Thanks for the rootkit, Sony

You think I’d be leery of installing any software on a Sony branded disc after the horribly unethical way that the Sony rootkit scandal went down years ago.  But I was a fool.

The long story short: I installed Blu-Ray writing software from Sony on my Windows XP laptop, and that software installed something called SafeDisc onto my laptop.  I didn’t even notice it was there until I tried to play Age of Empires II: The Conquerors on that laptop.

This is a game I own, and the whole point of the SafeDisc rootkit is to stop “pirated games” from playing on a system.  Now here is another reason why DRM is just a fucking bad idea.  Look at this picture of these two game discs.

The disc on the left is a copy (OMFG!) that I made of a game called Lords of the Realm II.  I made the copy of the original – which I bought – so that the original game disc would not get any more scratched up and degraded than it already is.  I happen to play this game a lot.

And I played it a lot on my laptop, even with the “SafeDisc” rootkit surreptitiously installed.  So FAIL for the SafeDisc rootkit there.

The disc on the right of the image is another game disc I bought, and the SafeDisc rootkit decided that it was a copied disc and that the game shouldn’t be allowed to load.  Fail #2.

And not only does this rootkit fail miserably at what it is supposedly intended to do, but it also changed about 269 different files on my system.  I habitually scan all my PCs with anti-malware software, and when I used ClamAV from my Linux partition to scan, I suddenly noticed that many Windows system files and many files belonging to my Avast Windows Antivirus had been “infected”.

So, it’s off to nuke-and-pave land I go.  I am currently reinstalling Windows XP, and if I have time today I will try to install Linux Mint Debian Edition Xfce on part of that HD too.

And then I can be free of Sony’s god damn rootkit shenanigans.