Hi Simon, yes, I'd like to fix it, but I cannot reproduce it and haven't enough information to figure out where the problem could be. Jenkins for some reason doesn't download JSON with download URLs. Are there any other files in updates directory, i.e. is it Groovy plugin specific issue? Also is the firewall and network configured properly on your machines?
Could you also be more specific what happens what Jenkins doesn't recognize that Groovy installation is not present on the slave?
As for groovy not working - this is a fallback option when you haven't configured any Groovy installation, it simply calls groovy cmd and assumes you have some groovy binary on the default path. This is not a bug but intentional behavior, however, documentation can be improved in this regard and at least mention it - I already added a short note into Groovy plugin wiki page
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