back to article Kids can be so crurl: Lead dev unchuffed with Google's plan to remake curl in its own image

Google is planning to reimplement parts of libcurl, a widely used open-source file transfer library, as a wrapper for Chromium's networking API – but curl's lead developer does not welcome the "competition". Issue 973603 in the Chromium bug tracker describes libcrurl,"a wrapper library for the libcurl easy interface …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Black Choppers overhead.

    because they want to include an ad tracker in it.

    1. Psmo Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Black Choppers overhead.

      or, more subtly, it will go via Google's DNS resolver or some other part of their infrastructure.

      They probably won't stick adverts on it, but yes they'll probably be tracking use stats and get this new library as deep as they can into as many products as they can.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Black Choppers overhead.

        "They probably won't stick adverts on it"

        Maybe not at first...

        1. Psmo Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Black Choppers overhead.

          The moment they add unnecessary cruft, people will look elsewhere.

          curl is one of most popular tools outside wget for automated batch-testing of web services and http/s-based APIs.

          Most browser-based testing is already done via Chrome; profile-switching makes testing much more straight-forward so this could be a play for the rest of the market.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Black Choppers overhead.

            maybe they're afraid someone will use curl as a back-end for a simple web browser... yeah it could be done.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Black Choppers overhead.

        "they'll probably be tracking use stats and get this new library as deep as they can"

        Which is far worse than including advertising.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Black Choppers overhead.

      ack on the ad tracker. or more like:

      "Implementing libcurl using Cronet would allow developers to take advantage of the utility of the Chrome Network Stack" WHICH WOULD THEN TRACK EVERYTHING YOU WERE DOING OUTSIDE OF THE BROWSER'S CONTEXT

      OK I added that last part, but still...

      should I include AD INJECTION too? well, hard to do if it's just 'surfing' indirectly from an application running on Android, maybe FILTERING THE ADS OUT and presenting the CONTENT WITHOUT THE ADS...

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: Black Choppers overhead.

        They can't inject ads if you're PiHole-ing everything

        (And who showed bob how to embolden text? The random CAPITALISATION was annoying enough)

        1. Psmo Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Black Choppers overhead.

          If your application happens to be using a binary-compression option using a third party service as suggested elsewhere, your PiHole won't spot the intrusion.

          Yipe this is getting scary.

        2. Mage Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: who showed bob how to embolden

          Also Italics.

          At least it's not multicoloured flashing and scrolling?

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: who showed bob how to embolden

            yet...

  2. the hawk

    Who would use a Google controlled tool by choice?

    They’ll get bored in two years and sunset it. Just after it’s got enough people using it to disrupt a ton of important projects.

    1. Daytona955

      Re: Who would use a Google controlled tool by choice?

      'Who would use a Google controlled tool by choice?'

      That's not a nice way to talk about Google employees...

  3. Steve Graham

    creep

    The giveaway phrase is "overall improve adoption of Cronet by first-party or third-party applications".

    What was it that people used to say of Microsoft -- "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish."?

    1. big_D Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: creep

      Shouldn't that be croneynet?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: creep

      I thought it was EXTERMINATE!!! EXTERMINATE!!! EXTERMINATE!!!!

      But I might be mistaken.

    3. Nick Kew

      Embrace and Extend

      @Steve Graham - "Embrace and Extend" was Microsoft strategy when M$ was at its most evil - around 20 years ago. And yes, I've seen the term used with reference to libcrurl - though not by Google itself.

      I expect one day we'll learn there's a point to this. Or not.

  4. iron Silver badge

    I refuse to install Chrome, even for testing purposes, so I'm not about to start using this Google spyware.

    1. Psmo Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Ah but it'll be installed as part of a bunch of other things; you'll have to avoid more and more products.

      Products that don't use the library don't get Google's support (sponsorship or engineers).

      They may even make it an Android requirement as a play to get round de-Googled Android stacks.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        "Products that don't use the library don't get Google's support"

        Which is a great selling point for those products.

        1. Psmo Silver badge

          a great selling point for those products

          Well, except that the 90 day zero-day exposure doesn't seem to be applied for Google products...

  5. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    I don't trust this sort of thing.

    Why would Google need a curl tool anyway? Dump tons of adverts on end-user devices surreptitiously, and have these play adverts even when offline?

    1. IGotOut Silver badge
    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Big Brother

      shhh... don't give them ideas.

  6. chuBb. Silver badge

    I doubt tracking is the primary purpose, more likely to my mind is so that they can side step the messy getting consensus stage of protocol development and just push http2.1 through crurl integrations, wouldnt be surprised if they did something shitty and say only allowed 3rd party api access through their lib, also would probably be nobbled to prevent webrequest manipulations like the nerfing of ad blockers.

    I dont think its too paranoid to assume the road map looks like this:

    Step 1: mirror libcurls api, get devs to use it through gate keeping google api's to only work with it

    Step 2a: introduce binary payloads (like grpc is used in microservices) which are much quicker than text, use crurl to hydrate back to html, bypassing the http aspect and just returning requested payload, sweaten deal to devs by baking in a CDN co-optted onto ISP's like youtubes edge delivery network, and more importantly for them validate payload with a checksum or similar to ensure the advertising code is unmolested

    Step 2b: build into chromium stack, bypass existing os's net stack where possible, harvest what ever data gets fired through it

    Step 3: dont get caught doing the "non evil" passive surveillance like we did with wifi and street view

    1. Psmo Silver badge

      Ah that's interesting; a second attempt at accelerated mobile pages, then?

      1. chuBb. Silver badge

        Thats what i would suspect, they have the infrastructure to offer a passive cloudflare&cdn offering with 0 config (or control) just by adding a character to existing code, thats certainly the story i would expect them to crow about while failing to mention the cost is all your data transiting it being actively profiled.

        On the flip side this could also do some good, as if they essentially use this as a client to googlenet then at least it would be technically feasible for politicians* to demand data sovereignity and compel google to gatekeep data and keep it within continental/political boundaries, but then again that's another can of worms to open right there!

        *Wont happen until techno incompetents dont hold office, im looking at you hashtags rudd (or which ever professional bung craving liar too stupid or too bored of practising law you hold the most disdain for)

  7. Anonymous Tribble

    I don't wget what the issue is here.

    1. horse of a different color

      They're not httpie about it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      just follow the lynx in the article.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        I GET it but I won't PUT up with it.

        1. horse of a different color

          Give it a REST!

          1. DuncanLarge

            Ah nested POSTS

            1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

              Please, put a SOCK in it...

              1. Psmo Silver badge
  8. vtcodger Silver badge

    Google has a vision

    Google seems to envision a world where happy users -- everyone but a few eccentrics -- live, play and work digitally in a gorgeous walled garden that is run by their benevolent overlords in Mountain View. A sort of digital Disneyland if you will. The happy users probably pay a very modest tithe for access to the garden and advertisers, of course, pay for access to the happy users.

    Don't get me wrong. Disneyland is an interesting place. Everyone who can afford it probably ought to visit it or one of its analogs once or twice. (Take kids) And Google really does have a great browser as well as a free email service that actually does a terrific job of spam filtering. Their maps are pretty good also.

    But I don't want any part of Google's garden. It's based, of necessity, on web scripting -- which is an absolutely awful idea that puts ME at risk in order to benefit Google. Google may, and I emphasize MAY be able eventually to keep the web scoundrels out of its garden. But at the cost of putting those of us who occasionally have to venture outside at risk.

    There's also the problem that Google's UI's really tend to be mediocre at best. Whoever gave those nitwits the idea that white on light blue and vice versa is legible? And navigating their menus ... Makes navigating Boston -- noted for its strange geometry and lack of street signs -- seem almost logical.

    Then there's the spying.

    So no. This probably isn't a good idea.

    1. find users who cut cat tail

      Re: Google has a vision

      Google may have a vision, but their products are crap.

      GMail is quite poor webmail UI-wise with terrible handling of threads. Its ability to filter e-mails is awesome though -- sometimes it even throws away replies to e-mails sent from GMail.

      But what really made me laugh is `pretty good maps'. See a comparison: https://imgur.com/a/1yBHbKs. And this is still pretty much in the middle of a town where Google Maps should be strongest. For outdoors you just get blank rectangle from Google where other on-line maps show an actual map.

      1. juice Silver badge

        Re: Google has a vision

        > Google may have a vision, but their products are crap

        TBH, I'd be slightly happier if I thought they had a vision.

        I mean, Apple has a vision, even if it's one I don't buy into. Microsoft has a vision, even if they're pretty clumsy at executing it. Sony... well, they've always been a bit schizophrenic thanks to the politics between their hardware and media divisions, but hey. Even Uber and Tesla: the former may be evil and the latter crazy like a fox, but there's definitely a vision there.

        Meanwhile, my impression of Google is of a giant mudpit where they just throw things at the wall to see if they stick - and once the mud starts to dry, they scoop up some more mud and look for another wall to soil.

        After all, their advertising division is essentially an infinite-money printer, so they don't really have to account for the time and effort they put into things, nor do they have to stay committed to something when it becomes boring or unpopular...

        OTOH, I do find Google Maps to be pretty impressive - I was in Warsaw/Poland a few weeks back, and it's hooked into the local public transport system all the way down to the GPS system on the buses; you can see them crawling along the route it's picked for you.

        Admittedly, there are some annoying differences between the desktop and mobile versions - and the desktop version in particular seems to be very hit and miss when it comes to displaying saved markers. But in general, it's been an absolute miracle when it comes to wandering around foreign cities!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Google has a vision

          Google purchased Google Maps, like they did with Android and every other successful product they've had other than search.

          If Google develops something themselves, you can bet it will be one of the things that gets canceled after a couple years.

    2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Google has a vision

      > There's also the problem that Google's UI's really tend to be mediocre at best.

      I opened Google Calendar the other day to add something.

      They've changed the default view to only showing 4 days at a time. No notification, nothing.

      There's a dropdown to change the view, but because of their crap design choices it doesn't stand out in amongst all the other white boxes on a white background. So it took a minute or so to correct.

      By which time I'd completely forgotten what the hell I was going to add to the calendar.

      The main point of this grumble though - who the fuck wants their calendar to show just 4 days a time, and by default? Week view or GTFO

      1. odoric

        Re: Google has a vision

        You can set the default view in Settings/View Options

  9. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    pull the other?

    The handiest dictionary defines "crural" as "Of or pertaining to the leg or thigh, or a leglike structure", deriving it from the Latin "cruralis" "of the shin".

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: crural

      I thought crurl was meant to suggest "cruel". Appropriate, but maybe it should more strongly suggest its association with Google: "gruel"?

      Or emphasize its connection to Chrome: so maybe "churl". Would I be churlish to suggest that?

  10. Claverhouse Silver badge

    He also feels that naming the Chromium versions "libcrurl" and "crurl" will cause confusion as they "look like typos of the original names".

    Microsoft and Google are infamous for this, in the way that giggling morally bankrupts implementing cutesy overtakings are: from the moment Chrome appeared I considered the fact 'chrome' was an element in Firefox.

    Not that Mozilla objected, for they were already bought and sold by Google.

  11. IGnatius T Foobar ! Bronze badge
    FAIL

    Got it backwards!

    There is no reason to do this. In fact, there is every reason to do the opposite. Chrome should be using libcurl as its networking library. I reworked a substantially sized application to use libcurl instead of its own protocol implementations, and was able to shed tens of thousands of LoC. And at the same time, the networking stack got more reliable (because more people have tested it) and we didn't have to maintain any of that stuff anymore.

  12. Gnoitall
    Angel

    Google is the new Apple

    Apple used to be famous for "we invented it first and best, even if someone invented it before us." They've exhibited that attitude less lately, probably due to the gradual erosion of the RDF since the ascension of Saint Steven of Cupertino.

    Now we know where that arrogance went: 9 miles down the road, to Mountain View.

  13. JohnFen Silver badge

    Let them do what they want

    I have no trust in anything Google does anymore, anyway, so I'm perfectly happy to see them build their own pool to piss in rather than pissing in the one that I use.

  14. JLV
    Thumb Down

    The name definitely needs changing, _especially_ in the open source context. There's a fair bit* of malicious cybersquatting-by-misspelling happening in open online registries and, whatever else its intentions are, Google needs to avoid muddying the waters by intentionally using such a close, and easily missed, variation. That will poison the well, even if you don't use either library.

    For the rest, well, assuming (that might be a big assumption), that there is no tracking/ads ulterior motive, it is not uncommon for open source products to compete/fork/imitate each other.

    My sympathies, and intent to use, remain firmly with the original though.

    * Not necessarily in absolute volume, but, in cases where there is malicious intent, intentional misspelling is a common strategy.

  15. Tim99 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Please, stop trying to break the Internet

    Dear Google,

    I know that you have to monetarize everything to do with internet traffic to leech advertising revenue of everybody that goes online, but, please, just stop.

    I will continue to type in curl -O <url> through my VPN for as long as I can.

    I remain, Sir, Disgusted Old Fart of the proper Internet.

  16. Bill Mercer

    Don't get me wrong, I love me some Google bashing, but this looks like it really was just a bad choice of name by an intern. The project has already been renamed as of yesterday afternoon.

    https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=973603

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Devil

      re: already been renamed

      Only because someone doesn't like being laughed at.

      The only sense to this is Google ego and control.

      Mad.

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