Java - Sun Microsystems

By billyellis
Nov 9, 2009
  1. Hi. (I searched for "java" and did not find many threads specifically discussing it.)

    I updated Java yesterday and was extremely irritated to have (a) startup entries re-activated after I had disabled them previously, and (b) an updated FF plugin for Java but the previous plugin was not removed and is still there, so I assume there could be conflicts?

    Anyway, I guess I'm just pissed off that this software is "pulling a Quicktime" from 10 years ago, i.e., completely ignoring my current settings during the update process and resetting all the options to what the software maker wants them to be, rather than respecting my settings.

    So I am curious - how important is Java, and would the world end if I uninstalled it completely? From what I have read, it helps display applets on websites mostly, and who needs that really? I'm not a 'gamer,' so I don't need it for that either. I've also read that it is a major security risk, and I update it because I have been told I need to do so regularly to prevent infections.

    So if this software is (a) a big backdoor into my system that can be exploited, (b) a resource hog that slows everything down when running, and (c) is mostly designed to make web sites do things I really don't want them to do anyway, is it really a critical software to use?? I understand that websites that I like, like sports scoreboards that update automatically, may not work. But I'm starting to wonder whether that extra functionality is really worth the risk/hassle.

    Does Java provide any functionality that is critical to system function or security, or is it merely a bell/whistle that 'enhances' browsing? If it is the latter, then I might try disabling it completely for a while to see whether I notice much difference. BUT, if disabling it opens a backdoor security-wise, I definitely don't want to do that. So I await the advice of wiser people than myself...

    I'm leery of any software that overwrites user settings, and I wonder if a mass "disable-Java" campaign starting on sites like TS might be a way to get their attention? If enough people disabled it, web sites would have to start using alternatives or risk losing traffic, which would in turn force the Java people to improve their product and stop overriding user settings.

    Thanks for your advice/opinion. :)
  2. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Is Java necessary for system functionality or security? No. Personally though, I prefer to have it at my disposal so I can enjoy *all* of the web, not just 99% of it (and the occasional program that uses it)

    It also doesn't *just* do the web: some applications use Java libraries to function. Whether or not that affects you really depends on the programs you use, but comparatively, very few apps use Java.. and certainly nothing system critical. It's often used in situations where being cross-platform is a big concern which affects mostly free and open source software. I think most people would probably be able to get by without ever noticing.

    If you are worried about your browser's security, you can just get rid of the java browser plug-ins, but leave the Java framework installed for application compatibility reasons.

    This is bad application behavior, IMO. I agree with you. I think the reason Sun would do this is they know how important it is to keep your Java up-to-date for your own security, so they are trying to be your nanny. I never appreciate companies trying to play mom.

    Consider this though, I can't remember the last time I had to disable the Java app from loading with my system. I'm wondering if you used msconfig to disable it or if you use the Java configuration utility.

    This is merely a hunch, but maybe if you use the Java config utility to do the disabling, it will remember your settings. You can access it using the tray icon, or in your Control Panel as "Java". The option is under Advanced > Miscellaneous. From here, you should be able to disable the java icon and quick starter application. You can also disable updates using this control panel as well. Maybe that will keep it from forcing itself to startup/update automatically again? I'm not sure.

    It's no more a 'backdoor' than the Microsoft .NET framework you most likely also have installed... browser plug-ins and all. That doesn't make it OK, but plenty of security threats exist on your computer. I think the focus for most people should be prevention. Some people stick with the defaults, others choose to utilize things like no-script, 3rd party firewalls, higher UAC settings, more secure browser settings or even removing the source of those threats themselves (like Java)..

    Ultimately, it's up to you as to what level of inconvenience you'll put up with. :)
  3. billyellis

    billyellis TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 155

    Thanks Rick, that was a very helpful reply.

    I'm very-much 'Java-illiterate.' I think I will try disabling the browser add-on since it does not sound like that would be risky in any way. I am curious to find out whether I notice any difference (other than FF loading some sites faster since it no longer will be pausing to fire up Java before displaying).

    And you may be right - I may have disabled the updating, etc. last time through msconfig rather than through the program GUI. But since I was updating the program manually...shouldn't that sort of indicate to the developers that I am aware of the need to update Java?? :rolleyes:

    Anyway...that's just me complaining. In retrospect I guess it has been a refreshingly long time since I last encountered this sort of old-school 'we know better than you' software mentality. But it all came back to me in a rush, with memories of banging my head against the screen back when software installs modified all sorts of things like file associations, etc without offering a "custom" install option. :mad:

    So thanks again, :grinthumb

    And actually you brought up one other black box of mine: .NET. I am now going to go look around TS for .NET threads, because I am wondering if I should be updating that regularly too??

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