.
      You might want to check it out. Altough the software says that it supports GE4.3, I did build GE5.0 ant it runs.
  • disable on mac (Score:5, Insightful)

    by musikit (716987) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:47AM (#26752661)

    usually when i want to disable anything on mac (dash board, spotlight, etc) i usually change the file permissions to 000. this wont work with google updater?

  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:49AM (#26752693)

    Does anyone have an "in" with somebody at Google Earth or the outfit they contract with to provide the imagery? A large portion of central and northern Arizona hasn't been updated in years i.e. the images are still in low resolution. The reason I ask is that I belong to a Search & Rescue team and we are currently looking for evidence of a downed aircraft reported missing two years ago. However, much of the possible crash area is still way out of date. In general, not having current imagery makes our job more difficult than it should be.

    • Have you considered paying for a commercial product?

    • by Frankie70 (803801) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:09AM (#26753153)

      In general, not having current imagery makes our job more difficult than it should be.

      Maybe you should threaten google that you will stop paying them if they don't update the images.

    • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:32AM (#26753567)

      Let me amend my earlier posting. Our Search & Rescue Team is 100% voluntary. We provide our own gas and vehicles. To say we don't have a pot to p*ss in would be an understatement. The area we cover is around 8000 square miles. Much of that is pretty rugged country and more often than not, the Google Earth imagery is useless to us. At the same time, we're dealing with USGS topo maps that haven't been updated since man walked erect. What I'm seriously asking for is a point of contact who can at least enlighten me as to why some areas are updated on what appears to be a monthly basis when there are so many areas that are woefully out of date. And yes I have looked at a commercial product. It's VERY expensive. Clearly there is some method that Google uses to get current imagery. I'd just like to find out how you get on their satellite schedule. BTW, snarky comments aren't helpful. I'll remember them next time you get lost.

      • by Gramie2 (411713) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:39AM (#26753733)

        I know what you mean about sketchy updates. I can view the exact hut I used to live in when I was a volunteer in Africa, but until last summer, the city where I live, near Toronto, had only low-res maps. It was difficult to even pick out where the streets and highways were!

      • by prichardson (603676) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:52AM (#26753955) Journal

        Google doesn't commission the images to be made, they pay to license already existing images. Then google patches them together. For example, my city commissioned some satellite images a while back for a certain stretch of town for highway construction purposes. A couple years later, some higher resolution images showed up on Google Earth. I guess no one has taken an interest in your area enough to have recent pictures taken.

      • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:55AM (#26754009) Journal

        It seems they get them from all over the place, look at the message on the bit of map you're looking at, that usually gives you a clue where they come from. Being voluntary, you may be able to approach whoever-it-is directly and see if they will be kind.

        For example, where I live (Isle of Man) we didn't have even a street map let alone images that were better than about 1 pixel per km^2. However, a couple of years ago the Isle of Man Government flew a light plane up and down the island - and guess what the information provider shown by Google is - Isle of Man Govt. (Many of the hi-res "satellite images" aren't from a satellite at all, but from an aircraft flying relatively low).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MBGMorden (803437)

        I have no idea how they get their images, but they can be a bit weird about it. I work for a county government that maintains it's own GIS system. In general, our data and images for our area are in MUCH greater detail that the ones shown on Google Earth. Knowing how many people use that tool, our GIS department actually tried to get in touch with Google's map division in order to offer (freely) to send over our data so that they could use it as they saw fit. They were basically brushed off.

      • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Friday February 06, 2009 @12:57PM (#26755071) Homepage

        What I'm seriously asking for is a point of contact who can at least enlighten me as to why some areas are updated on what appears to be a monthly basis when there are so many areas that are woefully out of date.

        I am not in the PR team here at Google, so this is not an official, accurate answer but I'll do the best I can. If these answers aren't quite accurate, well, tough noogies, it's Slashdot. That said, here are some answers to your questions:

        • Some areas of the world are just easier to take photos of than other areas, for instance, it's quite hard to take satellite pictures of the north of the UK because it's always cloudy there, so you need to do it all via aircraft.
        • Some areas are updated more frequently because lots of people live there, so they're more interesting areas to refresh.
        • Some imagery is donated by, eg, local government.
        • You cannot "get on the satellite schedule" sorry. The fastest way to get clear imagery in Google Earth is to pay for it, and then donate it. However there are quality bars that the imagery must meet before it's included. Yes it's amazingly expensive. Why do you think Google Earth was so revolutionary when it came out? A large part of it was that Google spent mind-boggling amounts of money on buying up imagery, then let people look at it for free.
  • by BigGar' (411008) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:49AM (#26752699) Homepage

    YES

  • by Gizzmonic (412910) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:50AM (#26752731) Homepage Journal

    I still don't understand why all these companies feel like they need to create their own bloated ecosystem on top of the OS. All the #$%@#! application needs to do is check for an update and link me to its website (even that is not necessary). Adobe is the worst at the this-they have their own $^$#&*$@ file browser, for $@#%'s sake! And their updater nags and doesn't work properly half the time.

    I'm not excited to see Google go down this path. If this is cloud computing, I'd rather be from the moon!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chyeld (713439)

      The problem with 'self-updating' apps is you have to ensure that you never change the way they check for updates or at least always maintain the old paths. If you don't, then that person who only runs the app three times a year is never going to get the update.

      On top of that, you now have to maintain this setup for each app you distribute.

      Having a 'mother program' which watches over all the apps and downloads updates for them on a regular schedule is a far more stable and reliable way of doing things.

      What r

    • by kabocox (199019) on Friday February 06, 2009 @12:03PM (#26754179)

      I still don't understand why all these companies feel like they need to create their own bloated ecosystem on top of the OS. All the #$%@#! application needs to do is check for an update and link me to its website (even that is not necessary). Adobe is the worst at the this-they have their own $^$#&*$@ file browser, for $@#%'s sake! And their updater nags and doesn't work properly half the time.

      I'm not excited to see Google go down this path. If this is cloud computing, I'd rather be from the moon!

      Mod this guy up. You know the app that annoys me the worst? It's FF. That app pops up almost every time I start it asking either to update extensions or install downloaded extensions. Adobe's updater crashes most of the time. Flash is evil. You don't know until you hit something like youtube and then presto half the sites you visited yesterday magically don't work today because you need the next flash. I seriously doubt youtube changed their stuff. I think that's just flash's annoying way to force people to update. I actually don't mind windows update half the time. The Sun Java app seems like the quietest app that checks for updates.

      I really think that its about time for MS or some one to say enough is enough. We need an app updater as part of windows. I'd also like to set never check for updates and never be bothered by them. That's what I do 98% of the time when given the option. I'm sorry if you want me to install your latest greatest or all your patches. I'm happy with my version. I don't hate breaking things to update them. Today there is no way to roll back to yesterdays crap most of the time either. Once you get that update, you are stuck with the update.

  • Sparkle (Score:5, Informative)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:51AM (#26752763) Homepage Journal

    Why on Earth can't they use something like Sparkle [andymatuschak.org], which is so much less obnoxious - this only warns you when you launch your application, and also self updates if you say yes. If all software started acting like Google Software Update, then we would spend half our day simply closing update windows for software which we haven't used in a month.

  • by dachshund (300733) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:53AM (#26752807)

    I would mind this less if Google was known for care in developing its client code. I specifically remember uninstalling Google Desktop last time due to its consumption of system resources and nasty vulnerabilities [hacker.co.il].

  • by scorp1us (235526) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:54AM (#26752843) Journal

    I really love the unified update system of the Linux distributions. One process updates all the software.

    Right now, I have the following updaters running:
    Windows
    Adobe
    Kapersky (Anti-virus)
    Java
    Apple

    Isn't it time everyone gets on board with 1 system? This way, Apple can't sneak Safari in, we can set a coordinated restore point, and there is only one update user interface.

    As software releases become a more fluid experience relying on weekly builds and not annual or semi-annual releases, I think all these updaters are going to eventually create a clusterfuck and a negative user experience if we don't get everyone on the same system.

  • Could be worse (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fear13ss (917494) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:56AM (#26752875)
    I mean, it is disappointing that a company I respect would do something like that. It could be worse, like installing software you didn't already have (yes Apple, I'm talking to you). At the same time, I have a feeling the power of us in the community will prevail and find a way to circumvent this unwanted action. Give us time... Most of the products I love, I stay with for one reason alone, the community. And of course, if enough of us complain on here, maybe Google will hear.
  • by wiredog (43288) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:58AM (#26752937) Journal

    Admittedly, I moved to Mac after 10 years running Linux, but the procedure, cut 'n' pasted below, seems simple enough.

    Something like this will do it:

    1) Quit all google apps

    2) Delete the launchd entries (one or the other files may exist)

            $ sudo rm ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.google.keystone.agent.plist

            $ sudo rm /Library/LaunchAgents/com.google.keystone.agent.plist

    2) Delete shared google stuff

            $ rm -rf ~/Library/Application/Support/Google

            $ rm -rf ~/Library/Google

    3) Recreate the above folder as "root" to prevent google apps from installing the updater agent code again when re-launched

    $ sudo mkdir ~/Library/Google

    By changing the ~/Library/Google folder to be owned by root you should avoid going through this shenanigans again. Just check for a /Library/Google too and do the same to it. Don't give google apps your password.

    You need Terminal.app experience for those commands. You can use the Finder too.
    After recreating an empty ~/Library/Google select File>Get Info. Use the permissions at the bottom to add the "Administrator" with read/write. Change "..(Me)" to read only.

  • HP's updater (Score:5, Insightful)

    by British (51765) <british1500@gmail.com> on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:59AM (#26752945) Homepage Journal

    HP is yet another one of those companies that insists on a background process to update printer drivers, etc. I realized one of the last updates fixed a security flaw. I think my next move will be to uninstall the updater altogether, and thus not have to worry about security holes in a freakin' updater.

    It used to be every software house insisted on a systray icon, even though it didn't need it.
    Now the latest trend are background "updater" processes, even for stuff that doesn't need it(Adobe reader, etc).

    Typically there's no indicators of it being installed, and trying to uninstall it is a mystery.

    This needs to change. Identify it as malware or something. Anything.

  • by NonUniqueNickname (1459477) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:01AM (#26752975)
    I'm sure the automatic updater will remove itself the day Google Earth comes out of beta.
  • by darkmeridian (119044) <william@chuang.gmail@com> on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:01AM (#26752983) Homepage

    This is a non-story. Google gives you the option of not using their software. It is not like they are trying to sneak it by you, and you can remove it if you realize that you do not like it.

    I can understand why the updater runs on its own schedule. If the software updates itself when you aren't using it, then it will be ready to use when you want to use it! I hate it when software checks for an update when I run it, and then download and install the update. Google wants the software to be up to date and start when I use it. Makes sense to me, though I understand your concerns about the auto-update policy if you are concerned about bugs and regressions.

    Or you could always block the updater's Internet access with your firewall.

  • Don't be rude? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage@praecantator . c om> on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:04AM (#26753035) Homepage

    I don't know that this rises to the level of "evil." On the other hand, I would call it inconsiderate, self-important, and shoddy workmanship.

  • by Akardam (186995) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:07AM (#26753111)

    On Windows myself, and I'd just updated to GE5, and found this this morning. Of course, no way to uninstall.

    Deleted the service entries under HKLM/System/CCS. Rebooted, removed PF/Google/Updater/*

    Removed inherited permissions on Updater and made the folder read-only (never thought I'd be truly thankfull for NTFS).

    I totally disagree about this, but GE and GTalk seem to run ok with the above changes.

  • Depends (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sktea (692457) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:15AM (#26753231) Journal

    In principle, YES Google crossed the line, clearly. (Reasons are already espoused in other threads, too tiresome to repeat.) In practice, it probably depends on whether end users perceive a clear change in the performance of their PCs.

    If the app isn't visually intrusive and doesn't hork throughput, I would guess most won't care one way or the other. Problem is, if the updater causes problems, the simplest option is to uninstall the software -- and who will reinstall it later?

    What ticks me off is that with this choice Google seems to be catering those with a surfeit of bandwidth... I never have enough bandwdith, never; now you want to steal a slice of what little I have for your own purposes? Bad Google, bad, evil Google!

    I envision a conversation between two typical users:

    "Hey, you seen that new Google Earth? Looks cool."

    "Yeah, but if you install it nothing else on your computer will work right."

    "Oh, dude... screw that."

  • Outrageous (Score:3, Funny)

    by Al Al Cool J (234559) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:17AM (#26753299)

    If I were you, I would phone Google and ask for my money back!

    Oh wait...

  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:34AM (#26753595)
    Sorry but I don't see what this has to do with privacy. It is an updater that runs in the background updating google applications. It does not collect information on you. Most of you do not have a problem with Apple update or windows update do you? As of those who do have a problem with them, take off your tinfoil hats and check yourself into the nearest hospital as you might be suffering from paranoia.

    If you things being downloaded without your knowledge, don't install any software and unplug your computer from the network. Just visiting this page caused your browser to download text, images and javascript without your knowledge or consent.

    I'm thinking that many of you do not seen to grasp how network apps like google earth work and how they are supposed to be updated regularly when the services they depend on are updated.

  • by eiapoce (1049910) on Friday February 06, 2009 @12:48PM (#26754943)

    Google Software update daemon is installed when the application is launched for the first time. The user is greeted with an uninformative message that does not really explain what is about to happen. After the user accepts, Google Update Agent is downloaded and installed [...] it runs on an unchangeable schedule of its own (instead of, say, only when one of Google's apps is launched), consuming system resources. Worst of all it can not be simply removed, since it is downloaded and installed again once Google Earth is launched

    This is the behaviour of malware.

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