On Being Childish; An Apology

On Friday I wrote an article responding to a post by Richard Stallman. Over the weekend both posts caused quite a flurry of discussion; thank-you to everyone who contributed constructive feedback.

In my post I referred to Richard’s position as seeming a bit ‘childish‘ to me.

As with every post that I write, I reflect carefully over the words I write before and after I press the publish button. In all of our writing our words affect the thoughts and feelings of others, and I think this resonates even more-so in the Free Software and Open Source world where we all put so much passion and time into what we do as volunteers as well as for those lucky enough to do this as a career too.

Unfortunately, sometimes I end up saying some things I wish I hadn’t, as is the case here.

It was wrong of me to refer to Richard’s position as ‘childish‘. Quite possibly the most significant reason why so many of us respect Richard for his lifelong body of work is due to his clarity and commitment to his view of freedom, and although there is debate about the approach in which he articulates these views at times, it was nonetheless wrong of me to describe his position as ‘childish‘; he is not a child, quite the opposite.

As I reflected on my words (and many of your comments, which I appreciate you contributing), it became clear to me that the right thing to do was to apologize.

As such, Richard, I apologize whole-heartedly to referring to your position in your post as ‘childish‘ and I continue to have great respect for the work you do to encourage and grow software freedom around the world.

While I still feel that referring to the Ubuntu dash as malicious software that collects information about users without their knowledge (spyware) and as a result that Ubuntu should be shunned for “spying”, somewhat over-sensationalizes the issue, my issue with his post was not as much about content but more of language and tone, and that didn’t justify me being childish myself in referring to his position as ‘childish‘.

As I mentioned in my original post, when these debates arise, my aim and responsibility is not to convince our community that the decisions made in Ubuntu or at Canonical are right or agreeable. My goal is to simply ensure that our users and community have all the information available to make up their own minds.

Likewise, I am also not going to claim that I have the influence or capabilities to change these policies based on community feedback; I don’t drive the technical policy and decision making of what goes into Ubuntu. My goal here instead is to reflect the pulse of community feedback to those people who do make these decisions to help them make the most informed decisions they can.

What I do have full control over is the way I articulate my own words and invite discussion and debate on my own blog, and I am constantly learning, sometimes making mistakes as we can see here, and trying to do the best by Ubuntu. Apologies again to Richard, and I am going to chalk this one down as another one of life’s lessons.

  • http://post404.com/ Randall “texrat” Arnold

    Good man.

  • Anonymous

    So what will the Ubuntu project be taking away from the community’s reaction?

    There’s a lesson here for more than just you.

  • Woodz

    It’s tough work being caught in a shitstorm…

    I hope 13.04 goes some ways to alleviating the privacy concerns.

  • VoodooSyxx

    You have got to be f***ing kidding me. Why in the blue hell should you be apologizing for telling the truth? Do you really think RMS will be issuing an apology for the flat out lies and crap that he spewed forth on the internet recently? Were you, in fact, born yesterday?

    Stallman, had no business ever opening his mouth on this issue. And anyone that thinks I’m incorrect is welcome to explain to me how he managed to install Ubuntu on his Lemote Yeelong, with a mipsel proc and zero 3d support, in order to actually verify that which he was claiming.

  • Bryan

    Jono++

  • http://www.facebook.com/stonemirror David Schlesinger

    Sorry: insisting on your own peculiar terminology rather than that which is virtually universally used is “childish”. Demanding that people cater to one’s own linguistic whims is “childish”. Insisting that other people allow you to order their dinners for them is “childish”. Tell rape jokes and then claiming that the people who call you on them are somehow victimizing you is childish. Telling outright lies about things you dislike (“spyware”) is “childish”.

    You were right the first time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stonemirror David Schlesinger

    Oh, he didn’t “verify” his claims, any more than he “verified” that there actually was a “back door” in OS X. It’s just stuff he “heard” that happens to fellate his pre-existing prejudices, which makes it self-evidently true. Or something.

  • Anonymous

    If only the Amazon lens was Opt In none of this would have been an issue.

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    Stallman said it would still be an issue, even if it were opt-in

  • Jay R. Wren

    excellent post. you could tl;dr s/childish/obtuse/g :)

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    “what would Stallman do” probably shouldn’t be the high-water mark for our online discourse.

  • Efrain Valles

    a wise leader…

  • Winfried Maus

    A gut feeling tells me that rms might have threatened him with a lawsuit if he didn’t apologize.

  • Samuel Orr

    It is good to see that everyone can get along. :) We all do our part working toward quality free software.

  • Anonymous

    Hah! Nope, RMS never reached out to me about anything to do with this.

  • Andrew Oakley

    Jono, imagine if you got formally disciplined for making those remarks about Stallman – would you be happy if Canonical’s HR department’s searches for your name plus words like “disciplinary” or “formal warning” in personnel files was broadcast to online shops? You’re quite an internet celebrity, don’t think for a moment that some bored webmaster at an online retailer won’t ever trawl the search logs for your name. As an employer, if I try to search my own PC for files on disciplinary measures on a specific named member staff in a specific named office location, and that member of staff’s name, location and the word “disciplinary” gets sent outside my PC by default, then that is malicious code, that is spyware. Just because my identity is anonymous, doesn’t mean that the content is anonymous. There’s shedload of use cases that demonstrate why desktop search should be restricted to the local PC only by default. I’m also a school governor who might one day receive documents about children in trouble, for example. Opt-out is no excuse, it’s the kind of thing a spammer says as a figleaf to cover blatant bad behaviour. It is very worrying that this idea got so far in Canonical, and even more worrying that Canonical still haven’t backed down. (Disclaimer: None of my staff have any disciplinary measures hanging over them, and I doubt they ever will, nor have I any current involvement with vulnerable pupils, but they are blindingly obvious use cases.)

  • Anonymous

    How one chooses to characterize Stallman’s attack on Ubuntu is a personal issue. Two other factors are not so personal.

    Stallman was wrong. Openly recording routine data generated during routine transactions is not spying. The edifice of moralizing and licensing requirements that stems from Stallman’s beliefs has rather successfully kept anyone from supporting a Linux product via retail sales. Apparently, generating revenue in any other way merits attack, as well.

    Stallman’s views get media attention because of who he is and what he did a few decades ago. That position should not influence our understanding of the validity of his opinions. Nor should we assume that he speaks for “the community”. He speaks for “a communty”, and certainly not for me. The world of Linux does not need to await the arrival of moral guidance from on high.

  • David Morley

    Jono, For all I jibe you with the nick LOSER (in jest of course), for this post alone for at least today I award you a WINNER. It takes a big man to reflect on things he has done and appologise as publicly as the error was made. Hat’s off to you.

  • Anonymous

    Well he wouldn’t have had the ammunition from the community if it was. But RMS has a hatred of Linux anyways, This must make him work double hard on Hurd.

  • http://twitter.com/nklopfen neilk

    Too bad you apologized. His position is not childish, but his behavior, as you observed, was. He deserves to be called out on it.

  • Cody Smith

    One thing I feel should be said is if one doesn’t like these features that are being put into Unity/Ubuntu, there are other Spins (Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, all great choices) that users can use, sure, not all of them are officially supported by Canonical, but you’re still getting a slice of the Ubuntu “Pie”.

  • Mark Murphy

    You will notice that the vast majority of commenters on the original thread disagree with you regarding “openly recording routine data generated during routine transactions is not spying”.

  • Zack

    Good job not addressing the issue again. I don’t think anyone gives a hoot about who called who what; certainly not enough to follow up on it as if that were the main issue.

    my issue with his post was not as much about content but more of language and tone

    Fascinating. So what’s Canonical going to do about the spyware in Ubuntu ?

  • Terry B

    Good for you for apologizing. You’re still misrepresenting the issue- you’re not reflecting anything but the Shuttleworth party line. Many people have objected to this “feature” ever since word of it leaked out months ago, but you don’t seem to be giving them any credence. That is why it takes someone like RMS wielding a clue-by-four to get Canonical’s attention. Opt-out is wrong. Intercepting user data without explicit consent is wrong. Sneaking in this “feature” as the default is wrong. It’s not about the “user experience” and all that nonsense you’ve waved at us–it’s exploiting user data just like Facebook and all the other scammy exploiters. We should just trust that Canonical won’t misuse it? You have not earned that trust.

  • Anonymous

    Sure, but comment posters are a self-selecting bunch. The mix of their opinions, including mine, can’t be taken to mean much of anything. The views of RMS shouldn’t be given any more weight.

    Words used to describe behavior, though, don’t change that behavior. RMS conceives of computer use in ethical and moral terms. Hence, his use of morally charged words to characterize Ubuntu. I don’t think of computer use in those terms and, hence, won’t characterize Ubuntu like that.

    I find it annoying to have Amazon icons appear when I’m not searching Amazon. That’s sufficient reason for me to avoid the product.

  • Yann

    I’m a bit disappointed that, beyond the form (childish, not so childish, and a big load of ad hominem attacks against Stallman in the comments) – the actual (and I believe very valid) points raised by Stallman got ignored.

    Most of the comments were about Ubuntu not respecting its users privacy – and those questions will probably stay unanswered.

    The best way to actually dismiss RMS’ boycott call would be to factually answer his concerns, which are obviously shared by a significant number of people.

  • Anonymous

    So many words… saying nothing. Absolutely fascinating. Someone should do a study.

  • Nathan

    The FSF and EFF are the gold standards for the open source community. Disagree with them and you are either using the words wrong, or you are thinking wrong. Use different words – do not claim to be FSF-compliant or to espouse the standards they hold, if you cannot do so when the details hit the comment box.

    What you want to accomplish may be perfectly fine for certain people, but very obviously it is considered outright criminal by loyalists to the FSF and EFF causes. I am thankful that Stallman can make enough noise to save the rest of us a brain hemorrhage, screaming our apologies to our friends for once having recommended an operating system that went rogue compared to our values.

  • Nathan

    Most centrally: stop claiming that Ubuntu is part of the free software movement. Ubuntu has been kicked out of the party and is now standing outside pretending to be the valet. We said leave.

  • Anonymous

    Well its the community’s reaction on reddit…etc that is the larger issue here rather than pleasing RMS with an apology. Personally I don’t think Jono was wrong but maybe the words he used were a bit harsh. RMS is pretty much the last person in the world I would ask about the current and future state of computing because he is from the stone age and still residing there.

    To be honest RMS was wrong but the implementation of the amazon search is also wrong it should be in a seperate lense and there would be no problem with it. I still think the community backlash is completely blown out of proportion, I think RMS’s reaction is blown out of proportion and Jono’s words were out of proportion but still were right.

  • Hartmut Noack

    Well it is, but when it comes to weighting the good “make money to finance the company that hires the devs” against “do not offer anything, that could lure the user to hurt him/herself” the result is most different in my opinion: free society — if you think, you need to use such a feature though it will send very personal data to people on the net: do so, dont say, you were not warned.

    Well… given, the user was warned indeed and had a choice.

  • Navneeth

    What, now he has class?

  • http://profiles.google.com/vagif.verdi Vagif Hagverdiyev

    “Openly recorded” does not mean “with users knowledge and consent”. Open source systems MUST be very explicit about what they do. If a program sends ANY information from my activities outside without me knowing about it and explicitly allowing it, i consider it a hostile action towards me. So spying is the right word.

  • Hartmut Noack

    This is a nice step in the right direction, Jono. Kudos for that!

    Now I look forward the next: discussing the opt-in opt-out kind of thing ;-)

  • eye_on_u

    “my issue with his post was not as much about content but more of language and tone, and that didn’t justify me being childish myself in referring to his position as ‘childish‘.”

    I see what you did there.

  • Nathan

    I think Stallman’s words were kind and soft given that this is the end of 2012 and the community has been fighting this battle with Ubuntu for years. It has long since become a war, and Ubuntu is an enemy pretending to be not just our friend, but our leader.

  • formyss

    Jono, you did right, there are always mixed reactions, don’t mind them.. I actually have immense respect for your work, even though I am slowly going away from ubuntu..

  • Anonymous

    Speaking as a person who has been around for 5 years now I don’t want to be in any way linked to the FSF. Like the ideals are fine and its something that I believe in. free software is great but what the FSF has done over the years is cast out anyone who uses closed source software even as a gateway to using free software like for drivers and such. I know recently RMS has softened his approach on the issue with saying Steam is fine if it gets people to use Linux but still all I see when I think about the FSF is tin foil hats.

  • Nathan

    The difference between a tin-foil-hat-wearer and everybody else is usually about 30 years of chewing on the facts. Then the tin-foil-hat wearers all scream “told you so” and everyone pretends not to hear.

  • http://profiles.google.com/yuridenommus Yuri Albuquerque

    Stallman does not hate Linux, and he doesn’t see any reason to still invest on Hurd if GNU already has a good kernel.

    He has problems with binary blobs inside of the kernel. That’s why there is a linux-libre fork.

  • http://profiles.google.com/yuridenommus Yuri Albuquerque

    Stallman wasn’t wrong. Ubuntu lens, as it is now, is indeed a malware, by definition. If Ubuntu at least made clear on the process of installation (or anything like it) that this feature exists and is optional, I would say otherwise.

    At this matter, Ubuntu is worse than some freeware apps that try to install the Ask Toolbar. At least they tell me that they want to install that crap.

    Ubuntu doesn’t.

  • Zack

    The edifice of moralizing and licensing requirements that stems from Stallman’s beliefs

    I’m sorry, but that is up to the people who actually wrote the software Ubuntu is incorporating into their operating system; most of these people are decidedly not Richard Stallman. A lot of them do not even share his “beliefs”. If you feel their choice of the GPL as a license for their software somehow barred the way for wonderful opportunities in the retail sales space, go yell at them.

    Nor should we assume that he speaks for “the community”.

    rms speaks for rms. It’s up to you to find meaning in or (dis)agree with what he writes or not. He’s not the pope of open source software, as some seem to think.

    The world of Linux does not need to await the arrival of moral guidance from on high. And it’s certainly nice that it doesn’t. And to boot we have people like rms who take the time to explain certain issues from a Free Software perspective and posts them online for interested people to read them.

  • Anonymous

    Im not going to put words in anyones mouth here but im 100% sure no one at Canonical sounded a trumpet and said “ok we are now the voices of the entirely Linux community”.

    Literally the entire direction of Ubuntu day to day is chosen and since it is arguably the biggest distro it has pulling power. To describe it as a war is stupid and to say that Canonical in any way wants control over anything but its own product is stupid.

    The only war is the religious debate that the FSF started years ago because Ubuntu made things easy when installing closed drivers and its been like that for a while. Ive just began to ignore it till it goes away which im pretty sure the FSF will go away eventually at least in its current extremest religious organisation form.

  • Anonymous

    Well if you say everything is wrong over and over again your are bound to be right eventually. The difference is if you talk shit for 30 years people will eventually stop listening which makes the “told you so” moment a lot less dramatic.

  • http://profiles.google.com/yuridenommus Yuri Albuquerque

    Except that Stallman’s terminology on this issue was not wrong at all.

  • Nathan

    Well, that’s a viewpoint. I will continue damning Ubuntu for taking decades of passionate labor fueled by a social revolution, co-opting it, and then betraying the values for a shot at an easy profit.

    Looking at the movement as something to be exploited for its fruits just smacks to me of a cynical or uncaring attitude. And if you don’t care, then nobody cares that you don’t care, and as you’ve said, perhaps you should ignore it all.

  • Nathan

    People don’t stop listening “eventually.” They stop listening at the first sign of inconvenient information.

  • http://ondina.co/ Marco Ceppi

    You appear to have the wrong definition of malicious code: “Malware, short for malicious (or malevolent) software, is software used or created by attackers to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. It can appear in the form of code, scripts, active content, and other software. ‘Malware’ is a general term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malware

  • http://ondina.co/ Marco Ceppi

    It’s funny how meta your comment actually is.

  • Drew Johnson

    Thank you Jono for the apology. I think its the mark of a strong healthy individual and great for the Ubuntu community. Also I think the popularity of Stallman bashing in the proprietary and even “Open Source” side of the FLOSS world is very concerning and very much unjustified. People need to actually listen to Stallman first hand and see what he has to say for themselves instead of just using other people’s dismissive talking points. The recent Stallman interview on hacker public radio is very interesting: http://www.hackerpublicradio.org/eps.php?id=1116

  • Anonymous

    There are many lessons to learn, I agree.

    I think Canonical can always improve and refine in how it handles and responds to feedback. I have summarized community feedback to the folks who make the decisions behind this feature, but there is only so much I can do – if despite community feedback the privacy policy does not the needs of some, there isn’t much I can do. Canonical has made some changes based on feedback, but not all changes, and that responsibility lies with those who make the decisions around the policy.

    I think we as a community can always learn from each other about the best way to articulate and express feedback – there has been some wonderfully detailed respectful feedback in this debate and then some outright mudslinging.

    Any other lessons?

  • Drew Johnson

    Oh, and I have to agree with Yann that somehow Stallman’s concerns about Ubuntu not respecting user’s privacy are not being addressed despite all this flurry of controversy. I think Stallman has some excellent points.

  • Anonymous

    I suspect we will continue to see improvements in privacy as the release cycle progresses.

  • Anonymous

    He doesn’t hate Linux, that isn’t fair. He just has a defined set of expectations of how certain things should work.

  • Drew Johnson

    Whoa that slag on RMS is completely off base and false.

  • Anonymous

    If you consider any kind of online searches in the dash to be “spyware” the simple answer is that the online searching capabilities of the dash are not going to be removed. What is likely to improve is finer grained control over how and what you want to search.

    Right now you can switch the feature off in the privacy settings; I expect 13.04 will continue to see improvements. If you want to know what will be done regarding the fact that the feature is opt-out as opposed to opt-in, from my understanding from the team who manage this feature, there are no current plans to make it opt-in.

  • I O

    sorry, but could you please just cut the c r a p. This whole “tone” thing is so absolutely irrelevant. I don’t care if you and RMS are shouting insults and throwin crockery at each other and peeing in each other’s gas tanks and mail boxes. I care about whether i’m using an OS that includes spyware, and promotes spywarification (or should we say facebookification) – which i personally see as a bigger deal than the particular Dash-related concerns – or whether i’m using an OS that i can trust to keep to the spirit of the principle of “user control”, not just the letter. Tell you what, from now on i’ll make sure i’m at least not doing the former, and that means goodbye.

  • Marc Deslauriers

    Wouldn’t you be searching in the “files and folders” section of the dash, instead of the global search page which includes online search?

  • meta

    I certainly hope I’m not alone in my opinion here, but who cares? You still haven’t addressed any of Stallman’s claims. I don’t care about the meta-discussion about this manufactured issue — what I want is to bring back the focus of the discussion to the matter at hand: why you don’t consider this feature malware. Even your original post glossed over everything Stallman said,

    Also, this non-apology really irked the hell out of me:

    “my issue with his post was not as much about content but more of language and tone, and that didn’t justify me being childish myself in referring to his position as ‘childish”

    Sorry Stallman can’t sugarcoat his words for you. Perhaps instead of taking offense and talking about his tone, you can talk about why he is wrong. Except, deep down, I think that you know he is right as well; so with nothing else to talk about, you attack the man instead. And a day later, provide a half-baked apology for doing so.

  • Zack

    Thank you for taking the time to answer, and for making it a “simple answer” indeed.

    the online searching capabilities of the dash are not going to be removed. there are no current plans to make it opt-in.

    Now users can make up their minds as to what degree they consider it spyware or an undesirable feature – improvements notwithstanding, and act accordingly.

  • hoabaloa

    I think I might have overreacted myself when commenting on your last blog post :) I apologize, I really understand where both Canonical and FSF is coming from.

    You do what you gotta do, the lens will generate money that helps promote free software in other ways than FSF.

  • Captain_Fluckfapps

    “another one of life’s lessons … from which I have learned absolutely nothing”

    Listen up now, Bacon, you clod-hopping fool, as I am only going to explain this once!

    1. You are unworthy to kiss Stallman’s slippers, never mind be mentioned in the same sentence as him.

    2. You called him ‘childish’ because you have the moral intelligence of a man-child and thus think this is an insult.

    3. Your alleged apology (which is not one) is worthless, stupid and beneath contempt … because it is just another transparent, infantile effort to evade the real and far more serious issue raised by your last set of evasions.

    4. Which is that you have also actively LIBELED RMS by falsely claiming that he is spreading FUD about Ubuntu, which any sane person can see is an absolutely scurrilous pack of lies out of the contrivance of your own tiny mind inflamed by pique.

    5. That is what you should apologise for, you dumb mofo, but I truly hope you do not and that he sues you to beyond oblivion.

    6. I have taken screenshots and sent him the evidence.

    Over and out.

  • Guest

    Maybe because, by definition, it’s not malware?

    “Malware, short for malicious (or malevolent) software, is software used or created by attackers to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. It can appear in the form of code, scripts, active content, and other software. ‘Malware’ is a general term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malware

  • Anonymous

    I am not sure I am an “Internet celebrity”. :-)

    This is part of the reason I said in my original post that I think privacy is personal – personally I don’t mind if my search terms go over the wire to Canonical and are handled with the assurances Canonical have already provided.

  • Anonymous

    I fully agree with your previous statement. No need to apologize. Richard Stallman has never worked in the real world, he’s an academia. There’s a point where a fully operating company need to make money. It seems money = evil in GPL / Stallman’s world.

  • hashem

    Well said, Jono :) (Unity search still needs to go though!)

  • Zack

    Richard Stallman has never worked in the real world, he’s an academia.

    I don’t expect anyone to be on the up and up if it comes to the personal history of a particular person. But if one starts making blanket statements about a particular person like you are doing, you could at least try to casually look up at what you’re writing about. You would have found out that at least: rms legendary hacking stint at Lisp Machines, Inc was real work.

    writing, selling and teaching emacs was real work.

    There’s a point where a fully [functional] operating company need to make money.

    There’s literally dozens of fully functional operating systems that seem to get by without having to resort to Canonical’s approach to monetizing users. And even if, say, Ubuntu were different because Ubuntu’s marketing would need decidedly more money than those others, it still doesn’t mean this money needs to be made in such a user hostile manner.

    It seems money = evil in GPL / Stallman’s world.

    I’m not trying to be rude, but in the future please try to at least do a minimum of fact checking before writing down things that just don’t make sense.

  • Jo Nas

    now we just need canonical to give an apology and remove that spyware from 13.04 !

  • Cain

    I’ve seen this criticism often repeated: the Amazon plugin would have been acceptable if only it were opt-in. But it can’t be opt-in. The other elephant in the room gets little attention: Canonical want to be a player in the cloud OS market. They have been pushing their desktop environment to this end for a couple of years. It’s critical to the Ubuntu vision, to integrate directly into the internets independent of anyone (else’s) web browser. The Amazon plugin is only the vanguard for a whole Dash ecosystem.

    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Ubuntu-s-Unity-Online-Search-Returns-with-a-Vengeance-in-13-04-312919.shtml

  • Oisin

    Academia is a part of the real world and it pioneered all the technology now being monopolized and exploited by the likes of Apple and Microsoft.This is a standard stupid line from right wingers who want to justify any rapacious corporate activity.Stallman and the GPL explicitly allow making money out of software,he has a problem with the way the shopping lens makes money and on this he happens to be right.I don’t see how anyone could be stupid and petty enough to think that anything is acceptable just because it makes money.

  • hashbang

    None of this has anything to do with the actual issue RMS brought up. Ubuntu Dash sends search string to Canonical by default. You are opted in by default to a service that sends your data to Canonical’s server. I don’t need a tinfoil hat on to see a problem with that.

    In your previous response, you call RMS’s statements FUD. Although he does encourage an “all or nothing” approach too free software, all the information he provides about the Ubuntu Dash functionality is correct, is it not?

    I don’t honestly care that much about your choice of words in discrediting Stallman’s opinions. I often disagree with his opinions too. But the facts are pretty plain: Canonical is grabbing search things through the dash, and it isn’t really asking for permission in the process. From Shuttleworth’s blog post on the matter:

    ” Don’t trust us? Erm, we have root. You do trust us with your data already. “

    That is just straight-up crazy. A man who respects your privacy and security doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) talk like that. That is more threat than it is reassurance.

  • PIBID UEL

    Your article spread around the world …

  • Captain_Fluckfapps

    You flatter yourself with a spiral of delusions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1226435054 Tony Stender

    Well done. Emotional responses are humbling in retrospect.

  • Anonymous

    If Ubuntu was doing this secretly, was keeping the code closed, and didn’t tell people how to turn it off, I might agree. But, none of those three conditions are true.

    I don’t agree that Ubuntu “MUST” do anything. That implies Ubuntu must obey guidelines imposed from outside.

  • http://profiles.google.com/alexmoreno Alejandro E. Moreno Ruiz

    I also don’t mind my search terms going to Canonical, but those results look a lot like upsale pitches, and are just plain annoying. I removed that lens two seconds after experiencing it for the first time.

    Other people have probably made this point already, but I think a simple switch for the kind of search you want (local, web, or e-shopping), with a default on local or web, would be nice.

  • Anonymous

    RMS wasn’t calmly explaining “certain issues” from his perspective. He was condemning Ubuntu in morally charged language and exhorting people to act in ways that accord with his beliefs.

    It’s naive, and possibly deliberately disingenuous, for RMS or any of his supporters to assert that he speaks only for himself and that his pronouncements are not given greater attention and weight because of his early role in defining and evangelizing free software. Few, if any, other free software advocates can post calls to action on the FSF site or get invited to speak at conferences. That rant against Ubuntu garnered publicity not because of what was said, but because of who said it.

  • Anonymous

    First, thanks for the grammar check ([functional]) :)

    Lisp and Emacs? Try and compare that to real enterprise products like Sharepoint, Microsoft Exchange, Visio, Adobe Photoshop, etc. Nobody cares about Lisp or Emacs in 99% of enterprise world!

    Secondly, Ubuntu/Canonical needs to survive to pay their developer’s food, rent, and other bills. There’s thousands of Linux distros but none of them have the “enterprise quality” like Oracle, SuSE, Ubuntu, RedHat, etc. If you create a free software and expect to be paid when others can easily download the source and create another fork with no legal implication and also not allowed to monetize from ads (like Canonical), then it’s pretty hard to survive in the long run.

    In the real world, people can’t solicit for donation forever like Richard Stallman. We’re not beggars and we have real jobs as well as bills to pay. The freeloaders aren’t paying for my bills.

    That’s just not how things work. Money isn’t evil, not in my world. Creating a closed source product isn’t evil, unlike what Stallman says. So you agree with RMS saying Gabe Newell is evil too for investing in Linux game and make the games as closed source?

    Food for thought – as broken/bloated MS Windows is, compare how many lives have Bill Gates saved through Gates Foundation vs Richard Stallman. Who makes a bigger difference in the world? Action speaks louder than words.

  • Anonymous

    I am happy to discuss this in as much detail as you want. Why don’t we hop on a Skype/Google+/Phone call and you can share your concerns with me.

    Are you free later this week to discuss this more?

  • Mase

    This has been known for sometime.

  • Zack

    Try and compare that to real enterprise products

    I was showing that your statement “Richard Stallman has never worked in the real world”, was false.

    then it’s pretty hard to survive in the long run. RedHat is doing it. SuSe is (more or less) doing it. But yes, it’s hard. But simply being hard isn’t sufficient grounds for just doing whatever it takes to make money.

    If you create a free software and expect to be paid when others can easily download the source and create another fork with no legal implication and also not allowed to monetize from ads

    Most of the software in Ubuntu was created by other people who presumably got payed for it, or maybe they just had a good time writing and packaging it. Canonical didn’t pay them.

    people can’t solicit for donation forever like Richard Stallman. Rms doesn’t live off of donations. Maybe you mean the FSF ? In that case, yes they exist because of donations.

    Money isn’t evil, not in my world. and neither is it in the world of Free Software

    I agree with your general point that making money of Free Software is hard. But in spite of it being hard, many are successful in doing so.

    In many respects Canonical/Ubuntu are the “freeloaders” here, so why should theybe given special treatment if they choose the easy way out by turning their users into a commodity ? It’s a nice distribution, but there’s nothing so groundbreaking about it to excuse this sort of behaviour.

  • Eirikur Hallgrimsson

    I’d like to take a moment to talk about the software context of what Canonical has done here. It’s inside Unity. It’s inside their proprietary interface. If you use Unity, you are learning Unity-skills and unlearning skills for using mainstream Free Software. Do we want new users of Linux to be encumbered by a vendor-specific desktop? It resembles vendor lock-in to me. Complaining about design choices in Unity seems to be at too low a level to me. I think this is really an occasion for revisiting the conversation about Ubuntu and Upstream. Personally, I have to ask myself, ‘Is Ubuntu adding value for me anymore?’ I got involved because Ubuntu had the freshest and best GNOME (2) implementation. I interviewed at Canonical three times. I don’t think the current decisions coming out of Canonical reflect Linux for Human Beings. I think they reflect the desire to gain market share.

  • http://www.fuduntu.org/ Fewt

    “As I mentioned in my original post, when these debates arise, my aim and responsibility is not to convince our community that the decisions made in Ubuntu or at Canonical are right or agreeable. My goal is to simply ensure that our users and community have all the information available to make up their own minds.

    Likewise, I am also not going to claim that I have the influence or capabilities to change these policies based on community feedback; I don’t drive the technical policy and decision making of what goes into Ubuntu. My goal here instead is to reflect the pulse of community feedback to those people who do make these decisions to help them make the most informed decisions they can.”

    As I said in another thread related to the same topic – you are doing what you are paid to do. Nothing more, and nothing less.

    This article is just another shade of lipstick on that pig. You are admitting that it was wrong to call RMS childish – apologizing for just one of several claims you made (ex. FUD) to attempt to detract from the negative attention that your original article received. If you were honest – and felt regret you would take back everything that you said not just a small part of it.

    We call this “spin”, and most of us can see right through it.

    I don’t normally agree with RMS – but I do in this case and this article just cements my agreement with him even further.

  • Hartmut Noack

    Nobody cares about Lisp or Emacs in 99% of enterprise world!

    One could say, nobody in the enterprise-world cares about much anything but cashflow. But on the other hand: Emacs is the software, the OS-Kernel we are talking about is being written and Emacs is even used to write stuff like Windws or MSOffice.

    Emacs is not an end-user product, it is a tool for programmers and some of the programmers, that use Emacs, have written substantial parts of the thing we now call “The Internet”.

    But maybe you are right: most buisiness-people do not care for such facts. Maybe they would, if all that communist freak-stuff wud be removed from the industries for about a week or two….

  • beidl

    It’s just sad how Canonical has handled the situation from the beginning.

    1) Make a dedicated online result lense and move stuff there. 2) Make lenses customizable. 3) Only if you have proven data that most users are setting up online results in the home lense anyway, add online results to the home lense by default. This would have avoided bad PR and users would have had enough time to get used to online results.

    You are big boys now, so stop making baby mistakes. Also, do you guys even realize that you are pissing off a large part of your user base? This is not like the introduction of Unity, this is about valid privacy concerns. Canonical is not even remotely any more trustworthy than any other company, so stop having these things turned on by default.

  • Alan Bell

    see the thing is, your vision of it is “desktop search” and the design of it from the start was “omniglobaleverywhere search” and there is absolutely no reason why super key should be bound to “desktop search” and no reason it can’t be an everywhere search. There was a lack of communication of this vision in the first place, and a lack of provision of any kind of sensible way of running an application other than typing the name of it into the omniglobaleverywhere search box, but that doesn’t mean it was a desktop search box. Now there is also a lack of a good solution to giving the user control over the online searches. It hasn’t been handled well.

  • Zack

    He was condemning Ubuntu in morally charged language and exhorting people to act in ways that accord with his beliefs.

    I just read the article again to find the morally charged language, but there’s nothing that really stands out.

    To reiterate how I read it.

    -sending information to a third party online is a bad thing (apparently this is debatable within Canonical; let’s leave it at that)

    -sending such information is usually done by proprietary software, but now that we have free software that does this it weakens the practical argument against proprietary software.

    -Canonical must know that people will take this anti-feature out since it is free software.

    -So why are they still putting it in ? Apparently they believe that something simply being “free software” is not enough motivation to have it removed

    -Then what could be the source of their confidence ? Here rms speculates it’s probably the popularity of the distribution.

    -So what should you do if you want to remove this feature — as to not weaken the argument for the safeness of all free software ? Make it less popular.

    -How would one do that ? By not recommending it.

    It’s not a illogical train of thought. The only speculation is the source of Canonical’s confidence.

    I find the initial argument that not having spyware installed is a good practical argument for free software, and that now Canonical is taking that away to the detriment of all, reasonable. I also find the action a person could take to make them stop doing that(not recommending them), for the good of all, not overly burdensome or unreasonable.

    In short. rms makes a good point and a decent logical argument. On the other side I find an argument that amounts to “It’s really all about what your definition of “spyware” is”, which I find less than convincing.

    So it doesn’t matter who made the argument against. If the most attention is given to the argument as it is written by rms it’s probably because he has a history of clearly writing down the issue and explaining what’s objectionable about it.

  • scott

    No it is being called “Spyware and Adware” to which this feature fits perfectly to those descriptions and still jono has failed to convince the masses otherwise

  • elChorto

    The marketing peeps at Canonical really need to rethink how they treat the community. Having to opt out of surveillance is not cool.

  • scott

    In other words, despite the majority wanting change, Canonical will do as they please it is all about the desktop advertising features we intend enforcing on you and can but wont change a thing. Community? what community? all fool me

  • Anonymous

    Words like “spyware”, “malicious”, “handcuffs”, “malware”, “wrongs”, “risky”, “consciences” — all used by RMS in reference to Ubuntu — meet my definition of morally charged. Otherwise, why else would RMS bother to write a post in which he asks his followers, “What Should We Do?” The entirety of the case for free software is that it is morally preferable to closed software.

    Canonical’s reason for including this in Ubuntu seems palpably obvious: To generate some revenue as an Amazon Associate. Given that, as a practical matter, it’s impossible to sell a retail Linux product into the consumer market — licensing prevents exclusivity, while free software principles unintentionally provide cover for people who are just too stingy to buy something — attempting to generate revenue seems a rational thing to do. Unless, of course, Linux is supposed to be a charity case effort for people who spend their days in emacs and gcc.

    Stallman’s insistence that

    “when a local search program has a network search feature, it should be up to the user to choose network search explicitly each time…”

    indicates his isolation from how real people use computers in real life. Any software as annoying as RMS proposes here would simply be ignored and/or sabotaged by users.

  • scott

    Since the communities voice of disapproval rarely sways the canonical decision making. Is their really any point to it even being discussed in the first place? It obviously didn’t change a thing,the commercial decision has been made by forcing an opt out not an opt in and you have made it clear that this wont change.

  • Ismael VC

    After all this mess, and changing for opt-in is not EVEN going to be considered?! Really?…. I can only speculate that the “feature” was made an explicit requisite from Amazon, in order to have this partnership. I can’t reach any other logical conclusion, because it would be dead easy to make the changes.

  • Joboldo

    Jesus, I do think Stallmans reaction was very childish. This is how I see what he said: “I no likey this, I no usey this – you don’t usey this either! Bad product! All shall know and follow this ok?”. And then many follow it blindly and some almost religious. You think this kind of debate will be the end of it? It has just started. Personally; If I can turn the damn “feature” off – I’m good.

  • tracyanne

    That makes this search “feature” by definition Malware. It does something unexpected in a way that the users has no, or limited control over, and requires knowledge a user might not have, to remove the feature. It is malicious because it opts the user in without their explicit concent.

  • Ismael VC

    The keyword here is: “personally”.

  • Rodney Dawes

    Those who a) don’t care about it or b) do want it, probably aren’t saying anything at all. So claiming “the majority” wanting some specific change, when there are no valid numbers to support such claims, and when it is not possible to garnish numbers that accurately depict such claims, is a bit off base. Simply because a very vocal minority is making a lot of noise about the “opt-in” argument, doesn’t mean it’s the big issue. Rather, opt-in or opt-out is a very minor issue, given the concerns raised.

    A lot of changes have been made in response to community feedback. To say it is always ignored, is again, a completely false statement.

  • Terry B.

    Attacking a critic, or the form that criticism takes, is an attempted distraction from the actual criticism. In this case it’s not working very well.

  • Captain_Obvious

    Hi troll.

    It’s not libel if it’s true. The entire point of Stallman’s post was to spread FUD. Fear (OMG Canonical is stalking your searches), Uncertainty (he doesn’t know what’s going on, run Ubuntu, or even know what is going on here), and Doubt (promoting distrust of Ubuntu and Canonical), are the exact core points of Stallman’s post. It is the very example of FUD.

  • Anonymous

    “Since the communities voice of disapproval rarely sways the canonical decision making.”

    This is not true; there are many situations where thing change based on community feedback. As an example, when the Amazon lens first landed in 12.10 in the dev release there were multiple improvements made on community feedback.

  • Quinn

    Right now, I’m using Mint because I can’t be bothered to fool around with the issuse I get with my hardware in Ubuntu, but that’s beside the point.

    Honestly, I don’t mind the dash searches, but that’s me. Other people may be more picky about privacy, and that’s them. I think that in the future, Ubuntu should have a checkbox during installation on wether or not you would like to opt into the service, but since you said it won’t be opt-in, that’s not an option.

    I’m pretty neutral about Ubuntu right now – I don’t care about dash searches, and I turned off Amazon ads while I did use Ubuntu. However, if Ubuntu continues to push in the direction of an “ad supported” OS like it seems they want to, I’ll use an Ubuntu derivative, do a minimal install, or just switch to Debian or Fedora.

  • http://twitter.com/hadrons123 hadrons123

    It would be lot better if you could really “see” what you are saying here. There are so many drones out there who blindly follow and believe whatever ubuntu does . You could at least act responsible for all the new crowd that tries Linux(ubuntu) first hand. The whole linux community is getting a bad image becoz of this dash thing.

  • Nillerz

    I installed Ubuntu so I could test Steam in the environment it was designed for and I must say, the direction Ubuntu has headed since I last used it (Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook Edition) has been very terrifying.

    This is the distro we recommend to new users?

    Apart from being completely alienating from a UI standpoint, the creepy-factor in the whole Amazon thing is simply dishonest. I highly regret installing Ubuntu, and am switching back to Debian as soon as possible.

    With this latest view of how Ubuntu has changed and how they’ve degraded in quality and security, I now recommend Linux Mint Debian to new users.

    Also, Apport errors are the worst errors because they literally offer no clue whatsoever as to what the actual problems a program experiences are, and what more, don’t even make it clear what program is messed up in the first place. Ubuntu should stop desiLinux Mint is by far the best distro for new dudes. I used Linux Mint Debian Edition for a long time and it was great, you might want to go with the normal one. XFCE is a great desktop environment, I can recommend the XFCE version of Mint.

    It’s so easy a Windows user can use it! You right-click on things, and it gives you a context menu! Just like you’re used to! You want to change the desktop? You can! It won’t force you to use your pictures folder, you can add and remove photos at will! It’s so vastly superior to Ubuntu’s current situation and it uses less power to do it.

  • scott

    The numbers are clear, look at the 300 odd comments made in jonos early blog post.Take a look around at the more popular ubuntu linux blogs and forums and the hundreds of comments since this advertising crap was introduced.Google the word amazuntu. It was late ,it was badly implemented , its clearly seen as spyware and as time goes on it looks worse and worse as we head into 2013 readily turning into the year of the advertising desktop.. How else is one to judge? How could this possibly be called a minority voice of complaint ? You may need further number validation, i do not. You may see the opt out as a minor issue but i and apparently many others do not. Hey install ubuntu!! WAIT you better un install this this this and hey better remove that if you want some privacy and avoid being bombarded with irrelevant advertising .I am simply a number used to profit canonical further.

  • Captain_Fluckfapps
    1. I’m happy that you’re happy, but there is nothing I wish to discuss with you.

    2. If I was in the least bit concerned about you, I might hop on whatever – but, believe me, that is not the case.

    3. I have ‘shared’ more than you deserve, putting it to you very straight, once, above. If you want legal advice, consult a spare lawyer. Canonical probably has a half dozen dossing about, or, failing that, just type it in the Dash … Amazon is amazing.

  • Charles Johnston III

    Jono, I think the flack has a lot to do with peoples preconceptions about how distro’s actually decide on whats in and whats out, literally the ‘it should be this way,’ and ‘this is how it really works’. In any open-source project you have the core group of people who are in charge of things. If the core wants option A, then its going to be implemented despite the majority wanting something different. If you don’t like it your option there in is basicly, seek another distro, or whine and complain in hopes that with enough pressure the Core will change its mind.

    Some things like ‘lens improvements’ they listen to us sure. But other things that the core feels strongly about like ‘advertising by default’, to help offset operations costs. Most of us (my peer group) understand why there doing it. It is their OS after all. We just don’t like it, and don’t want it part of our favourite linux distro. So while we love Ubuntu, most of us have shifted to one of the derivatives like Xubuntu that doesn’t have the default advertising and doesn’t have a continually bigger and heaver desktop environment.

    Your position puts you right in the front firing line for those who want to whine and complain that Canonical went with option A. Then you have Richard S., who I respect him also for his work with GNU, but his politics and mine don’t match at all. Richard S. does lash out, and likes to jump on the doom, global warming, secret state band wagon a lot. As a protester he’s all about boycotting this or that. So anything that violates his view of freedom, is to be boycotted. So you put Stallmen and you right in the fireingline… I dont evny your position at all.

  • X

    Have you ever seen VLC first time screen? If you haven’t, take a look:http://storage8.static.itmages.ru/i/12/1211/h_1355218182_4165873_b5369dc8f8.png

    When I read such a message, I see VLC developers do really care about user’s privacy.

    And yes, if Ubuntu dash is not spyware, it’s adware at least, since the user never agreed to be spammed by amazon offers when he just looks for local file on his computer.

    If you believe users won’t ever use this “feature” voluntarily, it clearly means this feature is undesirable for user.

    And this is not only case where ubuntu acts like adware, the first case was when I seen a giant banner of proprietary game in Ubuntu Software Center main screen. And what’s even worse there was no even option to disable it and the solution with editing a file in /usr breaks after first USC’s update.

    If ubuntu’s decision makers really value user’s freedom, they must at least add options to disable payable or proprietary software appearing in software center, including its main page and search results, an option to disable the banner (or what’s better, remove it completely or make it opt-in) and make sure user will never send his search queries (possibly containing private data) which are supposed to be local into the Internet unless stating explicitly he agrees on that. VLC’s solution would be acceptable, though I’d prefer this malfeature never existed.

    And it’s not only privacy denying, but it’s also unfair, since there are a lot of other online stores, possibly having better prices.

    And the last, ubuntu one daemon should not be active unless the user turned it on while configuring Ubuntu One. I never used ubuntu one was not happy seeing that daemon hanging in list of network activity.

    There are at least three cases

  • Anonymous

    Another PR-post… Many words, but nothing said… The issues raised by RMS are still there and unanswered.

  • Anonymous

    But surely the question is not “does Jono mind his search terms going over the wire to Canonical?”, it’s “is it right for the search terms of the people in Andrew Oakley’s example, e.g. the school governor or the HR person, to go over the wire to Canonical?” I’m sure we’d all agree that the answer is no. (Wouldn’t you?)

    So then the question is: “Is it reasonable for people who conduct searches about sensitive information on their PC to have to switch an explicit option such that those searches do not get sent to Canonical?” The issue here is that most of your commentators say “No, that’s not reasonable.” But you think it is reasonable.

    Given that many Ubuntu users will be entirely unaware of this controversy, I think it is unreasonable for those people to have to know about, find and switch an option off explicitly to prevent their sensitive searches being sent across the Internet to a third party. Using yourself as an example of someone who thinks it’s OK misses the point.

  • http://twitter.com/dpwiz dp wiz

    there are no current plans to make it opt-in.

    Why?

  • Hartmut Noack

    Please remember, that Ubuntu is still a Linux-system. Just install XFCE, KDE or GNOME and the creepy stuff is gone for good while the compatibility with the excellent Ubuntu repos and interesting ppa-stuff remains…

    Anyway: if Debian works OK, it should be the same as good methinks

  • Thomas Kluyver

    ‘Adware’ is arguably accurate, but I don’t think it can be called ‘Spyware’. It’s very clear that the dash is doing an online search, and there’s no automatic reason that that box should be for a local search. Lots of us want it to be a local search, but that doesn’t make it spyware.

  • Taywee

    As a Freetard, I think this is retarded (if you will excuse the crude term). Being outright critical is what supports this sort of discussion and development. Having to apologize for your opinion is ridiculous. You can admit that you were ill-informed, you can change your view, but don’t apologize for being wrong. Doing this is counter-productive and enforces the idea that having unabashed unadulterated ideas is wrong. This sort of discourse is how the technology world today progresses. It is how the entirety of Linux kernel development thrives. Don’t stunt true discussion and debate because a few people disagree with you or are offended.

  • Taywee

    “It seems money = evil in GPL / Stallman’s world.” You have never read any of his writings, have you? You’re an idiot.

  • Dillon

    You both have good points, Richard’s anti ad-ware position was a bit sensationalized and calling him childish was a bit out of line but both sides make sense. If Ubuntu starts shipping with personalized ads, how long until it full on spys on users? Or the flip side of the coin, what if Ubuntu does nothing more than just throw in a few ads to help fund development and calling it spyware was out of line? I generally think this was a bad case of people getting caught up in the moment.

  • Quiliro

    Your direction of community for investors’ sakes is clear upon your dismissal of the issues Stallman has proposed considering.

  • Rodney Dawes

    There are a couple million Ubuntu users around the world, and 300 is somehow a “majority” now? Certainly the majority of people who think commenting on a random blog post on the Internet will solve their problems are probably a majority of people commenting on random blog posts. Not to mention a large number of those people are probably not using Ubuntu anyway. They are just commenting to take advantage of the situation and make a post to air their already formed dislike.

    And concentrating on the “opt-in” issue is a complete misunderstanding of the issues at hand. I’m not saying the code is correct, or how it should be, as-is, but concentrating on the opt-in issue is a waste of time. It’s not going to change to opt-in, because it doesn’t fit with the goals of the design. Trying to argue that point is moot; and it has nothing to do with “listening to the community” or not. And even if it were suddenly changed to opt-in, it doesn’t solve all the other issues, for the people who do opt to use it. Those issues are what need to be discussed and resolved at the appropriate levels, first. Arguing about it in blog comments, or throwing blog posts across the Internet at each other, is not the way to resolve those issues.

  • Hartmut Noack

    The very core-ingredience of FUD is, that it is based on the usage of informations, that are disguised as “facts” while they are improbable, have no proof or are outright lies.

    This ingredience is nowhere to be found in Stallmans post. Stallmans post is based on proven facts that everybody can check out and find to be true, facts, that not even Canonical dares to reject.

    And still Canonical and Jono Bacon refuse to discuss these facts and this is the creepy Canonical policy for long years now. The last bug I filed in launchpad was about the decision, to hide startup-messages from the user. After a short discussion a dev agreed, that there shall be a switch that allows to show them instead the useless superfluos animation. And this was the last thing I heared. When was it, let me think: 2007?

  • noisyboy

    Surely you mean you “hope” :)

  • zero

    It is not always ignored, but what was not ignored was not controversial with Canonical mercenary interests. But since ubuntu is now driven by marketing instead of community, it is enough to shun it.

  • emptyness

    So you want a millon of comments to change your mind?

    There are a lot of people who don’t care if they have or have not this thing, there are a lot of people who don’t want ads, but do not care enough to go and do anything.

    And this issue is not just about an option. This is serious privacy concern and Canonical’s action sets up doubts on the most important cause why Free Software is better than proprietary. It was before valid to say “You will never find spyware in free software application, or if you ever will, it will be removed as soon as discovered”.

  • X

    It’s still an issue, since it only supports amazon and not other online shops, while the amazon is known for bad behavior, but a relatively minor issue, comparable with others already existing. But when a «free software» OS has spyware and/or adware built-in, that’s a major problem, hurting entire free software ecosystem.

  • X

    There’s other option: to use VLC like window on first use of OS or in the installer. It could be opt-out and do not be quite spyware if there were a clear message (not just a unobtrusive checkbox in installer) about privacy policy allowing to disable that thing.

    And user’s freedom and privacy is more important than Canonical’s ambitions anyways

  • Sharp

    “While I still feel that referring to the Ubuntu dash as malicious software that collects information about users without their knowledge (spyware)…”

    Isn’t that what it does? Send what you think is a local query for apps and docs out to the net?

  • wiretapped

    You appear to have the right definition of malicious code, but the wrong understanding of what we’re talking about. It seems painfully obvious to many people that sending users queries over the internet when they did not expect it (especially for the purpose of monetizing their attention by selling them things they didn’t know they wanted to buy) is hostile, intrusive, and malicious.

    As someone who is indirectly responsible for literally thousands of Ubuntu desktop installs, I am extremely dismayed by this. I sincerely hope Canonical reverses course so that I can recommend Ubuntu again (and yes, I am fully aware of how easy it is to disable, and no, that doesn’t make it even a little bit OK).

    As an aside, if the dash search was just searching wikipedia without the user wanting it to, it would still be a privacy problem, albeit a less grossly offensive one!

  • Cain

    That’s all very well, if I understand your scheme correctly sir, but I don’t see the relevance to my post, which bears restating, I guess. Canonical are not interested in making the Amazon plugin opt-in, because that doesn’t serve Canonical’s purpose. Seems to me, even Stallman didn’t expose the larger problem. The leak in Ubuntu 12.10 will become a flood in future releases, as the OS shifts more and more on-line.

  • Rodney Dawes

    The ubuntuone-syncdaemon process doesn’t get started and run unless you have configured Ubuntu One on the machine. If you don’t have a token for it in your keyring, it won’t be there. If it somehow is running, without you having started it, then it’s a bug and you should report a bug; ideally with more details than you present here, so that it may be fixed.

  • Anonymous

    It is very brave of you to write so honestly about your thoughts on such a critical topic, even when you know there is going to be an storm of good/bad criticism mixed with a constant wave of troll attacking immediately. I read your blog because I am a big fan of Ubuntu and want to know what direction it is going. I am not here to learn how to try to attack anyone’s ideologies based on emotional response. You are an influential member of Ubuntu community and I sure hope that what you say has some influence on the decision makers and what ends up in Ubuntu. Everyone can make a mistake, even the great folks at Canonical. However, I would be very worried about Ubuntu and the community, if the core decision makers behind Ubuntu were so distracted or detached from the community that despite all of these concerns and facts delivered so far they continue to push this or any other similar feature onto future releases. But I dont believe that is the case. Jono, PLEASE let us know that you are going to announce soon on behalf of Canonical, that they heard the community load and clear and the future releases of Ubuntu will not include such features by default. Also please keep on rocking as usual and I hope you don’t get discouraged by all the criticism. Your words can hurt so many people, because so many members of the community care about what you say.

  • Anonymous

    What I find way more telling is that since the inception of these Google+ communities the Ubuntu community there has garnered some 7000 odd followers within a couple of days (way more than any of the other distributions as far as I can see), that only a handful of posts tried to bring up the “spyware” issue but none of these few threads caught on, and that the vast majority of the people posting screenshots there are running Unity.

    To me this is kind of indicative that the userbase of Ubuntu isn’t all that averse to the recent changes ;-)

  • Roman Drogolov

    Richard’s position is not childish. It’s just paranoid and inadequate.

  • Jackie McGhee

    How big of you. Especially removing your apology from p.u.c

    Stay classy Canonical!

  • Jackie McGhee

    Then they are fools. You’re as well using Mac OS X if you don’t mind this level of intrusion. It works better and looks better and Apple don’t pretend to be all about the commuuuuuunity.

  • t3g

    I bet Jono was forced to apologize publicly by his bosses or Shuttleworth himself or else his job was in jeopardy. I bet the higher ups at Canonical saw the media frenzy he created, panicked, and went into damage control mode as to not piss of investors and partners. Jono still did not address the issue and his apology does not come off as real and sincere.

  • t3g

    You may not care since you work there, but what about those at corporations or law firms that need to have their information secure? I know most of them still use Windows, but if they did move to Ubuntu, would they want personal search terms be sent to some 3rd party shopping site with no idea on what is being stored, for how long, and if it is going to be tied to their IP and used against them? Thankfully their IT staff purges the shopping lens ahead of time or uses a different desktop environment.

    Canonical is trying to get into the lucrative enterprise market and it is especially critical now with many businesses rejecting Windows 8 and looking for alternatives. This hurts Ubuntu’s public image and gives ammunition to Microsoft and Apple to sway people AWAY from Ubuntu by saying the operating system is spyware and you can stay secure with them. Canonical should pray that neither of them run an ad campaign mentioning this to boost Windows 8 sales.

  • Guest

    Does that imply it would have kept using unencrypted HTTP if the community didn’t yell about it?

  • Guest

    It’s doing a search, but it’s clear that it returns Amazon results. The fact that Canonical gets those search terms is not obvious. Thus, it is spyware with Canonical being the recipient of the data, and it is adware with Amazon being the thing being advertised.

  • Anonymous

    Nope; I apologized out of my own choice. No one at Canonical has expressed concerns over my post at all.

  • scott

    It was 300+ on this blog alone,directed at the “UBUNTU COMMUNITY LEADER”. Canonical hire 12 ubuntu users for 2 hours in london for user testing.I guess those 12 are to represent the entire user base for what ever feed back they were trying to gather ? Yet numbers far more significant are to be ignored because their are “millions” of users . You are right, it doesn’t fit their design and opt in is the entry level change that needs to be applied. Canonical are not even willing to budge on that.The goal of advertising platforms is to better serve you relevant ads,Canonical have made it clear they intend doing that thus i can’t see the other issues changing thus the focus on opt in.Don’t make people discover this after it has already been used.My favourite DE has now become a big fat advertising platform which design goals are data collection to better serve folk more relevant ads. Woohoo what a feature….Enjoy it! It makes me sad, i can no longer take part in supporting a company taking that “design” direction out of the box.

  • GuiMaster

    LOL “As I reflected on my words (and many of your comments, which I appreciate you contributing), it became clear to me that the right thing to do was to apologize.”

    Did Jono’s reading of the “many or your comments” not also make it clear that he could be wrong in some other ways, as well? Seriously, I think there was more opposition in those comments to the Amazon search feature itself, than there was about how Jono responded to Stallman.

    I think it’s pretty clear that Jono doesn’t read the comments under his blog posts.

  • GuiMaster

    Then “the simple answer” is that Ubuntu is going to lose it’s user base and become a flop.

  • GuiMaster

    This is the final word on the topic. Truly. Canonical has decided that they will sink the good ship Ubuntu. Either decide to disembark now or sink with them.

    Seriously, there is no more room for argument, they will not hear you. it’s just a waste of breath. I switched to Kubuntu. Xubuntu is an option, Linux Mint, and more. Quit hanging on to Ubuntu if you will only spend your time constantly complaining about this. Move elsewhere! Allow Ubuntu to fall even further down the Distrowatch rankings. 3rd place today, 4th place tomorrow…

  • GuiMaster

    Because the dictator has spoken. Why ask why when your comments will just be ignored? It’s time for a new distro…

  • Chauncellor

    It might be the case that ubuntu has now reached the event-horizon of success: It’s gonna get big and it doesn’t need the core early adopters anymore. It has steam now and can rely on the users that don’t care/are used to it. The rest will either remove the crapware manually or move to another distro.

    I’m so terribly disappointed. But hopefully within the next year this can be addressed. I’d be much more optimistic if Canonical/Mark would just ACKNOWLEDGE the issue instead of completely sidestepping it entirely.

  • Chauncellor

    Way to take a huge dump on your otherwise excellent product! You don’t even use https, for christ sake! Turning into windows…

  • Chauncellor

    …seriously? The INTENSELY negative feedback caused the nasty wart to be covered up and disguised, not fixed. Everyone wanted it off but instead some half-implemented tickbox for opt-out was placed in there. And yet there are still privacy issues abound even with this amazubuntu crap going around.

  • Chauncellor

    Just because it was original intention does not make it a good idea.

  • Terry B

    I’m totally holding my breath.

  • Ch

    I agree with the first post, where the word “childish” was. Richard Stallman’s attitude is childish. I like to ask Richard, whether he uses a push bike or a motor vehicle? Whether he uses a mobile? In the mobile an din the vehicle thare are many closed inventions. You liv ein this world with everyone, but not in an isolated island.

    If you have a computer with a Nvidia chip, does richard want you to use on the Noveau driver? if so, isn’t Richard take our freedom away? Only, just because he thinks he is right?!

  • Ch

    As you don’t buy the Ubuntu OS, you can either take it as it comes or go somewhere else. You don’t like the Amazon lens, delete it. Its free as the free beer you might get from someone. Does Richard want us to use gNewSense? Cone on!

  • Anonymous

    It’s not just a question of absolute numbers. Even if the majority of Ubuntu users is fine with their search queries being sent to Canonical, those who are not are not adequately being warned, and will only found out after the fact that by using the default settings they have been spied upon. That is a much worse problem than not getting Amazon offers unless you consciously click some check box first. The fact that Canonical does not get this makes it very hard to trust them again, even if they now do fix this problem.

  • Why Required

    Good. Now also actually address what Richard said instead of commenting on something completely different. Halfway there!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Jono

    It would be really interesting that from all the feedback you got, you could write a post explaining your impressions and conclusions about the community feedback on this particular issue.

  • Anonymous

    I am not going to write a dedicated post on this as frankly, I don’t think we need any more fuel thrown on the fire on this topic. I was a little disappointed that what I felt was a heartfelt apology was seen by some as some kind of agenda-setting response from Canonical. It seems that some folks will find conspiracy and malice wherever they look.

    My general impressions is that some members of our community expressed there concerns well and some didn’t (which is the case with all controversial situations). I agree with much of the feedback that Canonical could do a better job responding to these concerns and I have been working with the management team internally to get a more detailed response out. As I have mentioned before, I don’t make the decisions on privacy, so the best I can do is articulate community feedback as best as possible to the team.

    I am expecting that we will see some improvements in the future regarding this topic that will settle some of the concerns, but I know that what won’t happen is removing the online functionality of the dash – it is a useful feature and the solution is not getting rid of it. I also don’t think the solution is having to click through an opt-in – that isn’t a particularly slick user experience. I believe the solution is setting the expectations and scope of the dash better, which better informs our users, and I am hoping that the design team and the management team around this feature will continue to explore these different options.

  • Jossan Borba

    pois é, irmão. agora, passou a ser você mesmo o “infantil”!

  • http://www.facebook.com/harald.engels Harald Engels

    You wrote: This is the distro we recommend to new users? Who is we? Is hear speaking the arrogance which make you believe you can speak for others?

  • http://www.facebook.com/harald.engels Harald Engels

    I understand the widespread concern here. But we are confronted here with a statement of a person who is even not using a mobile phone due to privacy concerns. So that is on the same level for Richard Stallman. So how many people who are posting here a comment are stopping now to use their mobile phone? There is a danger to lose the perspective for the real world problems. Since the sales-lens can get purged there is no real problem. I am quiet sure that all strong complainers know how to remove it but feel somehow elected to start flaming in the name of the community. How those people would feel if they find out that the majority of users like that kind of features? What would be then? Ending democracy?

  • Nolan

    sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping Oh jeez that was so hard -_-‘. Seriously guys? You have the ability to remove it easily. It’s not a big deal. It’s a feature.

  • ButterflyOfFire

    Hi,

    Since Ubuntu introduced this “new style of doing things with ads” I looked for a solution to get rid of this “screen spam”.

    I’m an Ubuntu user from Algeria, and I’m using Ubuntu since years over now, I liked Unity even if I was against it from the first sight. But I’m not the only one who refuses these Amazon ads !

    After all, ask algerian computer users about Amazon ! What is Amazon ? Who the hell is “this Amazon” ? A forest ? We don’t know Amazon in Algeria … we have forests and clouds … but natural ones, not artificial or virtual ones ! And our banks never issue Visa or MasterCards !

    So I switched Ubuntu environement to LXDE, no choice (sorry It was my choice). But Little by little I found my self using another GNU/Linux distribution rather then using Ubuntu !

    It is Ubuntu that attracted me to come to GNU/Linux world and I’m happy ! I don’t regret the day I quitted the use of Redmond OS. But now, I’m free (as in freedom) to carry on the way of “Libre” and discover other Libre projects … because “life is too short” :)

    Salutations amicales

  • Jose Luis Rivas Contreras

    He’s not childish, he’s senile.

  • Daemon

    Ubuntu installations come with an informative slideshow. I’ve been looking for a suggestion to put some info about this in there, and haven’t seen any yet. All it takes is a few seconds on one slide to say “The Ubuntu Dash can search for local files, programs, and even Amazon web results. Web results can be enabled or disabled from the Settings menu, and are enabled by default.”. Wouldn’t this be an elegant and informative option, especially with an illustrative picture next to it?

  • guest

    Jono has a PhD in missing the point.

  • Andreas Nicholas

    Take responsibility for your effects on the world, on families and children, through your effect on Ubuntu and therefore Canonical. You could either go down with the ship or speak up about the iceberg and hope you don’t have to jump ship before they turn the ship around.

    Richard Stallman is using the same tools as Ubuntu, the computer user, he’s only pointing out the truth about Ubuntu’s inclusion of spyware. People vote with their actions in this world, I don’t think that’s childish, I think you should do your best to see how important this issue is, be one of those people. and try to salvage Ubuntu’s reputation

  • Dark

    I stopped using Ubuntu at 12.04. I’d been with it since 9.10. After reading about the search lens and subsequently researching it I made the decision not to move up to 12.10. Until Canonical starts listening to the community again I have no intention of ever returning to Ubuntu. The rot set in with Unity and it went rapidly downhill from there. I’m now happily using LMDE and loving it – it’s a productive distro, no lens, HUD or other get-in-the-way stuff. The community is strong and it listens.

  • Chauncellor

    I’m late in my reply – Firstly, as has been often repeated, Ubuntu is not a democracy (and rightly so).

    Secondly, these connections aren’t even encrypted: A truly childishly inane move that only industry incompetents would allow to happen.

    Thirdly, just because mobile phones are plagued with privacy holes does not mean that this is acceptible – it is a fallacy to bring that in to the conversation.

    Canonical really has a horrible PR team – their constant fumbling of these manners is going to bury them sooner or later. I’ve had conversations with unhappy banshee devs, KDE devs, gnome devs… some of which were badly mistreated by their very own Jono Bacon. While the sentiment may not be the rule it’s really upsetting to see Canonical backhandedly treating the people who do much of the hard work. One of the largest bugs I’ve wanted solved for many years was an actual transparency past dressing up like Hot Dogs to try and make it seem like they give a damn.

  • johnny

    Ubuntu 12.10 IS fucking spyware. Every monkey could come to that conclusion. Stallman was right, and he was just clear about what was going on. Canonical instead should have been clear about sending personal dash searches out of Ubuntu 12.10. It wasn’t clear to me, and it does offend me, because they did not ask. Especially, because I did not expect that from a Linux Distro. If Canonical did communicate it I would have installed Ubuntu 12.04 or Linux Mint, and not the 12.10 version. Everybody who writes code knows (or should know) that farming personal data without the user knowing it or without asking the user is questionable at least. Thank you Stallman for letting me know about it. Ditching 12.10 for now. Big (good or bad) changes mostly don’t come overnight, but they start somewhere. IMO Ubuntu made a real bad decision here.

  • Craig

    Original creator of GCC, Emacs and about 30 or so other brilliant software packages vs. Jono Bacon, “Community Manager”. Respect has to be earned Jono. That’s why so many people rush to RMS’ defence every time someone tries to smear him and it’s also why many people bash Ubuntu.

  • Craig

    Steam keeps on getting mentioned as a point of success for Ubuntu, but in reality Valve don’t really care about Ubuntu much at all. The thing they really care about is it’s audience (of potential customers) and the fact it makes things easier in the early days of development to concentrate on a single distro. I have Steam installed and working fine on both Fedora and Arch systems. Sorry, but this isn’t a “Ubuntu exclusive”, nor is there anything particularly special about Ubuntu that attracted Valve.

  • Craig

    $ zgrep Stallman /usr/share/man/man/

    /usr/share/man/man1/cat.1.gz:Written by Torbjorn Granlund and Richard M. Stallman.

    /usr/share/man/man1/comm.1.gz:Written by Richard M. Stallman and David MacKenzie.

    /usr/share/man/man1/diff.1.gz:Richard Stallman, and Len Tower.

    /usr/share/man/man1/dir.1.gz:Written by Richard M. Stallman and David MacKenzie.

    /usr/share/man/man1/gdb.1.gz:&, by Richard M. Stallman and Roland H. Pesch. The same text is available online

    /usr/share/man/man1/gdb.1.gz:, Richard M. Stallman and Roland H. Pesch, July 1991.

    /usr/share/man/man1/gmake.1.gz:which was written by Richard Stallman and Roland McGrath, and is

    /usr/share/man/man1/ls.1.gz:Written by Richard M. Stallman and David MacKenzie.

    /usr/share/man/man1/make.1.gz:which was written by Richard Stallman and Roland McGrath, and is

    /usr/share/man/man1/rm.1.gz:Written by Paul Rubin, David MacKenzie, Richard M. Stallman,

    /usr/share/man/man1/split.1.gz:Written by Torbjorn Granlund and Richard M. Stallman.

    /usr/share/man/man1/tee.1.gz:Written by Mike Parker, Richard M. Stallman, and David MacKenzie.

    /usr/share/man/man1/uniq.1.gz:Written by Richard M. Stallman and David MacKenzie.

    /usr/share/man/man1/vdir.1.gz:Written by Richard M. Stallman and David MacKenzie.

    /usr/share/man/man7/standards.7.gz:The term “POSIX” was coined by Richard Stallman.

    Done anything besides talk recently Jono?