Bonum Certa Men Certa

Malware in the Ubuntu Snap Store, Thanks to Canonical Bloatware Mindset

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Oct 01, 2023

Reprinted with permission from Ryan Farmer.

Background motif

THERE is malware in the Ubuntu Snap Store Again.

I keep telling people not to use Snaps.

This isn’t even the first time, or the second, or third, that confirmed malware has been found in the Snap store.

Snaps have a lot of problems, including being an undocumented and proprietary store format which only Canonical can operate. That means that the software is totally useless if their store ever goes down or they get tired of running it.

They don’t, as a rule, inspect anything that actually goes in there, so the place is ripe for abuse.

Naturally, Microsoft pushes Snaps if you want to run any Microsoft software. They have a partnership with Canonical, which is another reason to avoid Ubuntu and Snaps.

Snaps aren’t even really universal. Forget other distributions, I have found some that wouldn’t work on Ubuntu if you had KDE. A package that needs Ubuntu, and GNOME on Ubuntu, is not a universal package. Yet, GZDoom was like this.

The Flatpak of GZDoom has ran everywhere I’ve installed it.

It’s amusing that Linux distributions never had a malware problem to speak of until Canonical came along and did Snap, and now that they did, and partnered with Microsoft to promote it, Microsoft-affiliated media declares that Linux has a malware problem.

I don’t have Snap and I will never install it on Debian, because it’s a nasty and malicious attack on the users, repeated malware incidents aside.

Alan Pope put up an article about why Linux *needs* app stores. Debian has an extensive software collection and I put Synaptic Package Manager in so I could see it all without this ridiculous “AppStream” nonsense in Plasma Discover.

There are more packages in every distribution than there will ever be AppStream data for.

I almost always find the software I need in Apt. I have several Flatpaks installed for games and stuff, but not stuff that I can get packaged properly in Debian format.

Debian can’t review external stores that are not part of Debian, which is why Flatpak is optionally there, but not by default. It’s impossible to secure Flatpak because of the “library soup” it throws everywhere which is why I’m keen to keep the number of Flatpaks installed down to a minimum. But Snap is completely unacceptable.

Canonical’s major contribution to Linux appears to be working with Microsoft to import Windows-style security disasters into Ubuntu.

There is essentially no value in app stores. To borrow a Richard Stallman line for a minute, the idea is beyond stupid, it’s a marketing campaign. And as with most marketing campaigns, the hype is there to make people think the outcome is inevitable and that there’s no choice.

I recently came across a Wikipedia article about an app store that was so poorly written that I proposed the entire article for deletion. It turned out that nobody objected and the entire article came down as soon as the Proposed Deletion tag aged to the required time.

How many people came across the article? Well, it was about an app store on an OS from the 90s, but it rubbed me the wrong way even having it there. It was written in such a way as to make DRM sound like a feature and there are certainly enough articles on Wikipedia, that you can’t fix because marketing companies watch them closely, but this one wasn’t being monitored like that because it was about NeXTStep’s app store, and a lot of sycophantic lines about Steve Jobs.

Well, it’s gone now, and it’s likely not coming back.

Recently, someone registered a Wikipedia account simply to follow me around and vandalize my edits. That’s the only thing they’ve done in the past three days.

Wikipedia is almost, a lost cause. It’s more like social networks, pointless. Everything is lost, but nothing there was important to begin with. The Codes of Censorship drive away anyone interesting.

Sometimes they go and set up their own server where they don’t moderate anything as long as it’s not illegal, and that’s at least better than your garden variety “community”.

Amusingly, Matthew Garrett, recently seems to have lost his own hosting on a Mastodon server.

It seems that the “President of GNOME” (LOL), who gave him this platform, either can’t figure out how to, or can’t be bothered, to recover it.

It’s certainly plausible that nobody made backups and it’s just lost.

Every “social network”, big or small, will end up this way eventually. This one only had three accounts on it, but even Facebook will be gone someday. It’s better to stop participating.

It’s been years now since I’ve even been on it and I am still getting checks in the mail over illegal things that Facebook did while I had an account.

“They” (the cancel mob) that tends to hang out in Mastodon space didn’t even have to bully Garrett like they did to get rid of me. He just got foiled, it seems, by incompetent server administration.

Like most walled gardens, Mastodon has no way for the user to pack up years worth of posts and unpack them someplace else. At some point you lose everything whether they actually cancel you or just get tired of it, or something crashes and they weren’t making proper backups. It’s a waste of time and it leaves you feeling defeated. So the better choice is to only have a presence where people can’t easily harm you.

Richard Stallman announced that he has cancer, but that it is treatable and that he should live longer.

Just days before Matthew Garrett’s microblog went down, he was saying he wished “there was a replacement” waiting for Stallman.

I read that and thought it was in bad taste, to say the lease.

I’m glad that RMS is still alive and some of the people who appear to maybe fantasize about ill wishes for him are finding themselves less relevant, sometimes by “outages” or even Libera Chat dying at the pace of a light dimmer. Just, less people on the network every month until it becomes a complete ghost town.

If Richard Stallman were to be replaced, or canceled, (people have tried before, with vicious lies) he’d almost certainly be replaced with someone who would always tow the line for enemies of Free Software.

With any luck, Stallman will be around for a long time to come. I wish him a speedy recovery.

Going back to the issue of Linux distributions for a moment, it is bad enough that we have a rat infestation, of people who claim to be friends, but actually implement malware intended to make my computer disobey me or not be able to easily be told to do what I want it to do (remove Windows, install this OS over here, don’t “validate” anything with Microsoft certificates, whatever I say to do is right).

That’s where we turn around and talk about “apps” again. The “app stores” are basically, containerized programs. They do nasty things that force the user to keep their hands out of the container. What kind of a future is it when you can’t even get in the container and meaningfully change the way even Free Software will work?

Stores like Snap and Flatpak are an open sewer designed to hide how things work from you and foist proprietary software. Proprietary software vendors would probably really appreciate the container preventing the user from messing around with the program too much. You toss in a payments system later and you do have an “app store”.

Here you go. Don’t touch this. You’re not allowed!

There is perhaps no greater regression than a computer so locked down from boot to running a program than what Microsoft, IBM, and Canonical are dumping on Linux, which is why I have Debian now and don’t touch Flatpak for anything terribly important.

If Flatpak became unavailable on Debian, it wouldn’t be a disaster for me. I’d have to live with an older version of some emulators or build or backport them myself. Big whoop.

Operating systems that rely on Flatpak are a pointless idea. You’re turning yourself into a clone of something that already exists. Fedora Silverblue.

Please don’t do this!

I see that Arch Linux is getting ready to offer Unity, the desktop Ubuntu abandoned.

I suppose there’s no harm in having this as an option. During the various ways that Canonical previously tried to monetize the desktop, they turned Ubuntu into keylogging malware that sent your keystrokes to an Amazon server through the Unity HUD, but obviously that plug-in is no longer in Unity, and Unity (the community continuation) is under the GPLv3, and obviously nobody maintaining it now is signing the Canonical copyright assignment for new code, so it’s gotten too far away from Canonical trying to claw back if they wanted it.

I myself might eventually pop in and see what they manage to do with it now that it is not hazardous waste pushed by Canonical.

Canonical’s defense the entire time the Amazon Lens was there was basically what Firefox’s is now for their keylogging adware. You can turn it off, if you figure out how.

Unfortunately, continued use of a product that has already done something like this just shows them how many people tolerated it and makes them wonder what they can get away with next.

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