Crapware Distribution through Adsense

I'm a big fan of the open source image editing software GIMP ("GNU Image Manipulation Program"), which launched a new version earlier this week. Version 2.8 is now ready for download on limited OS (see story on Slashdot: Gimp 2.8 finally released). What is annoying is that Adsense is full with Advertisers with deceiving ads, which take free open source software, and bundle this with additional installers, download managers and toolbars. These companies drive traffic through Adsense, as that is probably the only way people would get to their site. The ads are IMHO tricking people to download the software not knowing what they install.

Click the Big Green Download Button for Free Crap

Check the Adsense banner under this article on Gimpusers.com:

Huge Ad for Gimp Download

Huge Adsense Ad for Gimp Download

download-nation-gimp-downloadAt first impression, it looks like you are able to download the GIMP files by clicking on that large green button. You are, but not from the official GIMP software repository, but from a site called download-nation.com (not going to link to the site for obvious reasons). On the landing page, it is clearly described what you will download and what is getting installed, but then again, who reads all the text, just give me my free software please I'm clicking the big green button...

download-nation.com is distributing modified installers which differ from the originals. The modified installers are compliant with the original software manufacturer's policies and terms & conditions...Additional software may include toolbars, browser add-ons, game applications, anti-virus applications, and other types of applications....

Although the ads might be deceptive, it's still the responsibility of the user who downloads free software to keep their machine clean. The company behind download-nation even is giving a handy step-by-step process on to remove the bundled software from your computer.

1. Open Programs and Features by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Programs, and then clicking Programs and Features.
2. Select the program, and then click Uninstall. Some programs include the option to change or repair the program in addition to uninstalling it, but many simply offer the option to uninstall. To change a program, click Change or Repair. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Play it Safe, Protect Yourself

I have seen worse, where you download software with straight-up malware or spyware bundled. So play it safe, and if you would like to download open source free software, here are some tips:

  • Always download the software from the original website. This is not always as easy, as some open source software projects have obscure names or a different website address than the software name. In the case for GIMP, you can simply go to the Gimp.org website, where you will pointed to trusted sources.
  • Search for the software title on SourceForge.net. SF is not bundling the original package of software with download managers, toolbars or installers. For Gimp, you can download the GIMP Windows version or the GIMP MacOS version.

For website owners who are confronted with the deceptive ads on their website, you can block specific ads from appearing in Adsense. Check out the help pages which describe how to block ads in Adsense.