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October 10, 2009 6:37 AM   Subscribe

Remember when your computer just worked? Did you click 'OK' to that recommended update on programs like iTunes, Adobe Reader, or Yahoo Messenger, only to realize that the older version ran faster or had better features? Then Version Download may be your solution. Includes back-level versions of browsers, audio and video, security and anti-virus, FTP, file-sharing and communications software.
posted by netbros (59 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Remember when your computer just worked?

The cost of the light red tinting was higher than I'd budgeted for when I bought my current glasses, sorry.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:39 AM on October 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


I sure do. Unfortunately, back then "works" meant "boots up and runs Zork from my floppy disk within five minutes."
posted by googly at 6:46 AM on October 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Back in the late '90s to early '00s, when all the mainstream software was closed source and feature bloat and spyware were seen as good ways to differentiate and make a profit (respectively), this was a good thing. However, I'd say that most of the software I use is open source, and there's almost always a good free alternative so that you can stay current and keep on using lightweight software.

For example, if you hate Quicktime, VLC will pretty much replace it and Windows Media Player. It's a small download, completely open source, and it's very lightweight.

And programs that people get "locked into," like iTunes (you lose the DRM'd music you bought and the iPod syncing), often have measures to keep you from going backwards. iTunes requires you to have a recent version to buy music, and I'm pretty sure a fairly old version will not work with recent iPods/the iPhones. (Granted, if all you want is syncing of non-DRM music, YamiPod is a great program.)
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:47 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


VLC is actually a great example of this. The later releases are utter crap.
posted by fire&wings at 6:49 AM on October 10, 2009


Old Version
posted by cavalier at 6:49 AM on October 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


From the comment spam:

NfWwJT oegxksjqppim, [url=http://eysebexdsoab.com/]eysebexdsoab[/url], [link=http://xijgvrsvvnqf.com/]xijgvrsvvnqf[/link], http://ogmfpftottio.com/

Fascinating. I wonder what language this was originally for, if not just a spambot gone bad?
posted by cavalier at 6:51 AM on October 10, 2009


Why would I want to install old software that, however well written at the time, is now going to have a bunch of well known security vulnerabilities?
posted by Lanark at 7:02 AM on October 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Version Download used to work better and faster and was easier to use a couple of years ago. Is there a website that can fix that?
posted by Plutor at 7:08 AM on October 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


I wonder what language this was originally for, if not just a spambot gone bad?

I believe that's BBCode.
posted by danb at 7:11 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Crossgrade is better than downgrade. Winamp too slow? Try MediaMonkey. VLC sucks? CCCP with media player classic is better. And the latest Foxit PDF reader is always gonna suck less than Adobe.

etc.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:18 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the only viable solution is using open source software, as old close source programs will have known security vulnerabilities.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:20 AM on October 10, 2009


cavalier beat me to it, but yeah, I've used Old Version for years, and it's a pretty great site.

Lanark: Some possible reasons might include a smaller memory/processor footprint, a different feature set, or a desire for compatibility with legacy systems.
posted by box at 7:20 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I dunno--if you have a software firewall and a whitelist of programs that are allowed to make network connections, it seems like that would minimize a lot of the concerns about vulnerabilities. (I am definitely not a security expert.)
posted by box at 7:22 AM on October 10, 2009


I ran a cracked copy of Cubase v.02 on an Atari for years. Loved it.

Wouldn't trade my Logic v.07 running on a MacBookPro for it, but, I loved it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:24 AM on October 10, 2009


Metafilter: I wonder what language this was originally for, if not just a spambot gone bad?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:28 AM on October 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Huh. I figured this would be instrumental dubs of old programs.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:39 AM on October 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think the only viable solution is using open source software, as old close source programs will have known security vulnerabilities.

Yeah, open source never has bugs or security vulnerabilities in old software. It just bursts forth fully formed and perfect, like a modern day Athena.
posted by squorch at 7:41 AM on October 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, open source never has bugs or security vulnerabilities in old software. It just bursts forth fully formed and perfect, like a modern day Athena.

Uhhhh... You can backport security fixes into the older versions of the software whereas closed source doesn't exactly have that option.
posted by Talez at 7:58 AM on October 10, 2009


You can backport security fixes into the older versions of the software

Brilliant! Which button do I click to backport them?
posted by cillit bang at 8:03 AM on October 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Talez: "You can backport security fixes into the older versions of the software"

Yeah, but Version Download doesn't provide you with source code or with change lists and patches. So even if anyone wanted to do what you described, they'd have to find another way to do it.
posted by Plutor at 8:04 AM on October 10, 2009


I didn't say it was easy. I just said it was possible.
posted by Talez at 8:14 AM on October 10, 2009


Man, if only this had existed back when I was using RealJukebox and upgraded.
posted by sciurus at 8:19 AM on October 10, 2009


All open sources projects are already maintained using version control software, and the security patches are usually identifiable from other changes. So yes you could backport only the security patches, but an even better solution might be contributing patches that single out a "minimal" version using compile time directives.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:32 AM on October 10, 2009


box: "I dunno--if you have a software firewall and a whitelist of programs that are allowed to make network connections, it seems like that would minimize a lot of the concerns about vulnerabilities. (I am definitely not a security expert.)"

This will not help with certain programs, in particular outlook will let a malicious email screw your computer*, no matter what program put the email on your machine. Similar but somewhat less likely with acrobat reader and a malicious PDF. The problem is that there are known ways to make an app on your machine screw up your computer with a document that is set up the right way, even if that app never touches the internet itself.

The two best protections from this sort of attack are using obscure applications (less likely to be targeted, and infections are much slower to spread from one machine to another) and up to date versions (fast moving targets are harder to hit).

*On this note, there is no such thing as an email virus, the email is fine, they are outlook viruses (or thunderbird viruses or whatever but outlook almost 100% of the time), don't use outlook and you are immune to them.
posted by idiopath at 8:36 AM on October 10, 2009


{Insert rant from long-time Adobe Illustrator user about how v.8 was the last rock-solid release before Adobe went on a bloat-and-bugginess binge that continues apace today}
posted by Thorzdad at 8:41 AM on October 10, 2009


Not to harp on WIndows. If 99% of computer users were using Ubuntu with an identical set of default applications and libraries, Ubuntu would have many of the same problems.
posted by idiopath at 8:43 AM on October 10, 2009


Excellent, cheers. I was just about to ask an askme question about where to find older versions of iTunes
posted by dng at 8:46 AM on October 10, 2009


I hate Adobe so much it makes purple arcs of qi lash out from my throbbing temples whenever I need to use Acrobat 9 or update Flash yet again. HATE, rrrrrrargh mmmnnnnnnnrzzzzzt

* a soupçon of ozone hangs in the air *
posted by everichon at 8:51 AM on October 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Speaking of Adobe.
posted by idiopath at 8:58 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Remember when your computer just worked?

It seems like just yesterday.

Wait a minute, it was yesterday.


And it seems to be working now, too. Strange.
posted by mazola at 9:36 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love this stuff. A long time ago I got WinAmp version 2.80 from oldversion.com. My favorite skin (TopazAmp, now discontinued) works with it, and it doesn't have the crazy media browser bloat stuff that newer versions have.
posted by marble at 9:50 AM on October 10, 2009


i love my mac. but quicktime? quicktime needs to be taken out behind the shed and shot in the head a couple of times.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:30 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


sexyrobot: i love my mac. but quicktime? quicktime needs to be taken out behind the shed and shot in the head a couple of times.

There are two pieces of software which never seem to work correctly, not even in a fresh latest-version install on a newly set up computer completely updated with the latest patches. These are Quicktime and Acrobat, and I shudder every time I hear their blighted names.

I mean, Quicktime somehow manages to be less functional and more problematic than realplayer. That's damn near miraculous. And I simply have no idea how Acrobat has maintained its status as dysfunctional and overwhelmingly slow from the 486 to the Core i7, considering it does nearly the exact same thing now as it did then.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:14 PM on October 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Old versions of software, especially browsers, browser plug-ins, etc, are terrible security risks.

Open Source Software is often just as buggy and\or insecure as closed source software.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:29 PM on October 10, 2009


jeffamaphone: "Old versions of software, especially browsers, browser plug-ins, etc, are terrible security risks.

Open Source Software is often just as buggy and\or insecure as closed source software.
"

Indeed.

The difference, though, is that with open source you can have the stability / low overhead of old versions, combined with the security updates from the new version, backported. This is why Debian exists and what Debian stable does.

And realistically you can be connecting directly to the Internet executing arbitrary data as root without much risk if nobody is targeting you. A diverse software ecosystem is an important part of preventing epidemic worm / trojan infestations.
posted by idiopath at 12:46 PM on October 10, 2009


cillit bang: "
Brilliant! Which button do I click to backport them?
"

git-cherrypick.
posted by pwnguin at 1:45 PM on October 10, 2009


Beans meet plate. Plate...here's some beans. Go crazy baby.

*Ducks*
posted by Skygazer at 2:07 PM on October 10, 2009


If someone tried to backport my laptop, I would probably hand it to them and just tell them to keep it...
posted by Skygazer at 2:09 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Honestly, Life hasn't been as good since that first version of the Pine Email Client I used to use. I think it was version 1.1 or something. Forget about spellcheck, you couldn't even backspace on that bad boy, but I tell you, that sh*t was tie-iiight.
posted by Skygazer at 2:13 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


No really, sometimes I do get pissed off at how my machine which is barely 4 years old has slowed down so much. I defrag it and disk clean it and run a registry cleaner, update spy sweeper (works good, but a memory hogg), and Avast Anti-virus it and Commodo firewall it and it's just getting slower and slower, and the other day it hit me that all the updates, there was an especially noticeable drop in speed after the XP Pro SP 3 update from MS a few months ago, it just hit me that no matter how much RAM I had in the thing and that it was a 2 Gig Hz processor, it just wasn't going to run that well anymore considering what the updates from MS and Firefox and Apple and Adobe and whoever the f8ck, were now for daul core processors and I just was not going to get the speed and joy I used to get.

Considering the hundreds of hours I've spent reading boards on this and that and making these adjustments here and there, I wondered if at the end of the day I should just not do that anymore and just call it a day at 2 1/2 years with my next machine and spend the hours used to obsess over system performance on something more productive. Like stamp collecting or finishing up that whacked out memoir I've been working on for a while now.....or uh, going to the park with my toddler and stuff....

Yeah, I think that's what I'm going to do instead.

(Have you dudes checked out Backport Atomic Explosions #6? Oh man...I wish I could tell you about it but I don't want to inadvertently give out any spoilers....)
posted by Skygazer at 2:27 PM on October 10, 2009


Skygazer: in case you care, backporting is making a security fix availible for an old version (something common enough in the Linux world that we have a name for it).

Backdooring on the other hand, is taking over a machine, and they really don't want the laptop, they just want to be able to make it send some spam emails or malicious pings is all.
posted by idiopath at 2:34 PM on October 10, 2009


Skygazer, sounds like you should use Debian.
posted by fuq at 2:47 PM on October 10, 2009


Actually, if you can't figure out that pine knows how to backspace but your termcap or $TERM variable is misconfigured, you probably won't enjoy Linux very much. Linux is great, and it is the only system I use, but it really isn't so great for the non-nerd.
posted by idiopath at 2:51 PM on October 10, 2009


i love my mac. but quicktime? quicktime needs to be taken out behind the shed and shot in the head a couple of times.

Really? Quicktime on a Mac is slow?

If anything Quicktime on a Mac is usually so fast that it's actually usable! Windows I'll agree. The Windows version is pretty much slow garbage. But Quicktime X on Snow Leopard is awesome.
posted by Talez at 3:02 PM on October 10, 2009


I'm your backport man. The men don't know, but the little girls understand.
posted by box at 3:55 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Best ever poison update: SGI sent me a full set of free CDs with an update of IRIX for my O2. I installed it, not having the comparable set of CDs for my current version. I could no longer compile code, the error seemed to involve the internal change of the name of a single operator.

SGI said this was a known problem, and could be easily fixed by upgrading my compiler. As I remember, the new developer's toolkit was somewhere around $5,000.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:59 PM on October 10, 2009


Yo, Sticky what up bro. Some of that equipment you had at the Mefi 10th meet up I don't think will ever be able to be backported. If you'll pardon the pun. Perhaps used for props in a sci-fi / Cold war movie, but backporting I'm pretty sure is out.
posted by Skygazer at 4:36 PM on October 10, 2009


Idiopath: Actually, if you can't figure out that pine knows how to backspace but your termcap or $TERM variable is misconfigured, you probably won't enjoy Linux very much. Linux is great, and it is the only system I use, but it really isn't so great for the non-nerd.

Damn, I so want to have Ubuntu running side by side w/ XP, but no time, and besides I think I need to partition my c drive or some external thingy drive, but..and I know this sounds nuts and I hope you'll will still talk to me after I admit it but....I don't know how to partition a drive.

WHAT??
posted by Skygazer at 4:41 PM on October 10, 2009


(I'm afraid to eff up my system and lose all my data.)
posted by Skygazer at 4:43 PM on October 10, 2009


The Ubuntu install disk makes partitioning very, very easy (so does Partition Magic, a piece of pay Windows software), and at this point an Ubuntu install is probably easier and faster than an XP one, but, geez, back up your data.
posted by box at 4:53 PM on October 10, 2009


Ubuntu installer for Windows. Way cool techno-magic that lets you really run Ubuntu directly -- not a hoax, emulation or virtual machine -- with no partitioning or anything else complicated. After installation, on machine reboot you'll be prompted for whether you want to run Windows or Ubuntu. If you don't want to keep it, just boot into Windows, and uninstall it conventionally like any other Windows app.
posted by Zed at 5:57 PM on October 10, 2009


Yeah my advice about Linux and usability may have more to do with what Linux was like when I started using it than it does with Linux today. I really shouldn't say "don't use it unless you are a nerd with lots of free time" because Ubuntu makes things pretty easy, but I can't really promise it won't be a pain in the ass for a new user either.

But the point is, anyway, that with all the failings of the free software world, the one nice thing is that us Linux people often put in the work to patch security holes in very old software, so in exchange for a bit of hassle you can run a system that just blazes performance wise on modern hardware.
posted by idiopath at 6:45 PM on October 10, 2009


Ah yes the good old days. I can remember fondly staying up late writing papers in high school on my 386 with that rock solid Windows 3.0 and the fancy new graphical version of Word Perfect (6 I think). I would have ground out another 100 words on MacBeth and then BOOM: OEM Error (the precursor to the more famous "blue screen of death"). All changes lost. It would take 10 minutes to get that fancy crap all running again only for it to blow up again 20 minutes later. I downgraded to DOS and WordPerfect 5 and swore never to use windows again. Then I discovered Linux...

Anyway, I'm just trying to say a lot of old software was bloaty and crappy too.
posted by mr.ersatz at 3:47 AM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Something similar to Version Download is Last Freeware Version.

I use several versions of aps that are older than my aged computer because they do everything I need done.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:53 AM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


> Ubuntu makes things pretty easy, but I can't really promise it won't be a pain in the ass
> for a new user either.

Like life to Joe Walsh, Ubuntu has been good to me so far. But every system has its gotchas. First time I boot Ubuntu I'm immediately going "what is this 'sudo' shite? and how can I put su back? and what unpleasant side effects will that create on a system that's built to expect sudo? (I learn a little more about the latter a couple of times each week.)


> I can remember fondly staying up late writing papers in high school on my 386 with that rock
> solid Windows 3.0 and the fancy new graphical version of Word Perfect (6 I think).

Right around the time of Win 3.0 (which I skipped) I did a fair amount of work in WP 6 for DOS, which provided its own very extensive GUI in addition to doing all the low level stuff DOS programs had to do (not much of an API to call on there.) I thought it was pretty stable for its day. And it ran well in a Desqview window which meant that when it did hang it usually only took down its own Desqview session while stuff running in other concurrent sessions remained OK.

The "fair amount of work" consisted of scanning an old two-volume out-of-copyright Latin text and OCRing the scans and manually fixing the OCR errors and finally (the WP6 part) reformatting all the text files to look pretty, writing a third volume on the subjunctive directly in WP, and desktop-publishing the whole thing which I sold copies of mail-order for several years. (More people than you might expect turned out to want a Latin text; certainly more people that I expected.) DOS WP6 handled that level of DTP very adequately.

Dept. of topic drift: the highlight of the additional volume on the subjunctive was the section named WE TOOK OUR CHILDREN TO AFRICA TO SEE ELEPHANTS, discussing purpose clauses.

1. UT + SUBJUNCTIVE
Our children to Africa we took so that elephants they might see.

2. RELATIVE CLAUSE OF PURPOSE
Our children to Africa we took, who elephants might see.

3. AD + ACCUSATIVE OF THE GERUND
Our children to Africa we took for seeing elephants.

4. AD + ACCUSATIVE + GERUNDIVE
Our children to Africa we took for elephants deserving-to-be-seen.

5. CAUSĀ OR GRĀTIĀ PRECEEDED BY GENITIVE OF THE GERUND
Our children to Africa we took, on account of seeing elephants.

6. CAUSĀ OR GRĀTIĀ PRECEEDED BY GENITIVE + GERUNDIVE
Our children to Africa we took, on account of elephants deserving-to-be-seen.

7. SUPINE IN -UM EXPLAINING PURPOSE OF VERB OF MOTION
Our children to Africa elephants we-took-to-see.

posted by jfuller at 10:55 AM on October 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Damn, no Windows Millennium Edition.
posted by essexjan at 11:18 AM on October 11, 2009


Zed said: Ubuntu installer for Windows. Way cool techno-magic that lets you really run Ubuntu directly -- not a hoax, emulation or virtual machine -- with no partitioning or anything else complicated.

Very cool. I'm gonna try this and see what happens to the performance. It would be nice to slowly migrate over from Win to Linux, much as I think XP Pro is pretty good, but the deterioration in preformance since the SP 3 update is getting to be too much to deal with...call me paranoid, but sometimes I wonder if MS did that to get people to move over to Win. 7 or, horrors of horrors, Gulp, Vi$ta.
posted by Skygazer at 11:55 AM on October 11, 2009


Metafilter: On account of elephants deserving-to-be-seen

My first one!
posted by Sebmojo at 12:48 PM on October 11, 2009


The thing about Linux, you have to make sure your hardware is supported with drivers. A lot of stuff IS, when it comes to the bare necessities. But lots of stuff is only mostly, too. But do download a CD and try it, see what happens. Most snags I've seen are over peripherals like fancy keyboards and mice, scanners, printers, that sort of thing. But I enjoy the occasional 2-minute-hate, over hardware vendors that can't be bothered to put out Linux drivers.
posted by Goofyy at 8:21 AM on October 13, 2009


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