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.
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.
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.