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Fix Ubuntu (fixubuntu.com)
581 points by panarky on Nov 8, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 299 comments



Solution: stop using Ubuntu.

There are lots of other very able distributions out there, many of which not only have better privacy features but also are technologically superior in one way or another.

In no particular order, these are all very capable operating systems for a variety of needs:

* https://fedoraproject.org/

* http://www.centos.org/

* http://www.opensuse.org/

* http://www.mageia.org/

* https://www.archlinux.org/

* http://www.gentoo.org/

* http://www.sabayon.org/

* http://www.debian.org/

* http://www.linuxmint.com/

This list is non exhaustive. They are all free. They all work well in different places. There are others too.

We've all had ample indication that Ubuntu was headed for the pits. It's time to move on.

  -- a proud gentoo dev


Yep! I've moved to using Debian for production machines and gentoo for personal/development machines. I've been quite happy with the move.

SuSE has a big focus on the enterprise level - I didn't realize that until earlier this year when I talked with a SuSE dev. So enterprises have options other than Ubuntu for standardized & supported Linux.



Okay, this will make me sound like fanboyism (I guess it is, but I am an Arch user - with our company running their servers on FreeBSD), but you might also like:

* http://www.slackware.com/

* http://www.freebsd.org/

* http://www.netbsd.org/

* http://www.openbsd.org/

* http://www.dragonflybsd.org/

All of them are used in production, search engines (at least FreeBSD (Google backends and DuckDuckGo) and DragonFly BSD), space crafts (at least NetBSD (ISS)), internet service providers (all of them), resarch agencies (all of them), US government/military (well, I am not sure about DragonFly BSD in this case).


Or use Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu or Ubuntu GNOME. None of these use Unity as their default desktop, whose default behavior is really what this complaint is about.


If Unity is the problem, Ubuntu has the Gnome Shell already in its repo. Its quick and easy.

$ sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

You keep the benefits of the Ubuntu package repo, kernel patches, etc.


Yes. This is true for all the other Ubuntu flavors, too. Either way will get you to the same system, since all the flavors share the same Ubuntu apt archive. Using a flavor directly just gets you your chosen desktop environment by default.


I tried this and run startx.

What i get is only a black screen. Even though i restarted my laptop, still black screen.

How can i return back to Unity?


"benefits"


The problem with other distros is the lack of a design. Ubuntu was the first Linux distro I used that did not look like a donkey's ass (back in 2008~). Even today's Gnome Shell does not look as good as Unity... it also does not scale well for my display's 1600x900 resolution (top bar icons are way too small).

The other distros might work well technically, but imho they don't look as good and they require more tweaking, which is a hassle for me.


That is completely subjective. A lot of people hate Unity, the same way people hate every DE that exists. So much so that some do not even use a DE. Using a DE as an argument for Ubuntu's advantage is weak as they're usually ambiguous. I say usually because it tends to be that Unity, like Mir, isn't really adopted into any other distribution in official repositories. Even more so after Mir's release, since it'll be dependent on it.


Reporting in from the "I hate Unity" department. If I wanted to use something that looks like a mac, I would just get a mac.


Favorite "bonus" feature: annoying semi-transparent blurs you can tweak but not turn off. Gratuitous fades. Choppy animations on an underpowered GFX.


Aesthetic and taste are subjective, effective and coherent visual design is not.


However, the distinction between "aesthetic" and "design" is once again subjective.


> The problem with other distros is the lack of a design.

Not true - plenty of distros ship pretty default themes (ArchBang, Mint, ElementoryOS, etc). And themes are just that - a theme. They can easily be installed on any distro - even ones that look "ugly" out of the box.

> Ubuntu was the first Linux distro I used that did not look like a donkey's ass (back in 2008~).

They key bit there is "I used" - ie there's been plenty but you're unaware of them. Ubuntu wasn't the first to place emphasis on aesthetics (I remember being wowed by Mandrake back in 2002) and it's certainly not the only distro to care about that at the moment. Ubuntu is just the distro that shouts the loudest because Shuttleworth has deep pockets.

> Even today's Gnome Shell does not look as good as Unity.

Subjective. Personally I think Unity is the ugliest of the heavyweight desktop environments. And Unity is certainly the least attractive part of Ubuntu (the colours, icons and font rendering is what makes Ubuntu look good, in my opinion)


I realize you're just responding to the previous commenter but what Ubuntu did before all the other distros was get all the common desktop devices (network/wireless/video/etc.), apps(browsers, multimedia, pdf-readers, office, mailreader, etc.), and tools installed and working with no need for tinkering. It wasn't missing fonts or video codecs. The UI defaults were familiar to windows and mac users. Boot times were fast. Installing new apps was easy and since it was based on debian there were tons of packages available.

Ubuntu was the first one to really nail ALL of those problems. By 2008, others may have mostly caught up, but by then the word was already out that Ubuntu was the distribution of choice for users who just wanted good linux desktop OS but didn't want to spend any up-front time tinkering with it. This also made it the first choice for windows users switching to a linux desktop.

It wasn't just a matter of shouting the loudest. It was word of mouth that did it. Linux users (developers, sysadmins; not necessarily linux desktop power users) were chosing Ubuntu and recommending it to their peers and family.

Where the parent poster gets it wrong is that there wasn't one thing in particular that all the other distros were doing wrong (eg "design"), it's that each one had something thwarting users trying to use it as a desktop OS. Whether it was spotty driver support, strict "free software" mentality, minimal base installs missing key software, or bad default settings, there was something.


I've been using Linux for more than 10 or 15 years and I'm fairly sure Mandrake nailed most -if not all- of those things back in 2003. As did SuSE (things went downhill for SuSE desktops after Novell signed a deal with Microsoft which meant Novell went all purist about removing non-free and patent encumbered libraries from their repositories)

And I certainly wasn't recommending Ubuntu back in 2008. I'm sure some developers and sysadmins may have been, but I wasn't (but then by that point I'd been running Slackware and FreeBSD for a few years, so I definitely wasn't Canonicals target audience).


I've been using Linux for more than 10 or 15 years and I'm fairly sure Mandrake nailed most -if not all- of those things back in 2003.

Please don't expect me to be able to list every single potential fault that might have been relevant. I used several distros during that time and have a decent memory but there's no way I can really prove my point without actually walking you through some typical user experiences and contrasting them with a typical experience on Windows and OS X.

For example: with a randomly selected machine from New Egg: install OS, configure a user, change the screen resolution, connect to the internet, install two non-developer productivity applications (musical score-writing, and audio production, in my case), configure MIDI, download some mp3s and start playing them, use a flash webpage, use a page with a java applet, download some image files, make some simple modifications (crop/resize/etc) and share them via email. Transfer them to a USB stick. Set up a printer and print a travel itenerary. Download + Install a free indie videogame from the web.

Most of that was possible with various distributions in 2003. But how many bumps could a random casual user expect along the way? Maybe I'd have no problems mounting a USB drive but maybe setting up MIDI would be a pain. Maybe there would be no driver issues but after trying to change the screen resolution I'd break the X configs and be unable start the X server on a reboot. Maybe the screen resolution configuration would work but there was no package for an app I wanted and I had to compile from source and manually track down every single dependency after reading the README. All it takes is one or two issues for someone like me to just go back to Windows and actually get stuff done.

I knew a guy who favored slackware. He had a tricked out Pontiac Grand Prix that he'd customized in his own garage and he treated his Linux machine the same way, configuring his own desktop themes various personalized features. Stuff that I just don't care about (and neither do most users).


> For example: with a randomly selected machine from New Egg: install OS, configure a user, change the screen resolution, connect to the internet, install two non-developer productivity applications (musical score-writing, and audio production, in my case), configure MIDI, download some mp3s and start playing them, use a flash webpage, use a page with a java applet, download some image files, make some simple modifications (crop/resize/etc) and share them via email. Transfer them to a USB stick. Set up a printer and print a travel itenerary. Download + Install a free indie videogame from the web.

Linux is still rubbish compared to Windows for music composition and production (speaking as a former music producer) and has only just started to be taken seriously for gaming, so your examples are moot.

> Maybe I'd have no problems mounting a USB drive but maybe setting up MIDI would be a pain.

Setting up MIDI properly in Windows was a pain back then too. And depending on the complexity of your MIDI gear, it's still a pain now - even with devices moving over to USB. So that too is moot.

> Maybe there would be no driver issues but after trying to change the screen resolution I'd break the X configs and be unable start the X server on a reboot.

That would be down to you doing something really dumb there as changing the screen resolutions shouldn't break your X config. In fact even when I used to hack about in Slackware, screen resolutions wouldn't affect Xorg.conf (which is a good thing too given how nasty Xorg.conf was to configure)

> Maybe the screen resolution configuration would work but there was no package for an app I wanted and I had to compile from source and manually track down every single dependency after reading the README. All it takes is one or two issues for someone like me to just go back to Windows and actually get stuff done.

Never had that problem in SuSE nor Mandrake / Mandriva. You absolutely sure you were running stuff through a package manager, as even back then SuSE and Mandrake would support installing stuff via RPM.

Honestly, the more you post, the more I'm convinced the problem was with your choice of distro and you're blindly accusing all desktop distros of making the same mistakes as whatever you were running; which clearly wasn't the case. The very reason I warmed to Mandrake was because it was massively simple to set up an easy to use point-and-click interface.

I wont lie and say Linux was the perfect desktop back then; most desktop apps looked ugly and were buggy. There wasn't much good documentation about and the desktop environments were still looking like something from the 90s. But the only time I ran into problems with the OS was when I got a bit carried away with blindly changing settings I knew I shouldn't be (however no OS -not even Windows- will protect users from breaking thing themselves). Thankfully it never took more than half an hour to figure out how to reverse the setting I'd made (and that was around the time I decided that I'd be better off with Slackware since I liked to tinker)

What changed around the time of Ubuntu was the overall quality of desktop Linux applications; KDE3 had been around for a little bit by then and was looking polished. GNOME had finally started to compete with KDE in terms of user experience. GTK and Qt were finally being taken seriously - what that in itself did loads for improving the look of desktop apps. But add to that the fact that developers were focusing more effort in fixing buggy applications and tidying up their interface. What changed around the time of Ubuntu wasn't Ubuntu, it was the rest of the Linux ecosystem. Canonical was just in the place at the right time (and with deep enough pockets) to promote themselves as the next generation of Linux desktop - when in actual fact it was no more usable (in terms of the quality of the work that Canonical invested verses other distro maintainers) than SuSE nor Mandrake.

> I knew a guy who favored slackware. He had a tricked out Pontiac Grand Prix that he'd customized in his own garage and he treated his Linux machine the same way, configuring his own desktop themes various personalized features. Stuff that I just don't care about (and neither do most users).

If you properly read what I posted, you'd see that I wasn't advocating Slackware for most users. In fact I specifically stated that running Slackware made me different from most users and I made that point because you implied that all developers and sysadmins preferred Ubuntu - which is complete and utter BS (as exampled by me).

My point regarding distros as capable as Ubuntu was regarding Mandrake and SuSE, not Slackware. And the stuff you described could as easily be done in Mandrake (and later, Mandraver) as it could in Ubuntu.

Many people forget about Mandrake, but it really was a competent desktop long before Ubuntu burst onto the scene; and I should know, Mandrake was one of the first Linux distros I ran - and I managed just fine with zero UNIX/POSIX experience and the lack of end-user orientated communities to walk noobs through.

In fact if there's anything Ubuntu should be credited for, it's the support Canonical offered in conjunction with Ubuntu. Their forums and wiki's are a fantastic resource if you're stuck. There's few Linux distros / UNIX-like OS's out there which are better documented. But that doesn't mean that Ubuntu was the first desktop distro that ticked all the "user friendly" boxes (and in my honest opinion, no distro ticks all the boxes you've listed - not even in 2013)


My point about slackware is that it suggests that you are probably a power user who doesn't even notice when he has to solve OS problems that would turn away most other users.

Linux is still rubbish compared to Windows for music composition and production (speaking as a former music producer) and has only just started to be taken seriously for gaming, so your examples are moot.

What WAS it good for? Software development and anything command-line or terminal-based. Anything else? LaTeX perhaps. Gimp. Web browsing. Some Math and Scientific applications. In other words not much.

Honestly, the more you post, the more I'm convinced the problem was with your choice of distro and you're blindly accusing all desktop distros of making the same mistakes as whatever you were running; which clearly wasn't the case.

I used: SuSE, Red Hat (soon to be Fedora), Debian, and Knoppix. At least. Also several non-linux Unixes (Solaris, AIX, System V) but only for work.

No, I never used your favorite, Mandrake. It's possible that was The One True Distro. But still, a single competitor being superior but sadly overlooked doesn't really change the overall point I was making that Ubuntu stood out from the pack in real ways it did not simply "shout the loudest".

What changed around the time of Ubuntu wasn't Ubuntu, it was the rest of the Linux ecosystem.

I agree that it was primarily maturity of the linux ecosystem that allowed Ubuntu to flourish. By 2008 most linux desktop OS's were converging on KDE or GNOME and shared many similarities. But Ubuntu still had polish that many others lacked.


> My point about slackware is that it suggests that you are probably a power user who doesn't even notice when he has to solve OS problems that would turn away most other users.

That was around 2008, again, it's completely irrellevent to my point about SuSE and Mandrake. Plus you're also invalidating your point about sysadmins and developers recommending Ubuntu if "power users" (which are less competent that devs and sysadmins) are considered too technical to have issues with less user friendly distros.

> What WAS it good for? Software development and anything command-line or terminal-based. Anything else? LaTeX perhaps. Gimp. Web browsing. Some Math and Scientific applications. In other words not much.

Regardless of whatever assumptions you want to make about my usage, that's still more than the average user does with their PC. So I don't really get the point you're trying to make.

> I used: SuSE, Red Hat (soon to be Fedora), Debian, and Knoppix. At least. Also several non-linux Unixes (Solaris, AIX, System V) but only for work.

So you didn't try Mandrake yet here you are lecturing me about what Mandrake was like. Nice one.

> No, I never used your favorite, Mandrake.

It's not my favourite - not by a long way. It just the happens to be an example that counters your ridiculous statement that other distros couldn't get user friendliness right before Canonical came along.

> But still, a single competitor being superior but sadly overlooked doesn't really change the overall point I was making that Ubuntu stood out from the pack in real ways it did not simply "shout the loudest".

Well actually it does change that point, because you're claim was that Ubuntu was the first - which I'm claiming it was not. Thus it's absolutely fundamental to your point.

The real question you should be asking is what differentiated Ubuntu from the other user friendly distros that preceded it? Timing and the ecosystem is definitely part of the answer; but an answer that Canonical deserves no credit for. So what did Canonical do differently to the other distros? The answer is simple: they had more money to throw at their baby.

> I agree that it was primarily maturity of the linux ecosystem that allowed Ubuntu to flourish. By 2008 most linux desktop OS's were converging on KDE or GNOME and shared many similarities. But Ubuntu still had polish that many others lacked.

I'm glad you've now said "many" because previously you were claiming Ubuntu was better than all of the others - any that's the point I'm disputing. Ubuntu wasn't the first nor only distro to get the desktop experience nailed. It was just the one with the deepest pockets to shout the loudest. And the fact that you haven't heard of, let alone tried, Mandrake proves my point. But you are right that Ubuntu was better than most - it just wasn't the only distro out there getting things right.


What I mean by "Power User" is someone who tinkers and significantly tweaks and optimizes their own system. Someone who loves having a sweet desktop. Most developers and sysadmins I know don't care that much about a fancy desktop. They optimize the few important apps they rely on to do their job (editors/IDEs/terminals/DVCS/debuggers/vms), they configure dual monitors, and that's it. Maybe email and web browsers as well, but usually the defaults are fine.

It's not a question of capability it's a question of willingness and desire.

> So you didn't try Mandrake yet here you are lecturing me about what Mandrake was like. Nice one.

Based on my knowledge of the linux ecosystem in 2003, I am skeptical of your claims about Mandrake's usability. And of course I've heard of Mandrake. But I haven't tried it, and it's true I wasn't thinking of it when I made my original generalization.


I don't like Canonical's privacy trips, but I do prefer Unity because of it's most refined interface and modern look in comparison to others. Looks clean and consistent on any display. I have dual 1920x1200s.


But Ubuntu looks good (imo) and is comparatively easy. Hope many Apple/Windows users switch to it. Big step in the right direction. Apps 'uncomplicated' software and I think it is very necessary that there is a mainstream Linux distribution which focusses on 'uncomplicated' computing.

'Privacy' be damned. At least as long as one can configure settings as easy as is the case here. (Privacy quoted as I cannot see the problem here, compared to e.g. google or facebook which are able to build up a whole profile of you (and me)).

(would love to try out gentoo once, but time...)


Plenty of other distros are easy and look good too. Gentoo isn't one of them, but a few others on that list are pretty okay...


I know, but Gentoo is by far the most interesting. - The others feel like a downgrade/hassle from Ubuntu (I love unity, 'pretty okay' is not good enough). Tried Debian (which we use for servers) but had problems with my labtop, Suse I used before Debian, Fedora/CentOS ok but has the 'wrong packet manager', Mint, mmh, another fork). Maybe Ubuntu does some compromises but I don't see pits.


If you've got the time, Gentoo is very rewarding indeed.


I used to use Gentoo, but I figured Arch follows the build-your-own philosophy and has the added benefit of not having to wait for everything to build all the time.

I like both distros, but would you say there's any significant reason to switch back? Noticeable speed/stability difference?

Gentoo did fork udev, but I'm honestly fine with systemd for my desktop.


I like USE flags and disabling at compile time code I don't want. Keeps dependencies way down. Fewer packages, leaner system. I don't mind compiling. Hell, on my Ivy Bridge, compiling/emerging most packages is faster than apt-get in Ubuntu!


Yeah, it's quite sad to me, I thought I would never move on from Ubuntu, it was really great until Unity and all this other crap they started piling on it. And now with the corporate fear-mongering over their trademark, that's the last straw for me, I'm going to try moving upstream to Debian and recommend companies I work to do the same.


Same here; I was a huge fanboy of Ubuntu for years, but Canonical seems hellbent on introducing change for change's sake. At first, it was mildly annoying but easily corrected: the nonsensical decision to move window maximize/minimize/close buttons from right to left is an example. But Unity was a bitter (and buggy) pill to swallow.

I've moved on to Linux Mint and Crunchbang. Can't say I miss Ubuntu at this point. If they decide to pull their heads out and pay more attention to the wider community, I may eventually use a distro again. I wish them well, but I don't feel that their priorities intersect with my interests.


>the nonsensical decision to move window maximize/minimize/close buttons from right to left is an example

Haha, fwiw I actually love that move. I work on a laptop 99% of the time and just maximize all my windows and alt-tab among them.

Moving the window buttons as they did saved an entire toolbar worth of vertical space and enabled them to create a highly responsive top left menu area:

Normal use: Window Title & Description

Holding Alt or Mousing Over: Switches to window buttons and menus

Saves space, works seamlessly. Of course, I keybind literally everything to Vim binds so I almost never use the mouse, which I think is where a lot of hate is coming from - right-handed mouse users feeling like they have to move the mouse further now to hit the window controls.


Yeah, I switched to Debian a while back and it was surprisingly frictionless.


I used to be an elitist and dump sh*t in Ubuntu, but lately I've been running it on my Desktop.

I mean, it works, it's pretty, it's used... plus there's something in Unity which I like, it just gets out of the way (most of the time).

Of those distros you've posted there, I'd consider OpenSUSE, Mageia and Debian. OpenSUSE and Mageia are KDE-Centric and I'm not a big fan of it, and Debian is OK although had problems with it in the past.

I'd stay with Funtoo if I could, but honestly I don't have the time anymore.


Linux Mint? Isn't that essentially the same thing as Ubuntu or am I missing something? That is, is it the lens search that is the problem or are there other privacy concerns about Ubuntu?


Mint is based off of Ubuntu, but also has a version based off of Debian, as zx2c4 has pointed out. The biggest difference is that Mint uses the Cinnamon desktop environment, as opposed to Unity, which was forked from Gnome 2. Also, they use Nemo, which was forked from Nautilus, which has more functionality and features as opposed to Nautilus.


I thought MATE was the Gnome 2 fork, and Cinnamon was based on GTK3?

Disclaimer: don't use either, I use CentOS on the serious work machine and Debian (non-free) on the playpad.


You are correct: MATE is the GNOME 2 fork that uses GTK2. Cinnamon is a modified version of GNOME3 that uses GTK3 and provides extensions to the GNOME3 desktop so that the default desktop looks and feels like a default GNOME2 desktop.

Linux Mint uses Cinnamon.


Linux Mint also uses Mate.

http://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=2366

Cinnamon is listed first, but Mate is much more of an equal player here than something like xubuntu is compared to ubuntu.


I think they've got an edition based on Debian.


You are correct, sir/madam/whomever....

http://www.linuxmint.com/download_lmde.php


It's only the Unity lens, that's why you see people here recommending Ubuntu derivatives like Kubuntu and Xubuntu.


Problem is that none of those distributions, except for the bloated mess that is Linux Mint, has adequate support for PPA's. Hence, I'm sticking with Lubuntu.


Most of those distributions have mechanisms comparable to PPAs for similar functionality.


No thanks, I am fine.


I (still) don't think online searches are a privacy violation.

1) It's a search box. Stuff not typed in the search box never leaves the machine (unless you count things that do by design, such as web browsers and email, obviously).

2) It's plainly obvious the first time you use it that results are coming back from the Internet. No real user is going to be misled into believing that searches are local. This makes it no more a privacy violation than the default Google search box in Firefox.

2b) There is a prominent notice saying so. If you don't think it's prominent enough, see point 2.

3) It's a search box that didn't exist previously. Canonical invented it. I think it's reasonable for Canonical to create a "search the universe" mechanism on the desktop. Fair enough if you don't like it, or don't want to use it. It's trivial to turn it off (there's even a global Privacy Settings dialog) or to use other searches. But that doesn't suddenly make it a privacy violation; nor the results of your search "ads".

Edit: I should have expected the downvotes. I notice, though, that the downvoters are unable to actually respond to my argument.


I'll respond, though I'm sure the reason nobody's responded is they're as tired of this conversation as I am.

1) Yet. When boiling frogs it's best to turn the heat up slowly. Canonical isn't providing a service for free here, they make money mining your searches and sending them to 3rd parties like Amazon. Compare this with its parent distribution's Social Contract. [0] Especially the phrase "We will be guided by the needs of our users and the free software community. We will place their interests first in our priorities." Note the lack of a profit motive as compared to Canonical's continuous search for monetization schemes.

2) Real users may not realize they have a choice, or that sending searches to 3rd parties is NOT normal in the GNU/Linux world. Ubuntu has intentionally made itself a "My First Linux" distro so many of its users are new to the idea of software freedom and are in need of guidance.

2b) EULA's are no excuse. Did you know that using Adobe Flash prevents you from working on GNU Gnash? It was in the EULA you agreed to. [1] Everything's confusing during your first *nix experience, the average person probably has a mental list of a dozen things that don't make sense, that's a questionable time to get people to sign off on privacy compromises.

3) Blurring the lines between local and global is interesting. Blurring the lines between Open Source and spyware is not. [2]

[0] - http://www.debian.org/social_contract [1] - http://www.gnashdev.org/?q=node/25#eula [2] - http://www.fsf.org/blogs/rms/ubuntu-spyware-what-to-do


I said that there is no privacy violation. None of your arguments demonstrate otherwise.

> 1) [profit motive]

The Mozilla Foundation's main source of income is making money through Google searches. If you accept Mozilla in the GNU/Linux world, then you accept this motive on your own terms.

> 2) Real users may not realize they have a choice, or that sending searches to 3rd parties is NOT normal in the GNU/Linux world.

This is a philosophical argument about foisting your own beliefs onto new Ubuntu users. Ubuntu has always been the pragmatic distribution. It gained popularity by making non-free codecs and proprietary drivers easily available. This pragmatism has not changed.

And this still doesn't have anything to do with a claimed privacy violation.

> 2b) EULA's are no excuse.

Which is why I had my point 2: that it is plainly obvious that the search is a global search, and that the query was sent out to the Internet. You don't need to read any notice to see this.

> [spyware]

You have not shown that there is any spyware present. That would require some kind of privacy violation.


There is a big difference between typing "calendar" in Firefox's search box and typing it in the local desktop's search bar. You seem to imply that they're equivalent.

If Apple felt the need to monetize me every time I typed "Terminal" into Spotlight I'd switch platforms fast.


I don't like that the default is to search online as well as locally. But calling it spyware is hyperbole - the interface makes it quite obvious that it's doing a combined online+local search. I'd rather stick to more factual criticisms.


Since we're keeping it factual I accused them of blurring the lines between open source and spyware. I linked to Richard Stallman directly calling it spyware on the Free Software Foundation website.

I think collecting, mining and sharing information about your user-base for money is deeply troubling. We may not have a good word to describe this type of activity but spyware at least gets us in the right neighborhood.


2b) which part of the Adobe Flash EULA prevents you from working on GNU Gnash?


From what I can tell (and I really don't know) it's rooted in Section 4.5:

4.5 No Modification or Reverse Engineering. You shall not modify, adapt, translate or create derivative works based upon the Software. You shall not reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble, or otherwise attempt to discover the source code of the Software.

Exactly why they're afraid this would be binding I don't know, IP law is beyond me.

- http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/eula/flashplayer10.html


>Canonical isn't providing a service for free here

Canonical is providing the operating system for free.


It's a search box that many people will use exclusively to search for _local_ content.

Why should Amazon know what programs and files I'm using?


> It's a search box that many people will use exclusively to search for _local_ content.

That still doesn't make it a privacy violation, since you know where your searches are going (as does any other user, since it's obvious based on the results).

> Why should Amazon know what programs and files I'm using?

It makes the normal user's life more convenient since he doesn't need to figure out which box to type something in. You think that's ridiculous? Users are well known for typing web addresses into any box available. They cannot tell the difference. Having a single box for everything makes for a better experience,.

Amazon doesn't know what programs and files you're using, since Canonical anonymizes it. If you don't like it, or you don't trust Canonical, and you still want to use the "search everything" search box, then adjust the settings to do what you want.


I don't think its a privacy violation, and Canonical has been open about their actions, but I think it's a crummy setup.

On my mac, both spotlight and alfred (the 3rd-party application launcher I use) are capable of searching both my computer and the web, and neither send my file searches to the internet.


crummy setup... oh come on, on your mac spotlight is a bloody binary program and you have no way to check the sources. And you critizice the default configuration of an open source program?


Don't need to see the source, just need to watch the network traffic. The source wouldn't be any additional help anyway, unless you compile it yourself again with a known good compiler on a known good system fresh from read only media.


>Users are well known for typing web addresses into any box available.

OTOH, such users might not be aware that their Amazon searches are collected and data-mined.


> It's a search box that many people will use exclusively to search for _local_ content.

You're using the wrong search box if you want to search exclusively for local content. Try hitting Super-A, Super-F or clicking on the applications or files tabs to search locally.


1) It's a search box. Stuff not typed in the search box never leaves the machine (unless you count things that do by design, such as web browsers and email, obviously).

The Unity Dash search box is placed where every user would normally expect a local-only search to happen. There is no reason whatsoever for me to expect the Unity Dash search to return results from the Internet, just like I wouldn't expect the search box in Windows 7 Start Menu to do so.

This kind of behavior that plays with users' expectations is common in UI dark patterns.

2) It's plainly obvious the first time you use it that results are coming back from the Internet. No real user is going to be misled into believing that searches are local. This makes it no more a privacy violation than the default Google search box in Firefox.

Your example with Firefox is misleading, because Firefox is a browser, which automatically creates different expectation of privacy: it is quite normal for a search box in a Web browser to search the Web.

Also, note that you're essentially saying that there is no privacy violation past the first time it happens. This is more or less the equivalent of saying that once you've fallen for an advance fee fraud the first time, it's not a scam anymore.

2b) There is a prominent notice saying so. If you don't think it's prominent enough, see point 2.

I disagree that it's prominent enough. So do many other users and you know it, otherwise you wouldn't have bothered to write that second sentence.

3) It's a search box that didn't exist previously. Canonical invented it. I think it's reasonable for Canonical to create a "search the universe" mechanism on the desktop. Fair enough if you don't like it, or don't want to use it. It's trivial to turn it off (there's even a global Privacy Settings dialog) or to use other searches. But that doesn't suddenly make it a privacy violation; nor the results of your search "ads".

None of the dark patterns or privacy violations seen elsewhere existed before they were invented. The fact that they didn't exist before has nothing to do with the intentions behind them or the effects they have. It might be new, you might like it and it might be trivial to turn off, but none of that makes it any less of a privacy violation.

In short, you're using misleading and circular arguments: there's no privacy violation because Canonical changed the behavior of the search box and you should learn to expect it. No wonder you state that the downvoters are "unable" to respond.


>There is no reason whatsoever for me to expect the Unity Dash search to return results from the Internet, just like I wouldn't expect the search box in Windows 7 Start Menu to do so.

This is the default behavior in W8.1, however.


> This is the default behavior in W8.1, however.

The OS that we all love ^_^ .

Seriously though: from my perspective search results from the internet aren't the problem. Advertisements are.

Linux Mint with it's forced custom search in combination with Ubuntu Unity have the potential to turn the populatiion of 'casual' Linux converts back into Windows users. The question of how a free OS can be free is answered: they show you advertisements, and they put your personal data at risk.


To your search box point, the search box is to move Ubuntu to the mobile and to the online market just like Android, Apple and even FxOS have a search box directly to either Google search or app search (FxOS does app search of course).

The point is they try to move away from "browser search" to "Oh I need something quickly and I just need to press ctrl/command-F search this". If they do have a button to disable the feature (and assuming they do this properly) there is no violation of privacy. Of course I am sure I would be much happier to opt-out during installation process. That's a topic you have to raise to ubuntu dev. With enough people say fu they will introduce this opt-out.


The Unity Dash search box is placed where every user would normally expect a local-only search to happen. There is no reason whatsoever for me to expect the Unity Dash search to return results from the Internet, just like I wouldn't expect the search box in Windows 7 Start Menu to do so. This kind of behavior that plays with users' expectations is common in UI dark patterns.

I think you are wrong about this.

The distinction between local & remote search isn't something that is apparent to many users. Additionally, it isn't at all clear that there should be a distinction.

Your example with Firefox is misleading, because Firefox is a browser, which automatically creates different expectation of privacy: it is quite normal for a search box in a Web browser to search the Web.

Many users don't understand the distinction between "applications" and "data" at all, let alone the difference between applications. They just want to find something!


> 1) It's a search box. Stuff not typed in the search box never leaves the machine (unless you count things that do by design, such as web browsers and email, obviously).

Imagine the scenario where you >search< in a >box< (term) with `grep -inr "pattern" /random/path` and you get results like:

  ./random/path/file pattern
  ./random/path/file2 pattern
  hxxp://www.amazon.com/product-with-pattern-name
Nice, right? You performed a search. Why not go public? Hell, why not go over plain text?

Take it even further. Visit amazon or c@n0nical's site and be welcomed with your hostname. Great, eh? And while you're at it, send all patterns to NSA as well, because, ummm, it's a "search box".

Do you still think that this is not a privacy violation?

C@n0nical has become a pimp.

Seems that many people erased POSIX and privacy from their dictionary.


> 1) It's a search box. Stuff not typed in the search box never leaves the machine

Is this even an argument? If the box isn't used (crippling the user interface) there is nothing to discuss. You may also argue that if the pc is powered off there aren't privacy problems.

> 2) It's plainly obvious the first time you use it that results are coming back from the Internet.

So discovering that you lost your privacy after the fact is the correct way to be informed?

> 2b) There is a prominent notice saying so. If you don't think it's prominent enough, see point 2.

I think it's not prominent enough, see the answer to the point 2

> 3) It's a search box that didn't exist previously. Canonical invented it. I think it's reasonable for Canonical to create a "search the universe" mechanism on the desktop. Fair enough if you don't like it, or don't want to use it. It's trivial to turn it off (there's even a global Privacy Settings dialog) or to use other searches

Let's break it down

> It's a search box that didn't exist previously. Canonical invented it.

How can this give rights over the users' privacy is beyond me

> I think it's reasonable for Canonical to create a "search the universe" mechanism on the desktop.

Sure, as long the users know beforehand that they are "searching the universe"

> It's trivial to turn it off

Would you like a bath that by default stream what you do over internet? But ehi, "it's trivial to turn it off", so what's the problem? It should be _obviously_ an opt-in

> Edit: I should have expected the downvotes. I notice, though, that the downvoters are unable to actually respond to my argument.

The downvoters are able to respond. Are you unable to read?


Do you have a problem with Google search? Google search as the default page in Mozilla Firefox? The omnibox in Chrome? Search is just a bit more deeply integrated with Ubuntu. The vast majority of users will find it more convenient than they will find it to be an "invasion of privacy". The ones concerned about it will turn it off or boycott Ubuntu.


I have a problem with the omnibox in Chrome, the others are fine. In fact I expect to send my searches to another service when I use Google search and the default page in Mozilla Firefox. I wouldn't expect that every single thing I type in the url bar is sent to Google (omnibox case) and non technical people don't expect it either.

The expectation of privacy is the problem here. I don't find omnibox or the unity bar bad per se, I find it a privacy issue if the users don't clearly understand what is going to happen with what they write.


Does it ask users explicitly before sending desktop search results out from the computer? If not it is privacy invading, it should be opt in. A prominent notice or being obvious it is happening isn't enough especially if there aren't equally prominent options to turn it off.

Clear positive opt in - Good

Opt out (even if fairly easy) - clear privacy violation (bad)

The snide comment in your edit earned you a downvote from me.


Ubuntu provides by default an on/off slider in its privacy settings for disabling the display of online search results in the dash[1], BUT I'm not sure if changing that slider to 'off' will also disable the sharing of searches with Canonical's servers. (The language used by the settings app is ambiguous: "When searching on the dash, include online search results - ON/OFF.")

Moreover, I don't particularly feel like spending time & effort examining Unity Dash source code to figure out if and how my information might be shared with Canonical and/or other third parties. Canonical should make an unambiguous promise not to transmit any data to anyone, right there on the privacy settings screen, whenever that slider is set to the 'off' position. I would trust such an unambiguous promise.

So thank you for submitting this website here -- I've bookmarked it for when I upgrade my desktops from 12.04 LTS to 14.04 LTS next year.

--

[1] http://b2b.cbsimg.net/blogs/screenshot-from-2013-03-24-09342...

--

Edit: Added second paragraph.


It's open source. Since it sounds like you won't trust Canonical's claim on this anyway, why don't you take a look, or ask somebody who can, instead of creating fear about it?

If it turns out that searches leak out despite the setting, I'm sure you'll hit the front page of HN. Since this hasn't happened, and Canonical have been under considerable scrutiny about it, I think it's safe to say that your conspiracy theory doesn't hold up.


If the searches leak out despite the settings, I would like to know about it so I can promptly issue a security update.


Shouldn't you explicitly ask the user's permission before letting the searches leak out?


When someone uses a box marked "search online sources", they probably don't need to be asked "Are you sure you want to search online sources?"


The default is to leak information. There's no opt-out in the installer.


Why not just use a non-Unity desktop? At this point all 3 major spins of Ubuntu are highly stable and functional.


The other versions within the Ubuntu family also connect to Canonical servers.

I see connections to "...golem.canonical.com" in Etherape when using Lubuntu 13.10.


This reminds me of "whoopsie" when I first came across it after upgrading my servers to 12.04. Its a program that resides in the ram, automatically homes in the crash reports and would have to be explicitly disabled. At first I din't mind, but after watching it eat through my ram I had it disabled. As far as privacy goes, who knows what those sent in memory dumps might have.


whoopsie doesn't send anything without your permission.


Yes it does, how is it going to ask for my permission in a server environment? It automatically sets "report_crashes=true" under (/etc/default/whoopsie) when Ubuntu is first installed.

Here are some resources with more people reporting the same:

[1] http://blog.retep.org/2012/07/05/whoopsie-how-to-disable-it-...

[2] http://glog.procrasstination.com/index.php?/archives/47-Ubun...

[3] http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2000108


It's vestigal on a server. It's there because the server installation and the desktop installation share that component. But since there's no UI for you to approve transmission, currently the crash reports sit on the server awaiting (local) examination and do nothing.

All the resources you pointed appear to be people who have found a setting and do not understand that it does not do anything.

Like my posts elsewhere on this thread, it's open source. Take a look for yourself, or ask someone who can.


>It's vestigal on a server.

Do you have any source for that? If it is vestigial, why would it need to suck up so much ram? Unless I explicitly activate it, what is point of draining the power and filling up the ram by default. Not everyone does and know how to inspect the crash dump, they are mostly useful to the OS manufacturer and the developer of the crashing application.

> currently the crash reports sit on the server awaiting (local) examination and do nothing.

So Ubuntu (Canonical) doesn't collect any crash data from servers but only from desktops despite having the technology built-in and activated? Highly unlikely.


> Do you have any source for that?

Yes. "apt-get source whoopsie". What other source would you prefer? Canonical, who it seems that you don't trust and won't believe anyway?

> So Ubuntu (Canonical) doesn't collect any crash data from servers but only from desktops despite having the technology built-in and activated?

Correct, because the server end is not implemented. A summary of the gathered data is at https://errors.ubuntu.com/. You may see "server" packages there, but if this is true then this is only because you can install these packages on the desktop, too, and desktop users can agree to send crash reports for crashes on server packages. But the numbers on this site speak for themselves. Clearly server crash reports are not being reported there.


> It's vestigal on a server. It's there because the server installation and the desktop installation share that component. But since there's no UI for you to approve transmission, currently the crash reports sit on the server awaiting (local) examination and do nothing.

Aside eating up 8GB of RAM on one file server I'd built. I couldn't believe it when I saw that.

Wooopsie is just one of many reasons why I always recommend vanilla Debian over Ubuntu Server.


Ca you fix it, please?


Yes, it's supposed to disable it completely.


supposed to

What's with the ambiguity? Does it disable it or not?

I feel silly for asking, but the question was about ambiguous language, so the reply was ironic.


Sorry, didn't mean to be ambiguous.

It's what it was designed for. If there is a bug that is preventing it from working properly, I would like to know about it so I can make sure it gets fixed.


I have to agree with another commenter ... It's not NSA level ambiguity ... It is open source, go check it if you don't believe it! :)


"I've bookmarked it for when I upgrade my desktops from 12.04 LTS to 14.04 LTS next year"

Shuttleworth changes his strategy more often than his underpants but I recollect that there was a 'business edition' of 12.04 that cut out all the Web 2.0 integration stuff. Might be worth checking if a similar edition was made for 14.04.

This is all I can find now, no ISOs for 12.04 any more

http://www.ubuntu.com/content/introducing-ubuntu-business-de...


My personal fix Ubuntu:

Be careful, this is pretty rude and may break stuff - it is also not complete but some dependencies are too entangled. Only geoclue and indicator-datetime still annoy me. The idea to poll the internet regulary to check for the timezone of the machine is beyond me.

   apt-get purge ubuntuone* # I don't use it
   apt-get purge unity-lens-music unity-lens-video unity-lens-photos # I don't need the integration
   apt-get purge friends* # I don't use this either
   apt-get purge telepathy-logger telepathy-indicator telepathy-salut # pidgin is enough for me
   apt-get purge unity-scope-musicstores unity-scope-openclipart # No need for that in Unity
   apt-get purge oneconf # I don't want to sync my settings
   apt-get purge empathy # pidgin works fine 
   apt-get purge software-center* # synaptic is enough 
   apt-get purge evolution-data-server evolution-data-server-goa evolution-calendar-factory # thunderbird and lightning for me
   apt-get purge unity-scopes-runner unity-webapps-common xul-ext-unity xul-ext-websites-integration # my browser is enough - no integration for me

   apt-get --purge autoremove
   apt-get install pidgin synaptic 
Shrinks RSS from 622MB to ~400MB on my system.


    apt-get purge friends
:(


It's used for social media accounts. I don't really use social media and and I don't use the dash in a way that I expect social media. I still have friends through ;)


here's mine - http://www.lambdacurry.com/super-fast-lean-ubuntu-setup/

It removes Unity and switches to gnome-shell, removes nautilus and other stuff and replaces it with nemo, geany, etc.

I do have some additional tweaks to improve wifi, etc. but the base install brings my RSS with firefox (I consider that a minimum) to about 500 mb on 12.04


I'm actually quite happy with Ubuntu and Unity. There are some annoying bugs and I've switched to KDE recently but Unity is overall fine in my opinion. I'd always take Unity over Gnome. But well let's not start this discussion. To each his own.. I just don't like all the Canonical addons I don't use. So I remove them.

Regarding swap compression:

I'm happy with zcache¹. zramswap is out of date and buggy for me (I'm not exactly sure here). There is also zswap². I'm running Linux 3.11

To enable zcache edit /etc/default/grub and add zcache to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT

To enable zswap add zswap.enable=1

Both can't be running at the same time.

1: http://lwn.net/Articles/397574/

2: http://lwn.net/Articles/528817/


thanks for this! Just removed zram-config and updated guide.


Why even use Ubuntu at this point? Why not Debian? Or even something totally different?


Why switch to Debian? It's not like his customization does transform it into a radically different distro. For one thing, he keeps the Ubuntu repos (which I personally find better on a Desktop).


Good question - and I have no answer. Im just too used to ubuntu and all the default repositories, etc.

However, I primarily intended this setup for someone like me - who sets up a default ubuntu install and then finds himself slowed down. So these steps are intended to be run safely from a fully working ubuntu install.


I'm an emacs person myself, but when I teach Python I have students install Geany. I love it for working with beginners.

I'm curious, what do you use Geany for?


I'm using geany as the default text editor instead of gedit - I am really loving it and it is much lighter. gedit pulls in a whole bunch of background processes that I wanted to eliminate.


Geany is a great IDE, but for Python, I've learned to love Ninja IDE:

ninja-ide.org


VIM


What's wrong with Nautilus? I'm just curious.


GNOME (the devs, not the libraries or shell) is what's wrong with nautilus. They kept removing useful features. That was the very reason why Nemo was forked in the first place.


Right, nautilus was never big on features, but it had the basics. Now it has less than the file manager in Windows 3.1. Yet it still uses plenty of ram.


I'm giving Nemo a try. It's nice to be able to open files as root. And it seems a bit lighter than Nautilus.


Are you aware that your page there just seems to spew the raw HTML source to a page it looks like it should be embedding from Github?


Ummm.. no. Let me check that.

EDIT - just checked on my phone and it seemed ok. Could you detail what you are seeing and what browser.

Thanks!


Firefox 25 and its probably due to a lack of javascript (sorry if this wastes your time) because what I see is this in Firebug:

    <p>This setup should take less than 400 mb RAM on startup.</p>
    <script>
        ...
    </script>
    <div style="margin-bottom:1em;padding:0;">
        <noscript>
            <code>
                <pre style="overflow:auto;margin:0;padding:0;border:1px solid #DDD;"><!DOCTYPE html>...


yeah, I didn't plan on nojs. might have to look for a better github plugin!


Just use Debian.


If you are using 12.04, you can easily switch to a completely free Trisquel 6, which is based on 12.04 and compatible with PPAs and other software designed for Ubuntu.

http://trisquel.info/en/wiki/migrate-ubuntu-trisquel-without...


This is great! It's nice to know there's others out there ripping out unknown unity shit too! Do you have any idea what the following do and if they can be removed easily also ? goa-daemon, zeitgeist, mission-control, bamfdaemon


bamfdaemon is quite important I think. It is responsible to coordinate windows and unity icons with .desktop files.

zeitgeist takes care of your used documents and applications?. I tried to get rid of it but the dependencies here are quite entangled and it's useful to have often used applications and documents at hand in Unity.

goa is GNOME online accounts. The dubious idea to connect your online account with your desktop. Some like it. Not sure how to get rid of it.

mission-control is probably part of the telepathy framework. The idea behind telepathy is probably pretty nice. However there is no OTR for telepathy and I'm happy using pidgin. It's probably safe to remove along the rest of telepathy if you don't need it.

It's a shame that modern desktop Linux has no decent manpages for most of this stuff. If you want to learn something about your system install apt-file and use apt-cache or Google to learn about all the stuff that is running.


"It's a shame that modern desktop Linux has no decent manpages for most of this stuff."

I completely agree and double so for things that destroy a running system because of lack of documentation. In some ways Unity has really jumped the shark on the good aspects that ubuntu was bringing. I wonder if anyone from the debian project has considered rolling their own Unity version with all the crapola ripped out. Now that's a DE I would start using in a heartbeat.


I have found that most of the complaints about Gnome-Shell being bloated comes from installing it on top of a desktop running Unity - which has a whole bunch of stuff running in the background.

Removing Unity and installing Gnome (which is far more configurable because of http://extensions.gnome.org) has turned out to be really lean for me.


My personal one:

   # dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=4M
Then I go and find another distribution that doesn't treat its users like cattle. Ubuntu, after shuttleworth being an asshat to the community and the whole amazon and NIH Mir and upstart crap, is now the Ryanair of Linux distributions.

incidentally, don't type the above.


    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    !!! ALERT !!!

    Do not type or paste the above, unless you wish to 
    destroy your partition!

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Thanks for making it even more obvious :)


All Linux distros should be free charities and their developers should eat catfood and ramen.


Bzzt, logical fallacy - "either work for free, or snoop around in user's data for monetizable content." Hint: there's a very, very wide spectrum between these extremes.


Bzzt, middlebrow dismissal. How about you make a concrete proposal on how you think Canonical's business model should be constructed, instead of "computer says no"?


Bzzt, capitalism fallacy. I fondly remember Ubuntu being a charity of Mark Shuttleworth. Not everything needs a business model.

The mindset of the time is reflected in an announcement [1] of the /Ubuntu Foundation/:

""" "It's important for us to distinguish the philanthropic and non-commercial work that is at the heart of the Ubuntu project, from the commercial support and certification programs that are the focus of Canonical Ltd." said Mark Shuttleworth"""

These new pushes to monetize the home user is what is really annoying.

[1] https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-announce/2005-July/...


Honestly, the world doesn't owe Canonical a business model. They don't get to do whatever they like and not suffer criticism.


I like Ubuntu and want them to keep surviving, so they get to pick a business model. If you don't like it, don't use their product.


I don't, and I also reserve the right to say that I don't like this aspect of their business model.


And you feel proud to use a well polished system that Canonical prepared for you without paying? Motto: I have my OS, it's free & I owe nothing, Canonical can look for themself?

The alternative (well polished, reasonably easy/user friendly) is apple and windows. No more free.

I think much criticism is shallow.


Nope, I don't use Ubuntu.


So you're not concerned about Ubuntu. Why don't you then let Ubuntu try _their_ thing and be happy with the Linux ecosystem which provides so much choice? Why the strong critisizing?

It was an apt-get remove --purge .. to remove the things I didn't like. The things I like I can download from everywhere, much much more difficult with Mac/Windows (how would I e.g. get XCode other than through iTunes?)


> Bzzt, middlebrow dismissal. How about you make a concrete proposal on how you think Canonical's business model should be constructed, instead of "computer says no"?

They should offer a ad-free system, which you pay $10 for, or a free version, supported by ads.


Yes; why not learn from sites / apps here; you get ads/data sales, it shows that you do after installation. For $10/year you don't get either. Most people don't care about $10/year. Look at mobile; people install for $100s/year of apps/games they use/play once. Who cares about $10/year for a good looking, well supported desktop? Otherwise, us another distro. I just like Ubuntu on the client and Debian on the server.


Paid professional phone support.


While I see why people are unhappy with the sale of their data and ads, I have to agree with you on this. While obviously I don't enjoy having my information collected and sold without me really knowing by default, they do need to get money somehow.

I feel like we're in a weird transitional period where the "free internet" in which all major apps and services we used were VC funded and growing, completely free with no ads and nothing you have to pay for, and are suddenly starting to realize that they have to make money. So they start selling data, serving tons of ads, etc and then people get angry that their data is stolen, they are being showed ads, posts from people they don't follow are getting injected into their streams, etc.

There's nothing to be angry about here, it's just this now gigantic company putting in work on something you love and use all the time trying to get the funds to continue working on it.

I understand that a lot of people just won't pay for things no matter what, and you know what, that's fine - they can use the versions that are packed full of ads and sell your data. But what I would really love to see is when you use a service for them to give you an option between the two. You can either use this for free and we'll sell your data and show you ads, or you can pay us and we won't do any of the above. At least that way it's clear, and if you choose to use it for free then you are conscious that they are making money off you somehow.

I think the closest model I've seen to this honestly is in the app store - a lot of apps release 2 versions, a free and a paid version. The free version is somewhat limited and has ads all over the place, and the paid one has none of the aforementioned flaws.

We are just so accustomed to not paying for anything, and I feel like when reality comes crushing down that oh wait, now that the VC funds have dried up and the company needs to actually be profitable, the money has to come from somewhere.

tl;dr pay for the things you use, because they are worth it. and if not, stop using them.


Somehow, every other publicly available Linux distro doesn't need to include spyware in order to do their job.


And is every other publicly available Linux distro working on the same scale and trying to accomplish the same goals Ubuntu is trying to?

Also, is it just me or do most HN users now do not know what spyware means? Openly conducting a search that is clearly sending that data over the internet is not a covert way of collecting data, quite the opposite it's very much in your face.


Alot are community projects produced by people in their spare time, and a few (openSUSE/SLES/SLED, Fedora/RHEL) are backed by large commercial entities who make money selling services and support. Canonical is the only one giving away their commercial distro for free... (openSUSE and Fedora are slightly different from their SuSE and Red Hat cousins)

Personally I'm partial to openSUSE, but I certainly don't fault Canonical for the way they choose to do business.


Hey man, reinventing the wheel is a surprisingly expensive proposition!


> what I would really love to see is when you use a service for them to give you an option between the two

It's an interesting theory, but with something like a Linux distribution I don't see it working too well. Of course you will have a small percentage of fans who will be happy to pay, but everyone else will just use the free version. Of those who want the paid features, they will just find command strings like this to toggle the ENABLE_PAID flag (remember Linux users are usually quite savvy). Unless the paid features are closed source...


That's a good point. But at the same time, people have figured out ways to disable the way they try to monetize off free users, and on top of that the sentiment is that this is a good thing. "Hey ubuntu ius evil and selling our shit! Protect yourself!" is the general sentiment I'm getting from this thread. I feel like if it was a "here's how to avoid paying ubuntu, just disable the PAY_US_FOR_OUR_HARD_WORK flag it is all free", it would be somewhat of a different sentiment.

There's no way to make software un-stealable really, the best you can do is offer an easy, inexpensive, and convenient way to pay for it and make stealing it difficult and make you feel guilty for it. I feel like spotify/rdio took over music piracy in this fashion.


No - I'm actually willing to pay for a good fast, stable linux with multimonitor support (that doesnt suck), has excellent suspend/hibernate/resume behavior and has very good compatibility with multimedia (TV HDMI, etc.)

I'm in India - and I cannot afford a Mac (and maybe dont want to). Build this system on top of SteamOS or Android or something (for hardware compatibility) and you will get my money.


Exactly. I live in Indonesia, and the price of Apple product here is ridiculously expensive. I want Ubuntu to be the equivalent of OSX, but can support as many hardware configuration as possible


Or maybe they should have a strategy that doesn't violate user rights. Mindblowing I know.


It's funny how the history repeat itself when the company that support certain disro want to monetize it. A long time ago, it's Redhat. Then, SUSE with their licensing deal with Microsoft. Anyone knows what happens to Xandros and Mandriva?

I think Canonical should be more honest that they need money. People would gladly pay for stable OS that is supported long enough. I think the combination of Stable OS, lots of Apps that is close to the current upstream relase, and good hardware support is the winning formula here..

My dream is that I want Ubuntu to be essentially the equivalent of OSX, but I can install it on as many hardware configuration as possible, not just Mac


They are quite open, you can pay on the download screen http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/questions?distro=desk...


>People would gladly pay for stable OS that is supported long enough.

Do you see the amounts of complaints they are getting from who paid $0? Imagine the outrage they will face when people who paid $10 start asking for their money back because they don't like feature X of the new release.


It is worth recognizing that our economic system fails to monetize the development of quality software.

Software Freedom is a highly regarded aspect of software (users want it, developers want to provide it), but we can't find a way to monetize its development without destroying the product. This has always been the problem, and it's worth recognizing it as such.


Hey, have you tried some of the catfood that's available in stores these days? A couple of cans of Nature's Best, and not only are you ready to code for hours, but your coat will be shinier and you're less likely to develop a urinary tract infection.


Canonical has monetization models that don't turn a Linux desktop experience into a billboard for Amazon. I use Amazon often and like it. I understand they mine the hell out of my interactions with Amazon, and that's fine.

But it is a mistake for Canonical to hook Amazon, which can be very intrusive, into practically every interaction with an Ubuntu desktop. It's jarring and objectionable to find a vendor who would aggressively data mine you wired in to an OS you used to be able to count on to be security-oriented and non-intrusive.

It isn't even right for Ubuntu Touch devices. When I use a Google-logo Android device, I make a knowing bargain, trading information for convenience and capabilities. The only thing Ubuntu does better than Android is to leave me alone.


It's kind of sad that this is the only way Ubuntu figured they can make money.


No, it's sad that they don't take a holistic view of how they make money: They serve enterprise users and help create Ubuntu-based products for a fee, which business they would not have if Ubuntu was not the leading Linux distro, which it won't be if they screw up privacy issues.

Ubuntu has lost quite a bit of share to Mint. I have not been cranky enough about Unity to switch, but if I do find search data leaking despite the "privacy" settings that would about do it.


It's not, it's one of a number of ways they monetize their product.


Cat food (tinned meat, not kibbles) is more expensive than vegetables. If you're eating catfood to advertise your poverty, you're doing it out of a twisted sense of pride.


Does anyone have data on earnings from the pay what you want model that Ubuntu is using?


Most distros make it really easy to donate. It's a worthwhile investment!


This whining about Ubuntu is ridiculous. Removing the shopping features is easy enough anyway, without devoting a site to it, never mind posting it to HN.

Furthermore, there's plenty of choices out there. The best of which (IMO) are openSUSE, Fedora, and Arch/Manjaro. Mint is terrible - like a buggier version of Ubuntu or unstable Debian...

Furthermore, Canonical puts alot of work into Ubuntu. They deserve to get paid. Maybe consider actually using Amazon through their app as a way of contributing?


Am I allowed to agree that Canonical deserve to get paid, but firmly believe that doing it via the methods which the submitted link removes isn't the right way?

Personally I've used http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/questions to contribute.


"Maybe consider actually using Amazon through their app as a way of contributing?"

Affiliate site for when I am searching for products to buy, yes no problem, and link Rhythmbox in as well so Amazon can suggest music.

Pointless, intrusive and potentially embarrassing (slow Internet) automatic searching of Amazon for random desktop searches, no thanks.


For a typical user figuring out the command that this site provides to ensure their privacy is most certainly not "easy enough".


Luckily enough for them, turning off the Amazon search lens can be done through a GUI, and not just shell commands...


IIRC (please let me know if I'm wrong) not everything is disabled through the GUI.


is it possible to pay them and get an "ad free" version?


Since it is basically possible to get an "ad free" version by disabling that feature, and it is possible to donate to them. Yes?


That isn't the same thing as you clearly know... Paying to have things privacy infringing settings disabled and donating and then having to disable said privacy infringing settings are very different things.


I am somewhat sympathetic to your point, but do feel it is overstated in this case. It would be one thing if there was some indication of ill intent. From all I've seen, I just don't see it as an attempt at being deceptive. Marginally useful? Sure. Trying to trick people into thinking their computer isn't sending data back? This is akin to hating cell phone providers for creating tracking data on you. It is rather obvious that the data has to have been sent across the wire.


There's an option to donate when you download the .iso, so I suppose you could just do that and then uninstall the Amazon stuff.


If people did 30 seconds of searching they'd realize this information is available on the official Stack Exchange site AskUbuntu.com which is directly supported by Canonical's paid staff:

http://askubuntu.com/questions/192269/how-can-i-remove-amazo...


True but this site also acts as criticism to the approach in the first place, and also guarantees that this information will remain available and findable in the future, should Canonical change its mind about making this information easy to find.


I'm just trying to point out that the people who say Canonical is trying to silence the guy are just talking out their ass. They are freely providing this information in the number one place people go to ask questions about Ubuntu. All they did was say (incredibly nicely and politely) "Hey, umm... so, that's our copyrighted name and logo, and you know, you're really supposed to ask permission before using them".


The way to do things changes with every single Ubuntu release. A colleague once looked up some way to alter a desktop setting (can't recall which) and he found that it was different in each of the past four ubuntu releases (as of 13.04).

Similarly, you have to know you want to remove each of the items - fixubuntu hits a bunch at once. It doesn't require as much a priori knowledge.


http://www.debian.org

There, fixed.


I love Debian. But I wish they had a stable version released more often.


You could try getting on the testing release which (as far as I can tell) is still ten times as stable as Ubuntu while still getting frequent updates. Testing is the best of both worlds IMO (stability <-> freshness)


My only problem is compiling nvidia drivers on the testing default kernel right now. At least there was a bug keeping it from compiling with dkms.


When was the last time you used Debian?

I'm using arch (rolling distro) as my main OS. I do EVERYTHING on it.


I've gotten a lot of mileage out of Arch too, though I won't use it on a server anymore.

The rolling release schedule is too much for me to manage there.. but for my daily-driven workstation, I find it to be a fantastic OS.


Ubuntu is basically debian unstable + ubuntu crap.


And ironically Debian packages are more bleeding edges.


Unstable is pretty dang stable.


Halfway between Stable releases I switch to Testing. It helps keep my software versions fresh with upstream releases.


If I understand it right, Unstable doesn't get security fixes:

http://www.debian.org/security/faq#unstable

And Testing doesn't get fixes for contrib and non-free:

http://www.debian.org/security/faq#testing


It means that unstable isn't specifically tested for security, but security fixes will go to unstable first, before they propagate to testing.


Thanks for the clarification but reading the FAQ again for both Unstable and Testing in the context of your comment I'm still struggling to compare it to how Ubuntu gets security fixes for example.

I checked the security site listed in the Testing area in the Debian FAQ and don't see the recent SSH fix or the recent Linux kernel fix.

http://www.debian.org/security/

I do see them on the Ubuntu site:

http://www.ubuntu.com/usn/



Why?


Why you shouldn't paste code from websites directly into terminal: http://thejh.net/misc/website-terminal-copy-paste


Did you read the part explaining what each of the commands does...?


Did you read the linked article? It doesn't matter what it looks like you're copying/pasting, or how it's explained in the site you're copying/pasting it from.


Thanks for posting that - I came in here to do the same thing but you beat me to it. Please read the linked article before ever copying and pasting from the web!


To both you and cakeface, yes. I still don't really find that relevant, though.


Alternative method: click the big on/off switch for online search results.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not defending Ubuntu. I think it's gross that they include this at all, and extra-gross that it's on by default. But let's not get too carried away with the hyperbole and conspiracy theories.

Just read the source! Or if you don't trust the source, just examine your network traffic. Pretty easy to verify whether the button does what it claims...

EDIT/PSA: Don't copy/paste things from a website directly into your terminal. See http://thejh.net/misc/website-terminal-copy-paste, for example.


"In case you are either 1) a complete idiot; or 2) a lawyer; or 3) both, please be aware that this site is not affiliated with or approved by Canonical Limited."

"This site criticizes Canonical for certain privacy-invading features of Ubuntu and teaches users how to fix them. So, obviously, the site is not approved by Canonical."

"And our use of the trademarked term Ubuntu is plainly descriptive—it helps the public find this site and understand its message."


> "And our use of the trademarked term Ubuntu is plainly descriptive—it helps the public find this site and understand its message."

I disagree. askubuntu.com already exists and is officially sanctioned. From domain name alone, I think it's reasonable to assume that users will believe that fixubuntu.com is also officially sanctioned. Traffic generated by users being misled into going there is not legitimate in terms of the trademark.

OTOH, ubuntusucks.com is obviously critical commentary. I don't think that would (or should) be a trademark violation.


" Traffic generated by users being misled into going there is not legitimate in terms of the trademark."

FixUbuntu is a very very very very clear case of nominative fair use.

I can't think of a less close case in recent memory. They are using the trademark as it should be used - to describe the product they are talking about.

The fact that Ubuntu may not like what they are saying makes no difference. The disclaimer makes clear it's not associated, and they don't pretend, anywhere, that they are associated.


Then how was Facebook able to force the extension FacebookFixer to rename itself to FFixer?


They were also using the Facebook name to describe their own product. Fix Ubuntu is not (yet) the name of a separate product. When they start hosting a downloadable UbuntuFixer package, expect more trouble.


Vindicating yourself in a courtroom can be extremely expensive.


No, it's passing off, which is a violation of trademark law.

Using the name Ubuntu to describe and criticize the product Ubuntu is fine. Appearing to be an official website to lure visitors in is not. That's passing off.

If walk into a branded store only to find a notice that it isn't actually that brand, it's still passing off.

> The disclaimer makes clear it's not associated...

This was only added in response to the "stop doing it" request.


I'm going to go with the opinion of the open source lawyer ('DannyBee) on this one, in favor of the random message board commenter who appears to be quoting Wikipedia.


1. Passing off only applies to unregistered trademarks. For registered trademarks, it's just trademark infringement. Since ubuntu is a registered mark (or so they mention in the C&D), passing off simply would not apply.

2. Nominative fair use, as I mentioned, is a complete defense to trademark infringement (including passing off), and most other related things, including dilution.

If FixUbuntu claimed or implied they had a business relationship/etc, there would be an issue. They don't.

Trademarks do not give you the ability to stop others from using certain words, they give you the ability to stop others from confusing consumers about the source of goods.

Plus, you know, criticism of products is among the most protected speech possible when it comes to trademarks ...


Why would Canonical put up a Web site about how to fix their own product, rather than just fix it?

This guys use of their mark clearly falls under the nominal use exception of fair use.


Right, that would be "nominative fair use" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use_%28U.S._trademark_law... which applies to trademarks, not the copyright version of fair use.


fixubuntu.com could reasonably be assumed to be an Ubuntu troubleshooting site.


Nah. askubuntu has existed for many months as an independent site (both during the askubuntu.stackexchange.com beta and after moving to the .com domain at official launch); and the official sanction has been actively sought from both sides.


I use XMonad, and don't have these problems to fix (in a sense, because XMonad 'fixes' them). For those who are on Linux who've never used XMonad, I suggest you give it a try. It's awesome. I'm on Ubuntu 13.04 and have never been bothered by ads. Also, I find the instantaneous desktop switching and fullscreen windows, resizable tiling invaluable.


For people that love Emacs and Lisp, I would suggest to also take a look at StumpWM. It's implemented in Common Lisp, and you can customize and develop extension on the fly.


Adding another one to the list, I am the maintainer of Qtile, a tiling WM written and configured in python. We've even got an ubuntu ppa, so we're only an apt-get install away :-). http://qtile.org


I installed i3 on my ubuntu laptop and am so used tiling windows now, especially since i3 lets you choose which way new windows will be tiled.


I started using Ubuntu in 2005, and fell in love with it almost instantly. It was great for a long time before the slide began. It's sad that this site exists.


Sad that it exists or sad that it needs to exist?


Regarding that "disclaimer" in the corner, here's why it was added:

https://micahflee.com/2013/11/canonical-shouldnt-abuse-trade...


US Trademark law is kind of sticky. If you don't actively defend your trademark, you can lose it.


But isn't there a 'fair use' clause? At least there used to be one at one time before we lost our liberties, rights, and freedoms with the DMCA and Patriot Act.


I fixed it by switching to Mint. I'm liking it so far.


Is there a fixmint.com? Apparently one is needed: https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel-discuss/2013-...


I've been running Mint for over a year now and I'm pretty sure that xorg, kernel and firefox have had updates in that time.

On my current Linux Mint install (which is less than a year old and not heavily customized), my /etc/apt/sources.list.d has the following line:

    deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ raring-security main restricted universe multiverse
I'm not sure about the bootloader, but I'm pretty sure I've gotten kernel, X and Firefox updates between major releases.

I'm going to say this person's working with outdated or incorrect information, and/or security.ubuntu.com somehow got removed from his local installation.


I don't understand what's the complaint here. I'm not familiar with Mint, but if Mint is using upstream versions of Linux kernel, Firefox and Xorg, I can see that only as a good thing, since I have more trust in upstream core developers of these packages then in Ubuntu or any other distributions "hardening". Just remember the Debian OpenSSH security fiasco where Debian "fixed" the security flaw in upstream OpenSSH and made all its users vulnerable.


My interpretation of that thread (I don't know any more than what is written there) is that Mint turns off security updates for those packages. There's no mention of them using another source for updates. AIUI, there are no updates.


It's so depressing that I need to keep on devoting mental energy to Linux environments. When I use Windows or OSX I don't have to keep on guessing on what-the-what is going on.

Then I go back to Linux for something and everything I used to know is now completely useless.


I'm pretty openly not a Linux desktop user, but come on: if Windows hasn't rearranged core functionality in the XP to Vista/7 transition, and again in the 7 to 8 transition, and again (less so, but noticeably) in the 8 to 8.1 transition, then I don't know what your standard is. (Apple's been better about it following the initial iOS-esque feature landings, but that, too, was disruptive.) Conversely, Ubuntu's operated roughly the same way since Unity initially landed, and if anything, has become more coherent. I can't speak to other distros, but I doubt it's been a radically different story there.


I really haven't noticed a big difference between XP to 7. The control panel things moved around a bit, but the settings were all still in the Control Panel (and you could get the classic view back easily), and I had to figure out how to right-click on things "run as Admin". My son just hopped from XP to 7 and he's been having zero issues.

I admit I haven't gone to Windows 8. I owe myself a new laptop and I just have this feeling of dread about that.


As someone who recently had little choice but to start using 7, I can say that the differences between XP and 7 are vast, many, and annoying. Some can be fixed with Classic Shell, some by a few choice changes to settings and appearance, but some are just features that were removed.


As I get more experience in 7, I am finding it more painful. It might be one particular implementation where any attempt to bring up network settings resulted in nothing happening, not even an error message.

Also, clicking on the "volume" icon should not bring up a spinning blue circle, not even for a millisecond.

I just might get chased into a MacBook or whatever they are called these days. And I don't like Apple very much right now so that's something.


XP->7 was probably way easier than doing it with Vista as an intermediate!


I actually used Vista on one machine for years. I never saw the usability problems that UAC caused, but I appreciated the security aspect of it so I didn't mind being bugged when trying to change my IP.


Have you considered giving FreeBSD a try? I do most of my work (development) on Windows, but the times when I did use Linux, I felt much the same way you do. Then, last summer, I decided to give FreeBSD a try; I loaded it up into a VirtualBox on one of my Windows machines and was amazed at how simple and clean it felt compared to Linux, and I've found the FreeBSD community (the forums, mailing lists, etc.) to be extremely helpful while learning my way around.


Surely this comment must be satire...


Is it much mental energy to take a couple of minutes to just pick one?

I had to expend a lot more mental energy last time I tried to use modern Windows, and has OS X got a maximise button yet?

--edit-- I'm not trying to say "My OS is better than your OS" because we all know where that leads. I just don't think anything is perfect and it likely comes down to what you're used to.


And then I find out that all the old ways I had of managing the box are out-of-date. /etc/ files give way to gnome-config-* gadgets, and don't even get me started about sound.


Yeah, sound on Linux can still be an absolute arse, which is surprising to still have to say in 2013. I have no idea how to make my system detect headphone insertion and switch output without a bunch of manual steps. That said I've had problems trying to get windows doing 5.1 sound over HDMI too.

Gnome configs are only an issue if you still use gnome :)

In general things are moving to a more "it's all done for you" way of doing things, with less reliance on config files and unix file permissions and more dbus, service-oriented stuff. Personally I'm not a fan of because when things go wrong they go wrong in very, very opaque ways (try using the 'slim' display manager on Ubuntu 12.04 if you want an example).

At some point someone will probably come up with "CurmudgUX" for people like me that think the new levels of system-component integration will only lead to future pain, avoiding systemd, dbus et al. Guess we'll see.


> Gnome configs are only an issue if you still use gnome :)

See, that's the problem. The old system is abandoned and I have to decide "is it worth learning the brand new system?" Keep in mind this brand new system will not be used in 5 years, either.

I also don't sit around watching the forum discussions so when someone says "oh you need to uninstall gnome and install farknootz" I just say huh.


Gnome isn't abandoned, but it took a controversial UI direction, much like Win 8.

On Linux at least we have choice.


ahem Windows 8 ahem


well, but it's free!


I fixed it by switching to Xubuntu - very happy with the desktop. From my PoV it's the best of Ubuntu but without the gimmicks.


Lubuntu is pretty good too.


Check out Mint XFCE; in my case it was the most suitable distro/flavor. Simply because of the lowest number of additional overrides and configuration I had to do to make it comfortable for use.


I'm not whining here, I'm a long-time Ubuntu user and want it to do well and become more popular, but if the 'year of the Linux desktop' is ever to happen, there are greater fixes that Ubuntu needs (Ubuntu is pretty much the only distro that, at this time, has a chance of becoming mainstream i.e. reach at least 5% usage share).

For starters, it needs to work out of the box with the average user in mind. I don't think I've ever had a smooth install that didn't require searching the Ubuntu forums to get basic stuff running. If Ubuntu wants to compete with Windows, it can't ship an operating system that can't wake from a suspend on most laptops and requires using a terminal (which most people don't even know what it's for) to perform basic tasks and configuration. The experience for a novice computer user, however terrible you think Microsoft is, has always been excellent on Windows in that it suits their needs of requiring only little knowledge of how software works.


Interesting; I mostly agree, except for the "no smooth installs" - from my data points, where I was struggling with Windows drivers, Ubuntu had been mostly plug-and-play (since about 10.04 onward). Then again, my userbase is mostly using office PCs and laptops, without too specialized peripherals.


Agreed. Most of the time, I have no problem getting my laptop upgraded to the newest version, and all of my drivers are already there; no need to search online for any of them.

However, I also have the problem with small, minor things either only partially working or being completely broken (e.g. when I updated to 13.04, it started hiding applications on me, but it 'fixed' itself some time ago).

I think it would be a double-edged sword if the 'year of the Linux desktop' did occur. On one hand, more people would be using a great set of OS's and we would probably get more updates and flashier new features. However, with more people understanding the Linux kernel and how it operates, more 'black hats' and 'script kiddies' would have the tools to damage Linux systems, create Linux-based viruses, etc. In my opinion? I'm OK with where Linux is right now.


>> becoming mainstream i.e. reach at least 5% usage share

Prove that it hasn't. When I bought this machine I booted Windows 8 because I'd read that I had to do some stuff to fix it so I could install Ubuntu, it didn't work so I booted an Ubuntu LiveCD and wiped the disks then installed Ubuntu. The point being that somewhere Microsoft now may count this machine as a bought license even though I don't run Windows 8 on it. There are probably many machines out there like mine.


I have at least 4 machines at my house in the exact same situation. They all have windows license stickers and they were activated, but they all run Ubuntu, not windows.


People use default Ubuntu with Unity? From what I see, most people use a variant (X/L/K) of it and those are really well put together without (most) of the Canonical crap.


> People use default Ubuntu with Unity?

Of course, I don't even change the background. "Canical crap" is mostly mythical or takes a single toggle to turn off.


I like very much ubuntu-gnome. They need some help http://ubuntugnome.org/


I tried it with, I think, 13.04 and you could see they need people testing it. For a raw Gnome distro Fedora is the better choice.


The people you know don't use stock Ubuntu. My mom and yours don't even know what a package manager is.


My parents use Xubuntu because it's the closest you can get to WindowsXP ;)


I would have suggested Linux Mint/any distro that you can drop Cinnamon DE onto. Cinnamon has more updates, almost as much customization as XFCE, and doesn't look as old as Win95.


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