Blog Post

spyGoogle wareDesktop

First, I will start off with some praises. Google Desktop “LOOKS” promising, it does index quite fast, very small CPU footprint when running.

Now, it is time I let you have it a little. And if you do happen upon this post, don’t email me or comment with excuses. Excuses and opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.

First off you admit that this new release contains “some” of the features that the first release for Windows did. Seems kind of odd that you would releases something that isn’t even as feature rich as your first Windows release, but hey, you did release one, so I am going to somewhat give you the benefit of the doubt.

Secondly, where is the source? You claim that you support open source and preach it, yes you Chris, yet I don’t see the source. I even added deb-src to my sources.list hoping there was a chance I could see your source package. Nope, 404 baby! OK, I can give you that one, so hey, let me check your link to the Google code page, and look for the source there. Nope, not there, but oddly enough you mirror real free software and open source packages. GCC and OpenSSL to name a couple. Granted some people don’t care to see the source, but then again there are some who do, me being one of them.

Thirdly, what the hell are you thinking with your freakin’ menu setup? Who told you that we want Google Desktop as a top level menu? One word, oh should I say link? FREEDESKTOP.ORG! And if your Debian packagers at Google were as good as I have heard, they would know about menus.

Fourthly, a man page would be nice, but hey who uses the command line anyways?

Fifthly, I understand why no source now. I click on preferences and instead of popping up a local preference dialog, I am taken to a web page webpage that looks like for my preferences. And look at that, there is my directory structure listed smack dab at the top. And also when I set preferences or index, tcp ports are opened to So, that makes me wonder. No source code, preferences are web based, leading me to believe that a) you are doing more snooping than you should be, or b) refer to a.

So Google, are you the first Spy Ware application for Linux? I think you are! Now get off my damn system and shoo fly!

Linux users around the world that may not know, but Linux already has what Google is attempting, and guess what? It is free and open. I am talking about Beagle and Strigi. Beagle is the prettiest, and Strigi is the fastest. Both are available in the Ubuntu repositories, and more than likely, in every distributions repositories.

UPDATE: I apologize for booging the “Fithly”. I stated I was taken to a webpage when I wasn’t. What I meant to say was that setting preferences and even indexing, netstat -a shows tcp connections. I have added and edited the correctness into the post above.

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  • Rich

    I would tend to agree, if not on as detailed a reason as you then at least because I’ve seen what the massive installation of all things google, yahoo, and (gasp) AOL have done to my boss’ comps at his house.

    In fact, I am at his house right now, unsupervised no less, doing “whatever I see fit” to fix his computers.

    Oh the temptations are there… and I have Kubuntu CDs in the truck! Must….Resist…

  • I can’t believe you just whinged about the lack of a man page. What century are you living in?

    And so what if the source isn’t available? This is why we have Beagle and Tracker.

  • lame

    This was lame. Richard, you are an idiot. Preferences are NOT on They are served locally from your machine, as you can see from the web address –…. But a guru like you is obviously above such things.

  • Christian Zambrano

    The main reason why I installed Google Desktop is that it will index my thunderbird e-mails which beagle doesn’t.

    From Beagles FAQ Page:
    Beagle is no longer built with default Thunderbird support, as of version 0.2.15. (Support for indexing email, news, RSS, and addresses had originally been added in Beagle 0.2.8, but was removed due to memory issues.)

  • @Alex: the man page thing was a joke in a way πŸ™‚ I love man pages though!

    @lame: you are right, this is lame. This being Google Desktop of course. You said preferences aren’t on, you are right in that they are, however when ever I open it or an index is run, netstat -a displays 2 links to Google? I think I may have mumbo jumboed the description in my post a bit, but when you run it, netstat -a and look at the Google links. Why is that?

    @Christian: Google Desktop definitely indexes quicker than the others, however I am not sure what all it indexes and if it indexes as much as Beagle or Strigi. It is promising to say the least, but I just don’t trust them that much.

    I don’t get why when I index, tcp ports are opened to Google and there is traffic. And when you disconnect your Internet connection, well at least for me, indexing took a while. Odd behaviors? Or is there more to it?

  • @lame: I forgot to add you being a coward (using the nick lame instead of being a real man/woman) and calling me an idiot shows you have the mentality of a piss ant. You can disagree, but your ignorance isn’t welcomed. kthxbye!

  • Hunding

    thanks for the info…I won’t be installing google desktop anytime soon.

  • erik

    You want to see source. You don’t NEED to see source. There’s a difference there, those two things are separate in real life. There’s no reason why you would need to see it.

    About the menu setup, menus are so 80s. You search for the applications and just pin couple favorites somewhere if you need them really often. No one really sees the menu structures anymore so it doesn’t matter where they slap stuff.

    Yes, you are correct, no one from their target customer group cares about command line.

    The preferences page at least for me is on localhost, not on … It might save something to, hopefully it does so that my settings can track me. πŸ™‚

    It can index gmail which is a very good feature. That’s one feature Beagle doesn’t have afaik. Shame it can’t index Google Docs, hopefully next versions will. That’s where all the documents are anyways. πŸ™‚

    The ctrl-ctrl is a more usable way to popup the search dialog. Pretty damned good, I wish Beagle knew something like that instead of the usual reaching for rarely used keys approach.

    Google desktop also integrates web search and local search very well. Convenient, as at least I don’t care where the information is as long as I get it when I need it.

    You really should take off your tin foil hat. Google is user centric and providing stuff for users. Not zealots that sleep tin foil hat on their head. The features are nice, although they should add more, and the product works nicely and offers a few things the open source competition does not.

  • lame

    @nixternal: Have you turned off the so-called “advanced features”? And are you absolutely sure those 2 connections are caused by Google Desktop? Prove it please (‘sudo netstat -tuap’). You’ve already made accusations without checking the facts first. If you don’t like being called an idiot, avoid this in the future.

  • Don’t be a fucktard. Google just paid shitload of real cash to people to get to know OSS and develop various OSS projects (Summer of Code).

    If they wan’t to keep their apps closed, let them. It’s not unique in scope.

    FWIW, connection to might be some not-so-well coded connection to Does beagle index it?

    As for being only subset of Windows version, this is their first release.

  • There is probably traffic because in the settings on the last page is an option to send anonymous usage info to google. I’ve not verified it, but I know I’ve turned that off.

  • Stoffe

    You forgot about tracker which is where I’d put my money, if nothing else because it’s so much more than a simple indexer. Beagle is mostly dead in the water even though it indexes more, because it’s limited in where it can go and more importantly, because it’s a complete hog. It’s still touted by people who really want to promote mono, though.

    Tracker could use some more formats indexed and some better integration, but I hope it’ll have the manpower. What I would really like Google to do is to throw their resources behind that, and build their stuff on top of it, branded and with Gmail integration and so on if they wish.

    I installed, quickly tried, and then uninstalled the Google thingy. It wasn’t worth it and I do agree on some of the issues you raise. I might be grumpy, but especially the top level menu really got to me. While I don’t use menus much, I sure didn’t like that.

  • I had the “Advanced Features” and the anonymous stuff turned off. I don’t index GMail either, as I have that shut off.

    netstat -tuap shows:
    tcp 0 0 TIME_WAIT –
    tcp 0 0 TIME_WAIT – tcp 0 0 TIME_WAIT –
    tcp 0 0 localhost:32743 *:* LISTEN 25086/gdl_indexer

    I can get this info at intervals, not all the time. For some reason forcing an index isn’t working here, or either the checking the indexing status. hs-in-f104: the in means incoming from Google. hs-out-f136: the out means outgoing to Google. I don’t have GMail opened, don’t have Google Talk running, don’t have anything Google running but the gdl.

    @Pasi: ahh, fucktard, one of my favorite words πŸ™‚ I understand that Google paid developers and what not, but it would still be interesting to see the code. I don’t need to know how the indexer works, I just want to know the reason behind the connections. I know all of the horrid Google stories, and take most of them with a grain of salt. You are correct as well, seeing as this is a first release so-to-speak, that there could be a booged connection that is staying open to *, but only time will tell. I know this is their first release, which I stated as a reason for a small subset of the FIRST Windows version. Not the latest, but the first.

    @eric: where can I get a tin foil hat? I suck at art, so maybe I can buy one. would make for a good conversation piece at a black-tie affair πŸ™‚ Anyways, I know what you are saying, and if I wore such a hat, I don’t think I would use any of the Google services, but I like Google search, GMail (94% of the time), and Google Talk. I kind of like GDL as well, due to it being very quick, but I am not to sure that I would want my index being stored on Google. I work on applications that tend to be a little sensitive at times, and don’t want that showing up on their servers. At the same time it is somewhat hard for me to believe that they are storing an index, because that would be quite large, and the traffic isn’t quite large, or at least it isn’t large all at one time.

    Another thing that leads me to believe that info is being uploaded is that in /var/cache/google/desktop/ there is a file called id which resembles one of their API keys. Another thing I really like is how responsive and quick GDL is when you do a search. You start typing and it is there, kind of like Katapult or KRunner.

  • Aloesh

    You are the type of people that give the oss scene a bad name. Seriously. Now, shoo fly!

  • @Stoffe: I haven’t checked out Tracker, but you are correct. Everything I have heard is good concerning Tracker. I know with KDE 4 that Strigi is going to be a big force in desktop searching with KDE. HAHA, I like the “I might be grumpy” bit there as well. There are standards the Linux community is trying to blueprint and utilize with, and I know some people who have gone to work for Google with Linux packaging in mind. Of course they won’t tell me anything more than “the twix bars are good.”

    I don’t use the menu that much either since I have Katapult and KRunner just an alt-space or an alt-f2 away, but there are times I check the menus for an app that I have installed. Another reason for my grumpiness I guess you can say, as after speaking recently with 1 Google OSS big shot, and a few developers, everything they have told me hasn’t been accurate. I know Google contributes a shitton to Linux and Free Software. MySQL, Apache, and the Linux kernel just to name a few, but when you sit there and state you are going to do more for the community and don’t, I get a little perturbed. Granted there is the GSOC and that is an amazing project, which interestingly enough was stated that it wasn’t a big focus on it, tis the reason for only a certain amount of people. If Google was as serious as they say they are with F/OSS, then I would expect to see more out of them. They claim as well as another one of their great ideas, in which I see nothing more than reinvention of a wheel that has been created for many years (SourceForge, Freshmeat, Berlios, and others). Chris DiBona, at a recent talk in Chicago even stated one reason was due to those 3 projects I just listed as being stale and non-free both backend and the ability to offer non-free apps I guess. Google code only allows free software, which is good, but it is never their free software. They have a Linux distro called Goobuntu, yet the only thing you ever hear about or see are screenshots that have, more than likely, been gimped together. I don’t know, maybe my expectations are kind of high when someone tells you and preaches to you about F/OSS, and then don’t come through 100% on what they say.

  • @Aloesh: thanks man! Nothing like constructive criticism! It would be nice to know though what you think about GDL and why it might be doing the things it does. Plus, talking about GDL really doesn’t have to do anything about the OSS scene, so I would take “you are the type of people who the proprietary scene a bad name.” πŸ™‚

    Seriously, this is my opinion, nothing is hard evidence, and even people like lame, who called me an idiot, at least replied with some good information, which in my book earns you respect. So maybe you would like to come back, or not, totally up to you, and defend your statement. lame did it, and I believe you can as well. Who knows, maybe you will be right and I will shoo away, stop giving FLOSS talks at many local businesses, universities, and government meetings. I will give it all up just because I give OSS a bad name, I definitely don’t want to do that, as I love it so much.

    @lame: I have gotten used to being called an idiot, the old lady does it constantly πŸ™‚

  • erik

    They are not “storing index on Google servers”.. It’s not simply technically plausible. And yes, they need many of their apis from their own side thanks to many integration things such as that gmail support. They are natural to be found.

    And no, you don’t work on anything really important. You have never on your life worked on anything really important. Stop flattering yourself.

  • @erik: true, but I would like to think they were important πŸ™‚ I tend to agree with the API statement, and it seems that the connection isn’t constant. So that is why it is somewhat hard for me to believe they are grabbing and entire index. Plus, the things I said I worked on that were important, they are free software anyways, so people will know what it is eventually. How about instead of important, even though they are important to me and you can’t take that away, there is some personal stuff. An no not my pr0n collection πŸ™‚

  • erik

    Laying in the grass like venomous snake…

    No one notices anymore, there’s so much personal information afloat. Too much for anyone to grasp.


    Google just told me, via a phone call of all things, that in fact the GDL does access Google for various reasons even if you disable all of the advanced stuff. They couldn’t explain the “out” connection and recommended I file a bug if I notice it again.

    The “in” connections are due to GDL checking for updates, checking for new links to display at the top of search dialog, and others. So that answers the that part of the question.

    I had sent an email and received what I think is an automated response. In this response there was a 1-800 number which I decided to just call. Well after speaking with a couple of different people I was finally patched through to someone who was said to know the GDL. After speaking with this person, we will refer to him as ‘Twix’ πŸ™‚ He gave me the information. The “out” connection he thinks may have been due to a connection getting stuck open after the install. He said the only time the GDL sends something to Google is when the installation is complete. The installer will notify Google if the install either succeeded or failed.

    Also, one of my buddies who works with the OSS side of Google called and said I was an asshole and to be patient. Of course, or at least I hope, it was for comedic value. So, with the feedback from everyone, we may just know, and could have just been a part of the beta testing for them πŸ™‚

    @erik: I might be able to take off my tin foil hat now πŸ™‚ I don’t know if you were able to sit through the “Dukes of Hazard” movie, but I just thought about the one guy who wore the armadillo shell helmet so they couldn’t scan his brain waves. AHAHAHAH!

  • @erik:

    holy crap, tin-foil hats are serious


    save your brain from waves

    Click the image for some realness. You know, I had seen RMS put tin foil on a security badge used for getting into places before, but this hat isn’t a joke. I mean the WikiPedia website at first was a joke to me until I found the ballcap for sale on a website. Whoa man, that is crazy, but at the same time hillarious.

  • erik

    I am aware of those. And also that tin foil often just really makes things worse.

    Google is too visible to be actively bad. Sure, they co-operate with certain entities, but there are things they can do and things they can’t do. Google wouldn’t exist as it is today without that image of theirs.

  • Pingback: Google Desktop llega a Linux « Mi caja de locuras()

  • Jean Francois

    After reading your long opinionated piece (I guess you’re the only one that gets an opinion!), the only thing I can really offer is that you butchered your weak defense. It’s “opinions and excuses are like assholes — everyone has one and they all stink.” Otherwise, you could pick any part of the anatomy other than an asshole and the statement would still hold, making no sense whatsoever.

  • Jerome

    Nixternal: you *DO* have a choice and to not use it. The wrong thing you did is *whine* on something that is not forced upon you. Try looking at your archives and this is not the only time you complained on something and then retract.

    Perhaps its the way you wrote your blog pieces. If it didn’t sound arrogant and was more constructive perhaps some people wouldn’t call you an asshole (your friend’s words not mine).

  • @Jean: where do I say that nobody else but me has an opinion? The “and they all stink” doesn’t refer to me, mine smells like roses πŸ™‚

    @Jerome: I am not retracting anything. All I did was give Google’s clarifications. If you Google, the Google Desktop, you will notice that there are spyware applications that have considered marking it as such. Is it spyware, is it not spyware? How are we to know? Google says no, but they don’t have any proof of it w/o releasing the code.

    Have I noticed a connection to Google again, yes. Is it downloading information? Is it uploading information? How are we to know? Also Google states that *-in-* means incoming and *-out-* means outgoing, how are we to know?

    So no retractions, clarifications by Google for you to either except or not. The reason my buddy called me an asshole is because I keep pressing the “when google when” button with him.

    If you look through points 1-5 I did in the original post, I am still sticking with it for various reasons.
    #1 – They release a Linux version that isn’t even half of the first Microsoft version, and from the screenshots, I would say is just barely 1/25th of what the Windows version is now. The latest looks like SuperKarmaba on steroids.

    #2 – I want source damnit! The GDL is from the open source labs apparently, but it isn’t open source. I just want the damn source.

    #3 – Their menu setup is wrong on many platforms, and because of this wouldn’t make it as an official package in any distribution that I know of. There are proper ways of formatting .desktop and .menu files, and Google didn’t do it.

    #4 – The man page was somewhat of a joke. The have people who specialize supposedly in Debian packaging there. If you specialize in Debian packaging, you should at least know you need a manpage πŸ™‚

    #5 – I am still sticking to this one no matter what Google says until they can otherwise prove differently. I know Google is huge and should be trusted, and wouldn’t do it, and blah blah blah. I am not going to be close minded and fall into line with that one either.

    As for the spyware part, I said “I think you are”, never said you definitely are or anything else, I think, think, think!

    And then I linked people who may not know about the other alternatives, the free alternatives, where I feel you can trust them a little bit more because you are able to evaluate the code and see what is happening.

    If all Google employees will talk about is their damn Twix bars, it leads me to believe they are holding a heck of a lot back. So here’s to you Mr. I work for Google and eat Twix bars all day long!

  • @Jean: shoot, disregard my last question about the opinion part…I just noticed I included it with the excuses statement and I am hoping I didn’t mean to. I think what happened is I was thinking of the “opinions are like assholes” saying and included it by accident. If not, then I am wrong on that one, opinions are good, good, good!

  • Jerome

    Even if Google Desktop did come out from their Open Source Labs, if they didn’t use any existing software that is copyleft, then they are not obliged to do (release code, or when they see it fit to be released), much like how Canonical’s Launchpad is at the moment (some parts might be though, but not all).

  • I know they aren’t obliged to do so, I was just hoping big time they would start with this project. I have known now for a while they were working on it, and about 6 months back the way I was told about it from a Google employee, who I really do not remember his name if I had to, but he was saying it will be offered on and will be open source and so on and so forth. Which you never know, it could eventually become that way, when they are complete maybe.

    I wish you wouldn’t have brought up the LP thing, that gets my blood boiling πŸ™‚ We tend to bitch and moan about LP not being open almost on a daily basis. Mark has said it will be open, so I am hoping he will do so sooner than later.

  • Freddy Martinez

    Yea Richard, you make OSS look bad. Seriously Aloesh, have you ever seen richard at work? He is probably the only reason I started contributing to the Ubuntu project and have since been working learning more and more to help develop. I fail to see how Richard, who actively helps make OSS software better (which I noticed you were using) gives it a bad name. Because he doesn’t like seeing a company not open source a product when said company benefits from Open Source software. Sure, Google does SoC and pays out several thousands of dollars for this program, but with all the street credentials that they pick up, they come out on top.

  • Pingback: Google Desktop, finalmente (???) anche su linux… « LinCom()

  • erik

    “#2 – I want source damnit! The GDL is from the open source labs apparently, but it isn’t open source. I just want the damn source.”

    Yes, you want open source. Yes, you want this and that. Yet you haven’t ever given any good reasoning why you should be given those things. Although you are clearly not stupid, you are acting like brainwashed and irrational all over and over again. Please don’t.

  • Michal

    That’s what I like …. linux user fighting amonst linux user…

    true freedom πŸ™‚

  • ragebeing

    have you noticed bigG used an old gtk version?
    try to add a directory to be indexed.

  • @ragebeing: I noticed when you go to add a directory, the open file dialog goes immediately to the back, and wasn’t all that decent looking, the same with the initial dialog that asks you about the advanced features. So if you aren’t looking at your system tray, when you click the add directory, you will never know it opened.

  • I do agree that the top-level menu category is a bit silly. I’m discussing it with them now. Beagle puts its entry under Accessories; is that the consensus location for this kind of tool?

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