Mac Plugin Installer Installs Software Update

2659 views
Skip to first unread message

Jeff Kelley

unread,
Dec 4, 2008, 2:02:31 PM12/4/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
Google should not install spyware onto a machine. The Google Earth
API installer also installs a Google Software Update component,
including a LaunchAgent that runs at user login and a LaunchDaemon
that runs AS ROOT when the LaunchAgent triggers it. This is
unacceptable, especially because there is no option to not install it
in the installer. In fact, it isn't even mentioned that that's what
you're installing. This is bad. Very bad. It's spyware.
Furthermore, there's no mention of this in the uninstall
documentation, which means a user can think they've uninstalled
everything Google but in fact still be contacting your servers
unknowingly. I'm going to spread this around so others are aware.
Thanks for being evil, Google.

barryhunter [KML Guru]

unread,
Dec 4, 2008, 2:31:41 PM12/4/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
Its kinda ironic they are volilating their own principles proposal:

http://www.google.com/corporate/software_principles.html

Jeff Kelley

unread,
Dec 4, 2008, 2:34:18 PM12/4/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin

Roman N

unread,
Dec 4, 2008, 5:03:44 PM12/4/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
Hi Jeff, Barry,

As David pointed out in the blog comments, the software update
mechanism (Google Software Update) is almost entirely open sourced at
http://code.google.com/p/update-engine/ and is in use by several
products, including the Google Talk Plugin, Google App Engine
Launcher, etc. No personal user information is exchanged at all; the
software strictly adheres to Google's privacy policy. Communication
with Google servers is also done over SSL to mitigate potential
network security issues.

I do agree that the documentation for plugin uninstallation is
incomplete with regards to this update mechanism. We will be posting a
new uninstallation procedure that unregisters the Earth plugin from
Google Software Update. Once all applications are unregistered from
Google Software Update, it waits for about one day to remove itself
from the system.

If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to post them
here.

- Roman

On Dec 4, 11:34 am, Jeff Kelley wrote:
> More info here:
>
> http://blog.slaunchaman.com/2008/12/04/google-delivers-mac-google-ear...

barryhunter [KML Guru]

unread,
Dec 4, 2008, 6:20:44 PM12/4/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
From my point of view its not so much the update mechanism itself* -
which in theory we can choose to accept - or reject, its more the way
its almost installed without the users knowledge (therefore denying
making that decision). Granted many users wont really care, for many
advanced users its extremely annoying.

<drift>
* although I still have a distinct unease with an 'auto update'
process that just downloads updates without the user aware or
concenting - but worse installs them blindly.

I admit I dont know the Mac Installer, but the lack of a GUI and
controls for the Update process on windows is quite unnerving. I have
the process running now, but no idea what its doing - or going to do.

(sorry for the drift I guess its not directly related to the Plugin or
Mac)
</drift>

On Dec 4, 10:03 pm, Roman N wrote:
> Hi Jeff, Barry,
>
> As David pointed out in the blog comments, the software update
> mechanism (Google Software Update) is almost entirely open sourced athttp://code.google.com/p/update-engine/and is in use by several

Roman N

unread,
Dec 4, 2008, 6:46:58 PM12/4/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
Hi Barry,

We'll look into modifying the wording on the installer splash page to
clarify this auto update procedure.

Thanks,
- Roman

On Dec 4, 3:20 pm, barryhunter [KML Guru] wrote:
> From my point of view its not so much the update mechanism itself* -
> which in theory we can choose to accept - or reject, its more the way
> its almost installed without the users knowledge (therefore denying
> making that decision). Granted many users wont really care, for many
> advanced users its extremely annoying.
>
> <drift>
> * although I still have a distinct unease with an 'auto update'
> process that just downloads updates without the user aware or
> concenting - but worse installs them blindly.
>
> I admit I dont know the Mac Installer, but the lack of a GUI and
> controls for the Update process on windows is quite unnerving. I have
> the process running now, but no idea what its doing - or going to do.
>
> (sorry for the drift I guess its not directly related to the Plugin or
> Mac)
> </drift>
>
> On Dec 4, 10:03 pm, Roman N wrote:
>
> > Hi Jeff, Barry,
>
> > As David pointed out in the blog comments, the software update
> > mechanism (Google Software Update) is almost entirely open sourced athttp://code.google.com/p/update-engine/andis in use by several

Roman N

unread,
Dec 4, 2008, 7:28:52 PM12/4/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
The new uninstallation procedure will be posted shortly to the FAQ.
Uninstallation now simply involves downloading the following disk
image and running the uninstaller:

http://earth-api-samples.googlecode.com/files/GoogleEarth-Plugin-Uninstaller.dmg

NOTE: This link is temporary. Eventually the uninstaller will be
packaged with the installer disk image.

The uninstaller removes the plugin files and unregisters them from
Google Software Update. As I mentioned earlier, if no other
applications use Google Software Update, it will remove itself after
about a day.

- Roman

On Dec 4, 2:03 pm, Roman N wrote:
> Hi Jeff, Barry,
>
> As David pointed out in the blog comments, the software update
> mechanism (Google Software Update) is almost entirely open sourced athttp://code.google.com/p/update-engine/and is in use by several

shawnce

unread,
Dec 4, 2008, 7:37:17 PM12/4/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin


On Dec 4, 3:46 pm, Roman N wrote:
> Hi Barry,
>
> We'll look into modifying the wording on the installer splash page to
> clarify this auto update procedure.

I don't see any information (other then source which I am looking over
now) about why a Launch Daemon exist for Google Update Engine and/or
how it ensures (assuming the daemon is used for installing) that the
user knows some application that they have run has registered a ticket
possibly causing an update to take place, possibly installing into a
privileged location.

Makes me a little nervous about a _possible_ attack vector for a
trojan written to use the update engine api getting the ability to
install into privileged locations and/or get a script to run with
privileges (at least without the user knowing). ...not trying to throw
out any FUD it just isn't well documented how the update engine works
in this regard (or I am simply over looking it).

Note this isn't related to Google Earth Brower plugin but the update
engine it makes available on the users system.

-Shawn

fraser

unread,
Dec 5, 2008, 3:44:20 PM12/5/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
Hi,

@shawne..re: "...it just isn't well documented how the update engine
works."
see: http://code.google.com/p/update-engine/

F.

shawnce

unread,
Dec 5, 2008, 4:03:29 PM12/5/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin


On Dec 5, 12:44 pm, fraser wrote:
> Hi,
>
> @shawne..re: "...it just isn't well documented how the update engine
> works."
> see:http://code.google.com/p/update-engine/

Yes I know about that page. I did not find an answer to my questions
on any of its pages. If you know of something that answers my
questions please directly link it (I may be over looking something).

Also that page is how I got the source which I haven't had time to
fully grok yet to see if I can answer my own questions.

-Shawn

Ilgaz

unread,
Dec 7, 2008, 8:59:10 AM12/7/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin

On Dec 5, 12:03 am, Roman N wrote:
> Hi Jeff, Barry,
>
> As David pointed out in the blog comments, the software update
> mechanism (Google Software Update) is almost entirely open sourced athttp://code.google.com/p/update-engine/and is in use by several
> products, including the Google Talk Plugin, Google App Engine
> Launcher, etc. No personal user information is exchanged at all; the
> software strictly adheres to Google's privacy policy. Communication
> with Google servers is also done over SSL to mitigate potential
> network security issues.
>
> I do agree that the documentation for plugin uninstallation is
> incomplete with regards to this update mechanism. We will be posting a
> new uninstallation procedure that unregisters the Earth plugin from
> Google Software Update. Once all applications are unregistered from
> Google Software Update, it waits for about one day to remove itself
> from the system.
>
> If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to post them
> here.
>
> - Roman
>
> On Dec 4, 11:34 am, Jeff Kelley wrote:
>
>
>
> > More info here:
>
> >http://blog.slaunchaman.com/2008/12/04/google-delivers-mac-google-ear...

Believe or not, there are people who are seriously irritated by
Google's popularity and massive amount of data Google gathers as a
natural result. By running things as root, without asking the user at
first place, you just add more to the paranoia.

You should have listened to John Gruber's comments about the other
Google software (Desktop) and let me remind you, Gruber isn't a
tinfoil hat or a privacy freak.

http://daringfireball.net/2007/04/google_desktop_installer

These days people doesn't want the $400/$1500 software they purchased
with their credit card to contact web for updates yet alone the Google
should do things as root without asking user.

About the updater behaviour: You are doing same thing (behaviour) on
Google Chrome for PC and very important developer figures even
including the MSFT high level employees criticised it. Why try same
thing on OS X too?

I got very irritated when I notice 2 executables trying to connect to
net. Being open source or anything doesn't matter. Just don't connect
to net. You should take Adobe Flash as example while coding plugins.
Nothing outside /Plugins , a basic update mechanism doesn't create
paranioa, running inside plugin itself which will only check updates
while plugin is active.

knutoletube

unread,
Dec 10, 2008, 7:42:44 AM12/10/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin

i just want to voice my extreme discontent as well to this automatic
installer ware. i cannot even begin to comprehend how google thinks
it's ok to have a piece of software on my machine that 1) takes up
space in my top bar (mac osx), 2) serves a pop-up asking to install
some software i dont even use, 3) does this automatically, without my
consent, 4) gives no option for uninstall, and 5) makes it impossible
to kill the thread in "activity monitor". im simply horrified. and
extremely annoyed. i just lost half (!) of my trust in google - it may
seem like a small thing, but it's the breach of such elementary
principles that does the damage; like suddenly discovering that a
respected peer, which you enjoy having daily conversation with, turns
out to slap his kids, or something. it's an abuse of power, and it has
broken my trust, sorry to say...

now, HOW DO I UNSTALL IT?!?!

On Dec 7, 2:59 pm, Ilgaz wrote:
> On Dec 5, 12:03 am, Roman N wrote:
>
>
>
> > Hi Jeff, Barry,
>
> > As David pointed out in the blog comments, the software update
> > mechanism (Google Software Update) is almost entirely open sourced athttp://code.google.com/p/update-engine/andis in use by several

knutoletube

unread,
Dec 10, 2008, 7:48:59 AM12/10/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
i dont want to uninstall my google earth plugin, i want to remove the
"google software update" altogether! I DONT WANT IT! i dont even know
HOW it got there - can you please tell me that? also, it wants to
install "google talk plugin" - no, i dont want that either. another
point - im no developer, but i follow the things on this page. what
about all those who have no idea of computers at all, how are they
supposed to find out about this? it was only today also, that there
was any info available on the net - last week, nothing. im very
disillusioned with google - whoever made this decision should take a
chill-pill and just relax his overzealous self a bit...

take care, and please clarify!

On Dec 5, 1:28 am, Roman N wrote:
> The new uninstallation procedure will be posted shortly to the FAQ.
> Uninstallation now simply involves downloading the following disk
> image and running the uninstaller:
>
> http://earth-api-samples.googlecode.com/files/GoogleEarth-Plugin-Unin...
>
> NOTE: This link is temporary. Eventually the uninstaller will be
> packaged with the installer disk image.
>
> The uninstaller removes the plugin files and unregisters them from
> Google Software Update. As I mentioned earlier, if no other
> applications use Google Software Update, it will remove itself after
> about a day.
>
> - Roman
>
> On Dec 4, 2:03 pm, Roman N wrote:
>
> > Hi Jeff, Barry,
>
> > As David pointed out in the blog comments, the software update
> > mechanism (Google Software Update) is almost entirely open sourced athttp://code.google.com/p/update-engine/andis in use by several

Roman N

unread,
Dec 11, 2008, 7:46:52 PM12/11/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
Hi knutoletube,

A few points:

0) We feel that outdated software poses a risk, both to the end-user
and the programmer developing a Google Earth API web site. That is the
purpose for this automatic update mechanism.

1) Google Software Update is installed when you install Google
software that relies on it for patches (i.e. security fixes).

2) You can remove Google Software Update by uninstalling all software
that uses it, such as the Google Earth Plugin, the Google Talk Plugin
(for video chat in Gmail), etc. It will then remove itself
automatically after about a day.

3) The Google Earth Plugin installer does not install other plugins;
you may have installed the Google Talk plugin (for video chat in
Gmail) separately.

4) We are working on modifying the plugin installer wording to clarify
that:
(a) Google Software Update is being installed and
(b) why it's being installed.

so that end users are better informed about what's going on behind
the scenes.

I hope this provides some more insight and eases any concerns you're
having. If you're specifically worried about your personal privacy or
your computer's security, please take a look at my first post in this
thread, which explains that Google Software Update strictly complies
with our privacy policy and that measures are in place to keep your
computer's security unharmed.

- Roman
> > > mechanism (Google Software Update) is almost entirely open sourced athttp://code.google.com/p/update-engine/andisin use by several

knutoletube

unread,
Dec 13, 2008, 9:42:53 AM12/13/08
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
hi again, and thanks for your full response.

yes, i see the concern about having outdated software, etc. however, i
am far from reassured, and quite frankly, i no longer trust your
company. i have been plagued all week by a google software update pop-
up in my system, which it seems i will have to uninstall your software
(eg. google earth) in order to rid myself of. why then, should i
bother to use your software and not look else-where? the arguments
give by others above are also very valid, it seems to me, and i cannot
see but that google is hurting itself with this kind of "over-
steering" of its users.

anywho, thanks for your response, good luck in the future. i am sorry
to say that my good-will for your company is now gone, but hey, it had
to happen some day, right?

all the best,
knut
> > > > mechanism (Google Software Update) is almost entirely open sourced athttp://code.google.com/p/update-engine/andisinuse by several
Message has been deleted

Amavida

unread,
Jan 8, 2009, 11:46:23 PM1/8/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I too would like to state that it is NOT OK to silently install daemon
process's (or any other software frankly).
It is NOT OK to make this a dependancy of your software & make it
virtually uninstallable by the end user.
How dare you tell me it will 'go away in a day or so'.
My god what a casual attitude!
This is what drove people from the Windows platform because it is a
massive security risk.

I have uninstalled ALL google products & will not re-install until i
can verify that they have been laundered of this.
You keep your windows world attitudes mr google developers.
You are NOT doing this to my Mac!
> > > > mechanism (Google Software Update) is almost entirely open sourced athttp://code.google.com/p/update-engine/andisinuse by several

Stian Soiland-Reyes

unread,
Jan 12, 2009, 4:07:24 AM1/12/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
Hi.

I appreciate that Google provides updates to their software. As a
software developer I know how important this is.


What I don't appreciate is software daemons being installed without my
knowledge, running as root, with no option to disable it, and that
pops up even when I'm not running any Google software. (Note that in
my case I have not installed the Google Earth Browser plug in, but
Picasa for OS X - the updater is the same, though)

Most other software updaters only run when you run the applications to
be updated.

I know that on Windows in the early 2000s it was "popular" for silly
programs you never run (like RealPlayer) to put a little icon in the
status bar and constantly do update checks - that doesn't mean that
you should do it now in 2008 in OS X.

Although I might also be annoyed by other programs like NeoOffice
telling me about updates every time I start it, but that's just
because I don't run it that often. If it popped up every day I would
be very annoyed and uninstall it (well, I guess I need a reinstall to
be sure), just like I now have zeroed out parts of the Google updater
binary.

I highly recommend Google to change their update software immediately
unless they want their users to loose whatever tiny piece of trust
that is still left on the "Do no evil" mantra..
> > > > mechanism (Google Software Update) is almost entirely open sourced athttp://code.google.com/p/update-engine/andisinuse by several

MisterE

unread,
Jan 15, 2009, 1:15:16 PM1/15/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
OK, it has been over a month now and the holidays have passed. Would
Google please update us on what the status of this issue is?
Personally I will not be happy with anything short of an option to opt
out of installing the software update daemon and will not install any
Google software until that is implemented but I see there is an
updated version of Picassa that I'm interested in so could we please
hear what the current situation is?

Is it possible to have Picassa installed without this software update
agent?

Thanks in advance for your reply!

On Dec 14 2008, 10:25 am, "[email address]" wrote:
> I'm not happy about this software update daemon being slipped in under
> my nose either. This is not the sort of thing I expect from Google and
> even if you rush to do the right thing now the fact that you did it in
> the first place shows that the ideas at Google about what is OK to do
> to a person's computer are changing. I mean not only does it done
> completely without disclosure, it installs a daemon that RUNS AS ROOT,
> but it also tries to contact your update servers 6 - 8 times a day. If
> I didn't use Little Snitch to monitor my outgoing connections I would
> have never known. Consider Google moved from my "Trusted Nice Guy
> Devs" list to my "Keep An Eye on These Devs" list.
>
> On Dec 12, 7:46 am, Roman N wrote:
>
> > You can remove Google Software Update by uninstalling all software
> > that uses it, such as the Google Earth Plugin, the Google Talk Plugin
> > (for video chat in Gmail), etc. It will then remove itself
> > automatically after about a day.
>
> So I can not have Picassa Uploaders installed without this software
> update daemon / agent plugin? I'm forced to take one with the other?
>
> > 4) We are working on modifying the plugin installer wording to clarify
> > that:
> >     (a) Google Software Update is being installed and
> >     (b) why it's being installed.
>
> >     so that end users are better informed about what's going on behind
> > the scenes.
>
> How about an option to not install the software updater daemon at all?
> Plenty of us check the software tracking sites every few days and keep
> our software updated manually tyvm. If I choose to assume the "risk"
> you mentioned that outdated software poses why will you not let me?

wsedrftgyhuj

unread,
Feb 2, 2009, 4:23:06 PM2/2/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I've seldom come across such arrogance! Who do you think you are! No
new google software for me until I can have it without this virus!!

Step back and listen to yourselves. Better yet, listen to your users.
I'm SHOCKED.

Gordon

unread,
Feb 2, 2009, 5:19:03 PM2/2/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
The simple fact that we have no choice but to let Google run a
background process whenever it pleases is unacceptable.

In my Applications folder right now I have approximately 150
programmes, most of them from different developers. Most of them have
auto-update mechanisms that check for updates when the programmes are
run. Simple, no mess, no background processes. Now, imagine if every
one of these developers decided that their software was important
enough to justify a background process that would run and auto-update
even when the application was not open. I'd be lucky if my Mac even
ran with all those update processes, and I certainly wouldn't get any
work done with them all popping up notifications constantly.

This is absolutely arrogant — there is no reason your software needs
to be updating itself when it is not in use — you can very easily
check for, notify, and download updates when your application is run
like most every other Mac app. It does not matter how much information
is transmitted or whether the user is informed or not (well, it does,
but it's not the core of the issue). Having a mandatory background
process that is in no way essential to the proper functioning of your
programme is completely unacceptable, and, as stated, if followed by
other developers would make all our computers unusable.

barryhunter [KML Guru]

unread,
Feb 2, 2009, 7:36:02 PM2/2/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
The problem is the small amount of people who are concerned are hardly
a significant proportion of users, and at the end of the day it doesnt
actully stop many poeple downloading.

For many users auto updaters are probably not a bad thing, and they
wont notice yet another process slowing down the computer (its true
the updater takes next to no resources - or it shouldnt anyway! but
every little helps (or doesnt!) )

... its just that most users probably dont know enough to make an
informed decision, they just want the software, so end up blindly
installing another application.

Leo of BORG

unread,
Feb 2, 2009, 11:28:08 PM2/2/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I apologize in advance for 'going German' on someone from the plex,
but you're Google. Not Sony, and certainly not Microsoft. This is
totally UNacceptable.

"It will then remove itself automatically after about a day. "

In a word: NO.

So, I'm sorry to say, but this broken record mentality reeks of a
company who we'd all rather NOT do business with:

Microsoft.

Furthermore, you should disclose where EVERY file is installer and not
even ATTEMPT to use such irresponsible language as 'after about a
day.' like a computer is some kind of car or Rube Goldberg device.

I don't think ANY security professional or power user would be
assuaged by this. Sorry.

There's no reason why GEarth can't check for updates *in its own
runtime*.

If you're making such drastic changes to the Google Earth API that you
feel the need to push patches to the user, then you might consider a
less 'extreme' form of programming. Like having a build and release
schedule the way companies 'used' to release software.

I for one expect to get PAID for testing builds. NOT to have them
pushed to my production machine.

To the rest of the users out there: This is a good time to buy a
license to Little Snitch and learn what ACLs are.

-Leo [doesn't use Google Desktop for this reason, will now drop GEarth
like a hot potato]

Leo of BORG

unread,
Feb 2, 2009, 11:55:20 PM2/2/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
One more point, *trying to be constructive* to the plex.folk:

Please understand that some of us live out in the realm of VERY SLOW
and/or strictly quota'd so-called 'broadband'. Have you considered
folks who-

Have to live with a tethered laptop? Quota are usually around 5 gigs
every rolling 30 days.

Have to live with Satcom? Depending on the provider, either 7.5 gigs
every rolling 30 days or 200 megs in a rolling 24 hour period.

And these ISPs [Cricket, ATT, Hughes] will count EVERY LAST syn & ack.
And do.

I think that this 'always on, always updating' way of doing things is
going to run a number of your users up against the TOS of their
respective ISPs.

Did I mention that this is a bad idea on a number of levels?

-Leo

kraklin

unread,
Feb 3, 2009, 1:01:35 AM2/3/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I was also very surprised today to see the background updating of
several of my google applications without opening or requesting their
update. I wouldn't even have seen them mount if growl didn't notify
me.
I'd like to know the name of the processes in question so that I can
block them using little snitch. I'll keep the apps (google earth and
notifier are the ones I use, although I also saw google gears update
itself silently in the background too).
If you can tell me the names of the processes, daemons etc, I'll block
or delete them. thanks

wsedrftgyhuj

unread,
Feb 3, 2009, 1:32:13 PM2/3/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
If we are in such a minority (people who object to this cunning plan),
publish how we remove the daemon. Everyone else can keep it. You'll
still have your thing on 99.9% of Macs out there to attempt to help
your world dominance quest.

I'm looking forward to this story breaking more generally in the tech
press. What do you think they'll say? Conspiracy theories are much
loved - this one could run and run!
Message has been deleted
Message has been deleted

MisterE

unread,
Feb 3, 2009, 8:16:58 PM2/3/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
Yes wsedrftgyhuj, Slashdot just loves a story like this don't they?

I can can see story now:

*Google takes away choices about how to update their software* 
Google
has decided to force Mac users to install an update process that runs
as root silently updating Google's programs in the 
background. If you
want to use any software from Google you must accept this. The
compulsory update daemon software removes the 
choice from users who
prefer to update their software manually. No longer can you read some
reviews about a new release from other 
people who have tried it
before deciding to install or not. Now you must take what Google wants
you to have. Google knows best, sound familiar?

How is that for a starter?

I asked for a status update on this matter on 14 December and got no
reply. Now, with the recent update of Google Earth the matter has
gotten a lot more attention. I will wait patiently for a couple more
days for a reply from Google, I know it takes huge corporations a
while to be responsive *sigh* I remember the days when Google was
different. If there's no reply from Google in a couple of days I
think I will submit the matter to Slashdot.

I hear rumor and conjecture about Google making this 'feature'
optional but in the new release of Google Earth you are forced to
install the update daemon to use GE. Your choices are install it or
quit the application. I guess that quells the optional rumor then. At
least you are notified now, that's an improvement but check out the
notification dialogue:

"This software will update any Google software on your computer when
new versions become available. Google Software Update verifies
updates and is safer than downloading files from the Internet
yourself."

Translation = We know what's best for you!

Thanks for protecting me from the big bad internet with all of it's
choices Google!

I know there is an uninstaller but all of Google's software will
reinstall this update daemon when launched so you must choose between
using any of their software and having this background update process
on your computer. This is the truly ugly part of the matter, it's
being forced on us. Very reminiscent of MicroSoft's ways of doing
things before the IT community ripped them for it and now they play
fairer.

Listen up Google, you're not so all powerful that you can't be taken
down a notch or 2 by the same community! I am looking forward to your
reply so we know what your policy is going to be in this matter. In
the mean time I'm not launching Google Earth 5 and there's plenty of
other options out there to the rest of your software.

EAB

unread,
Feb 4, 2009, 3:16:49 PM2/4/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I'm a seismologist who has become very fond of Google Earth as a way
to display earthquake information, and I was planning to learn to
write KML files of earthquake locations from my research code.
Yesterday I saw the announcement about Google Earth 5 Beta and
installed it. I was disturbed by the automatic update software issue,
but it seems to be required if one is to use this version of Google
Earth so I decided to go ahead and install it to see what the new
program has to offer. Then I used Google Search (oh, the irony!) to
look for commentary on this automated mandatory background update
business. This morning, after thinking about it, I uninstalled Google
Earth and the update mechanism, using the terminal commands posted by
Google (Thanks for that, at least). I won't try to explain all the
things about this automatic background update policy that offend me -
other posts here have done an excellent job of that. I just now joined
this group for the sole purpose of expressing my disapproval of this
approach to software maintenance. It will be aggravating to go on
without using Google Earth (or any other Google software) but I will
not have this kind of spyware on my computer. I am quite capable of
monitoring security issues that affect my computer environment and I
reserve the right to decide when and how to make any changes.

I'll continue to monitor this group to see if Google ever recognizes
the validity of these concerns and provides a mechanism to opt out of
the automated updates.

disableautoupdater

unread,
Feb 5, 2009, 11:02:11 AM2/5/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
Installed desktop Google Earth 5. Nice. But the update agent is a
really bad move.

> 0) We feel that outdated software poses a risk, both to the end-user
> and the programmer developing a Google Earth API web site. That is the
> purpose for this automatic update mechanism.
Weak. Not good enough. There can never be a guarantee that every
client of a
service is always up-to-date. If the client is too old, the server
should respond
appropriately and the user informed that they need to update the app.
This case
has to be handled anyway.

> 1) Google Software Update is installed when you install Google
> software that relies on it for patches (i.e. security fixes).
Fine. It's control over it. When the updater runs and downloads is the
problem. It runs
should when the user tells it too, ie. at app startup usually. And
only if they've
turned on "check for update". However the google update agent
runs automatically on a schedule, and downloads new software without
any knowledge by the user in the background. This is _just_not_on_.
Those of us aware of this behaviour are given no easy way to "adjust"
it.
The google answer is to uninstall all google apps. Seems excessive.
Also, downloading software behind my back wastes precious allowance on
a
my mobile 3G connection. It's not on for any app, including google's.

> 2) You can remove Google Software Update by uninstalling all software
> that uses it, such as the Google Earth Plugin, the Google Talk Plugin
(for video chat in Gmail), etc. It will then remove itself
automatically after about a day.
Pathetic. Again see 1 above. Why isn't there a UI to disable it
completely (see 0),
or change the schedule, ie. change to "only at startup".

> 3) The Google Earth Plugin installer does not install other plugins;
> you may have installed the Google Talk plugin (for video chat in Gmail) separately.
Except the automatic update agent (but it's not a browser plug-in, I
suppose).

> 4) We are working on modifying the plugin installer wording to clarify
> that:
> (a) Google Software Update is being installed and
> (b) why it's being installed.
Wording...? Is google trying to brainwash us now? Is google hoping for
a dumbed down
younger generation to spoon-feed bs?

> ...please take a look at my first post in this thread, which explains that Google
> Software Update strictly complies with our privacy policy...
Google needs a new privacy policy if the behaviour of installing and
running
agent updater software automatically behind the users back, who has no
easy
control over it (apart from a full uninstall, if they look hard), is
acceptable. This is "evil".

Google needs to pick up it's corporate ass on this one. I knew there
was a solid
reason I deleted google desktop search a few years ago.

I like Google Earth 5, so I've destroyed this stupid update mechanism,
obviously.
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.

And why does google think it deserves a special place in "Library"
which is for
system level items, you know like fonts, preferences, screen savers,
frameworks.
Hubris.

Mario Grgic

unread,
Feb 5, 2009, 9:30:42 PM2/5/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
Yes, indeed. I just tried Google Earth 5 myself. And was appalled by
Google's decision to silently install update agent. Well you know this
is it for me. I have been loyal Google customer, but enough is
enough.

I have not only removed the agent, but also all Google apps. including
Earth. It is time to give up gmail as well. Something tells me that
"Do no evil" motto is a dead letter on the web page.

Mario Grgic

unread,
Feb 5, 2009, 10:26:43 PM2/5/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin


On Feb 2, 7:36 pm, barryhunter [KML Guru] wrote:
> The problem is the small amount of people who are concerned are hardly
> a significant proportion of users, and at the end of the day it doesnt
> actully stop many poeple downloading.
>

The users that are smart to understand why this is bad are the
"leaders of the pack". Bad rep that Google is getting because of this
will trickle down to all users eventually.

Caroling Wholeo

unread,
Feb 6, 2009, 9:13:24 AM2/6/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
Thanks for this information on how to remove the offending updater!
I'm going to do it now.
I found that if I download Google Earth directly from Google, it
doesn't require software update. I hope that's not just because I
already had it. It is possible that the updater only kicks in when I
choose to update from the Help menu within Google Earth.

Jedediah F

unread,
Feb 6, 2009, 11:11:07 AM2/6/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
A better way to disable it would be to use Lingon (http://tuppis.com/
lingon/) which is a LaunchD editor. You can also set up your own time
to run the update or just disable it all together. It is also much
simpler than just trying to do all the hacks to make it not re-
install. If you really wanted to be sure, you could do the below
rather than try your hand at both the GUI and command line

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

sudo touch ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.google.keystone.agent.plist
sudo touch ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.google.keystone.agent.plist

sudo chmod 000 ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.google.keystone.agent.plist
sudo chmod 000 ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.google.keystone.agent.plist

sudo rm -rf ~/Library/Application\ Support/Google
sudo rm -rf ~/Library/Google

sudo mkdir ~/Library/Application\ Support/Google
sudo mkdir ~/Library/Google

sudo chmod 000 ~/Library/Application\ Support/Google
sudo chmod 000 ~/Library/Google
-

MisterE

unread,
Feb 6, 2009, 11:22:08 AM2/6/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I just emptied the contents of ~/Library/Application Support/Google/
GoogleSoftwareUpdate and locked the folder.
Then deleted ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.google.keystone.agent.plist
Any problem with doing it this way?

kpapp

unread,
Feb 6, 2009, 11:47:25 AM2/6/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
For me, the com.google.keystone.agent.plist file was located in:

~/Library/Preferences/com.google.Keystone.Agent.plist

rantrant

unread,
Feb 6, 2009, 12:24:18 PM2/6/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I am personally appalled by this updater as well. I am posting this
message to convey disappointment with the Google team working on any
product using this mysterious updater which absolutely refuses to go
away, cannot be disabled intuitively, and worst - it forced me to
"update" a product I never had installed in the first place (some
google talk/gmail chat plugin).

FAIL

lgeralds

unread,
Feb 6, 2009, 12:59:50 PM2/6/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
> 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

I found this one also: /Library/LaunchDaemons/
com.google.keystone.agent.plist

topher800

unread,
Feb 6, 2009, 2:45:39 PM2/6/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I provide data acquisition and display systems for atmospheric
research aircraft. We have a 64kbps satellite link that costs $4 per
Mbit. Having 5-6 computers on an aircraft suddenly automatically
update their software would not only clog our link for the duration of
the flight, but would have undesirable financial implications. There
have also been releases of GoogleEarth with bugs and we have gone back
to a previous version. How would this work with an auto-updater?

I haven't seen the full details yet, but this would seem terminal for
our application of Google Earth.

Chris Webster
Research Aviation Facility
National Center for Atmospheric Research

Hank Roberts

unread,
Feb 6, 2009, 3:52:58 PM2/6/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
Ding! Okay, Google. That's it. Fix the damned thing, you've screwed
up something important to the world that's needed. You broke it, you
fix it. Others will have similar problems.

Rule 1: Don't Do Evil
Rule 1a: Everybody Screws Up Sometimes
Rule 1b: Undo Evil Promptly

On Feb 6, 11:45 am, topher800 wrote:
> I provide data acquisition and display systems for atmospheric
> research aircraft. ... this would seem terminal for
> our application of Google Earth.

And besides: Anything that gives outsiders control someone can
crack, then THEY control our computers pretending to be Google.

Pretending your work is perfect is evil. You understand this, right?

Sarah Brown

unread,
Feb 6, 2009, 4:09:40 PM2/6/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I was recently offered an update to Google Earth 5, and thankfully I
had already learned of this problem, so I declined it.

My Macbook Pro spends a lot of time plugged into a 3G wireless
broadband device. I pay for a certain amount of bandwidth monthly - if
I go over that, then I am stung for very high per-kilobyte charges. I
absolutely cannot afford to have software downloading multi-megabytes
in the background without telling me, and anything that does is
something I'm going to have to treat as malware.

I really hope Google can sort this out.

Joel Gilmore

unread,
Feb 6, 2009, 6:18:18 PM2/6/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I agree. I have no problem about updates - if it's absolutely
necessary, force an update check on startup and refuse to run
otherwise. But it's got to be a CHOICE when to run. Just think about
how annoying Windows is when it pops up the "Restart now?" dialogue
every 10 minutes!

Google is brilliant, and I love you on my Mac AND my PC - but let's
keep it clean!

Tomas

unread,
Feb 6, 2009, 8:12:55 PM2/6/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I learned too late of this mess, and had already installed Google
Earth 5 on my MacBook.

Since my MacBook spends some of it's time on high-priced, limited
bandwidth internet connections, I cannot allow or afford to let Google
override my control of when and where updates occur.

I also do not feel that the description by Google of what was being
installed was anywhere near complete or detailed enough, which also
means that I do not feel that Google obtained proper permission from
me to install software that operates in this manner.

Google needs to correct this NOW.

The very next "automatic update" from Google should be an update to
their automatic updater that (1) returns control of "when and where"
to the computer user, (2) allows for the quick and easy complete
removal of the automatic updater at the computer user's command, and
(3) prevents current and future Google apps from installing anything
similar without clear, understandable, obvious warnings, and the
informed permission of the computer user before installation.

Please allow me to repeat Hank's Additions to The Rule:

Rule 1: Don't Do Evil
Rule 1a: Everybody Screws Up Sometimes
Rule 1b: Undo Evil Promptly

Tomas - University Place, WA

richo

unread,
Feb 7, 2009, 2:33:01 AM2/7/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
On Dec 11 2008, 7:46 pm, Roman N wrote:
>
> 0) We feel that outdated software poses a risk, both to the end-user
> and the programmer developing a Google Earth API web site. That is the
> purpose for this automatic update mechanism.
>

Google may feel that way with quite justifiable reasons in many cases,
but the main point being raised in this debate is *user choice*, which
Google appears to be knowingly sidestepping. To state as clearly as
possible:

Never mind the individual plugins. Many users require the choice when
installing any software to *check for updates by themselves*, without
3rd party agents & demons running around like cockroaches in the
system shadows.

I am one of those users, and much as I truly appreciate Google's
existence over the years - not only in search but for gmail too, which
thankfully offset M$'s 3rd rate attempts at the same - there's now a
growing concern among these experienced users that Google's
overstepping a line, the way M$ did.

In other words Google has already lost ground and will have to make a
concerted effort to make that up before losing even more.

With best intentions all round,
r

MisterE

unread,
Feb 8, 2009, 1:26:46 AM2/8/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
OK, Slashdot has picked it up. Thanks Mario!

The comments bring up some interesting points about several other
companies' update software. Some people are complaining about being
annoying by update notifications and others say Google is just jumping
on the bandwagon. If other update software is annoying at least it is
so because it's offering you a choice. I'd rather be annoyed than be
forced to give up control to a process like Google Software Update.

http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/02/06/1510228

jda...@etresoft.com

unread,
Feb 8, 2009, 10:06:11 PM2/8/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I don't know if this level of hacking is wise. It could interfere with
normal operation of Google software that you do want to run. There is
an easier way. Just add:

<key>disabled</key>
<true/>

to any of these plist files. That seemed to do the trick for me.

Luckily, LittleSnitch alerted me that Google was being evil and
stopped them in their tracks.

Andre

unread,
Feb 9, 2009, 12:18:43 AM2/9/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I just tried to install Google Earth 5, then noticed something about
agreeing to have a background process run all the time.

Sorry Google, but you won't win this fight. I cancelled, and restored
the older app from Time Machine.

You won't be running something on my Mac when I'm not running your
software. Simple. I decide what runs on my computer, and when.

Microsoft liked to have its Messenger constantly re-add itself to my
startup. I eventually figured out how to prevent it. I got a Mac.

It's MY computer, not yours. I can live without your software if you
have decided to be as evil as the Evil One.

No spyware for me. Let me know when you change your mind and I might
try the new Google Earth.

Vetica

unread,
Feb 10, 2009, 4:07:45 AM2/10/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
I completely agree.

I'm outraged. I want to say more but I am too angry to compose words.

Mac users want software developers that support the Mac philosophy.
Installing daemons and startup items and dependent software that's
hard to uninstall isn't in keeping with either the google or apple
philosophy.

I'm pissed.

Damn it.

If I want to check for an update I'll do it. If I want an app to check
when I launch it I'll allow it. I don't need or appreciate a
constantly running process that occasionally calls home on it own.

Make a bloody self-contained app.

Hulk Angry, arrrrg!




On Jan 8, 11:46 pm, Amavida wrote:
> I too would like to state that it is NOT OK to silently install daemon
> process's (or any other software frankly).
> It is NOT OK to make this a dependancy of your software & make it
> virtually uninstallable by the end user.
> How dare you tell me it will 'go away in a day or so'.
> My god what a casual attitude!
> This is what drove people from the Windows platform because it is a
> massive security risk.
>
> I have uninstalled ALL google products & will not re-install until i
> can verify that they have been laundered of this.
> You keep your windows world attitudes mr google developers.
> You are NOT doing this to my Mac!
>
> On Dec 12 2008, 10:46 am, Roman N wrote:
>
> > Hi knutoletube,
>
> > A few points:
>
> > 0) We feel that outdated software poses a risk, both to the end-user
> > and the programmer developing a Google Earth API web site. That is the
> > purpose for this automatic update mechanism.
>
> > 1) Google Software Update is installed when you install Google
> > software that relies on it for patches (i.e. security fixes).
>
> > 2) You can remove Google Software Update by uninstalling all software
> > that uses it, such as the Google Earth Plugin, the Google Talk Plugin
> > (for video chat in Gmail), etc. It will then remove itself
> > automatically after about a day.
>
> > 3) The Google Earth Plugin installer does not install other plugins;
> > you may have installed the Google Talk plugin (for video chat in
> > Gmail) separately.
>
> > 4) We are working on modifying the plugin installer wording to clarify
> > that:
> >     (a) Google Software Update is being installed and
> >     (b) why it's being installed.
>
> >     so that end users are better informed about what's going on behind
> > the scenes.
>
> > I hope this provides some more insight and eases any concerns you're
> > having. If you're specifically worried about your personal privacy or
> > your computer's security, please take a look at my first post in this
> > thread, which explains that Google Software Update strictly complies
> > with our privacy policy and that measures are in place to keep your
> > computer's security unharmed.
>
> > - Roman
>
> > On Dec 10, 4:48 am, knutoletube wrote:
>
> > > i dont want to uninstall my google earth plugin, i want to remove the
> > > "google software update" altogether! I DONT WANT IT! i dont even know
> > > HOW it got there - can you please tell me that? also, it wants to
> > > install "google talk plugin" - no, i dont want that either. another
> > > point - im no developer, but i follow the things on this page. what
> > > about all those who have no idea of computers at all, how are they
> > > supposed to find out about this? it was only today also, that there
> > > was any info available on the net - last week, nothing. im very
> > > disillusioned with google - whoever made this decision should take a
> > > chill-pill and just relax his overzealous self a bit...
>
> > > take care, and please clarify!
>
> > > On Dec 5, 1:28 am, Roman N wrote:
>
> > > > The new uninstallation procedure will be posted shortly to the FAQ.
> > > > Uninstallation now simply involves downloading the following disk
> > > > image and running the uninstaller:
>
> > > >http://earth-api-samples.googlecode.com/files/GoogleEarth-Plugin-Unin...
>
> > > > NOTE: This link is temporary. Eventually the uninstaller will be
> > > > packaged with the installer disk image.
>
> > > > The uninstaller removes the plugin files and unregisters them from
> > > > Google Software Update. As I mentioned earlier, if no other
> > > > applications use Google Software Update, it will remove itself after
> > > > about a day.
>
> > > > - Roman
>
> > > > On Dec 4, 2:03 pm, Roman N wrote:
>
> > > > > Hi Jeff, Barry,
>
> > > > > As David pointed out in the blog comments, the software update
> > > > > mechanism (Google Software Update) is almost entirely open sourced athttp://code.google.com/p/update-engine/andisinuseby several
> > > > > products, including the Google Talk Plugin, Google App Engine
> > > > > Launcher, etc. No personal user information is exchanged at all; the
> > > > > software strictly adheres to Google's privacy policy. Communication
> > > > > with Google servers is also done over SSL to mitigate potential
> > > > > network security issues.
>
> > > > > I do agree that the documentation for plugin uninstallation is
> > > > > incomplete with regards to this update mechanism. We will be posting a
> > > > > new uninstallation procedure that unregisters the Earth plugin from
> > > > > Google Software Update. Once all applications are unregistered from
> > > > > Google Software Update, it waits for about one day to remove itself
> > > > > from the system.
>
> > > > > If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to post them
> > > > > here.
>
> > > > > - Roman
>
> > > > > On Dec 4, 11:34 am, Jeff Kelley wrote:
>
> > > > > > More info here:
>
> > > > > >http://blog.slaunchaman.com/2008/12/04/google-delivers-mac-google-ear...

Tomas

unread,
Feb 10, 2009, 1:06:43 PM2/10/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Browser Plugin
On 06FEB09 I ripped out and blocked the Google Updater and everything
associated with it (except for the few Google apps I use), and in
looking at my system logs this morning I find that GmailNotifier has
been trying to make a new directory for the updater and is being
denied :o)

Here's just one line of the last couple pages of these complaints...
2/10/09 9:44:15 AM [0x0-0x1f01f].com.google.GmailNotifier[155] mkdir: /
Users/Tomas/Library/Google/GoogleSoftwareUpdate: Permission denied

That's the last of them I will see for a while, though, I just shut
down Gmail Notifier to end THAT silliness.

Google, I'm not a developer, I'm just an end user, but I run a pretty
tight system, and don't appreciate the way you slid the updater into
it. You did NOT give adequate warning/notice, and therefore did not
get adequate permission from me, the owner of the system, to install
this insidious app with no user controls.

I will continue to MANUALLY check for updates as I have on my Macs
since 1986 and on my UNIX systems since 1981.

Please, Google, reconsider what and how you are doing here, and re-
design the updater so that the system admin can have full control of
it's actions.

Hank's Additions to The Rule:

Rule 1: Don't Do Evil
Rule 1a: Everybody Screws Up Sometimes
Rule 1b: Undo Evil Promptly

Tomas - University Place, WA


Rex

unread,
Feb 12, 2009, 8:29:18 PM2/12/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Plug-in
Hmmmmm, glad I found this discussion. I had posted a thread in our
Aussie Whirlpool forums as I couldn't work out what Picasa was doing.
(thread here - http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=1142712)
I assumed it was a Picasa issue but obviously it's this blinking
updater.
It has pissed me right off. Well done Google, you've just lost me for
any more ap's.

Sapphire

unread,
Feb 13, 2009, 5:38:14 PM2/13/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Plug-in
I would also like to add my objection to the automatically installed
background updater installed by Google software. It is unacceptable to
have an updater polling the internet for updates to software that may
not even be currently running. Following the pattern of nearly every
other OS X application of checking for updates only when the
application is executed is a much more palatable approach that will
still mitigate the risks posed by outdated software.

lowell

unread,
Feb 14, 2009, 7:16:07 PM2/14/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Plug-in
Roman said:
2) You can remove Google Software Update by uninstalling all software
that uses it, such as the Google Earth Plugin, the Google Talk Plugin
(for video chat in Gmail), etc. It will then remove itself
automatically after about a day.

You lied to us, Roman.

I haven't had anything Google related installed in at least a month,
and still I regularly have to dismiss requests from Little Snitch for
your updater.

Not fun. Not cool at all.

Roman N

unread,
Feb 20, 2009, 1:01:26 PM2/20/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Plug-in
Hi all,

Firstly, I'd like to thank you all for your extensive and constructive
comments on this issue. We've been following this thread closely and
have held several internal discussions about its implications on the
future of automatic updates to Google software.

You've all brought up many valid points (i.e. expensive bandwidth
situations) and possible alternatives (i.e. update check only on
launch), and we're considering each of these arguments in our design
decisions. More specifically, we are currently investigating methods
of improving both the transparency and configurability of the software
update mechanism. Whether these improvements manifest as binary
changes to the software or as new, public documentation is still a
question we're working on answering.

So, in summary:

1. We hear you. Your insight is invaluable to us.
2. Clearly, there's work to be done on the automatic updates front.
3. We're working on a solution.

Lastly, I'd like to point you all to this relevant blog post at the
Chromium blog:

http://blog.chromium.org/2009/01/google-chrome-installation-and-updates.html

While this only discusses automatic update as it relates to Google
Chrome, it may help provide some additional perspective on how
engineers at Google think about updating client software.

Thanks,
- Roman

P.S. lowell - I'm sending you an email offline to see why the
updater's still popping up.

Tomas

unread,
Feb 21, 2009, 1:40:39 PM2/21/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Plug-in
Thanks for the link to the Chromium blog post - being a Mac user there
is little chance I would have ever seen that information since our
machines are unsupported at this time and there is little reason for
me to wander into a Windows-only blog.

Thank you also for having 'internal discussions' about our comments,
and for giving us at least the feedback you have about them.

At this time I have 100% disabled Google Update, and blocked it from
re-loading on my machines, which does bother me as it leaves my
currently running Google apps frozen at whatever version they were at
when I yanked Google Update.

Thing is, you left me no choice if I was to adequately control my
bandwidth usage while on limited and expensive links. So long as *I*,
the admin of my machines, can control when Update has access to
download/install, and so long as I , the admin, can control what is
running in background, I have no problems with it. Take away those
controls and I simply must take away the ability for it to run at all.
Simple.

One other factor I don't recall being mentioned by others: Even Google
can make mistakes in it's software updates, and even with urgent
updates from Apple I generally wait at least one or two days before
updating software on mission critical machines to protect myself from
the occasional buggy update. Several times over the years monitoring
feedback from others who had updated their software ASAP before
installing on my machines has prevented me from loading a bad update.
I insist on having that same level of control on updates from Google.

So, at this point I'm waiting, not too patiently, for Google to make
their next move in this arena. I'd like to be able to allow Google
Update to be re-installed, but will only allow it if I have control
over when it checks for updates, when it downloads updates, and when
it actively updates software on my machines. If I am not allowed that
control over the software, it will not be on my machines.

Thank you for listening,
Tom
http://tijil.org/bio.html
UNIX since 1981 - Mac since 1986 - Never did Windows

-=This is a Microsoft Free Zone=-

On Feb 20, 10:01 am, Roman N wrote:
> Hi all,
>
> Firstly, I'd like to thank you all for your extensive and constructive
> comments on this issue. We've been following this thread closely and
> have held several internal discussions about its implications on the
> future of automatic updates to Google software.
>
> You've all brought up many valid points (i.e. expensive bandwidth
> situations) and possible alternatives (i.e. update check only on
> launch), and we're considering each of these arguments in our design
> decisions. More specifically, we are currently investigating methods
> of improving both the transparency and configurability of the software
> update mechanism. Whether these improvements manifest as binary
> changes to the software or as new, public documentation is still a
> question we're working on answering.
>
> So, in summary:
>
> 1. We hear you. Your insight is invaluable to us.
> 2. Clearly, there's work to be done on the automatic updates front.
> 3. We're working on a solution.
>
> Lastly, I'd like to point you all to this relevant blog post at the
> Chromium blog:
>
> http://blog.chromium.org/2009/01/google-chrome-installation-and-updat...

mike...@gmail.com

unread,
Feb 22, 2009, 12:28:40 PM2/22/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Plug-in
Hi Roman,

I want to say how great I think it is just that you’re letting us know
that Google is monitoring this discussion. That really means a lot,
however Google decides to resolve this issue.

I just have one question, and then a comment. I apologize if my
comments have any glaring displays of ignorance, since I’m not a tech
guy (or a tech girl, for that matter). I just followed the issue here.
I hope the group will bear with me.

Like lot of people, I’m concerned about the implications of Google
Software Update. I’m sufficiently concerned that I’ve decided that I‘m
going to not use Google software that requires it, at least until
there is some more information out.

I really hope that in the future I will be allowed to use Google Earth
and other Google applications without being required to allow Google
Software update to run in the background on my computer. In the
meantime, could you provide a complete list of everything that must be
removed from my computer for the updater to uninstall itself? The
examples provided in order to uninstall are all just “such as…etc,”
and to really get rid of the updater I want to be sure I’m not missing
anything. Also, how can I verify it has uninstalled itself?

I plan to still use Google Documents and Gmail (no chat) and of course
the irreplaceable Google search. I assume they don’t require accepting
any installations? I can do without Earth, which I just used for fun,
and I can just as easily load my pictures to Picasa manually, or for
that matter to Facebook, especially now since it has clarified its
usage policies.

Since I’m posting anyway, I feel I should probably say why I’m
concerned enough to stop using useful and enjoyable applications over
this. Of course it’s in part a simple distaste for having processes
running that I don’t have any control over. It’s also in part a
reaction to the crass phasing of the notice.

(Can you imagine if you sat down to eat at a restaurant and the
manager came over and said, “To continue eating here, you must wash
your hands before the food arrives. You can wash your hands now, or
you can leave.” The merits of washing hands before eating
notwithstanding, and regardless of plans you may have had to do so
anyway, I imagine that the manager could talk all he wants about his
concern for your health and safety, but he would be talking to the
back of your head. I know he would be talking to mine, and a lot of
other people's, I suppose.)

However, it was your comment from last December, “1) Google Software
Update is installed when you install Google software that relies on it
for patches (i.e. security fixes),” that especially clarified the
issue for me. My objections are less technical than logical, I think:

1. Could any Google software create a security risk (that would
require a “security fix”) when it is not running? If Google software
programs are security risks when they are not running--however
concerning in itself--then a continuous automatic updater makes sense.
Is that the case? Because if Google software programs aren’t security
risks when they are not running, why wouldn’t it be just as safe to
run update at the program’s startup?

2. The suggestion that Google software might require urgent patches
for security fixes is a little unsettling. So the developers’ answer
is not quite reassuring: require users to install Google software that
will run automatically, continuously, and have root-level ability (is
that right?) to make changes to the users system. It seems a bit like
swallowing the spider to catch the fly.

I guess there are a few questions in there. Thanks again for your
attention on this,

Michael S.
End User


PS. The phrasing of the notice I saw read:

"Google Software Updater is about to be installed.

"This software will update any Google software on your computer when
new versions become available. Google Software Update verifies updates
and is safer than downloading files from the Internet yourself.

"To continue using Google Earth, you must accept the new Google
privacy policies [link] and allow Google Software Update to run in the
background on your computer."

Also another link: "Read technical details" I really would have liked
some more non-technical information.

The two boxes that followed were "Accept and Install" and "Quit Google
Earth"


On Feb 21, 2:01 am, Roman N wrote:
> Hi all,
>
> Firstly, I'd like to thank you all for your extensive and constructive
> comments on this issue. We've been following this thread closely and
> have held several internal discussions about its implications on the
> future of automatic updates to Google software.
>
> You've all brought up many valid points (i.e. expensive bandwidth
> situations) and possible alternatives (i.e. update check only on
> launch), and we're considering each of these arguments in our design
> decisions. More specifically, we are currently investigating methods
> of improving both the transparency and configurability of the software
> update mechanism. Whether these improvements manifest as binary
> changes to the software or as new, public documentation is still a
> question we're working on answering.
>
> So, in summary:
>
> 1. We hear you. Your insight is invaluable to us.
> 2. Clearly, there's work to be done on the automatic updates front.
> 3. We're working on a solution.
>
> Lastly, I'd like to point you all to this relevant blog post at the
> Chromium blog:
>
> http://blog.chromium.org/2009/01/google-chrome-installation-and-updat...

GeoDave

unread,
Mar 16, 2009, 5:20:54 AM3/16/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Plug-in
Having read through all this thread, it merely confirms my serious
doubts about the direction that Google as a company is moving - not
good!

The only thing I would add is that those people who understand the
implications of what Google is doing need to post messages and talk to
those who don't understand the issues associated with unwanted
software running in the background. I work with teachers across the UK
and I now warn anyone who will listen - non-technical people are often
shocked by what they hear but neither understand the rationale for
software such as 'Google Updater' nor have any idea how to deal with
it.

Google may tell us that they are listening but they will only change
their policy and their direction if and when large numbers of ordinary
computer users get concerned - people need to know what Google is
doing. Personally, I am already moving away from Google products and
can easily see a time when I use none of them....
> > > Not fun. Not cool at all.- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

Tomas

unread,
Mar 16, 2009, 4:03:03 PM3/16/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Plug-in
GeoDave wrote:
"Google may tell us that they are listening but they will only change
their policy and their direction if and when large numbers of ordinary
computer users get concerned - people need to know what Google is
doing."
________________

Dave, I'm afraid we won't get that large groundswell of "concern"
about how Google has decided to implement Software Update, largly for
two reasons: (1) They very carefully hid any details of what they were
installing from ordinary users, and (2) most ordinary users will not
understand why there is a problem even after there is one.

Most users on limited bandwidth services with massive charges for
overages won't know where the overages came from, for example.

I'm afraid that there won't be the required mass objection to Google's
Software Update until after some disastrous error happens because of
Software Update and hundreds of thousands of machines are all affected
at the same time.

It could be an update that causes some Google application to quit
working right, or it could even be some hack that gets the blackhats
in the back door due to Update.

Whatever it turns out to be, I don't think until AFTER the damage is
done that there will be enough public recognition of the problem of
software running unknown in background with access to the internet and
zero controls accessible to the owner/user of the hardware.

Roman? Any further updates on this problem?

Tom

Susan

unread,
Mar 17, 2009, 7:41:00 PM3/17/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Plug-in
The change in Google's updater is very disturbing and we won't be
upgrading or installing any Google product using this updater. Many
of these reasons have been discussed at length by others. Key ones
for me and my company are:
1. security risk - my IT department rightly classifies this as spyware
and won't permit it
2. our products depend upon dependable verified behavior. We
thoroughly test our apps with a specific version of Google Earth and
other applications on computers with a specific image. Any reputable
company or developer does this. We cannot have our computers updating
themselves at will and changing the environment and possibly causing
problems that may have severe consequences to our customers. We
cannot have hidden processes kicking off whenever they feel like it
and possibly impacting our product's performance. We need a stable,
deterministic environment. We upgrade to new versions when our
project timelines and budgets allow us to do the thorough testing and
verification required to deliver a quality product. For us to
continue using Google applications, all updates must be manual - no
automatic updates are permissible. No nags, nothing. When we want an
update, we will go to the internet and download it. Our computer, our
risk. If Google thinks they know better than we do, then Google needs
to assume all liability for any damages caused by their updates and
their hidden processes. Somehow I don't see Google changing their
policy on their liability. The arrogance behind this is breathtaking.

We're running on Windows XP. All of the posts so far on how to remove
or block the updater seem to be geared for Mac platforms. Can anyone
provide guidance on how to hunt down and eliminate this spyware on
Window platforms or is there another discussion group that addresses
the updater on Windows platforms (my google search landed me in this
discussion group for the updater issue)? It would be much
appreciated.

While I appreciate that Roman and the Google design team think they
are helping people, the only acceptable solution for my company is for
Google products to be available without the Updater and any other
hidden tasks. The Updater should be optional - for many people it may
provide a valuable service. Our needs and our customers' needs may
not suit everyone. But people should be allowed to opt out from
installing the updater and any other hidden apps that run whenever
they feel like it.

It's been almost a month since Roman's post below. What progress has
been made towards allowing users to opt out from the Updater and
hidden processes? I'm starting to think that we should rethink our
GIS strategy and go with a platform that we can control.

On a personal note, I was excited to see that Oceans and Mars had been
added to Google Earth and wanted to play with it. But I won't install
spyware on my personal computer either. So, I guess I'll be waiting
to see if Google decides to stop bullying the user community.

Regards,

Susan

On Feb 20, 2:01 pm, Roman N wrote:
> Hi all,
>
> Firstly, I'd like to thank you all for your extensive and constructive
> comments on this issue. We've been following this thread closely and
> have held several internal discussions about its implications on the
> future of automatic updates toGooglesoftware.
>
> You've all brought up many valid points (i.e. expensive bandwidth
> situations) and possible alternatives (i.e. update check only on
> launch), and we're considering each of these arguments in our design
> decisions. More specifically, we are currently investigating methods
> of improving both the transparency and configurability of the software
> update mechanism. Whether these improvements manifest as binary
> changes to the software or as new, public documentation is still a
> question we're working on answering.
>
> So, in summary:
>
> 1. We hear you. Your insight is invaluable to us.
> 2. Clearly, there's work to be done on the automatic updates front.
> 3. We're working on a solution.
>
> Lastly, I'd like to point you all to this relevant blog post at the
> Chromium blog:
>
> http://blog.chromium.org/2009/01/google-chrome-installation-and-updat...
>
> While this only discusses automatic update as it relates toGoogle
> Chrome, it may help provide some additional perspective on how
> engineers atGooglethink about updating client software.
>
> Thanks,
> - Roman
>
> P.S. lowell - I'm sending you an email offline to see why theupdater'sstill popping up.
>
> On Feb 14, 4:16 pm, lowell wrote:
>
> > Roman said:
> > 2) You can removeGoogleSoftware Update by uninstalling all software
> > that uses it, such as theGoogleEarth Plugin, theGoogleTalk Plugin
> > (for video chat in Gmail), etc. It will then remove itself
> > automatically after about a day.
>
> > You lied to us, Roman.
>
> > I haven't had anythingGooglerelated installed in at least a month,

barryhunter (KML Guru)

unread,
Mar 17, 2009, 8:59:08 PM3/17/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Plug-in
You seem to be talking about the standalone version of Google Earth
(even as opposed to the plugin), and you sound like you might be a pro
customer?

If so, then try contacting your support contact via email, at this
time they are able to provide non updater installs.

'Free' clients are not so lucky, but its sign the Google is (re)
considering its strategy.

Andre

unread,
Mar 17, 2009, 11:57:46 PM3/17/09
to KML Developer Support - Google Earth Plug-in
Very well said Susan. It also meets my definition of spyware, and I
will simply never run another release of any Google product until this
is eliminated.

Google is basically saying that if we want to run their latest
software, we must agree to continuously run this other thing that we
don't want to. I guess they have that right to demand this, but we
also have the right to no longer trust the company, or use their
products.

Until others like you speak out, they just aren't going to get it.
They think they are doing what's in our best interest. If some people
want that, then good for them. Google should make it an option for
them to enable it.

Unfortunately, the majority of the population just doesn't grasp the
bad part of this. A lot of people think they are being taken care of,
and do not mind having stuff running in the background, or are just
oblivious to it.

Take a look at the running processes on any random home computer and
you'll see. Just look at all the little icons people have in their
task-tray.

I have looked for other forums discussing this issue, and many people
- maybe the majority - are arguing