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When is Free Software safe to install? or Are Code Signing Certificates a computer companies version of the NES lockout chip?


Sonicstitch
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When is Free Software safe to install?

Or

Are Code Signing Certificates a computer companies version of the NES lockout chip?

 

  This is a thing that has been bothering me for some time. From time to time, I will find Free Software on the internet, but when I try to install or use it, my windows or my antivirus/anti-malware software will stop me from using it. This is usually because the software is from an unknown publisher. That is to be expected because most of the time the Software is from an independent developer, and because the software is free to download and use. The publisher/ creator is not likely to pay for a Code Signing Certificate.

 This happens with fan games and mods and fan-made patches. Is there any way to be sure if something I downloaded is safe to use, if it has not been authorized by a greedy Corporation?

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It's always a good idea to scan the file using something like VirusTotal. But in general, my honest opinion?

I think freeware shouldn't exist because of the fact you can never trust it 100%. Those who release the software can provide checksums (I think it should be required honestly) so users can check that their file is unaltered. But then you have the issue of trusting the author of the software itself. I think a few of us can remember incidents like the Sonic 2 HD keylogger, or the Sonic Gather Battle DRM. I know it's like, a non-answer in a way but you just gotta mostly go with your gut, or, be extreme like me and outright reject fan games/tools that aren't open source.

I don't wanna stand on my soapbox too long for this one, but yeah. I think when it comes to fan games and specialized tools, they should 100% of the time be open source. This is the real only way to trust the software that is released, or, in the case you still don't trust a pre-built version, you have the option of making it yourself with the code. So unless you have the source code to such software or games, you can't ever trust that it's safe to use, really.

Also in the case of the Code Signing Certificate, I think the whole thing is a scam. Like I mentioned earlier, as long as checksums are provided, it fulfills the same purpose.

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This is why I wish I knew coding.

Then I could create my own software and mods, as well as have a better idea of what I was doing.

People say, only install software that you trust. If I follow that rule, I have to uninstall windows.

A computer's OS is like the government it is necessary for things to work, but you want them to know as little about you personally as possible.

 

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13 hours ago, ElectricAngel said:

But in general, my honest opinion?

I think freeware shouldn't exist because of the fact you can never trust it 100%.

I disagree with this take. There's plenty of free software out there that have a long, reputable history such as Audacity and Gimp.

Though, you may be noting a difference between proprietary freeware vs open source freeware, based on your post?

Even still, there are cases where the free version of a software is really good, though it's typically a "trial" version to egg a user into buying the real thing, such as Da Vinci Resolve which is excellent despite being free. And the Souce FIlmmaker software is also free, released by Valve, no real tier to it, also abandoned it feels like.

At any rate, I live by a "do some research and see if it has a positive reputation in the communities or not" thing. But I have seen some pretty shady stuff before, comments that are identical and those you should steer away from.

I can't say for 100% if a software is safe or not. But generally I find a bit of research is the best way to go about it.

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Well as for the fan games and mods and fan-made patches.
I will scan the file and look for anything that's not “unknown publisher”.

And if “unknown publisher” is the only thing that windows does not like, I might click the run anyway button, using the assumption
that a hacker would have to be specifically targeting a fan of a franchise, or in the case of a mod or a fan-made patch they would have to be
specifically targeting a fan of a specific game.

 

As for other software, what really bothers me is that Microsoft could easily be scaring people away from alternative software just by not trusting it.

 

 


 

 

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