Reviewed: AVG Anti-virus 8.5 for Linux

Apps

As long as NTFS partitions continue to sprawl over heterogeneous networks, anti-virus companies will dole out scanners for Linux. No surprise then that AVG Technologies, makers of the popular AVG Anti-Virus, has a scanner that runs on Linux in its latest 8.5 series bouquet.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.5 for Linux (hereafter abbreviated to AVG Free) isn't AVG's first scanner for Linux. The company has released binaries for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures for Linux and FreeBSD, and the scanner itself is loaded with features up to the brim. Despite all this, it is utterly useless for the intended audience.

As per AVG's licence requirements, the Linux scanner is meant for private, and non-commercial use only. Fair enough. But without a GUI to handle the dozen daemons and command-line scanning tools, a normal desktop user would probably struggle.

Despite being aimed at home users, AVG Free has no graphical interface.

Despite being aimed at home users, AVG Free has no graphical interface.

To complicate matters further, the scanner has no user guide. Right after installation, AVG displays a bit of text that lists all the tools and daemons and suggests referring to their individual man pages for "detailed information".

Like all good command-line apps, the AVG tools are overflowing with switches and options. The on-demand scanner, for example, has about 20 switches, and you'll need to use quite a lot of them to scan inside archives, and documents with macros, and ignore certain extensions. With only the CLI to play with, the freedom of control becomes excruciatingly inconvenient.

The good news is that you can perform all the configuration in AVG Free using one tool. The bad news is that the configuration tool isn't wizard-based, only accepts changes via switches and there are some 300 parameters for you to tweak. The scanner also has a mail filter that can scan SMTP traffic for virus, spam, and phishing content. It's a good feature, and desktop users who run their own SMTP servers will surely be delighted.

Scan on demand

One of the highlighted features of AVG Free is the on-access scanner, which monitors files as you copy or open them. The only (pretty significant) catch is that to use this feature you'll have to compile the RedirFS kernel module.

The built-in scheduler cannot currently schedule system scans. To top it all, the scanner itself lacks the ability to clean, quarantine, or even delete the infected files. When an infected file is found, the scanner lists the complete path to the infected file, and it's up to you to take further action.

This is still better than the on-access scanner, which silently notes the details of the infection in a log file. To further complicate matters, AVG Free maintains public and private log files for every user, and for every program, so you'll have as many log files as the daemons and tools you're running. The problem with AVG Free is the mismatch between the capabilities of the product and the intended audience. If it were meant for commercial use on enterprise servers, we'd be a little more tolerant of its CLI-fetish.

Unfortunately, it's a stark reminder of the first commercial software for Linux – semi-prepared, unpolished versions of their Windows cousins, dumped on to the Linux users for cheap publicity. The ploy didn't last for long. Neither will this.

Our verdict: Powerful, feature-rich scanner that's completely lost on its target audience. 3/10.

The alternatives

Testing a scanner for effectiveness is no easy task, and there's no definitive benchmarks to compare the results with. AVG, like BitDefender, catalogues a lot more virus, trojans and other infections than open source alternatives like such as ClamAV. That said, tests conducted by open source network gateway vendor Untangle show that ClamAV performs second only to Kaspersky, ahead of F-Prot, Sophos and Symantec.

Even in terms of features, AVG doesn't particularly shine in front of BitDefender and ClamAV. One of AVG's highlighted features is its on-access scanning, which is missing from the free version of BitDefender but is available in ClamAV. One show-stopper in the free edition of AVG is its inability to automatically take action against infected files.

First published in Linux Format

First published in Linux Format magazine

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Your comments

Utterly pointless

Most people willing to use this will be sysadmins in corporations who will be using the enterprise version anyway. 3/10 sounds about right.

That explains a lot.

Having tried this application a lot and after understanding the 7.X series had at the very least an optional python based gui for the scanner (though I only heard rumors of this), it suddenly explains why I had such trouble making this work on my Fedora server. I am curious however why they didn't update the optional gui component for the 8.X series.

I should maybe just use ClamAV or install Kaspersky under Wine and have it scan the drive that represents the Linux file system.

It does feel very half hearted, since virus scanners of this type are there to protect the windows machines on our networks, we could just install the windows versions on proxy servers or on the desktop machines in general.

Having said that, it makes you wonder, should we download and install it to prove there's a demand or should we not bother, considering it's mostly crapness (I know it's not an actual word) and possibly suggest there isn't?

Oh hey my captcha contains the word York, I live there :D (I honestly have been drinking and it amuses me).

You just pursuaded me to ignore Pardus...

... as that comment was not only blatant spam, but stupid spam at that.

(The article about AVG anti-virus for Linux, however, was informative, and worth my while).

AVG For linux is USELESS

At least for a vmware user.
I have two Windows NT running on my Ubuntu 8.06 desktop as vmware guests. These are NT servers that our accounting employees were using. After I installed AVG, I leave it for later configuration. A day after, vmware complained that it can no longer saved files at /tmp directory for the partition has no available desk space. I rebooted and came back with 25.6Gb free root partition where the /tmp directory resides.
Moments later, vmware complained the same thing. I began to contemplate of what's going on, after almost a year of running NT servers as a vmware guest, only this time I've got this error. NT guest servers stopped working when that error occurred. I cannot "ping" the guest machines. I rebooted again and came back with the same free amount of disk space(25.6Gb). Restart NT servers and then working fine. Moments later, the same error appeared. Now I suspect after contemplating that as of yesterday, I installed AVG 8.5 on this box. I immediately uninstalled AVG, rebooted and run again the guest machines. Ever since, I did not recieve that error, my 25.6Gb free space has never decreased. Guess who is the culprit.

Pointless

Wow, they really made it easy for themselves, thinking "those linux users are able to figure it out themselves anyway". Well if they can, why should they even need anti-virus software, as they then also can figure out, how to avoid viruses / malicious software...

Intended audience.

There have never been any viruses that successfully infected Linux systems - never ever.

Hence the target audience is not the Linux desktop user. I don't think it is even the dual booter who boots between Linux and Windows, because AVG would expect them to buy the Windows version to run under Windows in that case. No, the target audience here is the system administrator who is evaluating the AVG command line AV solution to run on a Linux fileserver, Linux mailserver, or on a bootable Linux rescue CD or USB key to rescue virus trashed Windows machines. For these applications, a command line virus scanner would be preferred.

Anonymous Penguin: I don't

Anonymous Penguin: I don't think it's quite pointless to make a virus scanner for Linux - why would ClamAV exist, after all? Security is an issue on any OS, no matter how well-secured it is *now*, because the more popular it gets, the more it appeals to people actually wanting to WRITE viruses for that system. And Linux really IS only a bit more safe than Windows in that aspect.

For example, ever considered that .desktop files could insuspiciously be replaced by a malicious shell script/program to run some malicious code as root (but still act as if the .desktop file was just running your administrative tool)? Yes, this requires a graphical desktop and all that, but that's where the *users* are most of the time.

Linux can not be infected - hyeah right

I would just like to point out that Linux/Unix can be infected.

Among the sources of malware infection is drive by downloads, where the web server has been attacked and infected.

The vast majority of web servers run Linux/Unix/BSD. If only Windows Servers could be infected then no one would use them.

*nix can be infected, it is just very difficult. Oh yeah, in case anyone mentions it, so can OSX.

The reason why there is so few malware techniques for these systems (and even less malware in the wild) is the very small desktop population running these OS, i.e. the gain is not worth the development.

Avira AntiVir

Why no mention of AntiVir ? AVG is a waste of time.

Why not just use Avast

Yes you have to sign up for a licence but its free and lasts 14 months and its far better than AVG is. Thankfully the Linux interface is far easier to sue than the windows one!

link?

Ahem. This is the world wide web.
Why did you publish an article without a single hyperlink?

Despite the fact that there was obviously some dislike for the mentioned product, it's totally ******* not to include a blue clicky thingy to the vendor or actual download page. Or do you feel its inappropriate that some readers might want to check for themselves? Or did you develop some AVG hatred and don't want to accidently provide the single Google pagerank magic pointy such a link might entail?

avg is useless on windows

I would like to point out that on Windows systems, avg doesn't catch most bugs. This is from a sysadmin that supports hundreds of PCs on 20-30 networks. With this knowlege, I wouldn't even consider the software for a linux-based file or mail server. 0/10 for functionality

Anonymous Pengunin Is useless

I beg to differ about AVG not catching most bugs or viruses. I have been supporting AVG Anti-Virus directly from their Mass. headquarters in the US for several years now and while yes there are infections that can make their way through, this is redundant across the business. Anti-Virus software is a cat and mouse game and 0-day viruses or variants of known viruses are allowed through almost all anti-virus programs that use signature based detection INCLUDING Avira and Avast. The only ways one program is able to outshine the other is when they use heuristics (AVG DOES THIS) to detect files which are acting in a way that may be harmful to a computer even though there is no virus signature for said file.

Pendiente de prueba

Pendiente de prueba

total system blockage

avgd is responsible for this on my system:

root@r_____l:~$ uptime
12:17:44 up 1:23, 3 users, load average: 38.59, 39.94, 28.66

How do you start it from command line

How do you start it from command line?

Dpkg said it installed ok.

Uhm...Not so fast

AVG themselves will tell you this application is mainly to ensure you are not sending others on Win based systems viruses. Of the millions of types of malware out there, a whopping 7 are designed to infect *nix systems, and even these are old and outdated.

I've used AVG for linux to great effect for its intended purpose. I can scan NTFS drives across my network when they are too botched for me to scan on the infected machine in question. The malware database is current and contains every type of infection I've had the displeasure to come across and cleans them out without problem, including the newer and nastier Blaster trojans.

If you can't type "avgupdate" or "avgscan /media/win_c", then you shouldn't be using Linux in the first place. Go back to your GUI friendly Windows.

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