Adobe: The next hijacker

PDF is the format of choice for floating around documents. I just got a new system set-up and needed to open a PDF file. So I head over to Adobe’s website to download what I have always known to be Adobe Reader. I have done this countless times in the past over the years, but this time around, I am quite surprised.

  1. I go to download Acrobat Reader 9 at and find this download page
    Download screen
    I have no idea why I should be asked to download the Free eBay Desktop bundled with Adobe Reader, so I uncheck it.
  2. Then my eye wanders up and I don’t know why I am getting a forced inclusion of “ on Adobe AIR”. What does that even mean?
  3. Well, I want to find out, so I proceed by clicking the “Download Now” button.
  4. It makes firefox tell me that it has just “prevented from asking me to install software on my computer”
    firefox prompt
  5. What the … I think! Why is Adobe installing a firefox-addon to my computer. All I want is the freaking reader so I can view pdf files. Wait a sec, is this just the browser plugin, so that I can view documents inline?
  6. I ask Firefox to allow it to download software and this is what I get:
    firefox addon installation 
    Adobe DLM? Download Manager? Am I on a 33.3kbps serial modem connection? When was the last time I needed a download manager? I don’t want a download manager to download the freaking reader. At this point, I have already decided to blog about how awful this is, so I go on to document this completely.
  7. So I click “Install Now”. Firefox does its thing and asks me to restart my browser.
    firefox restart
    How annoying, I think. I hit the “restart firefox” button.
  8. When firefox restarts, this Adobe DLM addon spawns some executable which is, of course, detected by Windows UAC (yeah, I haven’t got around to disabling UAC yet), asking me if I want to allow the spawned process to do what it wants to do. I allow it.
  9. It opens up a download manager screen
    adobe download manager 
  10. As I wait for this “Adobe DLM powered by getPlus” I suddenly see what I have rarely seen in a RTM version of firefox:
    firefox error
    This is firefox 3. I wonder what the DLM is trying to do, but is has just crashed my firefox
  11. I click on “close program” and the corresponding Adobe DLM window also disappears.
  12. Hmm, so what’s going on here. Firefox is back on but the DLM process is not visible, nor is there any download manager.
  13. Wait a sec, what’s that new link on my Desktop?
    desktop shortcut for adobe 
    Oh, look! It is asking me if I want to continue downloading. So that’s why you have a download manager, because the crappy download manager prevents you from downloading at one go? A very boot-strapped problem this.
  14. At this point. I was going to uninstall everything from my firefox and my computer and go with Ghostview or something. But I just wanted to know where this all goes. So I double click on that desktop shortcut
  15. I again get a UAC prompt:
    UAC for adobe helper
    I allow that and move on.
  16. Finally, when the download manager is at 99%, it spawns the familiar windows installer for Acrobat that I am used to seeing.
  17. However, without any warning, or prompt, it silently exits. Is it done? Apparently so, because I have two fresh desktop shortcuts:
     desktop shortcut final
  18. I know what Adobe Reader 9 will be. But what the heck is, that was the AIR version of their site. Let’s take a look. So I click on the desktop shortcut.
  19. Oh, the Office Killer!
    The above window is an AIR window. Not a browser window, nor an application window in the traditional sense.
  20. Here are the other services it is advertising:
    create pdf send files connect nowbuzzword
  21. Of course, clicking on anything makes you register or sign-in

I might have been more receptive to the other services and checked them out if they were not forced to me. I do not think this is any different from what Apple did a couple of months ago when it force-installed the Safari browser on un-suspecting Windows users as a software update for iTunes and Quicktime.

There is a clear line that users don’t expect respectable companies to cross. Adobe has always been a little on the bloat side with it’s reader; but this time it has gone too far. Most users will probably end up with an unwanted Ebay Desktop installation, an unwanted Firefox extension DLM, and an unwanted AIR installation.

Gotta get back and uninstall all the sh** from my computer and go get my Ghostview! If all you want is view PDF files, I recommend that’s what you should do to! Skip Adobe, they obviously do not respect you.

[Update: Corresponding discussion at Mozillazine or the alt.comp.freeware google group titled I installed Adobe Reader 9 – WARNING! ADWARE AND BUNDLEWARE!]

[Update2: You might want to try Ninite to install just the adobe software you care about]

42 thoughts on “Adobe: The next hijacker

  1. you definitely should consider switching to ubuntu or the likes thereof. adobe has been bundling bullshit all the way since adobe 6 and for just a pdf reader, where technology really hasn’t changed and should be something like a 1MB download, it ends up being a 20 something MB download. why, i have no clue. ubuntu is just kicking my ass in how seamless it is to transition from an OS i’ve used for years and years.

  2. Time to find an alternative.

    I’ve read the Usenet discussion and don’t like the adware terms in “Use of PDF Files”. I hope they don’t do the same thing with Flash Player.

    It reminds me of the game industry and its TryMedia adware, a potential security hazard.

    Big Content® might as well just bundle Zango and BraveSentry (rogue software) with everything.

  3. I agree totally – adobe is going the way of microsoft with thier DLM – I liken it to WGA in that i’d expect Adobe are only looking around at the moment. Care to have to ‘Activate’ your Acrobat Reader? Well won’t be long now….. isn’t here yet but im sure it wont be long.

  4. Well they already did the Online Activation with the Acrobat Writer 8 in the past.

    After some months there was a market warning and they finally agreed to remove this stunning new software feature – Worldwide in all language versions :)

  5. I ran into the same problems. Now when I try to open a new window the system asks me if i want to go on with this DLM application. I find this very annoying.

  6. Some have said that “Fokit” NO I meant “Foxit”! :) Well I got the same. I like to remember that ‘Adobe’ tries to do well. For their sanity!

  7. jan, the UAC prompt was driving me nuts too. Here’s how I got rid of it: Open up Firefox, go to Tools > Add-ons, click on “Extensions” in the dialog box that pops up, and uninstall the Adobe DLM add-on. This worked for me, and hopefully it will work for you too.

  8. I very much love summer :)
    Someone very much loves winter :(
    I Wish to know whom more :)
    For what you love winter?
    For what you love summer? Let’s argue :)

  9. My firefox has been having all kinds of problems lately and I finally traced it to this file. Was a PITA it has caused me. Avoid it like the plague.

  10. Disallow the firefox addon, then click on the “if it does not start, click here to download”. No dramas.

  11. Greed will fuck up the internet just like it is fucking up the planet. It just gets worse as you get older.

  12. I was equally buffaloed, and ended up uninstalling it from Firefox, then trying the download from Internet Explorer 7.

    That worked for me. I got the kind of download I’m used to (just the reader and it’s icon on the desktop). Once it was installed, I opened Firefox back up and low and behold, It knew to open a .pdf file with it and I don’t have it as a plug-in.

  13. Well, I just found this discussion because they’re now pulling the same trick with Flash Player (and I expect every other downloadable product — I haven’t bothered “upgrading” Acrobat since v5 and never had a need of problem btw). Typical.

  14. Ill not be upgrading flash ever again! What a joke! I always suspected Adobe would ruin Flash… I miss Macromedia.

  15. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS when we go along with installing and using a free, but proprietary, plug-in for our browsers. Eventually when it reaches saturation (everyone has Flash installed), they begin monetizing on it!!! Now we have no choice but to either NOT use Flash (and thus not be able to watch YouTube!!!) or use Flash and deal with all the downloaded crap and advertisements!!!

    I’m MAD as hell!!!

  16. Got the same thing when trying to update flash player. Not only did I not update but I removed anything associated with Adobe. Using Foxit for PDF reader and will try to do without flash player for now. Will definitely look at Linux as an alternative.

  17. Thanks for the heads up…I got an alert that although my Firefox was updated, my Adobe Flash player could cause security issues, so I should upgrade THAT. OK…no I don’t want McAfee Security scan…ok…upgrade..then it wants to install DLM? Whats DLM…do they mean DRM? So I found your site, and cancelled the DLM. I’m on U-verse, with Firefox…I don’t need no stinkin’ DLM

  18. Many thanks for the heads up. I have just installed some of this stuff and now I’ve got to figure out how and what to uninstall. I know your post took a lot of work. Thank you so much.

  19. Re: “I’ve read the Usenet discussion and don’t like the adware terms in “Use of PDF Files”. I hope they don’t do the same thing with Flash Player.”

    Yeah, there is already enough advertising on the Internet as it is. I can’t imagine what it would be like if people started embedding ads in Flash files!

  20. Thanks for this.

    I’ve just been round the loop – updating Flash was all I wanted. I then had to UNINSTALL all the rubbish it forced on me. Some McAfee thing (always very bad news – I don’t let McAfee near my PC), DLM (why do I need that?), Adobe AIR and (no thank you, I will decide what I want on my PC, not you).

    Maybe someone will post a link to a place where I can just download the stuff I want, not all the rubbish they’re trying to package with it.

  21. I stop using Adobe Acrobat Reader when it became so bloated. I heard a lot of positives about Sumatra Pdf. The Sumatra download file is ONLY 1.3 MB. Because it is light, clean and does not try to sell you snake-oil, it’s super-fast compared to Acrobat Reader. If you just need to read a pdf, give it a try.

  22. Thanks a lot, disable the bundleware DLM getPlus(R), adware that comes with the Adobe load of crap. Shame on you Adobe!! The company has to be in pretty bad shape to resort to advertising tactics like this

  23. thanks, enjoyed reading this :D couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the UAC alerts myself (can’t disable those on my office PC). have a good day!

  24. Yeah fuck adobe, fuck macafee , I’ll never buy their products. They are nearly as bad a fucking Apple!

    Here is the way around:

    Or with Firefox get:
    User Agent switcher and set the UA to something unknown,
    then you are able to download the installer directly. And
    you won’t be harassed with this DLM.

    Dirty Dee: Pootie Tang! I come to call you out, maggoty eatin’ *bitch*!
    Pootie Tang: Ain’t come one, but many tine tanies!

  25. Excellent write-up. Well done for following this through and seeing where it goes. It’s of great concern that Adobe should follow the junk-drop mogals.

    In my case, (32-bit XP) I was asked if I wanted to include Google Toolbar. I hate any add-ons. I never use them. I will not proceed with Adobe’s PDF reader if I am forced to accept Air or their DLM.

    There are many FREE PDF viewers which I will now revert to.


    Okay. Just downloaded eXpert PDF Reader ( and it works a charm. Very FAST and tiny (8MB) compared to Adobe’s (HUGE) PDF Reader.

    Couldn’t be happier!!

  26. son of a b****! I am an idiot. I am reading this as the junk is getting installed on my sys. why do i fool myself by trusting brand names? i am sad.

  27. Seems like deceptive trade practices to me, or false advertisement. Until prosicutors go after these corporations and problem will grow. until law makers go after them, the problem will grow, and we all know that will never happen.

    Until people begin to retaliate against them, the problem will grow. Any ideas?

  28. When I saw DLM, my mind clicked on…”uh oh!”

    Adobe is a penny pincher and right up with RIAA and Sony. They are the ones that throw middle age women in prison (or so they want you to believe) and take children to court to slap $50,000 fines on. These are the same people that “Piggyback” programs when you try to install something…

    I never trust companies that buy up other decent companies like Macromedia. It is only their greed that keeps them afloat. I cancelled the install. I also went to YouTube and played a couple tubes; it works. So far FF is stable. It is all B.S.

    You want Ideas? Start a companies you don’t trust list-with reasons why, for prospective user awareness. Like a Wiki.

  29. This is what you get when commercialism is allowed to run things, this is there goal from the beginning, none ever were honest.
    Capitalism, commercialism, communism there all the same, deceive and enslave.

  30. Worst BLOATWARE EVER! Adobe DLM? No thanks, Ive already had a flesh eating disease!
    Seriously! And I cannot download an exe/msi installer for Acrobat Reader, without having to deal with that DLM crap. Ended up downloading the reader via torrent :-/

    DLM = Disgusting Little Malware

  31. I dumped Adobe’s PDF viewer in favor of an alternative (Foxit) a good five years ago, mostly due to the hideous startup time of their massively over-bloated piece of excrement. Take a look around on the web, there are plenty of alternatives out there.

    I agree 100% with others that they have crossed way over the line for installing junk that people don’t want.

    I have to wonder if Adobe know that the writing is on the wall for them. There are many good alternatives to their PDF reader, most all of which are vastly superior, and given a few years, HTML5 should destroy Flash once and for all. I will not be at all saddened to see them collapse.

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