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Ubuntu Will Now Have Amazon Ads Pre-Installed (slashdot.org)
301 points by cooldeal on Sept 22, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 229 comments

I don't think Ubuntu has really thought this through.

Besides the privacy problems, making your software into adware is incredibly destructive to its image. Ubuntu can no longer be used by any self-respecting or privacy-conscious company or individual. Imagine the CTO of IBM - "So, this Ubuntu is adware? And it sends all our searches to Amazon? Are you kidding me? Get out of my office and get me a list of real OSes, you know, business-class operating systems."

I mean what I say when I say, "can't". The image of adware is too low to be considered business class. Would you buy a bottle of wine that had an ad for hemorrhoid medication on the side? You might for yourself, maybe, if you're a wino, but would you buy it as a gift? Would you buy it for a restaurant? Would you buy it for a dinner party?

Ubuntu has just classified itself in with the Netzeros of the world, as bottom-of-the-barrel software. It marked itself on the forehead with a big tattoo that says "substandard software" - they set the brand on fire. That change is going to hurt more than any extra revenue is going to help.

Yep, one of my favourite things about the Linux desktop has always been it's relative lack of adware/spyware/whatever.

Thing is , I imagine most of Ubuntu's current users are savvy enough to just remove this and get on with their lives therefor grossly reducing the affiliate revenue they would get.

I actually wouldn't necessarily be against some amazon integration into the OS, for example having a 'shopping' lens might be convenient, especially if it let me manage my cart and track shipping etc all from inside my OS.

I don't even understand how this is especially useful to amazon anyway. I usually use the home lens to search for programs, what use is knowing that I typed in 'sublime text' to amazon?

I have opened a bug report about the privacy concerns and the negative PR, suggesting a simple fix: put the shopping lens in a separate pane, so users have to opt in.


This is pure hyperbole. It would take one of IBM's Linux IT people half an hour to modify the Ubuntu disc image to remove the offending package.

The technical situation has NOTHING to do with this problem. It is a social problem, an image problem, a branding problem.

Ubuntu is now low-class software, and high-class people use high-class software.

I know a few people who still use Kindle and Google Search, despite their infection with ads. Maybe Ubuntu will survive as well?

I use what suits me the best. TBH this is the first time I hear about class-warfare in software. "High-class" people can use Windows Server for all they want (if they define pricy as "high-class"), while the rest use what is the best for ourselves. Is Google going to abandon Ubuntu base as their main OS? Very unlikely as they can just strip out the package. Does Google give a damn about "class"? No!

Meh, I think that applies more to the consumer market than it does to the corporate market. If the corporate market were concerned only about branding, everyone would be using a Mac. And although there has been a trend in that direction, the overwhelming majority of corporate computers are running Windows to this day.

Your example is confusing, as Mac is branded as a consumer product: if a corporate market "were concerned only about branding" it would choose Windows, not Mac, as Windows is branded as an office workstation. The word "branding" in this context does not mean "trending", it means something closer to "typecasting".

Time that nobody wants to or should need to spend, and time that isn't necessary with other distros.

I'm not saying that it's OK. I'm saying that this isn't the sort of showstopper for corporate Ubuntu adoption that the OP seems to be suggesting.

Business Desktop Remix 12.04 LTS


has Java, flash, vmware installed, and has had social clients removed. I imagine that the next version of this would omit the 'enhanced' Dash search 'feature' as well.

Enterprise is not the issue, the issue is the consumer tablet/netbook/TV space with crapware added.

Or you can run an Ubuntu-derived distribution. In my experience, Linux Mint is already much more corporate user-friendly. It's Ubuntu with all the opiniated stuff taken out and replaced with conservative, sensible alternatives.

I don't think Ubuntu is really thought through.

Honestly, if Ubuntu dropped their ridiculous, underdeveloped, undersupported Ubuntu One services and partnered with Amazon to integrate theirs (Cloud Player/Cloud Drive/etc), that would be a MAJOR improvement for both them and the end-user. Excellent cross-platform cloud services and marketplaces integrated with the OS would be great for bringing less-technical users to the platform in the wake of the proposed "Windows 8 exodus" (if it actually happens).

Instead, they're using... basically affiliate links. Instead of a real monetization strategy involving a real partnership, they're using the "blogger who just realized he could make money off of this thing" strategy.

I've done partnership deals with Amazon's BD department before. They're very wary of just going head-first into a long-term deal without some kind of "feeling out" process to make sure the two companies are going to get along.

I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't their "feeling out" period before launching exactly what you're suggesting in a year or so.

What sort of deals have you done with them? I'm sure I'm not the only one curious.

But converting Ubuntu One to using Amazon services wouldn't be an affiliate deal, presumably, right? That would be a high-level, "we'll shut down a competitor to EC2/S3/… if you pay us X MM/year" sort of thing. It would also endanger their just-released-10-days-ago music store, if Amazon (their new X MM/year revenue stream), comes to them and asks forcefully.

An affiliate deal seems to make a much lighter impact to Ubuntu's ability to make independent decisions, in part because the revenue stream is less and also because the service is somewhat fungible–Ubuntu can switch to another online retailer (or suite of retailers).

Also, the perceived switching costs for a consumer to convert from Ubuntu One to Cloud Drive is going to be a helluva lot higher than `sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping` (unless they make ubuntu-desktop a dependent package, making apt return a scary message)

Ubuntu One is not a competitor to EC2/S3... is that what you meant or am I misunderstanding?

Running those services themselves, such as Cloud Drive, the music store, etc. was never a good idea in the first place.

By trying to do too much too soon they were only ever going to produce second rate products compared to the competition (a company with the resources of Microsoft can barely win some of these verticals, let alone Canonical).

It was always going to end with them stripping out and shutting down their own solutions and integrating with the best possible partners with each service.

I think Cloud drive/player was in part an aggressive move against bitlocker licensing; the labels didn't allow multiple download licenses and Amazon launched this and claimed a purchase was a single download into your personal locker and future downloads were from your personal space, effectively skirting the issue. I believe they later negotiated licenses but they were probably operating from a stronger position at that point.

I think there is a real need for an open *nix desktop that is friendly to a broad base of users - which is how I see Ubuntu. If a canonical/amazon "itunes" is the way to finance it, then fine. I'd rather them monetize a peripheral service, perhaps an itunes-esque offering, and support a strong linux desktop market, than see them waste away.

But I worry about slippery slopes ... will rightsholders demand DRM that subverts openness?

I would love that, I have never seen any interest to subscribe to their Ubuntu One service. I would be pleased to access Amazon Cloud from Ubuntu, and have a system-wide integration. Hope this is their long term strategy.

It would be a major improvement... For users in the United States. For everybody else, it would be completely useless.

Amazon Cloud Drive has recently launched in UK, DE, FR, IT, ES (and Cloud Player is available in UK, DE, FR). It's certainly not just in US.

This is just a sad development.

Canonical sure needs money. Before this, the deal was that Ubuntu is free in both ways and Canoncial tries to earn money with support-contracts for corporations. That wasn't succesful enough (which maybe isn't too surprising with established forces like Redhat already in the market), so Ubuntu One marked a new approach, to monetize the wide distribution of Ubuntu by offering paid services (but also a free offer). The try to participate on the in-app-purchases goes in the same direction.

So far, there was a balance. Unity in itself can be seen as a tipping point, where Canoncial tried to steer Ubuntu in one direction without even trying to align that with the community. That alone made Unity a hard sell for established ubuntu-users, its bad state in the beginning didn't help.

And now ads. Ads are seldom in the best interest of the user. Sometimes they are, when they offer exactly the product the customer searched for (i once got a cheaper dsl-connection because i arrived via a google-ad when i searched for dsl connections, for that i was thankful). In the Unity dash, the user is trying to start a program or to open a file of his, so it is almost guaranteed that the ad will never be what the user searches for.

So all this default does is enabling a probably very small revenue-stream to canonical, while cluttering the dash and irritating users by givem them the feeling that this ubuntu-desktop is doing strange things not in their control (even though they can disable it, a new user won't know how and even if he did, the system did something unexpected, which will bother him).

I hope there are better ways to monetize (maybe donations, paid features like the already existing ones, integrating google music, an ubuntu-tablet, facebook-integration paid for by facebook, certified hardware - but sure not simple ads -.-).

Just a note: all the ads will be removable with the command:

    sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping --purge

I would much rather type

sudo flay the-marketroid-who-came-up-with-that -v -v -painful -transcript -violate-human-rights

right now.

You type too much:

      sudo dpkg -P unity-lens-shopping

In general it's not good to use that command because it can leave your system in an inconsistent state -- when there are packages which depend on the package you just removed. apt-get works out the dependencies.

What are you talking about? dpkg will not remove packages with dependencies unless you force it to:

  root@fw:~# dpkg -P libssl1.0.0 
  dpkg: dependency problems prevent removal of libssl1.0.0:amd64:
   python-openssl depends on libssl1.0.0 (>= 1.0.0).
   openssh-client depends on libssl1.0.0 (>= 1.0.1).
   ntp depends on libssl1.0.0 (>= 1.0.0).
   bind9-host depends on libssl1.0.0 (>= 1.0.0).
   tor depends on libssl1.0.0 (>= 1.0.1).
   tcpdump depends on libssl1.0.0 (>= 1.0.0).
   libruby1.8 depends on libssl1.0.0 (>= 1.0.0).
   postfix depends on libssl1.
  dpkg: error processing libssl1.0.0:amd64 (--purge):
   dependency problems - not removing
  Errors were encountered while processing:

  root@fw:~# dpkg -P coreutils 
  dpkg: error processing coreutils (--purge):
   This is an essential package - it should not be removed.
  Errors were encountered while processing:

Take a look at --force-help for more info on forcing things.

Okay but it doesn't change my point: better use apt-get.

You said: "In general it's not good to use that command because it can leave your system in an inconsistent state -- when there are packages which depend on the package you just removed."

I demonstrated that dpkg will not remove packages with dependencies. Furthermore some packages are so crucial (ie: essential) that dpkg does not even bother checking dependencies before erroring out.

How does that not change your point?

The reason I gave was incorrect (I was confused with what happens when you install a .deb file without installing its dependencies), but the point of apt-get being better than dpkg for this still stands.

I wonder what point you're talking about. The one and only point you made was that dpkg force removes packages at runtime and it doesn't do that. What other point is there?

It's right there in my comment:

> the point of apt-get being better than dpkg for this still stands.

That's you saying there is a point. That's not you telling us what the point is.

What I don't understand is why apt-get is better than dpkg. You haven't explained that.

Your unsubstantiated claim still stands...

I don't understand why you're making such a big fuss about this rather inconsequental point. All I'm saying is that you should generally use apt-get and not the lower level tool dpkg. I used an incorrect justification for that (removing doesn't lead to an inconsistent state), but you still should preferrably use apt-get. Let's get back to debating more interesting stuff now.

That's just wrong.

When removing packages it just doesn't matter. When installing, it also doesn't really matter. dpkg can't fetch packages from the repositories, but it will mark them and a following apt-get install -f will fetch them flawlessly.

A few years ago you had to be careful when mixing apt-get and aptitude, and thus probably also when mixing aptitude with dpkg, as far as i know that is not the case anymore. Even a following autoremove should work.

You haven't mentioned one single valid cause why it should be wrong to use dpkg, and I'm pretty confident that you won't, because afaik it isn't. And i'm pretty sure.

(Just jumping in because dfc mentioning he really wants to know. Just think about apt-get as a frontend for dpkg which calls dpkg to install and remove .debs, but also fetches them from the internet and notices when they are no longer needed because they were installed as a dependency for a now removed package.)

I'm not the only one that thinks your claim is left wanting. I cannot speak for them but I am interested in why you think apt-get is preferred over dpkg in this case because I am a decade long loyal user of Debian. My original point was that the dpkg command is shorter and that is why I have used it over the longer apt-get invocation. I am generally interested in learning more about Debian. If the way I have been doing things is wrong I would like to know why so that I can improve my skills. Does that make sense?

I'm not being snarky, I'm generally interested in learning more about Debian and it seems that you might be able to improve my knowledge.

Okay fine "wrong" is perhaps too strong, it's rather "not appropriate/ideal". My point was simply that dpkg is lower level, so it should not be the go-to tool for normal users. The comment which started all this was the comment suggesting a command with "dpkg" was 'better' (because it was a few characters shorter I suppose), and I merely chimed in to point out that that was probably not a good thing to say, thinking of how this lower level tool provides more potential for mucking up your system; e.g., accidentally trying to remove an essential package; I believe dpkg wouldn't ask for confirmation right? Also new users would probably be overwhelmed by all the options of dpkg.

The only time I've been forced to use dpkg in the past ten years was when the system was seriously messed up e.g. in the middle of a failed upgrade.

> "this lower level tool provides more potential for mucking up your system; e.g., accidentally trying to remove an essential package; I believe dpkg wouldn't ask for confirmation right?"

Did you read anything I wrote? I specifically mentioned that dpkg would not remove an essential package...twice:

In my initial reply I demonstrated that dpkg would not remove an essential package:

  root@fw:~# dpkg -P coreutils 
  dpkg: error processing coreutils (--purge):
   This is an essential package - it should not be removed.
  Errors were encountered while processing:
And in my second reply I simply restated what my example had demonstrated:

"Furthermore some packages are so crucial (ie: essential) that dpkg does not even bother checking dependencies before erroring out."

> "The only time I've been forced to use dpkg in the past ten years was when the system was seriously messed up e.g. in the middle of a failed upgrade."

Just because the only time you had to use dpkg was when your system was messed up does not mean that dpkg is likely to mess up your system. Its like saying that the emergency room causes life threatening trauma because the only time I was seriously injured I had to go to the emergency room.

Does anyone know if there a name for this kind of fallacious reasoning? It seems like an amalgamation of "post hoc ergo propter hoc" and "cum hoc ergo propter hoc."

Yes, in this particular case dpkg will behave perfectly well.

The OP is, I believe, trying to argue that apt-get is in general less likely to blow your foot off, therefore you should default to using apt-get in general since it makes you less likely to lose a foot in the long run.

If you prefer to memorise specific safe cases for brevity of typing, that's absolutely fine. The OP, I think, prefers not to do so, and the same goes for me.

Assuming I'm correct in describing the OP's argument, hopefully you can now both go "oh, okay, that's what he meant" and move on :)

As a Debian user, you should be using aptitude instead of apt-get anyway :)

I know. Most of it is just a matter of aptitude not being around 12 years ago. I really like the search and install related packages functionality of aptitude.

Stands on what exactly?

My favorite bash aliases:

alias canhaz='sudo apt-get install'

alias donotwant='sudo apt-get remove'

Excellent! Pasting that into my bash_aliases now.

or you can install xubuntu

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

Meh, Lubuntu or just go Openbox.

When I used LXDE, it had a long way to go before it could be considered equivalent to Xfce, and I ended up switching back. The ultra-lightweight window managers may be in fashion, but Xfce is mature and polished and easy enough for my mother to use, and I can't say that about Lubuntu.

The typical Ubuntu user probably won't miss much on Xubuntu. When they find that mrxvt doesn't let them use Ctrl-C/V to copy and paste, they'll be mystified. Ditto for Openbox's wu wei panel management.

I had a similar experience. Xfce could handle my differently-sized dual-monitor setup easily. LXDE failed such that it thought to put some things off-screen where I could never reach them.

Wu Wei?

Oh, I see what Wu Wei is now.

I use tint2 as a "panel" of sorts in Openbox, and modify menu.xml for anything else I need. I like it well enough. Also, modifying rc.xml allows one to set hotkeys.

Or, presumably, use the Gnome Shell? I take it Canonical are not changing the search packages in GS.

Or even better: xmonad

How do you use xmonad with Ubuntu?

I think I remember using this at one point--just choose it at login?

That's very similar to many other distros except you don't need to run the command.

You made me giggle in these bleak times. Thanks for that.

This would be a better criticism if the other distros had anywhere near the mindshare that Ubuntu has.

> Items appear in a ‘More Suggestions’ strip underneath local search results.

So even if you are just searching for a local file or application, that search string is being sent to Amazon. Thus, an entire history of what you search for on your computer will be stored with Amazon.

This is no different to how adware functions. It opens up massive privacy implications that are not addressed or discussed in OP (or anywhere else that I have seen) but need to be before this feature is released in a stable version.

Edit: I have no problem with integrating Amazon for affiliate fees, just think it needs to be thought through a little more so that there are no surprises to users. Add to that the privacy implications needs to be disclosed to users frankly and upfront.

I have no problem with Canonical trying to get income from advertising/search/partnerships, and I would like to see Ubuntu on an even keel financially, but the privacy implications are significant here.

It is beyond time for Ubuntu to quit pussyfooting around and partner with ASUS or some other competent hardware manufacturer* and sell Ubuntu-branded laptops on the Ubuntu website. The Linux desktop (in various incarnations) has been in "testing" for over 15 years. Shuttleworth created Canonical and hired designers and developers to put together a 1st-class desktop system. Time to double down. Try and get some real customers who acutally pay for things.

*No, Dell's half-assed shitty Ubuntu machines don't count.

Better partner with Lenovo, Linux runs really almost perfectly on Thinkpads.

It's still not perfect. I had a ThinkPad T520 this summer for work with 11.04. This is one of the highest quality ThinkPads.

To make Unity and the DisplayPort port (as opposed to just VGA) work, I had to go into the BIOS and change a graphics setting to make it not automatically switch between the integrated and better graphics card. This made unity work, but it also made something terrible happen when I actually plugged in a monitor with DisplayPort. I believe that both the laptop screen and monitor went to 1024x768 and couldn't be coerced out.

The next step, to get full resolution on our 30" monitors, was to install some different video drivers. That was going to be harder to reverse, so I just gave up and dealt with nonoptimal resolution via VGA.

I also had a terrible time disconnecting monitors. Half the time when I unplugged the VGA it would just give me a blank screen.

Also, a few times when listening to music, the entire machine froze and it played the last ~2 seconds of audio repeatedly, with no sign of escape besides restarting.

We've come a long way from when several hours of work to make wifi work was a given, but I still don't think I've ever owned a Linux laptop where all hardware worked perfectly.

Xrandr? Check out my post on messing around with this in openbox (if it helps): https://sites.google.com/site/thomasroderick/blog/9102012--x...

This would be an amazing duo. Lenovo as a company hasn't been great about supporting Linux on desktop/laptop machines, but Linux OSes tend to work great on their hardware. Many "Linux is my only OS" users I known use Thinkpads for this reason.

If Canonical could handle the technical support for Lenovo machines with pre-installed Linux I think that would be a match made in heaven.

I second this. There are actually some distributors that sell Lenovo laptops with Linux on it:

http://www.emperorlinux.com : provides laptops preinstalled with Linux from Dell, Lenovo, Panasonic and Sony



I'm part of the Thinkpad faithful and recently updated to a new model. From dmesg:

[Firmware Bug]: ACPI: BIOS _OSI(Linux) query ignored

I used to believe that before I got a Thinkpad. Now I think: if this is "almost perfect", I'm in trouble.

I would buy this. Even if Acer would come with Ubuntu instead of their Linpus thing, it would be a huge win. Knowing I get a 100% Ubuntu certified laptop would make me ignore the brand.

I'm a huge fan of System76, in case you are unfamiliar: https://www.system76.com/

I know about them, but they have no presence in Europe.

I am very happy with the laptop I bought here: http://linuxcertified.com/linux_laptops.html

Well yeah, but then it would go the way of Chrome OS ("Chromebooks" and "Chromeboxes"), whether that's a good or a bad thing.

Might I instead suggest a 'supporter' icon somewhere obvious?

How I want it to work: I click on the icon and get taken to a page that shows whether I've donated. If I do, I say how long the donation is for. (E.g., I choose $10 and 6 months.) My icon goes green across all my machines and I feel smug. In 6 months, it looks sickly, so I click on it and donate again.

In fact, I just realised that I really like Ubuntu and would happily make a monthly donation to support it (and can afford to) but I've never seen anything that suggested I do so.

I can't find any hints on ubuntu.com on how to donate (though they have a shop, I don't want any "swag").

Shuttleworth has always said he wants to make it a viable business; perhaps he's worried people would donate instead of having their business buy support (or whatever). Hrm.

EDIT: I searched their site and found the donate page. It doesn't seem to be linked from anywhere; only discoverable by using search.


The better way is to contribute to the debian community


donate to both, though give Debian more because they don't have a Mark Shuttleworth :)

Mark Shuttleworth is a Debian Developer.

That's great, but pretty sure he didn't donate 10 million quid to the Debian foundation. We're talking financial support here.

I've just found Debian breaks too much and is mostly deprecated, e.g. Python 2.4?

That sounds like FUD. If you don't want it to break, use stable, which is currently at python 2.6.6:


If you want up-to-date, use testing, which is at python 2.7.3:


They both have python3 versions available, too (3.1.3 and 3.2.3 respectively). There are legitimate complaints about Debian, but being stuck on python 2.4 is not one of them.

My mistake. I installed Debian stable about 3 months ago, but Numpy was ridiculously out of date. I falsely remembered it being Python itself. Mea culpa.

Ubuntu is a Debian-based distribution, and receives many of its software updates from Debian.

Debian Stable doesn't break - it is The Other Linux when it comes to servers. Debian Testing and Debian Unstable do occasionally break... but that's kind've in their names.

I have ran Debian Testing for a couple of years now and it has broke less for me than Ubuntu used to do. I am very impressed with the stability of something called Testing.

Why don't they just ask for money from users? Have two versions: an ad supported one which people can easily remove the ads, and a paid version that doesn't come with the ad package by default, and maybe a few extra "premium" perks like wallpapers, themes, whatever that aren't in the FOSS repos together with extra backup space. They could charge on a par with OS X, say a total of $29 for the next two versions.

Agreed. This is what I would like to see done.

Because very few users would actually pay. You may be generous, but they are not dumb as well.

How do you know few users would pay? Given the right sales pitch it's possible a fair number would.

I would pay if I were still an Ubuntu user. The only reason I don't use stock Ubuntu now is because of Unity.

That would make it very non-free software. And that is what ubuntu is trying to not be.

You can sell free software. It's free as in freedom not as in free beer.


> You can charge nothing, a penny, a dollar, or a billion dollars.

If you're referring to the price, well, that was covered by another comment.

Ubuntu's full of non-free software and binary blobs. This is why it pretty much works out of the box. There's little fucking around with drivers, non-free codecs, etc.

In any event, adding non-free "premium" features doesn't make the operating system itself any less free.


If this is because they were not getting enough donations from the users, then I am disappointed in us for not supporting them (I give $25 annually, maybe it is time to up that to $50).

If they are getting enough in donations, but they just got a taste for money, then I am disappointed in them for compromising the spirit of open source (even if it adheres to the doctrine).

If they are getting enough in donations but really want the capital to take Ubuntu to the next level, then I am disappointed in all of us (especially me) who just couldn't find the time and energy to join the project, write some damn code, and help make the project great.

But at least this last one is an interesting prospect...

I don't mean it as an attack, but it really reflects badly on the movement when people talk about "the spirit of Open Source" that way.

Historically, the "spirit" of Open Source (or the motivation to part from the FSF, which was the birth of the movement) was to present whatever was happening in the Free Software world to businesses precisely with the goal of attracting money. Loads of it.

Open Source is a method of work. It says, my value is not in my source code, I'm not afraid of sharing it with the world (as a matter of facts, I get more value by doing so). But it is furthermost a methodology aimed at helping businesses make more money. (Or else all this commotion would've never happened in the late 90s and we'd all be still calling it Free Software).

Canonical is a business. It needs money and if you've ever owned a business, or worked in a financial position in one, you know there's no such thing as "getting enough". If they don't make money, they'll die and the project might terminate. Take it or leave it.

That being said, I chose to leave it a while back, for very similar reasons (I moved to Debian which was familiar and more ... free). But I cannot say I'm surprised they do similar deals, and cannot stand by when people accuse them of ... not following some convenient definition that was never there to begin with.

It is... What I would like is a separate shopping lens, where you could search for books, albums, and movies. Preferably, it would search a few competing sites and return the best offers. They could make them affiliate links.

But getting books about empathy in my Dash when launching a chat client is plain silly.

I find it distasteful because it means that in searches which naive users may be accustomed to being local searches of their computer, those search queries are also being passed to some third-party (Amazon) API. If they're interested in this revenue stream, I suspect Ubuntu isn't going to make a big deal of this information leakage at installation time.

Whether you like the ad-supported model or not, this is just bad UI!

Who searches their programs and wants to see matching books and music? I could understand listing other software for sale, but this is daft.

I doubt they'll get anything but complaints about this and it'll go away.

You're not by default searching just programs when you search via Unity in the first place.

The default for me is a combined pane that shows recent apps, recent files and downloads. If I start typing a search term, whichever categories has matches show up.

If I want a specific category, such as just applications, I can select that.

Maybe they'll change the defaults, or ask question during install, but I suspect most of the people who might care will easily figure out how to remove/disable it.

(Frankly Unity is the most productive UI I've had since my Amiga days. I was planning on installing a tiling WM before I tried it, but then I ended up staying with Unity because it was such a smooth experience, even with far less tweaking than what I'm used to have to do.

My most frequently used apps are all just one key combination away. Everything else one key + search. I run most stuff full screen, but with the global menu enabled in most apps, most apps waste very little space even when I "just" have them fill all the available space. It's the closest approximation Amiga-style screens using workspaces I've experienced on Linux.

The only thing I hate is the loss of spatial file browsing)

The whole Unity search thing is based around searching -everything-, not just programs, in a manner akin to Spotlight or Android's search. This isn't a radical shift on the UI end.

Eh, Google is forcing this experience on Android users with their batallion of Play apps (Apps, Magazines, Books, Videos, Toilet Paper, etc) and people seem to tolerate it.

Someone has opened a bug report about this in LaunchPad. If you think this is a terrible mistake by Canonical, and that it should be fixed, you can mark yourself as affected by this bug too: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/unity-lens-shoppin...

In case you've never used this tracking system, the icon you need to click on is here : http://i.imgur.com/o02oX.png

That yellow circle with the pencil in it. It should yield a pop-up for you to state whether it affects you.

The bug has been declared invalid. You can still record comments on Launchpad, and you can still say the bug affects you, but no action will be taken by developers.

It's actually been closed and reopened several times now. The people who marked it invalid have declined to comment, and it's not clear that they're even involved in the feature's development.

Thanks, and, yes, I have been watching the developments with some interest. Ubuntu is prepared to have this stuff on record which is good.

What Canonical/Ubuntu should do is some text like this:

"When you use Ubuntu we receive affiliate revenue based on your usage. How would you would like the money distributed?"

Then have some sliders like the Humble Bundle to proportion it to the program authors, GNU/fdo etc, EFF and Canonical. Everybody wins that way - folks who don't like Canonical can set their share to zero percent. And just by using the system you cause the appropriate people and organizations to be rewarded.

Why would Canonical do that? This is one of the streams that help pay designers and developers. When I bought my phone I did not complain about not giving the money to EFF or GNU. When I bought my car I did not wish for a slider about donating some to Audi OR Costco OR give it to the gov. It's just, well, not something a bussiness would do.

Because Canonical has repeatedly screwed this up. Remember when they "took money away" from some music player. Now this. Canonical is basically at odds with the providers of software for its platform (eg browsers, music players).

So either they can be an adversary, or they can work with them. It is a far better story that Google kickbacks for the Firefox usage on Ubuntu go to more than just Canonical.

You didn't buy a phone or a car (both of which are hardware and have large per unit BOM and manufacturing costs) from a company that is community oriented and where the vast majority of the components were provided for free by others in the spirit of openness, freedom and community.

Now Canonical can (and has the legal right to) take every cent and modify everything so they are the only ones to gain. And in a short term oriented business sense that is the right thing to do. But it doesn't help in the long term. Canonical depends heavily on its users and its suppliers.

Drawback: that requires them to track the clicks of everyone, in order to know how much is their share.

It isn't an unsurmountable problem, and they would know what user wishes were and where the revenue came from. Would it be accurate to the nearest cent? Nope, but it would be close enough.

I don't point it out as a technical problem, but as a privacy one.

Then treat private ones as though they had the default splits, or whatever the average/majority had picked, which are likely to be substantially the same.

Following the link, it appears that the unity search will simply also return Amazon results. This could be cool or not - in any case it is easy to uninstall apparently.

I use the amazon search via DuckDuckGo all the time in Firefox. Granted, I still tell DDG explicitly to search Amazon (via !), but it is not a far step to simply returning it always.

Maybe adding something like the !-notation for special searches to unity would be the golden way.

This sounds like the Mozilla / Google deal. It suits me fine as long as I can choose to remove them later on.

Still on 10.04, suppose I'll stay here a while.

ps- Aadvertising Aardvark? Commercial Coelacanth?

That is my favorite Ubuntu release. I was on it for the longest period till last month when I shifted to Lubuntu 12.04. I have lost out on a few things, but I was getting tired of hunting for alternate sources of software for their latest version.

Lubuntu 12.04 is unbelievably good. Everything works out of the box and it just stays out of your way. You can choose Openbox at the login screen too. Highly recommended.

Lubuntu 12.04 is fantastic on my netbook, which I use for writing and other offline tasks where I don't want to be distracted. I don't think I'd be as high on it for a desktop or a daily-driver laptop, but I have a retina MBP for that.

Looks more like a tax on the average user. Apparently they are trivial to remove:

sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping

Sad to hear Ubuntu's average user doesn't know the command line.

Glad to hear that, otherwise it was Goodbye Unity

Wow... that is just wow. I mean this is the latest evidence that Ubuntu does not listen to user feedback. First they shove unity to our throats and trolled everybody who disagreed with it. And now this.

They are really stretching the definition of free software. Is a software free if I don't pay for it up front but made the company get revenue based on the data I provide. I find this very insidious to be honest. True, they need money; and money does not grow on trees that is very true but is this the best approach? Irritating the user base with every major decision you made does not seem to be a good move in my humble opinion.

As long as this stays Unity-only, I wonder if the other Ubuntu-based distros (Xubuntu, Kubuntu, etc.) will see a surge in users. Even if the ads can be removed, this move still sours me on Ubuntu more than a little.

It all depends upon the details of implementation. If they're spamming the user with "and before you open this window our sponsor would like to bring you this message..." then that would be pretty bad, and I'd stop using Ubuntu as a result. On the other hand, if you can use the lens to do shopping and get reasonable search results from a range of companies configurable by location, etc, then I think that would be a useful feature. If you're just limited to shopping with one company then that would also be bad (anti-competitive).

Frankly, if they give me Amazon results only, that's fine by me. I often end up buying from Amazon even when they're more expensive due to Prime. If I could buy without even going to their website, that'd be perfect.

O Cmn...just take some money instead. I can shell out a few dollars.

Or you can just

  sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping
It's that easy.

I do want Canonical's well being in the long run. Just give me a "special" paid version and I will do it.

That's comforting, at least. Still a very interesting decision

Fedora is looking pretty tasty right now

Last time I tried Fedora (it was maybe 3 years ago), I tried to play an MP3 on my thumb drive and it failed to do so, then asked me to pay money for an MP3 codec license.

10.04 is still the best Ubuntu, if newcomers to Linux want simplicity and usability that's what I recommend whether they're not very tech savvy or programmers. I still use it on my work laptop. (I've been using Gentoo on my home devices since 2007 or so.) The .deb model of packaging is sane, Ubuntu just can't be trusted anymore with what comes installed out of the box and what's available to install/uninstall out of the box.

I'm still looking for a good Ubuntu/Debian derivative that's at least as good as 10.04. Xubuntu is always a "good enough" option in many respects. A lot of people recommend Mint and I don't see why. But I'm also very biased in favor of Gnome2.

I used 10.04 for quite a long time and am now on 11.10 without Unity, I grew quite tired of always having incredibly outdated packages on 10.04 (the great utility of "sudo apt-get install and it will always just work" being the only reason I haven't switched to Windows or Mac yet). That being said I still use 10.04 on all of my servers

If you're already familiar with Ubuntu, Debian or Mint would be an easier switch.

Debian Wheezy is shipping with Gnome Shell 3.4 at present, Fedora 18 will have GS 3.6.

The RHEL 6 clones (CentOS, PUIAS Linux, Scientific Linux) have Gnome 2.x and support for ages.

So? If you are used to Ubuntu's filesystem layout, package management, etc. it makes much more sense to go for Debian or a well-maintained Ubuntu distribution such as Mint. Also, Mint has gnome-shell and Nautilus forks that bring back a lot of sanity.

Anyway, this is all a non-discussion for an experienced user, since the lens can be removed easily. Also, Ubuntu 12.10 is still beta, so they might still remove this functionality or make a separate shopping lens, or whatever.

I'm on a recently installed Fedora. I figured that it would be what I would settle with once I got tired of fiddling with things on Arch. A pretty good selling point was that it would readily handle our dual scanner and printer without me having to deal with the HPLIP software package, but I suppose this is a somewhat appropriate occasion to rant on a few bits. Some of them may be related to software Fedora is composed of, such as Gnome 3.

Non-administators can't add a password through the graphical dialogue if they are currently without password. "Choose password at next login" was the next best option for fellow family members interested in trying out Linux.

The infamous obscurity of the power off and restart buttons. You can read all about it on Google. Family members are sure to reach for the physical power off button and do cold shut downs once they want to use Windows.

The Firewall thing assured me that SSH is a trusted protocol, but incoming SSH connections were met with "No route to host." Disabling the Firewall fixed this.

Selecting Terminal in Activities gives focus to a currently open Terminal. Opening new Terminals can be done through the File dialogue.

Entering a non-existing command results in a very noticeable delay before the prompt returns.

I haven't found a way to enable focus follows mouse. Instructions on the web seem outdated.

I was met with a confusing "Enter password to unlock login keyring" window when trying to set up instant messaging accounts. I'm not sure, but it may have something to do with my changing from the original Fedora user password, or with using passwd. Empathy didn't really work out for me because of detail-lacking connection error messages.

These are some of the surprises I have encountered during the first day of working on it. I will probably stick with it for quite a while as it is acceptable to work on.

It's so beefy...

Canonical once again surprises with how little they understand their customers.

Is this in any way different than having Google as default search engine, taking a share of music sold via the music library or taking a share of what software is sold via the in-os-app-store?

Nothing shitty, I bet many (not you guys who read HN, but non-power users) will like this feature. I don't think I'll disable it.

And that: it's possible to disable, that is nice.

I must say, having forgot to make a donation to Canonical the last time I updated my laptop (my bad!) I don't mind this so much.

Depending on what language I am coding in I either have IntelliJ mostly full screen, or I have emacs and a few term windows open that cover most of the screen.

Question: does anyone know if they ads will be visible in these work modes?

I think I can answer my own question: it looks like only the Unity Launcher and some shopping views are affected.

I buy a lot of stuff on Amazon and I am glad Canonical will get a little cut.

Ads in an operation system? No thank you.

I wouldn't mind paying for .iso files.

Ok, moving to Linux Mint next. Any other suggestions?

Cinnamon 1.6 on Ubuntu 12.04 has been very pleasant for me so enjoy :) (the only thing keeping me from switching to mint is that they don't have a distro upgrade method like ubuntu does and I like keeping current)

I bet changing your repositories to the next version and running the update manager will have that effect. It might break things a bit, but I've never seen an OS upgrade where that wasn't a risk.

Our goal is to give users a good search experience while funding ourselves by receiving a share of this income. Search engines who do not share the income generated by our users, are removed from Linux Mint and might get their ads blocked.


It won’t only be down to donations and sponsorships anymore, your activity on the web, every search query you make and product you buy will help fund our project.


* * *

Try Trisquel http://trisquel.info/ which based on Ubuntu, with non-free software removed.

This combined with the recent buginess of Ubuntu is the last straw, I am switching to Arch Linux. Ubuntu has changed since it started into nothing more than another OS trying to make money by screwing over the user.

Am I the only one here who thinks this is not disturbing at all?

If you don't like it, it's not very difficult to turn off. If you find it too difficult to turn off, maybe Ubuntu is not the right operating system for you.

If this becomes an important money maker for Canonical, you just know that they will find a way to make it hard to turn off. This seems like the first step where they are willfully making the user experience worse rather than better, to fulfill a shortterm end. If this is the only way for Canonical to break even on Ubuntu, that says a lot about the future of desktop Linux in general.

But this isn't just ads. In fact, I doubt it's even primarily ads. I like this functionality a lot, as long as I can turn it off. I like being able to quickly press a key then search Amazon. It's a great new feature for me and I'm happy it's included.

A lot of people are upset, but this isn't like having a banner ad on the desktop. It's a real feature, just with a nice side effect for Canonical.

If it's ever any harder than "apt-get remove --purge" then you'll have a problem worth complaining about. Until then, meh.

"you just know that they will find a way to make it hard to turn off"

What makes you say that?

Classic slippery slope fallacy. Until it's actually hard to turn off, this argument is meaningless.

Privacy concerns aside, in what ways does this actually worsen the user experience?

Being profitable is not a 'shortterm end'.

It's not that difficult to install software either. They could have made it opt-in and saved themselves a bunch of bad press.

I suspect most users would consider this a useful thing rather than an intrusive feature.

Ubuntu's goal has always been Linux for the Masses. Now, if the discussions are accurate, unknowing users will be searching "my_girlfriend_michelles_porn.zip" and see that information passed to Amazon. It's not what most people would want, and in the land of choices, Ubuntu has in minutes made it a lot harder for me to recommend them.

Xubuntu is pretty nice... but I might end up moving to Debian if they start pushing this out.

I can live with this (or uninstall it) but will they fix my audio? It had been fine after about 8.04, but has been broken by every update that included Unity by default.

%> sudo apt-get remove pulseaudio

%> sudo reboot

You're welcome.

You got a down-vote from me.

pulseaudio works fine for the majority of users.

pulseaudio actually brings some nice features to the linux desktop

pulseaudio bashing was cool a couple years ago, you're late to the party

And - quite frankly - the GP didn't state his problems at all, so you were just trolling (-> 'Remove this software package that really is just an elaborate hoax to destroy sound. The internet says so!')

And .. 'you're welcome' is really low..

Yeah, I guess my reply was kinda snarky. The simple fact is that every time sound didn't work out of the box on a Debian-based system (especially Ubuntu), removing pulseaudio was all that was needed to fix it.

Yeah ... been there and done that. I've also added the PA volume control as recommended by others. Funny that one problem can be solved by two completely opposite actions (or in my case remains unsolved in both).

Often when you get contradictory advice like that the people giving the advice do not have a clue what the real solution is.

that solves a lot of audio problems in ubuntu/debian linux

While I don't actually use Ubuntu on a day to day basis, it was my go-to live disc (for when I inevitably break a Gentoo install). I find advertising extremely distasteful, and will no longer use or recommend Ubuntu. Anyone have suggestions for a distro equally usable as a rescue live disc?

I've commented on the bug https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/unity-lens-shoppin....

you should too if you feel strongly enough.

The Slashdot article is pretty much just FUD please see my response


How is it FUD? Every search query I make on my computer will be sent to some remote Amazon server by default. This is what's called "spyware".

I don't see the problem here? I order a fair bit from Amazon, easily being able to search for it in my dash and give to canonical while doing it seems like a win/win for me?

Why don't they just start charging for it? Personally, I'd much rather run software that costs money but is high quality than software that is free but riddled with adware.

I guess this means I will not be upgrading from the last LTS :/

This exists in 12.04

Woops. I should have been clearer, my bad.

I'm still on Lucid Lynx.

It will be interesting to know why Amazon was the choice.

Chrome OS

And the market for an "ad-free OS" begins to take form...

No joke. Steve Jobs is listed on a patent for serving ads at boot time.

There is no limit to how low they will go.

I am OK with this when this will be easily uninstallable, at least they will get some money (and more money can lead to better system).

I wonder how easy it is to convert to Linux Mint.

Linux Mint doesnt offer Kernel Security Updates... good luck with that.

Linux Mint (as far as I'm aware) doesn't directly attack your security with a default package.

How dare they attempt make money in return for the tens of thousands of hours I have spent using their free product.

I don't think people are as concerned with the advertising itself as they are the privacy implications.

Would love to hear Linus opinion on this..

I am actually quite impressed by Amazon's move. Is it going to buy Ubuntu over? Sounds like a win win.

I cant wait to hear Richard Stallman's reaction to this.

Neverthless, what on earth is Canonical thinking?!?!?

"I cant wait to hear Richard Stallman's reaction to this."

The 'feature' we are discussing can be easily removed, I don't see that rms will have too many additional problems with Ubuntu.

Wow. So rather than work on making unity suck less, canonical works on ads. Awesome.

Hmm. I guess I was smart to start using Mint around when 12.04 came out.

Yeah, that was when I switched to Mint. Ubuntu without the drama.

The business model of the future:

Dual revenue. Sell your product. And your users.

What are you talking about? Canonical doesn't sell Ubuntu. That's one of the reasons they've added ads.

All products will in the future have underlying and derivative components. The market for derivatives will soon explode (just like finance). The optimsing business will sell a portfolio of products f(U,D). And price each accordingly. digital technology allows for radically cheaper (and thus more experimentally plentiful) derivative productization. Thus, we will see an explosion of more profitable derivative products. Having zero-charge product or zero-charge derivative variants, will be the edge case.

Advertising is just a more trivial case derivative. But information gathering (pretexted: customer servive) can easily be repacked (consumer intelligence) and set to the highest bidder. Because there is de-minimus incremental complexity to the U product business, entry into the D derivative business makes sense both from a profit and a strategy perspective as costs of digital platform tools decreases (and/or skills, toold, expertise becomes more widespread.)

And thus has the twitterization of Ubuntu begun. Rest in peace.

Don't see any problem, as I have adblock installed.


This isn't in your browser, this is in your entire operating system...

Adblock won't do anything to help you with this one.

From the actual link:


>For example, when you want to search for “dishwashers” on Amazon you can just enter “Dishwashers” in the Dash and a small line of “suggested items” from Amazon will appear.

>The same happens when you search for a local file or app from the Home Lens.

>So yes, you can expect to see self-help guides on compassion when trying to launch Empathy.

>‘More Suggestions’ is a strange turn of phrase; most people don’t tend to expect product suggestions when looking for their e-mail app. But I can cede that it’s a far better name than that used in development: ‘treat yourself’

Showing ads when you search locally seems a tad much and a waste of system resources. Isn't this equivalent to showing shopping ads based on keyword searches in Spotlight and the Windows Start menu?

Edit: Just realized that I sometimes type keywords to find local files matching filenames and content that's personal in nature. Does this mean all those keywords are sent to Amazon and perhaps data mined to show personalized results?

> Edit: Just realized that I sometimes type keywords to find local files matching filenames and content that's personal in nature. Does this mean all those keywords are sent to Amazon and perhaps data mined to show personalized results?

Exactly my concern as well. It honestly seems like an awfully broad spray to have these results on every search – why not just make it a selectable mode instead of populating every time?

> Just realized that I sometimes type keywords to find local files matching filenames and content that's personal in nature. Does this mean all those keywords are sent to Amazon and perhaps data mined to show personalized results?

That would have been fine for me if Amazon din't make it really obvious. Every damn time I search for something while signed in I am sure to receive an email from them the very next day suggesting similar items. It was even wierder when I watched a documentary about sex on xbox's amazon video and the next day I received an email talking about my "interest". So now I have to do all my lookups in incognito mode and will only sign in when I am ready to make the purchase.

I'm pretty sure the implementation of lenses in the Unity dash is conceptually similar to pages in a web browser. You would have to switch to the shopping lens before your keystrokes were pushed to the search provider (Amazon in this case). So perhaps roughly equivalent to adding extra default tabs to your web browser minus the initial load privacy leak.

You can add them to the home dash as well (or whatever their terminology is) which would send your normal search keystrokes, but that hasn't been the default for any other net based queries in the past.

> a tad much and a waste of system resources

Not to mention rather obvious privacy issues.

Gawd. Unity, and now this garbage. Should be interesting to see how Mint does...

Mint user here.

Mint used to set Firefox's default search engine a customized (read: craptastic) version of Google that's designed to rake in the ad revenue. I wouldn't have a problem with it if it wasn't utterly useless and ugly as sin. (It looked like the Google site search for webmasters.)

Now the default search engine is DuckDuckGo. I have no idea if they have a revshare agreement with them.

Customized how? I have never seen a customized Google search results page.

Are you referring to the default home page?

I hear you: it sucked. But no matter how much a default setting might suck, it is still a "setting", as in, it can be changed. Unity got Canonical started down a very slippery slope. I can't imagine they're dog-fooding this crap.

Or use Lubuntu.

Yeah, Lubuntu looks promising. I'm very happy with Mint's Debian edition, but I'll have to set up a box with Lub.

Ubuntu server is still excellent.

Unity has been an epic disaster. Sad.

I love Unity. It's the best Linux desktop I've had. I've used Linux on my desktop since '95, and Unity is the first Linux desktop UI that I feel is as snappy and productive as my Amiga used to be (yes, seriously)...

I felt that way at first, but I'm pretty happy with it now. The 12.04.1 stuff seems solid to me, and now that I'm comfortable with the new interface, I like it fine.

If their goal was to provide something that novices could get comfortable with quickly, I think they did a good job. It fell down for me in making the transition easy for people comfortable with the old UI, but that's clearly an audience they didn't intend to address, so I'm willing to cut them some slack.

It was a little rough at first, but it has smoothed out. I like it.

What the hell... I'll never use Ubuntu again. Or well, at least not for a while, even after it's removed. They call this "free software"?

What about Firefox which has shipped with Google search default since forever, which Google pays Mozilla for, which Google makes money on? Will you never use Firefox again?

Not the same thing. Firefox doesn't send my local searches to Google. What Ubuntu does is a privacy breach.

Hmm, that's a valid point. I just have the idea of Linux distributions as being completely free and non-profit oriented. Also I'm used to the OS having no ads by itself, only on webpages. Guess I overreacted.

You may wanna read up on what free software actually is. The free used by the FSF generally denotes that you have access to the source code and are free to modify and redistribute it.


Ubuntu, Redhat, SuSE just to name three of the big distro's that have been part of commercial operations from the start...

How do pre-installed ads violate any free-software doctrine? One can still access/modify the source code of any part of the operating system (except proprietary drivers). It does not attempt to hinder a users ability to do anything with the computer.

An example of a free-software violation would be the bittorent clients, which have to way to disable obeying the private bit. While one does have access to the source code, and can therefore modify this themselves, the software is designed with the explicit intention to remove the users freedom to dis-obey the private bit.

Adds are annoying, but do not affect any user freedoms.

EDIT: Discussion on ubuntuforums: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2060764

Here is a quote of a quote of the technology director of Canocial:

"Another addition is that we will be including Launcher web apps icons to Amazon and the Ubuntu One Music Store by default. We feel that these icons will provide convenient access to these resources for our users and also benefit the project with the generation of affiliate revenue in those cases that these resources are used. If our users choose to not use these Launcher icons, they can be easily removed by the user by dragging the icon to the trash."

I got that from the linked forum, but haven't searched the mailing lists to validate it.

Do Not Track

Free as in freedom. You're free to remove the ads.

Do you currently? Because I think there are already (12.04) some links to Amazon Instant videos in Unity by default.

You are "free" to remove it if you want to.

This would be a great time for a new Ubuntu derivative to step in and command the future of desktop Linux. Something that brought a fresh DE and friendly applications. (And no ads).

One that even happened to look nice: http://imgur.com/a/AbCwV/

(Not associated with elementary OS but very much enjoying it. It is a bit buggy still).

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