Destructive ideology

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Destructive ideology

Postposted on Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:55 pm

Richard Stallman is effectively calling for a boycott of Ubuntu due to the desktop search within the operating system that sends data to Canonical when used. Stallman has dubbed the easily disabled feature as "spyware".

Arstechnica wrote:In Ubuntu 12.10, searching the Dash (the hub for finding stuff in the Unity desktop interface) for files and applications returns not only results from a user's desktop but also Amazon shopping results, as we reported in September before the operating system's release. If a user buys something from Amazon as a result, money is sent to Canonical in the form of affiliate payments.


Canonical is no Red Hat in terms of revenue and both companies are aimed at very different markets. There will always be a place for Linux as a server in the Enterprise, Universities, and HPC. The desktop on the other hand is a far more constrained market dominated by Windows and facing new challenges not from alternative desktop operating system, but instead by the transition to portable computing devices with walled gardens (iOS, Android, WindowsRT).

Canonical needs any advantage it can get to compete in this growth limited market. So I find myself vastly disappointed once again by the fact that the faithful would rather ride their ideology into irrelevance than temper their viewpoints to match reality.

Joe Brodkin/Arstechnica posits that a significant number of users may well follow Stallman's advice to leave Ubuntu. I hope he's wrong in this case as I don't see a wounded or dead Canonical as a positive outcome for anyone.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:57 pm

This is going to go R&P pretty quick.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:27 pm

There's plenty of other distros in the sea for those who are offended by the optional "spyware". Personally, I would have no problems with it for my own usage.

Mr. Stallman needs to put on his big-boy pants and face reality.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:33 pm

Sounds like an annoying feature. If Windows did this on my start menu, say, it would definitely leave a sour taste in my mouth. I don't know why they can't just make it opt in or tell you of its presence on first use.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:37 pm

Yeats wrote:Mr. Stallman needs to put on his big-boy pants and face reality.

RMS can either admit that his ideology has passed through the forge of reality and been altered in a way that will bring greater Joe SixPack acceptance of Linux, or he can take his toys, go home, and cater to the dwindling numbers of pure fawning acolytes.

RMS being RMS, it's obvious which way he'll go.

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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:14 pm

Unfortunately RMS has a history of eventually being right, some company somewhere eventually goes for the big grab. The sensational statement helps grab the headline as well.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:51 pm

I would definitely call this spyware, but easily disabled spyware.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:12 pm

I think it's totally ok for RMS to call them out on this. People are free to make a choice, but need to be aware of what liberties they may be loosing... such as privacy.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:54 pm

I blame emacs. Well maybe not. RMS is right to let us all know what Ubuntu is doing but to call for a boycott may be over doing it. Still it's what he does, runs the Free Software Foundation so it is his bailiwick.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:57 pm

RMS is right, aside from the sensationalism. Canonical isn't non-profit and they're attempting to monetize the users through spyware. If you don't have a problem with spyware, fine, but understand this is anathema to most Linux users. If they're having money issues, there are other ways to get funding like charging for a powerpack cd like mandriva does. Spyware is not the way to do it. Even windows users get tired of bonzai buddy popups and 50 IE toolbars, so why would anyone think linux users would accept this when their founding philosophy is diametrically opposed to such software? There are plenty of other distros to choose from, and I don't see any problems with people choosing to try something different, especially when I've heard just as much negative news about Ubuntu as positive. Perhaps a little more competition is just what the doctor ordered.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:24 pm

I'll present a better argument for why Canonical shouldn't do this: it confuses the user. It makes no sense. People don't know what they're looking at, and think they're looking at something in their computer. Classic UI mistake.

As for RMS... the Linux/OSS world would be far better off without him. He unfortunately manages to get on the news in almost every country, then Regular Joes (like friends of mine) take him as a representative of the Linux crowd. Yeah, nutty fundamentalist representing a whole culture, that always worked out fine.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:45 pm

l33t-g4m3r wrote:Canonical isn't non-profit and they're attempting to monetize the users through spyware.


As do many other software.

If you don't have a problem with spyware, fine, but understand this is anathema to most Linux users.


Canonical is also targeting the non-stereotypical Linux user, many of whom are accustomed to a for-pay OS.

If they're having money issues, there are other ways to get funding like charging for a powerpack cd like mandriva does.


How's that working out for Mandriva? Not real well. They've gone bankrupt a couple of times, and are about to again.

Spyware is not the way to do it.


Then turn it off. It's easy.

Perhaps a little more competition is just what the doctor ordered.


Competition is a good thing. Thank God there are so many alternative distros that they don't all have to have the same business model.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Sat Dec 08, 2012 5:43 am

I object to the "surveillance code" being on by default. If people want to support Cononical financially, firstly they should be made aware of the codes presence, along with its ramifications and have a choice of opting in. I imagine very few people would choose to turn it on and Canonical knows this.

If the matter wasn't drawing such consternation it would likely fly under the radar of most users.

Does anyone else find this commercialisation of your Desktop and private data to be creepy? Inserting commercial links into your Dash search results really has no place and seems a bit incongruous. As if we don't have enough advertising shovelled into our browsers, now its making an appearance right on the desktop. I am sure they would climb into your head given half a chance.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:08 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:Richard Stallman is effectively calling for a boycott of Ubuntu due to the desktop search within the operating system that sends data to Canonical when used. Stallman has dubbed the easily disabled feature as "spyware".

Canonical needs any advantage it can get to compete in this growth limited market. So I find myself vastly disappointed once again by the fact that the faithful would rather ride their ideology into irrelevance than temper their viewpoints to match reality.

Joe Brodkin/Arstechnica posits that a significant number of users may well follow Stallman's advice to leave Ubuntu. I hope he's wrong in this case as I don't see a wounded or dead Canonical as a positive outcome for anyone.


This isn't the first time RMS has called out Ubuntu. He didn't like it when they started shipping proprietary drivers for Broadcom and Nvidia chips.

I think, by now, the hardliners have moved on to something else, like Debian, so I don't see there being a mass exodus of Ubuntu users. Ubuntu is targeting the nice fat middle of the mainstream, and that market is very happy with them.

RMS is only irrelevant until he's right. I'm not an RMS fan, but I do consider his viewpoint and opinions because he does come up with interesting topics in regards to liberties. It's good to understand what he's saying because it helps inform people about the potential consequences of their decisions.

The real issue is how can Canonical monetize their userbase. Support contracts obviously aren't doing it, so they have to find ways to raise money with out resorting to a RedHat model. This is partially the userbase's fault for not buying support contracts to support Ubuntu, and partially Canonical's fault for not offering more perks for those that do buy a support contract. Right now, the support contracts don't offer anything above what a regular install of Ubuntu does, and that's the problem. It's not a good value.

At least with affiliate program people can send a couple bucks to Canonical to support Ubuntu.

Dirge wrote:Does anyone else find this commercialisation of your Desktop and private data to be creepy? Inserting commercial links into your Dash search results really has no place and seems a bit incongruous. As if we don't have enough advertising shovelled into our browsers, now its making an appearance right on the desktop. I am sure they would climb into your head given half a chance.


As a power user, it's annoying and clutters up the search results, but for a regular user, I'm sure it's very helpful. Searching for a book means they don't have to find a website to sell books; they can search for "Robinson Crusoe" directly from their desktop. It makes Ubuntu the portal to the Internet, and it cuts out all of the ads displayed on websites. It kind of does result in better safety.

morphine wrote:I'll present a better argument for why Canonical shouldn't do this: it confuses the user. It makes no sense. People don't know what they're looking at, and think they're looking at something in their computer. Classic UI mistake.

As for RMS... the Linux/OSS world would be far better off without him. He unfortunately manages to get on the news in almost every country, then Regular Joes (like friends of mine) take him as a representative of the Linux crowd. Yeah, nutty fundamentalist representing a whole culture, that always worked out fine.


The implementation is pretty clunky.

The computer world would not be better off without RMS. He's the rock that anchors the FOSS movement to keep it from drifting too far off course. Every movement has that one person, and when that person leaves the movement becomes something else or a parody of its values. If someone like de Icaza had been in charge, the companies would have picked FOSS apart, and the world would be a lesser place for it.

It's amazing what the FOSS movement has accomplished. The amount of freecode out there makes it trivial to build just about anything, and in the not too distant past, the effort to build an ecosystem (compilers, libs, kernel, etc.) was prohibitive. FOSS software is truly a 21st century wonder, and it's all because one person decided to evangelize the Unix tradition of sharing code. (The flip side is he lionized the practice of selling expensive hardware and bundling software that would run on it as a freebie. This is what's funny about the Tivo fiasco.)

RMS is a loon, but he is important for the ideas he brings to the table and the issues he raises. Normal people can't live like he does, but that doesn't diminish the importance of his ideals.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:42 pm

This whole thing is full of fail. Canonical screwed up by not making this feature opt-in (though it is apparently easy to disable so they get partial credit for that), and by having the remote search results loaded via unencrypted HTTP. Stallman, as usual, sensationalizes the issue and makes the FOSS community look like a bunch of hysterical fundamentalists. I've said it many times before - Linux evangelists are often the Linux community's own worst enemy.

morphine wrote:As for RMS... the Linux/OSS world would be far better off without him. He unfortunately manages to get on the news in almost every country, then Regular Joes (like friends of mine) take him as a representative of the Linux crowd. Yeah, nutty fundamentalist representing a whole culture, that always worked out fine.

While I agree with this 100%, it is also true that the FOSS community would not even exist in anything resembling its current form if not for Stallman. Perhaps part of what pisses Stallman off so much is that he sees commercialization of "his baby" as a personal affront.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:12 pm

just brew it! wrote:Perhaps part of what pisses Stallman off so much is that he sees commercialization of "his baby" as a personal affront.

Point is, even though he may be right this one time about Canonical, overall he hurts FOSS's image a LOT more than he helps.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:30 pm

morphine wrote:
just brew it! wrote:Perhaps part of what pisses Stallman off so much is that he sees commercialization of "his baby" as a personal affront.

Point is, even though he may be right this one time about Canonical, overall he hurts FOSS's image a LOT more than he helps.

Yup, no argument there. There are a *lot* of people out there who drive people away from Linux and FOSS with their zealotry.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:37 am

RMS is not concerned with FOSS or Free Open Sores Software. A creation of those attempting to commercialize Linux, which is just fine done right but has produced some pretty tacky stuff..

Free Software is what he cares about.

Now I am a member of the user hostile church and think anything more friendly than Slackware is overdoing it.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:37 pm

Has this latest turn of events deterred any of you from running Ubuntu?

I stopped using Ubuntu with Unity and switched to Debian stable with backports. I had decided to give Ubuntu another go and see if the user experience had matured. Now I will probably delete the ISO after reading about this curfuffle. Clearly I take my privacy seriously and believe at the very worst a scheme like this should be Opt-in on the users part.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:54 am

I intend to continue using Ubuntu for now, but have been considering a switch to Debian. Not so much because of this current issue; more because they've relegated GNOME and KDE to second class citizen status.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:21 am

I had been using Ubuntu LTS but Debian Stable with backports seems to be a nice compromise and soft landing for anyone using Ubuntu.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:40 am

I prefer Gnome 2 enough that I've switched my desktop machine to Mint. Still got an Ubuntu server but that doesn't run Unity, etc. anyway.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:08 am

I switched to Mint 13 (LTS release) with MATE (fork of Gnome 2), and it's been great so far.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:15 am

A couple nights ago I installed Ubuntu 12.10. I *do not* like that there is no notification about the desktop search, um, "feature". So on that point I agree with RMS and others, that it is not cool to do this. However, I think it is perfectly valid for Canonical to implement this phone-home scheme, provided the user is notified in an obvious way.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:23 am

Yeats wrote:A couple nights ago I installed Ubuntu 12.10. I *do not* like that there is no notification about the desktop search, um, "feature". So on that point I agree with RMS and others, that it is not cool to do this. However, I think it is perfectly valid for Canonical to implement this phone-home scheme, provided the user is notified in an obvious way.

Yup. If the feature is part of the base install it should've been something you need to opt in to during installation.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:57 pm

Anybody else think this was going to be about Islam from the thread title?

Dirge wrote:Has this latest turn of events deterred any of you from running Ubuntu?

Not I. I'm kind of taking a holistic view of things, and while I disagree with this decision, Canonical has done so much good for Linux adoption that this mistake doesn't nullify it.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:31 pm

The correct method should've been the OS asking "Would you like to enable online search? [Cue preferred plug, such as shopping, news, etc.] YES / NOT NOW / DON'T ASK AGAIN, and a blue Windows-inspired help link called "What can online search do for me?"

End of story.

Harmless as the original problem may be, I'm sick and tired of all the opt-out mentality about software and content, and all the apologists who want to convince me why that's okay.
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:36 pm

Yup. Stuff like this is OK as long as it is opt-in, with a clear explanation of what you're opting in to.

Application installers that piggyback other applications that you need to opt-out of are another pet peeve. I'm looking at you, Adobe Reader and Oracle Java Runtime! :evil:
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:16 pm

Meadows wrote:The correct method should've been the OS asking


You mean the installer should ask. There is plenty of dead time in the installer to advertise this "feature".
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Re: Destructive ideology

Postposted on Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:03 pm

Flatland_Spider wrote:You mean the installer should ask. There is plenty of dead time in the installer to advertise this "feature".

No, I don't mean that. Not everybody is lifeless enough to sit through installing an OS, but everybody would encounter the prompt from within the OS itself.
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