Tuesday, March 10, 2015 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Mac Java’s New Ask.com Toolbar

Jared Newman:

Java’s shady bundled adware is no longer a Windows exclusive, as Oracle has started sneaking the Ask.com toolbar into the Mac version.

Similar to the Windows version, Java for OS X now attempts to install the Ask toolbar during the setup process, and also tries to set Ask.com as the default browser homepage. ZDNet’s Ed Bott first reported on the adware, noting that Oracle added it to Mac installations sometime over the last month.

To avoid the adware entirely, users must hit “Cancel” when the “Install the Search App by Ask” prompt appears. This is counter-intuitive, because all other steps of the setup process require users to click “Next” to advance. In this case, clicking “Next” installs the toolbar, even when the “Set Ask.com as my browser homepage” box is unchecked.

Rich Trouton:

However, Oracle apparently anticipated that MacJREInstaller may need to be run on a logged-out Mac, as they added a -silent function flag to MacJREInstaller. To invoke this installation method, run the following command with root privileges:

/path/to/Java_install_application.app/Contents/MacOS/MacJREInstaller --silent

This installation mode does not attempt to download the Sponsors.framework.tar file and does not install the Ask.com browser settings and toolbar.

The Java runtime is needed for popular applications like Minecraft and Photoshop. I use CrashPlan, which includes its own Java runtime, as well as Apple’s Java-based tools for submitting to the Mac App Store.

Update (2015-03-11): At reader Bill Cheeseman’s suggestion, I tried running Oracle’s Java installer, with different results than Newman’s:

So the situation doesn’t seem as bad as I first thought.

1 Comment

Developers and administrators may also want to install the JDK instead of the JRE. The JDK installs the JRE neatly and cleanly with all the bells and whistles, including the System Preferences pane but, as far as I can tell, without any unwanted extras. It's still Java, and it still takes about two and a half hours to cold-start, but, given the number of power applications that require the actual JDK it might be simpler and easier to start there…

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