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The beginning of the end for crapware installers?

Software developers flee SourceForge for sneaking adware into their legitimate applications

Whisper it, but it seems the software industry may finally have grown tired of installers that bundle unwanted adware alongside legitimate applications. SourceForge – a renowned repository of free software downloads – is facing a backlash from open-source software firms, who’ve grown sick of their applications being bundled with crapware. 

SourceForge is one of the most popular software download sites on the internet, but its aggressive adware-bundling tactics have long infuriated users and software developers alike. The site has been accused of stuffing download pages with adverts that are designed to trick people into thinking they are the legitimate download link. 

A developer of the popular open-source media player, VLC, recently wrote a blog explaining how it used field dozens of complaints every week from users who were convinced the VLC application had installed adware on their computer. The VLC developer said people who were attempting to download the app from SourceForge were being conned into clicking on adverts that displayed “fake download buttons” and that “some if not all of these advertisers were distributing VLC bundled with crapware”VLC eventually pulled its software from SourceForge.

SourceForge’s alleged dirty tricks don’t stop at dubious ads, however. Last month, Ars Technica revealed how the site had taken over the account of the developer who uploaded the renowned open-source art package GIMP to SourceForge. That resulted in the software’s Windows installer being bundled with money-making extras such as Norton anti-virus and backup software, without the GIMP developers’ knowledge or permission.

A SourceForge blog posted after ArsTechnica’s revelations claimed that the account for the GIMP Windows installer had been “abandoned”, and that the company had merely set up a mirror to “enable end-users to stay current with the latest releases”. A day later, SourceForge backtracked further, removing the adware from the GIMP installer. 

Now, it seems other software developers have grown tired of SourceForge’s tactics. The developer of the popular NotePad++ announced over the weekend that he was withdrawing from SourceForge, claiming it was no longer a “good place”.

“Obviously, the paid component per installation system is one of their important income generating scams,” the NotePad++ blog reads. “I would be fine with that, if they were the actual owners of the legitimate software. The real problem is, they are polluting these open source software installations for the purpose of filling their pockets by this scam, and worst of all, without even notifying the authors/creators of this software, while the creators are struggling against such parasitic software in order to keep their installers cleaner and safer.”

 Could this be the beginning of the end for crapware installers? Let’s hope so… 


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