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10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates System 10.4
When you update Mac OS X 10.4 to 10.4.7, Dashboard starts 'phoning home' -- it checks for updates on the internet for your widgets on the following two URLs:

http://www.apple.com/widgets/widgetadvisory
http://www.apple.com/widgets/parser.info

For this, it launches a process called dashboardadvisoryd, and checks every day for new widgets. Quite handy you might think, but on large networks, you probably would like to prevent this.

Login with an administrative account and open Terminal, then execute the following command:
$ sudo vi /etc/mach_init.d/dashboardadvisoryd.plist
When asked for a password, retype your own password to verify that it's still you and not someone else. Next type an i to enter input mode, and add the following two lines below the line that reads <dict>:
        <key>Disabled</key>
        <true/>
Press Escape to leave the edit mode and type :wq, followed by Enter, to save the file and quite the editor. The file is saved and mach_init.d won't start this process anymore. Now type the following command:
$ sudo vi 
/System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dashboard.advisory.fetch.plist
and enter input mode once again by pressing i, and after the line that reads <dict>, we also add the lines:
        <key>Disabled</key>
        <true/>
Leave the input mode and save the file as before. Now restart your computer, and this process won't start automatically.

[robg adds: I haven't tested this one...]
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10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates | 22 comments | Create New Account
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10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates
Authored by: Bwana on Jul 07, '06 08:06:32AM

Why disable something which by design protects you from malicious widgets and alerts you to outdated ones? Wouldn't it make more sense to simply disable dashboard altogether?

Also, surely a network of any size have the facility in place to cache those web pages.

I feel disabling the feature has the potential to do more harm than leaving it running.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Apple's reply
Authored by: simbalala on Jul 07, '06 09:20:36AM
The Dashboard Advisory feature is a security tool that ensures that the correct version of a widget has been downloaded from a third-party site and no personal information is transmitted back to Apple," the company said in a statement. Dashboard Advisory looks at just widgets, not the rest of the operating system. Widgets available on Apple's Downloads page are actually hosted by the companies that developed the widgets, not Apple. The verification feature is designed to ensure that the widget advertised on Apple's Download page is the same widget that gets installed on a Mac, or to prevent someone from spoofing a link to trick a user into downloading a different program.

http://news.com.com

It does seem to be a reasonable and useful feature for most people.

[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates
Authored by: wgscott on Jul 07, '06 08:09:30AM

cd /System/Library/LaunchDaemons

sudo launchctl unload -w com.apple.dashboard.advisory.fetch.plist



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates
Authored by: wgscott on Jul 07, '06 08:27:16AM

To elaborate, this command not only does the editing for you, but also unloads the thing. Put differently, it unloads it permanently.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates
Authored by: sjk on Jul 07, '06 12:00:03PM
Did you test that? I'm pretty sure you have to use an absolute pathname:

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dashboard.advisory.fetch.plist

[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates
Authored by: wgscott on Jul 08, '06 05:24:43AM

Yes, I tested it. Yes, it works.

You can either cd to the directory that has those filenames, as done in the first line, and then issue the command, as done with the second line, or you can use the absolute path. Just like any other unix command.

man launchctl for more info.

launchctl list will tell you which of these services is running under your username. Prepend with sudo, and you find which are running for the whole system.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Make this change using BBEdit
Authored by: simbalala on Jul 07, '06 08:11:06AM

For users of BBEdit this can be done much more simply. Some people are not familiar with vi (Apologies to BBEdit users who already know this.)

In BBEdit from the File menu select Open Hidden, in the Open dialog which appears, at the top choose Enable: All Files, not Readable Files.

Negotiate your way to the files described in the hint and open them. Notice in the BBEdit menu bar at the top left the pencil icon with a red slash through it. Click that icon and you'll be told the file is owned by root and asked if you're sure you want to edit it. Click yes.

You can then make the changes described and save your results.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Why are people freaked by this?
Authored by: iRideSnow on Jul 07, '06 10:23:11AM

How is this significantly different from doing a software update? Hell, most third party apps now also "phone home" to check for updates. I've used Little Snitch for years. Great app. I love having it. But I have to say that there have only been a very few times when I've used it to permanently block an app's ability to make an outbound connection, and then I delete that app from my system shortly thereafter anyway.

The only thing that I think anyone has a legitimate reason to complain about is that Apple didn't explicitly say that they were adding this, or maybe that they didn't make it part of Software Update instead of a daemon running in the background. But really, what's the big deal?

As for the "on large networks" argument in the hint, that's ridiculous. I work in an environment where our network is making/handling MILLIONS of requests every day. If each machine happened to make one or two extra per day, that's not going to hurt anything. Give me a break.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Why are people freaked by this?
Authored by: mstoops on Jul 07, '06 11:17:37AM

I will second this question, this is all just stupid worrying. My computer already checks for software updates once a day (although I wonder why Apple didn't just put this widget check in Software Update), and any tool that automates this process is good in my book. Additionally, every time I open up FireFox, BBEdit, Flip4Mac, Growl, or Synergy (which does not even tell it's set to do this) and others, they do version-checking as well. Sure, most of them let me choose to turn this functionality off. But so what, they to could be just as "insidious" as everybody is claiming Apple could be (but is not), but you don't here everybody up in arms about this.

This is all just ridiculous.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Why are people freaked by this?
Authored by: wgscott on Jul 08, '06 05:28:51AM

I don't want Apple phoning home without my permission. I don't like services started on my computer without knowing about them. The mail and web servers aren't started by default. I never use widgets and hate them. I don't need this service.

But on a more fundamental level, I worry that Apple it testing the waters for spying on its customers in a very Redmondesque way.

I don't like the fact that ATT logs this and all my internet traffic to the NSA either, despite the fact that I am not a terrorist.

I'm happy to share information on my terms, not on the government's terms, and not on the Apple corporation's terms.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Why are people freaked by this?
Authored by: rspeed on Jul 07, '06 01:01:23PM

I'm not freaked by it at all. The problem I have with it is that there is no notification that a network connection is being made, and that there is no way to turn it off. I have absolutely no need for this functionality and having it on is detrimental.

So I turned it off (using Lingon).



[ Reply to This | # ]
Why are people freaked by this?
Authored by: Arturia on Jul 07, '06 01:37:31PM
quote: "But really, what's the big deal?"

* choice.

quote: "Hell, most third party apps now also "phone home" to check for updates."

* Great so lets them all phone home and say nothing.

quote: "The only thing that I think anyone has a legitimate reason to complain about is
that Apple didn't explicitly say that they were adding this, or maybe that they didn't make it
part of Software Update instead of a daemon running in the background."

* That's why I'm going to block this process -by choice- and express that Apple is wrong
doing this without giving me the choice. (À la Microsoft)

It reminds me that the same thing happened with iTunes. People did block the "feature" then
Apple reacted by giving the choice later with an update.

I think we must stop being bigots and protect Apple as if it were a Church.

amicably ;-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why are people freaked by this?
Authored by: FenrisUlf on Jul 07, '06 05:29:16PM

The term "Phone Home" means that this process sends personally identifiable data back to some third party without your consent. The term's on the front burner of popularity recently because Microsoft is indeed phoning home your data to check on your valid licenses without your consent. They have since bowed to the pressure for now, but the cat's out of the bag over on the Redmond side of the fence.

This is nothing like that transgression. Not even if you squint. So being "angry" that Apple didn't give you a separate installer for the program is fine. Being angry for something perceived as an affront to your privacy (like WGA really is) is irrational. It's not nefarious. It's not required.

Coincidentally, WGA was required and was going to BE required to get updates for Windows. This is nothing of the sort. This is quite the tempest in a teapot.

Most people are not defending apple to the death (like it was a "church") in regards to this issue (and certainly this thread is nothing like some I've seen on this subject). We are merely pointing out the complete mischaracterization of the whole thing by people looking to lump Apple with the idiots in charge at Redmond. Claiming these two items as being the same class of privacy issue is indeed bigotry, and as Apple enthusiasts, we should be constantly ready to mention that.

There are far more important things to worry about than this with regards to privacy and the overreaching hand of corporations.

Just my $.02


---
Who are you that walk across the graves of giants at this late hour?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Why are people freaked by this?
Authored by: Mattbot on May 24, '07 05:39:25PM

When managing a large number of Macs, using disk imaging tools or tools like Radmind is nearly mandatory. These tools will reset the client Macs to the state of the server image whenever they are run (nightly in our case), deleting any newly downloaded software such as Dashboard widget updates.

Being able to shut this feature off keeps every Mac on our network from downloading the same updates every day. And it keeps our install base stable so we can depend on it for production.

[ Reply to This | # ]

10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates
Authored by: slb on Jul 07, '06 12:20:49PM

Agreed - this is really ridiculous, and from what I've read, it's only good to have it running.
Paranoia or boredom?



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates
Authored by: zeusr on Jul 07, '06 03:17:28PM

I get the feeling you either didn't read or didn't understand the second paragraph of the hint: "Quite handy you might think, but on large networks, you probably would like to prevent this."

If you worked on a network with hundreds or thousands of machines that all decide to send previously-unknown timed network traffic, you might have to take all those machines completely offline to find the offending program (possibly malicious code), then possibly disable the program on each computer, block the IP port for the network, or remove the program from the computer completely, based on company policy.

Or even think of the person on dial up that suddenly has their computer trying to connect to the internet. Not something people on broadband think of these days, but grandma and grandpa who just bought an 'easy to use' Mac with cheap dial-up may find important...

Overall, adding this in without notification or an easy way to turn it off (or, even better, default to OFF and let the user turn it on IF WANTED), is a VERY BAD IDEA if Apple want to be liked by the corporate or education markets, people still on on-demand connections, or people that just don't like changes that aren't obvious to find or change...



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates
Authored by: slb on Jul 08, '06 10:06:36AM

Please. I DO work in a corporate environment, and the traffic that this would generate would be negligible.
The PCs firing off all kinds of traffic from viruses and spyware make this not even worth mentioning in comparison.
And from what I gather, there isn't some constant stream of traffic, just a checksum of sorts to see of the widget is legit.

Look elsewhere for real problems - this one isn't.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates
Authored by: jimhoyt on Jul 08, '06 12:02:54PM

OK, so Apple should have said something. Maybe even provide some sort of interface to turn this kind of thing on and off. Big deal.

Those complaining and not already running Little Snitch or something like it are being a bit disingenuous.

Those complaining and already running with protection, readjust the aluminum foil on your heads and get back to work.

:)



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates
Authored by: unforeseen:X11 on Jul 09, '06 12:29:59PM
There are two problems with this hint (despite the fact that this checking is negligible in terms of network-traffic):
  • You either have to turn off the init.d - process (if you upgraded from 10.3 or earlier) or the launchd - child (if you did a fresh install of 10.4); there's no need to do both edits.
  • The launchd - child can be turned off much more convenient, as wgscott already posted:
    sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dashboard.advisory.fetch.plist

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this is not the sig you`re looking for.

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10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates
Authored by: dan55304 on Jul 10, '06 06:42:04AM

Okay, I agree this is not "phoning home".

I also agree that periodic update checks are a valuable service that I usually turn on. After all, the consequence can be devastating if the new update is patching a security hole. I want this feature for apps from reliable companies.

I also agree that I want control of the process. I have one vendor who used the update to install a phone home "feature" that they didn't tell customers about. It totally disrupted networking in some environments. I want to know exactly what an update is for before allowing it.

I have trouble with my Macs waking periodically. I believe it's related to these apps trying to check for updates while my computers are trying to establish a wifi connection. I get the spinning lolly-pop-of-death. I rarely use wigits because the seem to cause so many problems. I'd definitely change the updates to only once a week or so.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates
Authored by: 77ric on Jul 10, '06 03:42:22PM
yes Apple should have made this feature perfectly clear before people made the update to 10.4.7, and yes there should be the option to turn this feature of for the paranoid amongst us. personally i have no issue with dashboardadvisory calling home for it's intended purpose, with one exception, IMHO there is no need for it to call out every 8 hours, surely once a day is enough. having had a look at the contents of com.apple.dashboard.advisory.fetch.plist there is a section near the end that reads


<string>/System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/Resources/fetchadvisory</string>
	</array>
	<key>StartInterval</key>
	<integer>28800</integer>

now my question is, does the number 28800 represent 8 hours (there is 28800 seconds in 8 hours if my maths is still good) and if so then if we changed that figure to 86400 would that mean that dashboradadvisory will only call apple every 24 hours.
<string>/System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/Resources/fetchadvisory</string>
	</array>
	<key>StartInterval</key>
	<integer>86400</integer>

i'm not particulary good at OS hacking, can anyone confirm my thoughts, before i wreck my intstallation.

[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Prevent 10.4.7 from checking for Widget updates
Authored by: unforeseen:X11 on Jul 24, '06 11:43:16PM

You are perfectly right. =)

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this is not the sig you`re looking for.



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