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Is new Ubuntu 12.10 spyware?

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Hi Docoders, :)

Richard Stallman, one of the initiators of the GPL claims that the new Ubuntu 12.10 have to be considered as spyware for the integrated search feature that injects findings from amazon even in a local search.

From an article from him at FSF

One of the major advantages of free software is that the community protects users from malicious software. Now Ubuntu GNU/Linux has become a counterexample. What should we do?
Ubuntu, a widely used and influential GNU/Linux distribution, has installed surveillance code. When the user searches her own local files for a string using the Ubuntu desktop, Ubuntu sends that string to one of Canonical's servers. (Canonical is the company that develops Ubuntu.)
Ubuntu uses the information about searches to show the user ads to buy various things from Amazon. Amazon commits many wrongs (see; by promoting Amazon, Canonical contributes to them. However, the ads are not the core of the problem. The main issue is the spying. Canonical says it does not tell Amazon who searched for what. However, it is just as bad for Canonical to collect your personal information as it would have been for Amazon to collect it.
Ubuntu allows users to switch the surveillance off. Clearly Canonical thinks that many Ubuntu users will leave this setting in the default state (on). And many may do so, because it doesn't occur to them to try to do anything about it. Thus, the existence of that switch does not make the surveillance feature ok.
If you ever recommend or redistribute GNU/Linux, please remove Ubuntu from the distros you recommend or redistribute. If its practice of installing and recommending nonfree software didn't convince you to stop, let this convince you. In your install fests, in your Software Freedom Day events, in your FLISOL events, don't install or recommend Ubuntu. Instead, tell people that Ubuntu is shunned for spying.

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Do we see well known Windows practices now slop over to Linux as well? Welcome to the wonderful modern times. :(


If ubuntu is spyware for using amazon affiliate ID, what about firefox? I think GNU/FSF is exaggerating a bit here with word - "spyware". They want better ecosystem but I don't think thats not a good choice of word. Adware fits better for ubuntu and firefox. That's what we call to AVG and similar other AV which are now taking over affiliate links on pages.

It's a bad trend to be sure. And the only way to stop it will be if people seriously push back.

Do we see well known Windows practices now slop over to Linux as well? Welcome to the wonderful modern times. :(
-JoTo (December 10, 2012, 02:24 AM)
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Not really.  ;D Ubuntu isn't Linux anymore. They now refer to themselves as The Ubuntu Operating System. And they play fast and loose with open software principles when it suits them to do so.

This is from their website:

Better yet - here's how they speak about open source. Plenty of big players are mentioned up front. But not the Free Software Foundation or the Linux Foundation. Nor do you see any reference to GPL or GNU Project. If you didn't know better you might almost think Canonical (Ubu's parent company) was running the whole show and paying for most of it! See below:

Is new Ubuntu 12.10 spyware?

Here's an 'extra credit' activity: Go to See how long it takes you to find the word Linux anywhere on their website. :huh:

Does it mention Debian?  :)

There was always a buzz push to Ubuntu that I never liked. I was running Mandrake and hearing about all this miraculous new stuff called Ubuntu on all the sites. So I burned the cd and tried it out. Mandrake had One CD install via broadband, came up with network card configured and running to download packages, used APT and booted to an X Windows window manager.  Ubuntu did pretty much the same. Except Mandrake did it better.  The "new" thing about Ubuntu seemed to be the buzz engine behind it as far as I could tell. Now if what you say is true, the habit of ignoring antecedents has just matured to a stated policy rather than just being implied. :)

^ If you do a search in the Ubuntu website you get two links:

and multiple hits of this which is found in the installation manual:

I didn't see any way you can get to either of these pages from the homepage. AFAICT you'd need to do a search to find them. :-\


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