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This is one issue in which RMS is completely right. I don't know why Ubuntu thinks it can cynically sell it's users searches to amazon but I want nothing to do with it. Think of the dangers posed by this to human rights activists who chose linux as the safer OS.

For instance:

1. Consider a journalist who doing an investigative story on amazon's warehouse working conditions. The journalist has been given some internal documents used by amazon and happens to search for one of these documents. Amazon could detect that someone has this file and learn of the investigation.

2. Or someone has pirate a movie and searches for the file on their harddrive. Given certain search strings it should be possible for amazon to detect that this purpose engages in piracy. What is to prevent amazon from reporting this information to "The Authorities".

I hope someone develops an Ubuntu fork that doesn't have spyware (spyfree-ubuntu?).




FWIW, It's better to stick to the facts rather than spreading even more FUD - "sell it's users searches to amazon"

Ubuntu is not "selling" your searches to amazon. Ubuntu will only get paid any money if you click through, and purchase something from Amazon. Ubuntu is sending your searches to Amazon which may or may not be 'right', but they only get paid if you buy stuff.

I'd guess Ubuntu are desperate for revenue and have run out of other ideas.

Also FWIW, the number of people who use these desktop search things seems likely to be tiny. Particularly amongst those who use linux.

Do people here use desktop search on any OS?

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I don't understandd how that can be a legitimate mindset for Canonical.

Ubuntu is on the verge of becoming the major player in the early-stage linux convert market. They have the best supported platform, the largest and most accepting community and userbase, and are beginning to branch out towards more traditional markets like gamers with the soon-to-happen inclusion of Steam.

It would seem a better move politically to make this feature either opt-out or opt-it, and not required.

I've used Ubuntu's dash search when looking for an app that's not readily available. Who keeps things on the desktop nowadays? :)

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>Ubuntu is not "selling" your searches to amazon. Ubuntu will only get paid any money if you click through, and purchase something from Amazon.

They are selling click throughs and it is likely for such a system to work they need to send a search off to amazon (to see if it matches any products). Amazon would be insane if they didn't analyze and watch the searches that are being sent from ubuntu, even if no sale comes of it. Ubuntu makes money off of this process, I sure some of the value to amazon is just the search data.

I use my desktop search on osx near constantly. I used ubuntu's search just last night. I don't have data one way or the other, but it seems at least possible that many people use the search (if they didn't why would ubuntu care).

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Any risk is increased by sloppy implementation. For example, every single keystroke is being sent over HTTP without encryption. (http://www.outflux.net/blog/archives/2012/11/09/product-sear...)

Today, if you want to de-Amazon Ubuntu, it's not just the shopping lens you have to disable, you should also remove Unity web app integration. (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4888234)

If it gets to the point where you have to run a shell script to remove the 'spyware' (for lack of a better word), Ubuntu will have a real marketing problem on its hands.

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Your first point is interesting, but I'm no so sure about the second one:

Given certain search strings it should be possible for amazon to detect that this [person] engages in piracy.

Amazon does not see the search as coming from an individual. Rather, the Ubuntu servers act as an intermediary. All Amazon can see is "some unidentifiable Ubuntu user is searching for this". That's hardly something they could report to any authorities.

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>All Amazon can see is "some unidentifiable Ubuntu user is searching for this". That's hardly something they could report to any authorities.

It's surprisingly easy to take anonymous search data and figure out who it is. You might remember the mess that happened when AOL released anonymized search data (hint:peoples identities were compromised). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AOL_search_data_leak

Consider the simple example of files that are named after the person doing the search.

Anonymization of queries is really really hard and I see no system academic or otherwise that would protect users from being identified.

For instance if someone were to accidentally click on a link to an amazon product and they had an amazon account it would immediately link the person and the query. Someone downloads a movie, searches for it to find it and then accidentally mistakes the amazon link for the pirated movie.

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There are many different distros that use Ubuntu as their core, the most popular one being Linux Mint (Cinnamon), and last I checked it didn't include the Amazon stuff. Two other nice ones are Zorin OS (Windows 7-like) and Elementary OS (Mac OS X-like).

http://linuxmint.com

http://zorin-os.com

http://elementaryos.org

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Isn't this whole issue moot considering that you can disable this feature of Ubuntu by running a one-line command?

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No, it shows poor judgement on the designers. I can and will disable this feature, but I would not have know to disable this feature if there had not be all this noise made about it. What other "features" am I missing?

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