Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Google Opens Update Software to Scrutiny

Via CNET -

In an attempt to better show what its software is up to, Google has released the source code of its Google Update software, a project code-named Omaha that can automatically install new versions of programs, including the Chrome browser and Google Earth.

"Some users can be surprised to find this program running, and at Google, we don't like disappointing our users. We've been working hard to address these concerns, and releasing the source code for Omaha is our attempt to make the purpose of Google Update totally transparent," Myles Jordan of Google's software engineering team and Michael Smith of its product management team said in a blog post Friday.

Google believes in automatic updates of software so security vulnerabilities can be patched quickly, and Google Update is the tool that permits automatic downloading and installation of a new version in the background so it's ready to run the next time the program is launched.

Sharing source code can allay concerns about what exactly software is up to, but Google also hopes that others will be able to use Omaha.

"Keeping software up-to-date is hard. So if you're thinking of developing your own auto-updater, or have already started, we hope that the code we are releasing today will be helpful to you," the Google employees said.

The company also released an Omaha developer guide for those wishing to use the software. Omaha is governed by the Apache License 2.0, Google's preferred open-source software license.

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