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Getting AVG update to cooperate

January 5, 2009

EDIT:  I am no longer recommending AVG for GNU/Linux, for 3 important reasons.

First, Grisoft – the company that develops AVG – has discontinued the graphical user interface (GUI) for their newest GNU/Linux version (8.5, as of this writing).  For GNU/Linux newbies, this means no more pointing and clicking to use your antivirus program – it’s all done at the command prompt.  So this essentially eliminates most newbie usage – and newbies are the ones who need the most protection, since they’re not as savvy about keeping systems free of viruses.  I think this makes AVG nearly useless for many GNU/Linux users, and that Grisoft is exceedingly lame for doing it.  This is made even lamer by the fact that they have simultaneously expanded their services for their Windows version.  Industrial strength mega-lame.

Second, the above boneheaded move will surely mean the demise of AVG for GNU/Linux.  The cynic in me suspects that’s precisely what it was designed to do, so they can bow out of GNU/Linux development with a half-assed excuse.

The third reason is the reason behind the second.  If AVG had been free/libre software – that is, free as in freedom – other developers in the community would be free to look at the source code and develop a GUI (or any other desired features) for it, regardless of what Grisoft decided to do.  As it stands, because AVG is proprietary (closed-source) software, when Grisoft decides to abandon it no one else can pick up where they left off.  What good is freeware (software that doesn’t cost money) if you are always at the mercy of the company that developed it?

Since writing this tutorial, I’ve become much more aware of issues surrounding software freedom.  I’ve left it here because the reasons I cited for needing an antivirus on GNU/Linux are still as valid as ever.  I now recommend clamav antivirus, with either klamav or clamtk to provide a graphical interface.  They’re all free/libre software licensed under the GNU GPL, and they’re usually easily installed through your GNU/Linux distribution’s package manager.  I haven’t test-driven the clamtk GUI, but the klamav GUI is very similar to the one you would see in AVG’s GUI – if it still had one.  Ω

Now, I know what you may be thinking… If I’m running GNU/Linux why do I need an antivirus program?  Isn’t that a Windows thing?

But the fact of the matter is that no operating system is 100% safe from viruses.  Just because GNU/Linux is more secure in general, and less people use it so it’s less of a hacker target than Windows, does not mean you don’t need to worry about it.  Moreover, just because you’re not susceptible to Windows viruses yourself doesn’t mean you can’t still pass them from one Windows user to another as you e-mail and share files with others.  The buck should stop with you.  After all, you don’t want to be the Typhoid Mary of the computing world, do you?  🙂

AVG is a popular, user-friendly, and free (as in beer) antivirus program that can be used on GNU/Linux or Windows.  I highly recommend it.  It’s easy to install, configure, and keep updated.  If you want to get it there is a link in the sidebar.

Now, a commonly reported problem when running AVG antivirus in GNU/Linux is that it opens, but when you click Update to get the latest virus definitions, it stops with an error message: “Sorry you do have permission to execute AVG update.”

I used to remedy this in KDE by right clicking the menu button, opening the Menu Editor, finding the application in the list, going to the Advanced tab, clicking Run as a different user, and typing in root as the username.  Then when you go to run AVG it will prompt you for the root password before starting and complete the update no problem.  But there is a more elegant solution.

AVG creates a user named avg and also a group named avg .  If you add your username to the group avg , then log out and log back in, the changes will take effect and you’ll be able to run the AVG update without trouble.

If you want to do this from the command line, you can type this as root:
usermod -A avg yourloginname
or for you Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Mint users:
sudo usermod -A avg yourloginname
In openSUSE 11.1 it can be done through the GUI by opening System -> Configuration -> Yast , then go to Security and Users, and User and Group Management.  Select your username, click Edit, go to the Details tab, and put a check next to avg and click Ok and Ok.  Other GNU/Linux distributions will keep the settings in whatever control panel they have implemented, but the idea is the same.  Find the user and groups settings and add yourself to the avg group.

See why I prefer the command line?  🙂

Now don’t forget you’ll need to log out and then back in and you’re all set.

Ω

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