This Article has been wrtten by Karsten M. Self and taken from here
Spyware, Adware, Windows, GNU/Linux, and Software Culture
For starters, I’ll note that I run GNU/Linux on my own personal
desktop, both at home
and at work, and that the problems delineated
in the article simply don’t exist for me there. While I strongly
favor Linux, I consider my bias grounded in experience and reality.
I’ve certainly had years of experience with both types of
I run herd over a small posse of legacy MS Windows systems at
work, a youth center in Napa, CA. I’m also called on periodically
to do maintenance on PCs used by adult staff in various businesses.
I have to say the the whole issue of spyware, adware, viruses,
worms, and other annoyances (generally: malware) really opened my
eyes to the problems MS Windows users face.
Among topics the article didn’t address for reasons of space and
- Keeping things clean. I’ve found a few
tricks that work, at least for the moment, with vigilance,
paranoia, and a healthy dose of luck.
- Experiences. Just how bad the problem is,
with some quantified examples.
- Some cultural observations.
There were also a few general observations I had on the spyware
/ adware / malware issue. Briefly (and there’s more at depth later
on most of these points):
- Seeing both GNU/Linux and Windows systems running
side-by-side, the magnitude of the problem is just unbelievably
different. As in: nonexistent vs. a major constant concern.
- It is possible to protect MS Windows systems against
the problem. But it’s a lot of work, restricts a lot of the
so-called useful functionality of the platform, and in my case
involves no email, greatly limited downloads, rather effectively
blocking use of MS Internet Explorer, and keeping virus and
adware definition files up to date. I spend thirty minutes daily
on this for ten systems and still don’t feel I’ve got things
comfortably nailed down. For those interested in the “how”, I
cover this in some detail below.
- Typical small enterprise use of MS Windows is an absolute
nightmare from an adware/spyware perspective, and (so far) you
couldn’t pay me to go there. Home-usage is probably even
- Most telling is the difference I see between the applications
space in my preferred GNU/Linux distribution (or version),
Debian, and MS Windows. Boiling it down: in a collaborative, open
platform, programs have to obey rules to be included. In a
fiercely competitive environment, there’s ferocious levels of
backstabbing and low tricks to try to get applications in front
of the user or on their system. Adware and its ilk are a logical
extension of the existing proprietary software marketplace.
There’s considerably more on this below.