back to article SuperFish cram scandal: Lenovo must now ask nicely before stuffing new PCs with crapware

The US government's trade watchdog, the FTC, has finalized its settlement deal with Lenovo on charges the PC builder sold Americans machines crammed with intrusive adware. The Federal Trade Commission kicked off 2018 announcing it has approved a deal that will end lawsuits against Lenovo in more than three dozen US states – as …

Joke

Darned

Darned Chinese ...

Oops, they weren't first by nauthical mile:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_copy_protection_rootkit_scandal

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B83
WTF?

Eeek

In certain parts of the British Civil Service its Lenovo laptops all the way.

What have they been snooping on?

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Re: Eeek

Seems unlikely that they would be shipping boxes with retail software installations to their users.

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Re: Eeek

"What have they been snooping on"

Never mind that; what's this "350_Million_Quid_A_Week.exe" then?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Eeek

@jimC the problem was that the firmware downloaded and installed the malware on windoze without notification, so lenovo+windoze+internet connection means you got the malware automatically before you could login.

No matter how many times you then deleted it once you got control of the machine it would just download it again on reboot even if you installed a clean locked down windoze.

It is good that the US is starting to look at the little wheezes that hardware and software vendors have been getting up to.

Personally I would say that there are far to many breaches of trust with PCs and the whole "vendors have the right to continue making money off their customers forever" idea has needed a slap down for decades

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Eeek

I think that it makes sense that all firmware be open source.

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Removing all crapware

I'm on my second Lenovo laptop at present and see no reason for using anything else: they are well-built machines with good keyboards and I like the RED BUTTON. As an added bonus, my start-up process for any new system is guaranteed to remove all forms of crapware:

  • Open package, take out system, connect all cables
  • Put rescue disk in drive, power on to boot from it
  • Completely wipe the HDD/SSD using gparted
  • Crapware is now gone.
  • Install Fedora Linux

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Re: Removing all crapware

Pretty much the standard for any retail machine

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Removing all crapware

"Install Fedora Linux" this is the important stage, problem was Windows allowed Lenovo to root the system each boot

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Anonymous Coward

'I'm on my second Lenovo laptop at present and see no reason for using anything else'

How nice for you... Got any family / friends / colleagues in your life without this option? The point here is ' use Linux instead' is laudable, but its not practical when none of the hardware makers offer it officially pre-installed (Dell does, but only in some markets). So please stop preaching, it changes nothing in reality!

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Re: 'I'm on my second Lenovo laptop at present and see no reason for using anything else'

I've installed Linux on four of my machines and those of friends, without problems. Frankly, Linux is easier to install these days than Windows. Never had a problem with drivers - they're either included or downloadable from a repo. HTH

BTW Love the Red button!

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Re: 'I'm on my second Lenovo laptop at present and see no reason for using anything else'

its not practical when none of the hardware makers offer it officially pre-installed

I understand that, in some parts of the world, the only retail PCs to be had in reasonable market access is big name brands with windows, with no option.

In parts of the world where there is option, too many continue to financially support these big brands with their windows only options, complaining that either those companies that do, use cheaper clone cases, charge more (due to lack of the economies of scale) or that there is not much choice.

Use Linux instead is, however, almost stupidly easy, plenty of distros have excellently user-friendly and painless installers, that require little effort to run, and do so in 20 minutes in some cases with one reboot.

No one is without the option, merely without the ability to make the decision, even given enough information and a disk/usb stick with an installer on it.

All those people moaning about Windows and Microsoft, and continuing to use Win7,8 or 10. Nothing is going to change while they sill have healthy market share.

It's like politics. No point moaning about what government does, then go and vote the same clowns back in, next ballot day.

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Anonymous Coward

Teiwaz: 'No one is without the option, merely without the ability to make the decision'

A. But you still must pay for Windows, no escape! That's a scam to beat all scams. So, why aren't there more legal cases like this:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/09/12/microsoft_hp_italy_windows/

B. Sure Linux Install is easy for techheads. But for family / friends that isn't true. Often there is FUD in switching over. Afraid to make a call that might mean some prior apps / devices don't work anymore. Often people get stuck just getting dual-boot to work and can't get past the partition menu stage of Mint for example.

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Re: Teiwaz: 'No one is without the option, merely without the ability to make the decision'

There isn't usually a problem installing e.g. Mint, which would be my recommendation for most casual users. But the inescapable playing around with the bios even to allow a USB stick to boot (and then probably again *after* the installation to allow a new UEFI partition to boot, if a dual boot system has been built) is what is going to put people off.

Hell, it makes me nervous, and I've done it dozens of times in the last twenty years. I've also seen anecdotal evidence of at least one Acer laptop which is locked such that linux cannot be installed (though it could be down to the above bios manipulation - I haven't investigated further).

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Anonymous Coward

'playing around with the bios even to allow a USB stick to boot '

Agree 100%.... The Mint partition menu bit was about keeping the Windows partition for dual boot. Half the people I met fried this on the first attempt before they sought help! But now its a PITA to fix!

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Re: 'I'm on my second Lenovo laptop at present and see no reason for using anything else'

Oh FFS

here we go again - once again a story not about Linux has been usurped by the Penguins.....

Install Linux ................................ BORING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

get a life

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Joke

Re: 'I'm on my second Lenovo laptop at present and see no reason for using anything else'

I recently installed Linux on my 80 year old father's laptop. There are a few bits where he prefers Windows though.

He's reassured thought that all he has to do is to download the source code, make the changes and recompile.

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Re: 'I'm on my second Lenovo laptop at present and see no reason for using anything else'

"Install Linux ................................ BORING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

get a life"

Installing Linux is a step to getting a life unless you consider waiting for all those painfully slow Windows updates/reboots to be a life.

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Re: 'I'm on my second Lenovo laptop at present and see no reason for using anything else'

"Installing Linux is a step to getting a life unless you consider waiting for all those painfully slow Windows updates/reboots to be a life."

Happy to install it in certain circumstances,,,, the life I'm talking about is the constant "ooh install Linux" to every flipping article that's published on here that mentions an OS, the constant "hmmm this article hasn't mentioned Linux yet, lets steer it that way", really its like a broken record and so tedious.

The world is a big place, multiple OS's exist, you may or may not like some of them - others do, but why the hell do you have to go on about it all the time and steer every conversation towards Linux.

sits back and awaits the diatribe from the diarrhoea tribe.

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Re: Removing all crapware

Nortan and Mcaffee gone as well :-0

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'I'm on my second Lenovo laptop at present and see no reason for using anything else'

>sits back and awaits the diatribe from the diarrhoea tribe.

Install BSD

:-)

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Re: Removing all crapware

Given the definition of “Covered software” (see the definiton on page 7 of the FTC/Lenovo agreement linked to in the article) which is sufficiently broad to include MS Office Starter Edition and Windows 10 (given what we know about it)...

If you live in the USA, the revised process would seem to be:

Order Lenovo PC having ticked the "no crapware" box(es)

Open package, take out system, connect all cables

Put rescue disk in drive, power on to boot from it

Completely wipe the HDD/SSD using gparted

Crapware is now gone.

Install Fedora Linux

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Windows

Re: Teiwaz: 'No one is without the option, merely without the ability to make the decision'

@NeilB:

it was the acer 'tablet/wkb' 'notebook' types that were horrid to get linux on. It required changing three bios settings, doing the install and then manually adding the boot key for grub to the list of acceptable bootloaders. The painfully crippled atom implementation they used did not make it any easier.

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Re: Removing all crapware

More likely "By purchasing this system you are giving your express consent to have various software programs installed including Microsoft Windows and user experience enhancement software. If you wish to purchase a system without this software, please go to this web address: http://shop.lenovo.com/systems/laptops/blank"

Then just don't offer any systems

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Linux

Re: 'I'm on my second Lenovo laptop at present and see no reason for using anything else'

I've actually had my parents on linux for 8 years now the amount of admin I have to do for them is negligible and its a little bit less likely they'd get conventional adware and viruses. Phishing ofc is the thing now and OS doesn't matter for that.

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HP Sauce

At least the crapware on HP machines comes from HP. Which is one of the reasons I don't buy HP. One of the others is that I don't see a need to use the screen as a mirror.

Lenovo on the other hand don't engineer for kerb appeal, so their stuff is solid and doesn't give you a view of the boss sneaking up behind you.

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Re: HP Sauce

"At least the crapware on HP machines comes from HP. Which is one of the reasons I don't buy HP. One of the others is that I don't see a need to use the screen as a mirror."

All the HP machines I use at work and see at customers' are matte displays. If you buy your laptops from 7-11 or Walmart then you're bound to end up with consumer laptop crap. Lenovo has glossy displays too you know.

Any new laptop I receive is imaged or the OS is installed from scratch. Pretty much no new laptop has the latest Windows 10 version (1709) and upgrading takes more time than installing from scratch which is about 20 minutes to fully updated, crapware-free system. No more useless Lenovo/HP utilities, diagnostics, registration reminders etc.

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"the consumer’s affirmative express consent"

While I'm overjoyed at the idea, I believe that, all too soon, we'll see things like : "if you want this laptop, agree to this".

Either that or your express consent will be engineered around a popup with OK/Cancel buttons only. We all know users are trained to click on OK.

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Re: "the consumer’s affirmative express consent"

"Either that or your express consent will be engineered around a popup with OK/Cancel buttons only. We all know users are trained to click on OK."

Or, like cable TV bundles, you have to click yes to the crap to get the few gems you want/need. Or it will be a sequence of yes/no requestors with the crapware nestled between things you do want, so you automatically click OK for all of them (yes, similar t what you said, users trained to click OK, but even more insidious)

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Devil

before stuffing new PCs with crapware

does that include Win-10-nic (as 'crapware')?

They should've mandated a 'flush' button to flush all of the demo/crapware off of the system in one fell swoop, maybe a ginormous toilet icon on the desktop or something...

/me once wrote a trashcan for windows 3.x called 'toilet' - and now you know who I am! heh. windows '95 broke it by having its own trashcan, but I convinced M$ (during the beta) to let me change the icon to something of my own making, like er, a toilet. The application I wrote turned the water green if there was something in it, otherwise it was blue. So I could use green-water toilet for "full trash" and blue-water toilet for "empty trash" in Win '9x (and later). I haven't checked Win-10-nic, probably broken there.

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Re: before stuffing new PCs with crapware

Toilet? Never heard of it, but I'm sure it was worth the trouble of talking to Microsoft vis-a-vis '95.

I just fitted the plus package that let me use themes - including icons I made myself.

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Re: before stuffing new PCs with crapware

"does that include Win-10-nic (as 'crapware')?"

And Intel ME?

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Re: before stuffing new PCs with crapware

does that include Win-10-nic (as 'crapware')?

Well from what I understand about Windows 10 consumer versions and the definition of "Covered software” used by the FTC then my anwser is 'Yes'!

Is that a bad thing? I say no as it might kick MS to update the Windows software and EULA so that they revert to the form they were in for Windows 7 and previous, with respect to privacy etc. ...

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Anonymous Coward

My son has severe learning difficulties and autism. He loves going on the computer and looking at pictures of trains - diesels and steam locomotives - as well as YouTube videos about trains. For Christmas we bought him a new HP laptop but I needed to limit what was on the machine. The amount of crap I had to remove was unbelievable. First of all there was all of the HP crapware followed by the built in Windows 10 stuff I had to remove using PowerShell. So to my shame (hence AC) I have to admit to agreeing with Bombastic Bob above :-)

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The amount of crap I had to remove was unbelievable.

Do they still pack in a keylogger?

A colleague bought two HP lappies at Xmas and his son spent Xmas afternoon stripping out the crapware *including* the HP Keylogger.

Nice one, HP.

If you can find decent footage of Canadian Pacific grain trains going through the Kicking Horse Pass helix your son might enjoy the sight. You can see the back end of the train entering one tunnel as the loco exits another right above (or below) it. I don't have a link because my footage was taken with eyeballs some years ago.

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Re: The amount of crap I had to remove was unbelievable.

Time it right and you can see the train on three levels of track. Managed to get a video of the whole thing about three years ago.

Phil.

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"I have to admit to agreeing with Bombastic Bob above :-)"

never do that - they will put you on meds

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Joke

I dunno...

"never do that - they will put you on meds"

I agreed with Eadon... once... but no pills were involved...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The amount of crap I had to remove was unbelievable.

If you can find decent footage of Canadian Pacific grain trains going through the Kicking Horse Pass helix your son might enjoy the sight. You can see the back end of the train entering one tunnel as the loco exits another right above (or below) it. I don't have a link because my footage was taken with eyeballs some years ago.

I'll have a look for that tonight and also check for the keylogger in case I missed it.

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Happy

@AC

>>My son has severe learning difficulties and autism. He loves going on the computer and looking at pictures of trains

Here's a nice European based site: Choose a language, open a map, then click on a pointer. That section of railway will open in a window. Then click the YouTube icon in the bottom right to see a drivers point of view video. Your son may learn some geography and have fun being the train driver.

http://bahntv.eu/en/duitsland

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC

This, and the other related comments are the reason I keep coming back to the Register. I will look these up and show my son the videos.

Imagine a beer icon for you all (still AC due to the previous mentioned shame).

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Re: The amount of crap I had to remove was unbelievable.

Hope you got it before the glorious fleet of cylindrical hoppers was allowed to rust away.

Canadian grain trains used to be a lovely sight. Now they are just snakes of battleship grey American leased hoppers.

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Joke

Re: I dunno...

@Ryokumas:

There you go mentioning the ghost, now I'll need to take my pills!

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Thumb Down

Don't forget the bundled AV

Personally I un-install it and use my preferred AV scanner thanks

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Anonymous Coward

And the PC industry laments falling sales

Wake the fuck up PC industry. Get your head out of Google / Facebook's slurpy asses... I no longer buy PC's / Laptops or anything that's Smart from TV to IoT... Smart is a Lenovo-Superfish-PC without any uninstallers (Vizio).

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Oh no, a Windows is better than Linux war has broken out, can you not just stick to arguing over who supports the best football team?

If Lenovo supplied out the box Linux installs I'd bet my last Rolo they'd have compiled a Linux version of their crapware.

Any big org is going to have it's own licence deal with it's OS vendor and it's own corp image to install on a blank machine without crapware (or it's own crapware).

A Dell Inspiron 15 3000, Linux - £229, Windows £299, that's £70 difference, if it matters that much you can get a Win 10 USB drive and license from Amazon for £80-ish, buy the Linux version and install Windows yourself without the vendor supplied crapware.

Trying to tell a Windows fan to install Linux is as pointless as trying to tell a Linux fan to install Windows.

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Pint

@Notwork

Trying to tell a Windows fan to install Linux is as pointless as trying to tell a Linux fan to install Windows.

Some of us can and do both. What kind of fan does that make us?

I suppose I could qualify as an "Anything but Apple" fan.

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Good price

Got a link, my ex wants to buy.

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That deal calls for Lenovo to pay a meager $3.5m to be divided between the 32 states

3.5 Million sounds like a bargain deal.

Lenovo must also obtain direct permission from people before including factory-installed software on new PCs.

Welcome to your new Lenovo computer. To be able to use your new Lenovo you must agree to the following:

To have spyware and other dodgy crap installed on your PC.

If you do not agree to the terms your PC will unusable until you do.

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Buy it.

Wipe it.

Reinstall it.

Best way to find out:

1) That you have the necessary disks, drivers and software to do so in the future.

2) That it's standard stuff and not proprietary "Lenovo-only" hardware with tweaked drivers that's impossible to source, replace or upgrade with anything else.

3) That there's nothing on there that shouldn't be.

4) That you "activate" on a version of software that you're able to reinstall yourself, rather than some pre-fab activation that might fail in the future.

If you're doing this on a corporate-level, there's no excuse. You should have pre-fab images, software installs and policies to go from bare metal to fully-working and secured client, no matter what model you choose. In my place, we literally have ONE image that everyone uses on every machine. It doesn't matter what hardware we throw it on, worst we have to do is slipstream a network driver into the boot, add an MSI package, or tweak a setting somewhere for them all the work the same. Literally 20 minutes and whether it was fresh out of the box, or an existing client, and you are back on the domain with everything you ever had.

Malware re-introducing itself via updates? Well, you were managing updates, weren't you?

At home, sure, bit different because of what's available but the principle is the same. And it's a lot easier to take a laptop back the day after Christmas and say "Look, it doesn't even turn on" and get your money back / choose a different model should your reinstall not go to plan, than it would be a year down the line when you need to use the restore disk.

To be honest, post-Christmas I refuse technical support requests because it ALWAYS turns out to be thousands of preloaded bits of junk on new machines that people aren't familiar with and so it panics them. Sure, most of the time you just uninstall and put the Windows image viewer back on or whatever, but it can take hours per machine. And smartphones are doing the same nowadays. I always recommend people get their shiny new smartphone, reset it before they start (especially if it's second-hand, you have no idea what's actually lurking back there), and set it up from scratch. But even then you end up with a load of bundled junk that you don't want and/or services you don't need (No, Samsung, I don't want to enable all your proprietary link-sharing junk, thanks).

I would actually pay £5 on the price to get a phone which doesn't have that junk. An official option from the manufacturer (not some random guy). "We can install our value pack of common apps, and save you £5, or you can have a plain Android install". I'd pay that. And for sure that's got to be more than you'll ever get from those ad-ware pushers to forcibly install an app on my phone, no?

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