Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Free
As we near the release of the biggest consumer-oriented commercial software to ever hit Linux, some negative realities from other platforms may make a nasty appearance in Ubuntu. Why? That’s easy; as Ubuntu gains traction with the desktop buying masses, there will be more and more individuals who are simply not educated enough to discern between quality software and not.
In Windows, there is a whole boatload of illegitimate businesses that operate on a blurry line of legality. What started as a way to monetize free-ware –not free software –, turned into a business model that exploits open source software. For more information, take a look at this post. It shows how criminals take open source code and rebuild the installers to gain referral income from malware, freeware and other. The upsetting part of this is that these activities will be a whole lot easier in Ubuntu…
In the article I referred you to previously, you learned how these modern day “journeying itinerants” take open source software, rebuild the installers, and stuff them full of advertisements and links to gain referral income. Money for nothin’. Many of these are not even rebuilt. They are just a series of dialog boxes that move from referral and license agreement to the next. Once you’re through these dialogs, the application will reach out and download the actual installer from a project mirror, wasting project bandwidth.
It will get a whole lot easier on Ubuntu… How? Let’s say you just installed Ubuntu on Grandpa’s computer. Grandpa is interested in the Gimp. He didn’t know about the software center because you forgot to tell him, so he hops on Firefox and searches for ‘Gimp for Ubuntu’. Most of these smooth operators pay for sponsored links at the top of search results, and that’s just what he’ll see at the top. He’ll click and see a download of Gimp for Ubuntu, only there will be no Gimp there. It’s going to be a series of dialog boxes that moves from referral and license agreement to the next. At the end of the script it will reach out for the Gimp with ‘sudo apt-get install gimp‘.
It gets better. Next, the scam artist is going to offer another package for the Gimp plugin registry, also already in the Ubuntu repos. Get ready folks. If any of our clever readers are looking into taking on this illegitimate project, feel free to thank me in the comments for your inspiration.
Note: We highly doubt that this future behavior will trickle down to plain-jane Debian…