More Corel shenanigans

So simply disabling the Corel Update Helper wasn’t enough to get my machine back in reasonably working order; I couldn’t figure out what was causing CUH to relaunch periodically and simply disabling the LaunchAgent didn’t do that. So, I ended up deleting CUH entirely:

sudo rm -rf /Library/Preferences/com.corel.* /Library/LaunchAgents/com.corel*

and while I was at it, I uninstalled Corel Painter.

However the official uninstall instructions don’t even tell the entire story of what you need to do. Because in addition to not removing the update helper, Painter left behind another pretty big turd, in the form of a hidden audio driver that became active when I rebooted, disabling all sound on my system:

My sound control panel, showing "Internal Sound Driver (Corel Painter)" selected and active

Which I had to uninstall with

sudo kextunload -b com.corel.painter.PainterAudioDriver

sudo rm -rf /System/Library/Extensions/PainterAudioDriver.kext

I’m sure there’s still some other bullshit lurking in my computer from this, and I am very unhappy about it.

And for the record, yes Corel Painter has some audio functionality (it has a “microphone dynamics” thing you can use to control the brush strokes with sound…? for some reason…?) but I never enabled it (or allowed Corel access to my microphone) and it certainly doesn’t need a sound driver to function! From what I can find online it’s a weird fork of SoundFlower which they use to make it so that you can use system audio to capture expressions. Which means that, in effect, Corel Painter is potentially listening to your entire computer audio while you’re using it.

Do they disclose that it’s doing this? Nope. Do they say what’s done with the data? Nope. Should anyone be happy with this? Absolutely nope.

I also don’t know why this driver was only activated when I’d uninstalled Painter. That sure doesn’t seem troublesome at all, she ranted sarcastically.

Oh, also, while I’m ranting, another thing that left a bad taste in my mouth was that when I did try Corel Painter 2019 – which, as a reminder, I paid money for – all it did was try to upsell me to Corel Painter 2020, before I’d even given 2019 a try. And when I most recently launched it seeing if I could disable updates normally, it gave me the “Please upgrade so you don’t miss out on all the new features” splash screen all over again.

I’m fine with keeping software around to occasionally dink around with, as long as it’s not interfering with the rest of my computer’s operation, but everything about Corel Painter interferes in insidious ways.

When I was ranting about this on Mastodon/Twitter this morning, people wondered if the audio driver thing was some sort of prank or overtly user-hostile action from some engineer at Corel, but I’m guessing the reality is that nobody who works on the software ever considers that anyone might be using their computer for anything else, much less uninstalling it. It’s not a booby trap, it’s a rotten walkway that’s ready to collapse on its own.

Once upon a time, Corel was a decent company that made decent software; CorelDRAW was hugely innovative and it launched an entire product category (which quickly outgrew them, with things like Freehand and later Illustrator taking over and doing a far better job). Then they acquired Fractal Design, who were pioneers in natural media digital paint tools; at one time Fractal Design Paint was amazing, but eventually several other art packages caught up and eventually surpassed it, and even Photoshop has… well, Good Enough natural media support in it. (It’s not amazing but it’s how I did many of the watercolor effects on my art prints, at least.)

And of course, WordPerfect used to be the standard in word processing, but it floundered, and had a hard time transitioning to a GUI, and then Microsoft Word 6.0 came out and suddenly WordPerfect wasn’t so perfect anymore, and now it’s only a distant memory for most, relegated to the budget bin or to extreme specialist fields that haven’t moved on. (My understanding is that many lawyers still use WordPerfect for legacy compatibility reasons. Not a great place to be in.)

When they do user-hostile things like disrupting their workflow, screwing up their audio settings, and having terrible, laggy interfaces that haven’t kept up with the times, is it any wonder that they’re only running on inertia, goodwill, and legacy compatibility? Eventually that’s going to run out, and eventually people aren’t even going to want to buy them at fire-sale prices from Humble Bundle because their reputation will precede them, even if they’ve managed to fix all these problems.

I got my original start in digital art using Fractal Design Painter in high school (on a 3x5" Wacom ArtPad). It was revolutionary at the time. But whatever nostalgia I had for those days has completely evaporated now.

Thanks for wasting several hours of my life and my remaining goodwill towards you, Corel.

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