Some open source software has turned to software installers as a potential monetisation point. Famously Oracles Java, which attempts to install a toolbar with every download, but they’re not alone. Potentially, taking money for the promotion of other, proprietary software at the point of download could be an acceptable way to monetise projects. This will only be true though in cases which carefully follow some best practice guidelines.
The worst sort of downloader is one which “sideloads” other software without notice or permission. This is essentially malware, so any company that cares about their reputation avoids quite this level of behaviour, at least informing users that something is being installed. There are plenty of other ways in which users can find themselves mislead or left out of the download process though.
One root problem, the rectification of which would lead to much more good practice is that in many cases the developer has no control over the way an installer behaves and therefore loses control of the user experience. Given that in most cases the user views any additional software downloaded with the code they were actually after as forming a part of their relationship with the writer of that code, developers should always be able to tailor the user experience as they see fit. Read about how SourceForge’s new revenue sharing for developers measures up to this standard in today’s InfoWorld article.