Linked by Anonymous Coward on Tue 6th Dec 2011 22:36 UTC
Bugs & Viruses In a recent site update, CNET Download.com listings have begun redirecting product download links for popular freeware and opensource applications to their own "downloader and installer" utility which bundles a number of adware components alongside the requested application and changes the users' homepage and default search engine to Microsoft Bing. Freeware authors are sending CNet cease and desist orders demanding virgin download links, something affected open source developers may or may not be able to do due to FOSS license terms.
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Tell me it ain't so, CNET!
by benali72 on Tue 6th Dec 2011 22:42 UTC
benali72
Member since:
2008-05-03

This really bums me out. I've used CNET as a trusted site for years to download software. The changes they're making make me feel I'd better search again for a reliable, single-stop location for Windows downloads. Really sorry to see CNET change their procedures.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Tell me it ain't so, CNET!
by Dolphin on Tue 6th Dec 2011 22:43 in reply to "Tell me it ain't so, CNET!"
Dolphin Member since:
2006-05-01

FileHippo is probably the most professional and cleanest, and only hosts the good stuff. Softpedia is also clean and good, but with a far less-curative approach, and only hosts the most popular packages themselves - other downloads will link to the authors' sites.

Edited 2011-12-06 23:00 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

benali72 Member since:
2008-05-03

Thanks for the good info.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Tell me it ain't so, CNET!
by WorknMan on Tue 6th Dec 2011 23:33 in reply to "Tell me it ain't so, CNET!"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

This really bums me out. I've used CNET as a trusted site for years to download software.


Meh. After Gerstmanngate happened in 2007, I knew they had sold out, so I wouldn't trust those guys for shit.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Tell me it ain't so, CNET!
by Doc Pain on Tue 6th Dec 2011 23:45 in reply to "Tell me it ain't so, CNET!"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

This really bums me out. I've used CNET as a trusted site for years to download software. The changes they're making make me feel I'd better search again for a reliable, single-stop location for Windows downloads. Really sorry to see CNET change their procedures.


The reason why they changed them seems to be because of the users, or to be correct: for the users.

A hint is given here:

http://www.extremetech.com/computing/93504-download-com-wraps-downl...

That article also mentions that downloads starting with a cnet_ prefix provide "extra functionality". For example, if you get nmap (a well-known network exploration tool and port scanner, available on many OS platforms), you get some "extras" provided by the installer: On your PC it will install a "StartNow" toolbar, change your search engine to MICROS~1 "Bing", and also change your home page to MICROS~1's MSN. That's definitely not what you expect when installing nmap!

Obviously, installing things from source seem to be more secure, but they are not the typical thing to do on a "Windows" PC, or at least from a trusted source installing from precompiled binary packes (e. g. directly from the OS vendor or from a mirror of the initial provider of that program) - again, that's also not a typical "Windows" thing. Please note that I'm not a "Windows" person so you may see the previous sentence in exactly that context - non-judging and purely technical.

However, you often have to re-think who you trust regarding downloads and programs.

Reply Parent Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I too am not a Windows person. If anything, I try to side with the best interests of ordinary people.

In view of this, I note your comment: "However, you often have to re-think who you trust regarding downloads and programs."

I couldn't agree more. The problem, as I see it, in the Windows world where obfuscation of what one is being offered is the absolute norm, is that ordinary users have absolutely no way to know who they can trust.

This particular trend of middlemen like CNET taking Windows FOSS software (which once was like a badge of trustworthiness) and effectively turning it into anti-user software (malware is perhaps too strong a term) is a grave concern.

IMO, the only software one can truly trust, as an ordinary user, is FOSS software that is obtained directly from the source (it can be pre-compiled, but only if the corresponding source is also available, for vetting purposes). In the Windows 98 era I once trusted middlemen sites like CNET as a source of Windows software, but it didn't take long for them to lose my trust.

As the old saying goes: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me".

It is such a shame that Windows users, these days, have no choice but to trust those who can't be trusted.

Reply Parent Score: 5

UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

This really bums me out. I've used CNET as a trusted site for years to download software. The changes they're making make me feel I'd better search again for a reliable, single-stop location for Windows downloads. Really sorry to see CNET change their procedures.

Just go to Download.com if that's what you're used to, find a program, and click the link the the developer's home page. Alternatively use one of the dozens of download services that people are likely to mention. Either that, or just look it up on Google and get to the author's page that way.

I haven't regularly used Download.com for probably a decade or more, and I ditched Windows back in 2006, but even then... on my last days of using them I just went to Download.com to search for new programs and went to the official website from there. I figured, it could be a good "search engine" to find programs of the type I want, and hell... if it's on Download.com, it must be safe to run and install and malware-free.

Now... it looks like that line of thinking will get Download.com users a browser hijacker and some adware. Disgusting... a huge company using their reputation-built powers and user base to shove shit down their own users' throat. If I did still use Windows... I would never use or recommend the site again. Said, because back in the late 90s it was pretty damn useful (and trustworthy).

Edited 2011-12-07 07:31 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 6

Barnabyh Member since:
2006-02-06

Yeah, it was really good in the late 90's and early 2000's, they actually went to great length to reassure us that their downloads are ad- and malware-free. Oh, how times have changed. Anything for a bigger buck, even betraying that carefully over more than 10 years built up trust.

Well, I suppose it's still good for reading (and leaving) reviews. Some of their downloads are quite out of date these days anyway, much better of going to the original site.

Reply Parent Score: 2