Murphy's Law: Stop Supporting Open-Source Bloat

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Dexter243

Nutcracklng snack

hum thats funny i did not get a bunch of crapwear  when i fired up my mac

now my windows pc/laptop was full of crap and i spent hr's removing the junk 

but i am all happy now that i have my mac and pc talking nicley on the network 

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lhatten

I read every one of these comments.  Almost none of them addressed the subject matter.  The one that did was an idiot!  There seems to be some kind of religious thing about mentioning Open Source here in connection with adds.   In subsequent posts (along with the editors comment) there are at least 3 listed.  Do you mean to tell me that all of you who gave David grief about his use of Open Source without an example did not know about these programs, really, PDF creator, Foxit reader, etc?  The title may have been better if it mentioned Freeware as well as Open Source, but it is not egregious enough to warrant this amount of crap.  If you have to comment on some slight slip like this, do it like the polite grammar police do, mention the problem and move on.  Comment on the gist of the article.  My comment is that targeted advertising ala Amazon etc. is tolerable as long as the add does not suddenly expand and cover the screen so that I can no longer use the page.

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lien_meat

I've known more freeware apps than opensource apps that do this...many more, and yet the title only says opensource, and the article primarilly talks about freeware (yeah, so there was an edit...proves my point....).  Bad title...good article.

I generally feel murphy doesn't take the time to get his view across
correctly/accurately with what he means to say, as evidenced by how
hard he gets flamed by the comments, and how he nearly always has to
make edits to keep people from railing on him.  Just take your time man...your life would be a lot easier.

The article is valid and true.  Free and opensource apps do bundle to much crapware...but then so do OEMs when you buy your computer.  I notice this every time I run windows and install stuff.

If you REALLY want to escape this crapware hell, use something other than windows (I'm not sure if OS X suffers the same crapware fate...), or help develop a more attractive/less irritating method of making money off of free software.  Ubuntu(and other linuxes) doesn't generally suffer this problem at all.  The repository gennerally prevents this sort of crapware behavior...which is nice.

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TheMurph

Here's the deal:  I reply in the comments because I care, and because that it encourages discussion--even when a reader and I might disagree.  If you'd prefer, I can simply never hop on the comment threads at all.  However, I think it's nice to know that your thoughts and ideas are being read and respected by someone who works for the very magazine / Web site you read.  You sure don't see that on a number of other sites...

As for "editing" the article, I only appended in the extra link example so people wouldn't have to scroll down to see it.  That's not that a big deal.  Nor do I "always edit articles" or get flamed in the comments "hard."  Let's not generalize, eh?

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lien_meat

I wasn't trying to be offensive or mean or anything.
I like that you comment as well.  You are right, not many places do that.
I was just noticing there there seemed to be some confusion on how people were taking the article, and I felt the title was the issue.
And as for getting flamed in the comments hard, I was a bit out of line. Sorry. However it does seem to me that you do tend to have more confusion surrounding your articles than most that I read on Maxpc.  I was only trying to provide constructive criticsm..but you are right, I took it too far.

Also, I realize opensource and free software can be a touchy subject, due to zealots, and naysayers, and your job is hard because of that.  Sorry.  From now on I'll shut up.  I'm probably to blame as much as the next guy now for making your job harder than it needs to be.

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lien_meat

I think it would have helped...

But no...you will never make everyone happy, I wasn't saying that either and you know it.

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DBsantos77

 Lol, I love the tag "relevant." Thought that was comical. Anywho, good article, and arguement. 

-Santos

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TheMurph

Article tags are always the bane of my posting process...  ; )

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Keith E. Whisman

As long as there is an opt out option then I don't have a problem with people trying to make a buck. We as power users have to be the ones to teach the rest of the world to uncheck those boxes next to the make this your search provider and the ever present search tool bar and the whole make this your start page bull crap. 

What I really would like is to have all the options start out unchecked so that if I want for whatever reason a toolbar or a new start page then I can check the box. I don't like having to uncheck the box.  

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TheMurph

"What I really would like is to have all the options start out unchecked so that if I want for whatever reason a toolbar or a new start page then I can check the box. I don't like having to uncheck the box."

Amen.

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Queenof1

What I really would like is to have all the options start out unchecked so that if I want for whatever reason a toolbar or a new start page then I can check the box. I don't like having to uncheck the box."

Again, Amen

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DBsantos77

 (Cough) PrimoPDF (Cough)

(Cough) Foxit Reader (Cough)

(Cough) Daemon Tools (Cough) (Cough)

-Santos

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DBsantos77

 I'm saying those apps have the option built within, checked or not.

-Santos

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Member2600

I dont understand why people are so confused, the article is pretty clear and Murphy clarified several times whats going on.

Issue Bloated apps that should not be bloated, esp open source apps.

 

 

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Deanjo

"Issue Bloated apps that should not be bloated, esp open source apps."

 

I think you should re-read the article.  He is complaining about the extra crap that freeware apps want to install as well.  He uses nothing but freeware in the article not once actually citing one opensource app.  If opensource apps would come with a bunch of extra crap that bloated it you can be rest assured there would be a fork of that project that would free itself of such nafarious code. 

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TheMurph

Are you even reading replies to your comments?

The article concerns itself the different ways developers can tie moneymaking strategies into their products, be they freeware or open-source.  The complaint is about the techniques used, not whether freeware does it better than open-source, or whether X app is freeware or open-source, or whatever.

You are so caught up on this petty argument that I somehow have no idea how open-source differs from freeware that you're entirely missing the point.  Wooooosh is the sound the point is making as it flies by your head.

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Deanjo

No Dave, the bundling of things like a title bar on a "pre-packaged" opensource app does not go over my head.  You are however dragging opensource into an area that is easily avoidable and not even part of the actual project.   Even your "examples" of opensource apps that have the option of installing a seach bar.  Guess what though.  That is not in the source code.  You can easily compile the apps and install them without that crap.  This is the power of opensource.  Also for every opensource app that does have such a devce in place on it's installer I can guarantee you that it's less then .01% of all opensource apps that even try such a thing.  Now a commercial app, an app that I have bought and purchased with my money almost always tries to install useless crap.  FYI, I compiled and installed PDFcreator and guess what, not even a mention of a searchbar.

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TheMurph

"Even your "examples" of opensource apps that have the option of installing a seach bar.  Guess what though.  That is not in the source code.  You can easily compile the apps and install them without that crap. "

You're right.  I forgot that an average PC user is going to compile his or her own apps.  What?  No they aren't.  They're going to download the installer executable and be done with it.  Let's get serious.

I get your point about being able to strip anything unwanted out of an open-source application, but that really doesn't have much of a connection to this article.  Download and install PDFCreator.  The option to install a Yahoo toolbar is checked by default.  You and I might know what to do about this, but there are plenty of people out there who will mindlessly mash the "next" button until the installation is done, then complain that they suddenly have bloatware all over their system.

The Yahoo toolbar is a way to make money.  It is not relevant to a user's interests.  There are better ways to make money that are relevant to a user's interests.  Developers should explore those. 

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bpstone

All I know is, if someone helped them develop the software with donations or volunteers and then that individual were to suddenly start asking you to purchase the software, don't you think that's a bit wrong.

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TheMurph

Open-source software is often structured in such as fashion as to allow anyone to take what anyone has created and sell it for whatever amount he or she wishes.

The point being that if I sell the assets you worked on for $10, you too can go right ahead and sell assets as well. Ideally, for $9.

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TrogdorM

This is only the 2nd comment I have ever logged here.  Both, as it would turn out, were to articles written by Mr. Murphy.

As has been pointed out in other comments, none of the apps listed in the article are opensource so the title is incorrect and misleading.  Having a by-line of "...writes weekly columns about the wide world of open-source..." should mean that the author would be well-aware of the mistakes he's making in labelling applications incorrectly, especially those he's railing on in a negative light.

As for the content of the article itself, specifically relating to a user's acceptance of advertisements in their software, I only have to look for a brief few seconds to count at least half a dozen advertisements on the main maximumpc.com page itself (admittedly, some are advertisement "links" to the magazine itself, but all are not).

How is a scrolling ad in the sidebar of a webpage different than a scrolling ad in the middle of a discreet application window?  We've put up with that (and popups, and pop-unders, and rollovers, and hot-linked blog text, etc, ad nauseum) for literally years now.

Granted, a webpage sidebar ad is not the same level of intrusion as an addon browser toolbar, but if we're just comparing ad-supported digital applications, I can't see the difference.  It's certainly not the same as having a separate 3rd-party app forced down my throat and onto my computer.  Oh wait, what about the sites that won't work without Flash?  That's a separate 3rd-party app.  It's been the target of as many malware exploits as anything I can remember in the recent past.  It does in fact actually provide MUCH of the advertisement functionality to most webpages I visit these days.

By the way, what happened to the "USENET IS GOING MAINSTREAM!" ads that have littered the maximumpc.com mainpage articles for so long now?

I'm not trying to be overly critical, but if you're going to flame open-source, at least do it properly.

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TheMurph

I write weekly articles about open-source and freeware; perhaps I should correct my bio.

Regardless, this is a take on moneymaking in both the open-source and freeware worlds.  I merely cited two examples from the latter in the article as they were the ones right on the tip of my tongue.  That doesn't mean that the same kinds of issues don't pop up in the open-source side of things, nor does it mean that open-source developers can't use the same kinds of techniques to try and make a little dime with their own projects.

Nobody's flaming open-source here.  I'm just trying to discuss the various ways in which one could try to profit from their work when it's ultimately "free" for a consumer to use.  If anything, the point is that the developers need to focus on the relevancy of their supplemental schemes in order for them to be effective.  The opposite just tends to hack users off--yet nobody seems to be hearing this point, given that quite a few apps I can think of are just pushing as hard as they can in the "let's bundle 35 things with the installation mechanism and hope one sticks" premise.

Thanks for commenting. 

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TrogdorM

Ways to monetize:

Simply asking is obviously no good.  How many of us have ever clicked on the "donate" button on the web page of our favorite app and actually donated cash, books, or used hardware?

Advertising is at best useless to most advertisers (they want action, not impressions), and at worst so annoying and obtrusive to users to make the app worse than not using it at all.

Free-for-use, pay-for-support is in widespread use and works very well (in my opinion) in 2 major categories: a) very small dev shops and b) very large dev shops. Small shops can offer simple email help for installation issues and the like.  They might offer some exclusive members only forums for premium support.  Very large shops (RedHat, MySQL, etc) can of course monetize this right through the roof with yearly contracts costing many thousands of dollars per site or project.

The mid-sized shops I think suffer in this area by being too large to quickly turn a small profit per project on smaller support tasks (splitting a $20 one time support fee across 20 devs spread out over 8 countries minus all the other things like the web hosting fees, bandwidth costs, server issues...you get the point), while at the same time being too small to really establish a full on "Services" department (yearly contracts, etc).

I do get and agree with your thoughts that chunking a bunch of crap into an app installer is abhorrent behavior.  Those apps I find an alternative, or do without.  The various Java packages have recently become the pet peeve of mine in this area, as the list of alternatives is severly limited.

I guess I just don't get the overall annoyance factor that you share.  As a power user, I either find a way to avoid or disable the offending bloat, I find a free alternative app, I pay for a non-free alternative, or I do without.

 

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mourngrym1969

Maybe that is why he is  a 'former editor'. Actually, confusing Open Source and Freeware are kind of inexcusable when it is the focus of the article. 

"Never meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup..."

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TheMurph

This is confusing?

"I don't feel as if consumers really like to suffer the packaging of services--or even paid-for upgrades--on top of a piece of freeware or open-source software that just plain works."

Freeware or open-source software.   Anyway, read my response below.

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Daemon

Advertisements, don't need 'em, don't want 'em. Its quite enough my television is saturated, my neigborhood is saturated, my magazines are saturated. I'm sick and tired of advertisement in all forms. I will continue to carry an all out boycott of any and all possible advertisement on my computer, laptop, netbook. This digital polution needs to die a quick death. Under my roof a zero tolerance policy will continue to be enforced. If that means I have to code my own applications to do so, then that is exactly what I will do.

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Daemon

-" on my computer, netbook, laptop..." , I did not say a thing about whats allready on my television, or in the neighborhood such as billboards, and newspapers etc... Just my personal workspaces. Is there some law somewheres that says that I *must* view ads on my pc's? Is a person not allowed a break from advertisement, a single refuge from this senseless bombardment? Should I have been instead born into some other existence in some other reality where advertisement doesn't exist? Holy moley, life on earth is like one big living money grubbing machine. Humanity is devolving into Ferengi OMGz. Perhaps they want me to view ads thru my eternal rest after I've died and will make certain I get some kind of advertising medium installed in my casket. Spam spam spam thats all it is, a never ending tide of spam.

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icebird

How about Slacker.com getting you all hooked and then slowly, stealthily removing features from the free product.

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Modred189

While free and not open source, iTunes is the worst offender, trying to get me to install Safari and MobileMe (Useless) on my PC withe EVERY update.

I have no problem with a company pushing services at initial install, but NEVER with an update. 

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Deanjo

Seems like David is confused what is opensource and what is freeware.  Revo Uninstaller, Digsby, and Imgburn are freeware.  Not opensource.  Please change the title appropriately.

freeware!=opensource

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TheMurph

Lordy.  I know that freeware is not open source.  Given that I've been referencing freeware and open-source throughout the article, I don't see the problem in mentioning two applications that, off the top of my head, have hacked off a lot of people with their moneymaking schemes.

 Here's an open-source example that bundles the same toolbars as the freeware apps: PDFCreator.  Everyone happy now? 

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stradric

True that.  All the apps mentioned are closed-source freeware.

I'm actually having a hard time thinking of a single (useful/popular) open source application that bundles crapware.  It seems like that's a property specific to closed-source freeware.

Pidgin, FileZilla, 7-Zip, GIMP are all great open source apps that have no ads or crapware attached.

So, yes, please edit your article accordingly. 

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TheMurph

Right.  And there are a lot of freeware apps that don't bundle in these kind of ads or crapware.  That doesn't really mean anything, though, as I'm addressing the apps that do.  Similarly, while a number of open-source apps that you've used might not do this practice, some still do (PDFCreator comes to mind as an example).

Perhaps I should have picked one example from one world and one from another, but I didn't think that the minute examples of my main points would become such a big brouhaha.  The entire point of the column centers on this: some developers want to make money for their "free" creations, and they've come up with a few ways to do it.  Most of these ways suck and anger their core user base.  How can we fix that?

Or, to carry the point further, how can open-source or freeware developers begin to consider adding relevant moneymaking practices to the software they create.  The examples are there to help you recall a time when you've been hit by an errant toolbar or what-not, but they really aren't the crux of the article as much as these comments are making them out to be. 

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