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From "Dennis E. Hamilton" <>
Subject [UPDATE SERVICE] (was Re: proposal for temporary solution until AOO 3.4 is released.)
Date Sun, 18 Mar 2012 18:12:00 GMT
There are several things that make me nervous about this idea.

 1. User Agent strings are not assured to be reliable. And the update site has to be carefully
protected against itself being attacked with bogus HTTP requests. 

 2. Ideally, a build identifies a unique web location that is specific to that build or build
set (e.g., developer previews for a forthcoming release might use a single one).  My preference
is for static pages, just to make life not so complicated.  My SERIOUS PREFERENCE is that
an information-available not be silent but be by launching the default browser if checks are
enabled.  The AOO desktop software should, when checking is enabled or requested, do as little
as possible before relying on the browser.  If there is a way to differentiate "nothing-new"
from "there is information" in HTTP response headers, with the browser launched for "there
is information", that would be handy.

 3. What's nice about (2) is that when a replacement/update is installed, so is the URL to
use to check for further updates/announcements.  

 4. The web site can be updated to reflect changes over time without much fuss beyond reasonable

 5. There does need to be information from the user agent built into AOO with regard to current
language settings.  The response mechanism should allow for text information as well as instructions
on what to do to get an update.  (Using the default browser presumably deals with this case.)

 6. There needs to be a way to disable automatic checking for updates and allowing explicit
check for updates from the Help and/or About information.  (That may be true already, I am
reciting from principle here.)  The setting of this might be part of a first-run dialog when
there is no user configuration that specifies a preference.


This increases the threat surface against an user's installed copy of AOO.  It also creates
problems that repackagings and derivative builds are at risk of not updating this information
reliably or simply passing off the update responsibility to Apache OpenOffice.  A bigger concern
is creation of a bogus update location in a derivative that is designed for malicious purposes.

The threat surface carries increased possibility of phishing the user as well as downloading
malware, especially if the user is operating their AOO (or look-alike) at too-high levels
of privilege.  Also, auto-checking on startup has unwelcome performance problems when the
network is unavailable or very slow.

It is not clear to me what can be done to make this a trustworthy arrangement and also secure
confidence of users that they are in control and nothing fishy will happen.

So far, my role model for this (apart from Microsoft Update, which is probably an unreachable
level for us and probably undesirable as well) is what TortoiseSVN does in letting me know
there is an update and where to go to find out about it.  It is especially important that
an open-source product have some simple but reliable way of keeping the user in control and
without adding to attack surface and concerns about anonymous risk.  (In that respect, Skype,
Second Life, Java, and Adobe updaters are too inflexible and also intrusive.  I notice that
family members I observe always cancel those pop-up notices and go about their business.)
 I assume that Linux distros that bundle an AOO build will also have their own way of vetting
and offering updates, but installs of AOO-built binary releases will bypass that.

Unfortunately, I don't have a better picture of a clean way to mitigate the risks associated
with automatic, on-line update checking.  

Let's talk about what can be done.

 - Dennis

-----Original Message-----
From: Kay Schenk [] 
Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2012 10:10
Subject: Re: update service - proposal for temporary solution until AOO 3.4 is released.

On Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 5:03 AM, Oliver-Rainer Wittmann <> wrote:

> Hi,
> On 15.03.2012 12:47, Oliver-Rainer Wittmann wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I have continued the work started by Regina, Ariel and Kay regarding the
>> update
>> service.
>> I have documented my findings at [1].
>> I think we have everything together to bring a corresponding web service
>> back to
>> life.
>> I think we have at least two options for such a web service.
>> If we want to create a 'real' web service which on demand creates an
>> appropriate
>> response the HTTP GET request contains all needed information in its
>> header
>> fields "User-Agent" and "Accept-Language" to implement such a web service.
>> The "User-Agent" field contains the operating system, the machine
>> architecture
>> and the bundled languages of the installed office. If a corresponding
>> installation package of newer version is available a corresponding
>> response can
>> be generated.
>> Another solution could be to provide a static XML document, based on an
>> atom
>> feed, which contains as much entries as installation packages for the
>> latest
>> version are available. For each installation package which defines itself
>> by the
>> operating system, the machine architecture and the bundled languages an
>> entry is
>> needed. Such entries need to be duplicated for every existing office
>> installation with different <UpdateID> in its version.ini.
>> Any thoughts, comments, corrections, ...?
>> BTW, the update service of a certain installed office can be tested
>> locally. No
>> HTTP GET request is involved in this case, but you can test with certain
>> XML
>> documents provided as responses. You can change the value of <UpdateURL>
>> in file
>> <version.ini> of your office installation to a local file URL - e.g. under
>> Windows to something like file:///C:/check.update.xml
>> [1]
>> Notification_Protocol#A_**glance_on_the_code_for_the_**
>> Apache_OpenOffice_3.4_release<>
> The <UpdateURL> in the installed OOo 3.3 instances is
> Update<>
> .
> This is no longer available. This also annoys our users I think.
> If we can redirect this URL and the redirection would provide the
> following XML document the corresponding update service in these offices
> will reply "<your office> is up to date"
> The XML document which needs to be provided only has to contain this XML
> snippet:
> <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
> <inst:description xmlns:inst="http://****
> description <>">
> </inst:description>
> Can someone implement the redirect?
> May be**ProductUpdateService/check.**Update<>can
be used as the redirect. Here, I think it was Kay, already an XML
> document exists which only needs to be updated.
> Note: I have also an OOo 3.1 installed. Here the <UpdateURL> is
> Update<>
> .
> May be we should redirect all URL matching http://update3[0..6].services.*
> ***ProductUpdateService/check.**Update<>


Hi -- I missed this post until just now.

I can put this code snippet in in
as you suggest.

...and send a note to INFRA regarding the DNS changes

However, I'm a bit concerned with telling users (and perhaps folks using a
very old version) that their version is "up to date" when it isn't.  Is
this all we can do about this right now?

> Best regards, Oliver.


"Follow your bliss."
         -- attributed to Joseph Campbell

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