Tuesday, December 2, 2008

software: update incompetence, disk space

Our two Windows PCs have about 7 different update programs running: Adobe Acrobat updater, Apple Updater, Flash updater, GoogleUpdate.exe and GoogleUpdaterService.exe, Java update (jusched.exe?), LavaSoft Ad-Aware updater, Symantec LiveUpdate (AluSchedulerSvc.exe?), ThinkVantage updater, Windows update. And that's after I turned off several others in MSCONFIG and Services.

The update code built into Firefox (and the Thunderbird e-mail program, and other Mozilla-powered apps) is the gold standard for a single program updater. Occasionally when you run Firefox (or when you choose Help > Check for Updates), it checks if there's a newer version and if so downloads (in the background while you continue using the program) a single update file that only contains the differences from your current version. Meanwhile it's actively hostile to users when every program they run has its own update checker and update system. My little One Laptop Per Child XO has a single Software update control panel for all installed activities. I believe Linux distributions provide a single updater that knows every package you have installed and checks for new versions and can install all of them en masse.

The Norton 360 v2 upgrade was particulary brain-dead (no surprise). Norton 360 alerted me there was a free new version available. So I downloaded a 760kB stub updater. That downloaded a 76 MB installer, which it left in the hidden obscure C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Symantec Temporary Files directory, apparently forever unless you regularly search for any folder named "temp" anywhere on your hard drive. And then when I ran the installer, it asked if it could download updates to its upgrade installer!!? That shows a company with pathetic automation and no confidence in its processes. Symantec labors for months to create a new version and a setup program for it, and then they can't rebuild the setup program every time they update parts of the program? Mozilla builds a brand-new complete installer and a nightly upgrade for multiple platforms at least once a day for Firefox and their other products.

Then Java announced it had an upgrade available, even though I wasn't running any Java programs! Thanks for slowing my computer down when I'm not using your code. The upgrade itself went pretty smoothly. While it was going I scanned the release notes, and they casually mention
As of JDK 6u10, patch-in-place installation is the default, and the JRE installs itself in a directory called jre6. Previously, it would have installed itself in a directory called jre1.6.0_10.
I checked, and C:\Program Files\Java had five different Java runtimes, each 70 MB. Sun like Symantec thinks 70,000,000 characters of disk space is so tiny it's not worth asking you if it's OK to consume it forever.

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  • As well as Java Updater leaving crap in C:\Program Files\Java, I found various .zip files in C:\Program Files\Common Files\Java\Update\Base Images. Incompetent and wasteful.

    By Blogger skierpage, at April 24, 2009 9:49 PM  

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