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Operating Systems Privacy Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu 16.04 Will Not Send Local Searches Over the Web By Default 102

jones_supa writes: Canonical introduced Amazon Product Results as part of Ubuntu 12.10, which meant that local searches performed by a user in Dash were also sent online. This made many Ubuntu users spill their coffee and got criticism from EFF and FSF as well. The so called "Shopping Lens" had to be manually disabled if that kind of search behavior was not desired. Finally after years, Canonical is reacting to the negative feedback and respecting users' privacy, so that Ubuntu 16.04 (the next Long Term Support release) won't send local searches over the web by default. The Amazon search feature is still available for those who explicitly want to use it.
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Ubuntu 16.04 Will Not Send Local Searches Over the Web By Default

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  • by scunc ( 4201789 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @12:04PM (#51137445)
    What happened? Is it not cool now that Windows is doing it too?
    • For once Windows was behind on something respect to Linux :)
      I all seriousness, now if Microsoft would stop the insanity and return Windows to being just an OS instead an OS, spying and advertisement device I'd consider upgrading from Win 7.
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      What happened? Is it not cool now that Windows is doing it too?

      Probably sick of losing users to Mint -- as though the it has nothing to do with Unity itself.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Canonical will never regain my trust. The mere fact that they were capable of sending users' private data to their business partners means Ubuntu is dead for me.

    • Canonical will never regain my trust. The mere fact that they were capable of sending users' private data to their business partners means Ubuntu is dead for me.

      I'd understand claiming there was a breach of trust if they did this on the sly, but they didn't: it was common knowledge, easy to switch off, and only occurred if you used Unity. I fail to see what the problem is.

      • ... when Mark Shuttleworth formed Canonical, one of the strongest claims they made was that ubuntu would always be free. I *do* appreciate that Canonical's activation of the spyware feature was publicised and only relevent to users of the Dash in the Unity desktop, and also aware that it's a bit of a leap of faith to suggest that 12.10 and onwards were anything other than free, but the fact remained that Canonical started to take kickbacks from Amazon - payment - for data generated by ubuntu users. In othe
        • by umafuckit ( 2980809 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @02:46PM (#51138615)
          Don't get me wrong, I can see why people (especially here) don't like the data selling. I certainly uninstalled all the lens stuff even though I don't use Unity. However, I also see that there are salaries that need paying and this is one way of doing it. With a lot of web-based services, such as Facebook, if you want to opt out of the data collection you must also opt out of the service. With Ubuntu you can choose to keep the service but ditch the data collection. Seems pretty benign to me compared to all the other BS that's going on.
          • I'd like to see a move away from the free model started across the industry. People may not balk at paying again if "every" service and product cost again. The change certainly would need to be an coordinated movement among competitors since the jumping ship from the X that now costs to the X that is still free would be a threat.

            • by ytene ( 4376651 )
              I think that's quite reasonable. I do use notionally "free" technologies - but I also donate to those projects as and where I can - i.e. I tend to use and enjoy wikipdia quite a bit, so last week I donated £50. I try and cover all the major FLOSS projects and communities that I use. Here's an interesting thing though - if I add up what I've spent on proprietary software [ I have 7 licensed copies of Win 7/64 Ultimate on various machines, 2 copies of MS Office 2013 Pro Plus, Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom
          • I think it's even more silly when the facts are taken into account.
            Canonical wasn't selling data, they gained no income by collecting search information. They WERE given a small commission from sales if the user accessed the Amazon website by clicking on an item in the Dash, and even then ONLY if the user proceeded to buy that product. At this point, Amazon already KNOWS you're on their site, they can directly collect data on that person. They no longer need Canonicals' data.
            Plus, using the files or applica

      • by allo ( 1728082 )

        The default was the problem.

  • I can't be true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ISoldat53 ( 977164 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @12:09PM (#51137489)
    Canonical reacted to user feedback? That must be a first.
    • Canonical reacted to user feedback? That must be a first.

      *Checks Gnome 3*

      Nope, hell hasn't frozen over. Still not listening.

      • by allo ( 1728082 )

        Checks Mir. Checks SystemD. No.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Welcome back, old friend. I'm glad they've changed their stance. Not happy it ever was their stance, but I'm glad they've changed it none the less. Keep up the good work Canonical!

  • Follow the money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fishwallop ( 792972 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @12:19PM (#51137549)
    The likeliest explanation is that Amazon is no longer paying Canonical enough money for this to be default behavior.
    • Unity 8 was announced by Mark with privacy enabled by default, several months ago. And the reason was Snowden scandal, not money.

      Unity 8 was expected to be the DE in Ubuntu 16.04, but it was delayed. But, at least, the promise to keep the privacy was not delayed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 17, 2015 @12:27PM (#51137621)

    Seriously Canonical, didn't you have a meeting on this with the classic PRO vs CON list? Was it inconceivable that some would not like being tracked, even anonymously(if true) and a large portion of that population would be the geeks who you NEED? People, like geeks, who know what GNU/Linux is, why it is used and spread that far and wide and were using Ubuntu and promoting it if not developing for it. Pissing those people off and causing them to move to Debian for example was not a good idea.

    Good to see 16.04 LTS will disable this next year but you really screwed the pooch as they say on this one.

  • Most people who use Linux know that Anonymous collection of data isn't all that anonymous To quote Princess Bride "I don't think that means what you think that means"
    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      To quote Princess Bride "I don't think that means what you think that means"

      Or, if one is offended by misquotes: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

  • I avoid Unity like the plague. If they want to default to providing a "smartphone" interface on my has-a-keyboard-and-mouse, doesn't-have-a-touchscreen computer, there are plenty of alternatives like XFCE, Mate, Cinnamon, etc.
    • by Burz ( 138833 )

      Unity only incorporates a couple mobile UI elements... The rest of the changes are riffing off of OS X and I think they do a pretty good job. The ample keyboard shortcuts (which are listed when you log in) are very PC and more specifically very Mac-like (Macs were never about chaining people to pointer inputs). The menus are similarly Mac-like, not like Android or iOS at all.

      A mistake they made with Unity was cutting the user off from being able to hierarchically discover the available programs and utilitie

  • by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:37PM (#51138089)

    It's been integrated into systemd.

  • My company already migrated the workstations from Ubuntu to a different distro back when Canonical did this. Between their absolutely horrible initial Pulse implementation, the absolutely craptastic Unity interface being rammed down our throats, and then the totally sneaky way they brought in the Dash searches, we had had enough.
    • by nnull ( 1148259 )
      I had the same feelings, but it's still not a bad distribution and I still recommend people to install it, either Xubuntu or Kubuntu. That installer is a breeze for anyone.
  • Finally after years, Canonical is reacting to the negative feedback and respecting users' privacy, so that Ubuntu 16.04 (the next Long Term Support release) won't send local searches over the web by default.

    My brain actually froze when I reached the quoted sentence above. After years what now? I normally don't respond to editing but this was a pretty bad one.

    Maybe

    Finally, after years of negative feedback, Canonical will start respecting users' privacy by making sure that Ubuntu 16.04 (the next Long Term Sup

    • Grammar nicely done! Now, here is the embedded message. After years of tightening the thumbscrews until blood shoots out of user's ears, nose and eyes, they loosen the screws a little.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay

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