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Privacy Mozilla The Internet

Ubuntu's New Firefox Is Watching You 330

sukotto writes "Ubuntu recently released an unannounced and experimental 'multisearch' extension to Firefox alpha 3, apparently in an effort to improve the default behavior of new tabs and of search. In a response to one of the initial bug reports the maintainers mentioned that the extension's other purposes were 'collecting the usage data' and 'generating revenue.' Since this extension installs by itself and offers no warning about potential privacy violations, quite a few people (myself included) feel pretty unhappy. The only way to opt out is to disable the extension manually via Tools > Add-ons." Most posters to this Ubuntu forum thread are not happy about multisearch.
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Ubuntu's New Firefox Is Watching You

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  • Not new (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <> on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:02PM (#28988383) Journal

    This is not actually far away from how Firefox generates its revenue too - from ad clicks in Google search and by direct sponsoring from Google.

    The two main ways to monetarize and support OSS projects is giving support and ads. In the later case you always lose some of your privacy. Developing Linux and its distro's need money aswell. You could choose a distro that is financed in other way (maybe by you), use commercial software that doesn't do this or be fine with generating some ad income to support the development. "Perfect" package is usually impossible to obtain because of financial limitations.

    Google is build completely around this model too and it seems to work good for them - even if people lose some of their privacy. Hell, slashdot is maintained by ad revenue too. Another distro that also does same kind of stuff is Linux Mint.

    Its nothing new, but it might surprise those who believe in pure, not-revenue-generating OSS. It's how the free for user projects are financed.

    • Re:Not new (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SBrach (1073190) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:08PM (#28988461)
      WTF. Way to give Mozilla a free pass because it's OSS. You know, I use both open source and closed source software but I guess I am the only one who judges both by the same standard. What an asshole I am huh.
      • by jpmorgan (517966) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:15PM (#28988569) Homepage
        Well, here's the outrage [] from when Microsoft slipped the .NET Framework Assistant into Firefox without asking. Adjust your outrage accordingly...
        • by Philip K Dickhead (906971) <> on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:21PM (#28988673) Journal

          # apt-get update
          Get:1 http://your.favorite.mirror/ [your.favorite.mirror] sid Release.gpg [378B]
          Get:2 http://your.favorite.mirror/ [your.favorite.mirror] sid Release [79.6kB]
          Get:3 http://your.favorite.mirror/ [your.favorite.mirror] sid/main Packages [4514kB]
          Get:4 http://your.favorite.mirror/ [your.favorite.mirror] sid/main Sources [1280kB]
          Fetched 5874kB in 11s (523kB/s)
          Reading package lists... Done

          # apt-get install iceweasel
          Reading package lists... Done
          Building dependency tree... Done
          Suggested packages:
              iceweasel-gnome-support latex-xft-fonts xprint mozplugger
          The following NEW packages will be installed:
          0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 3 not upgraded.
          Need to get 8933kB of archives.
          After unpacking 27.2MB of additional disk space will be used.
          Get:1 http://your.favorite.mirror/ [your.favorite.mirror] sid/main iceweasel 2.0+dfsg-1 [8933kB]
          Fetched 8933kB in 9s (975kB/s)
          Selecting previously deselected package iceweasel.
          (Reading database ... 68428 files and directories currently installed.)
          Unpacking iceweasel (from .../iceweasel_2.0+dfsg-1_powerpc.deb) ...
          Setting up iceweasel (2.0+dfsg-1) ...
          Please restart any running Iceweasels, or you will experience problems.

          # _


        • by SBrach (1073190) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:33PM (#28988837)
          Right, people were outraged Microsoft installed a .net plugin but it is ok for Ubuntu to datamine my Firefox activities because it is free and I need to pay for it somehow. That is basically what the OP was saying. Thats bullshit.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            At least the Ubuntu add-on easily uninstalls unlike the .net one.

            Both are annoying but one is a lesser evil and while Linux is still primarily a OS for more advanced users, they shouldn't really have a problem with this.
            • by Shakrai (717556) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:42PM (#28988995) Journal

              Both are annoying but one is a lesser evil

              The lesser of two evils is still evil.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward

                There is nothing the least bit evil about the .NET extension, autistic man-children just threw a bitchfit because the word "Microsoft" makes them confused and angry.

                Notice the lack of anger about the intrusive Apple QuickTime plugin, which fucks over Firefox's MIME handling and is practically impossible to remove.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  The only things I have an issue with are those I can't remove.

                  That included the .net extension (not an issue now), that still includes IE and, while Bonjour is removable, it's not as easy as it should be so that's something else I hate.

                  It's not my fault that the only two things that are/were impossible to remove were from MS. It just proves that their more morally corrupt than other companies. Apple isn't much better but they are better.
                  • by gd2shoe (747932) on Friday August 07, 2009 @03:02PM (#28989975) Journal
                    I have a problem anytime someone loads software on my machine without my permission. I decide what is an acceptable security/privacy risk - no one else. For example, if I give MS permission to update their broken OS, I'm not giving them permission to add security vulnerabilities to my browser. I don't know about this Ubuntu issue, but people are trying to make it sound similar, and I have sympathy (at least for the moment).
                    • by jim_v2000 (818799) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:58PM (#28991383)
                      That's stupid. Do you stop and check which files and registry entries that every program that YOU install/update places on your system? Oh, you don't? And you install them anyway? Oh, well then you ARE giving them permission to install all that stuff.
                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by gd2shoe (747932)

                      You're being absurd. You might as well ask me if I do a full hand trace of each byte of compiled machine code. (including the OS)

                      How would I reasonably check such a thing? Do you expect me to run my primary OS on a virtual machine and compare images before and after updates? That's insane. (and that's only the most reasonable approach to your suggestion)

                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by jim_v2000 (818799)
                      You're analogy is poor. .NET is not installing a different program, it's installing a component of itself into a browser to ensure compatibility/functionality. By the way, Skype does this, NOD32 does this, and other apps do it. You're just flipping shit because this happens to be Microsoft.
                  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday August 07, 2009 @03:40PM (#28990549)

                    Part of the problem, if not the larger problem, is the ability to install extensions in FF without being able to remove them. Thats a FF feature. Why is it even there? The MS devs saw it and chose it because they probably didnt want end users screwing up .net too easily. If you want the power to do an easy GUI-based uninstall you need to tell the Firefox people to do so. That will stop further abuse of this feature.

                • by Miseph (979059) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:51PM (#28993045) Journal

                  Lack? that thing pisses me off. I honestly couldn't care any less about the .Net plugin, I'm a teensy bit miffed that installed without so much as asking, but at least it didn't FUBAR my media settings and force all .mpg and .avi files to attempt to play in-browser through their shitty plugin that doesn't even work and throws a thousand error messages every time, rather than do what I actually want (open and play in VLC). Maybe I'd be pissed about Microsoft's stealth plugin if I had some other awesome way of running .Net web-apps, but I honestly can't think of any that I have even seen, let alone actually use or would care how they open.

                  Oh yeah, I call bullshit on Ubuntu. They shouldn't have stealthed that in, and because they didn't I will uninstall it ASAP (once I reboot into Ubuntu, that is). If they had announced it, even put a little window on the screen asking if it would be ok to install it, pretty pretty please with sugar on top, we promise it won't hurt and it will help us generate some revenue so that we can keep working on the project... I honestly would have said yes. I wouldn't really mind if they collect some data and make money off of it so long as it doesn't noticeably degrade performance and so long as they told me about it first, but that doesn't mean I take kindly to anyone presuming it's ok for them to do so without my knowledge and permission.

            • by gparent (1242548) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:46PM (#28989035)
              The .NET one has been updated to uninstall fine.
            • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:52PM (#28989101)
              But you have to realize that the reason why people use Ubuntu is because it is pre-configured and you don't have to do much to get it how you wanted. Ubuntu wasn't much "better" than Debian, other than the fact it had regular releases and was pre-configured. If Ubuntu stops being pre-configured how most people like it, it will stop being used. This is a suicidal move for Ubuntu which has been losing mindshare after the 8.10 and 9.04 releases which dumbed-down the distro to a new low (the annoying update window which pops up as a window, removing the useful CTRL+ALT+Backspace shortcut, the notification boxes that can't be quickly closed, etc). Ubuntu needs all the good press they can get, I don't understand why they would risk it.
              • by calc (1463) on Friday August 07, 2009 @02:03PM (#28989239)

                "Ubuntu needs all the good press they can get, I don't understand why they would risk it."

                That's pretty funny considering Ubuntu is still in the lead on DistroWatch on all timespans except the last week. For the last week an Ubuntu derivative Linux Mint is number 1 with Ubuntu at number 2.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by hairyfeet (841228)

              Actually it takes all of three seconds in regedit to make both the DotNET and that damned Java addon go bye bye. To remove (and if you may want to reinstall them later, or get spooked by regedit, back up first) go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/software/Mozilla/Firefox/Extensions and there you will find the offending keys. Back them up if you wish and then delete them. When you restart Firefox bye bye DotNET and Java plugins.

              This smells to me like Canonical is looking to monetize Ubuntu on the sly. If they gave th

          • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Friday August 07, 2009 @02:44PM (#28989739)

            It's not data mining. If anyone actually read TFA, the extension just makes the default "new tab" page the standard Ubuntu-themed google search. And, like always, if you use their search service they will log your search. It's the same as before, except instead of only seeing the ubuntu search on your home page, you see it on every new tab.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sumdumass (711423)

            I think one of the main differences is that MS did it when installing something completely unrelated. Why would you think that Firefox would be altered for a dot net installation? However, for a Firefox installation you would expect Firefox to be altered.

            However, there should be outrage over the actions or behavior of the plugin. I just don't think it is the same thing.

        • by diamondsw (685967)

          Of course, that was also due to the fact that you couldn't easily uninstall it - the uninstall options were all disabled, and you had to do some deep mucking in the registry and obscure directories to get rid of it completely.

          I assume this can be uninstalled the normal way. I don't like it - so there should be some outrage - but I don't think it's as pernicious as the .Net one.

        • by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:40PM (#28988969)

          1) This is the default browser, and Ubuntu shipped it with modifications for years. That they would change the nature of those modifications in an update is hardly surprising.
          2) The summary says the only way to disable it is by using the add-ons dialog, as if that were some onerous distinction. .NET was unremovable through the add-ons dialog, which was the primary reason people were pissed. Ubuntu's really done nothing to break the user trust here. You don't like it, remove it, it will take all of 10 seconds, and be completely gone.

          Also, it's clear this won't make it into the release candidate. That is the value of an open source OS with a public bug tracker, in which the most minor problems (and the most vitriolic responses) are archived and freely available on the internet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elzurawka (671029)

      The difference is that we all know that Google is a giant Advertiser.
      Most people are under the impression that Ubuntu is a free OS, not an Ad Sponsored/Data mining revenue oriented OS.

      • Free as in speech (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027) <> on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:15PM (#28988571) Homepage Journal

        Most people are under the impression that Ubuntu is a free OS, not an Ad Sponsored/Data mining revenue oriented OS.

        Canonical is Free to distribute a computer program that watches how people use it as long as people who use the program know what's going on. But because Firefox/Iceweasel/whatever is free software, you are also Free to download the source code, rip out the data mining, and rebuild it, or to hire someone to do so for you.

        • by Henry V .009 (518000) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:19PM (#28988627) Journal
          All true statements, but pointless because you left out at least one freedom: people are also free to complain until Ubuntu does something about it to save their brand.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mattventura (1408229)
          It's not just that they are doing that, but that they do so without warning. Of course they are free to put that in their software, and you have every right to disable it, but (from my understanding) they are doing this without telling the user. So how would you know to disable it if you didn't know it existed?
          • by murdocj (543661)

            Isn't that supposed to be the main argument for "Free" (as in source code available / modifiable) source? That you don't have to trust the vendor to tell you what's going on, you can see for yourself? Why is it that when MS releases something, everyone darkly talks about hidden backdoors, but when an open source vendor releases someone, people complain that the vendor wasn't completely forthcoming in the release notes?

            • by tepples (727027) <> on Friday August 07, 2009 @02:09PM (#28989299) Homepage Journal

              Why is it that when MS releases something, everyone darkly talks about hidden backdoors, but when an open source vendor releases someone, people complain that the vendor wasn't completely forthcoming in the release notes?

              Because not everybody has the skill and time to decipher megabytes of source code, especially potentially obfuscated source code. Nor does everybody have the money to hire someone to do so. Also because free software is the relative newcomer and it has to be better in order to displace its entrenched proprietary counterparts.

            • source code available / modifiable

              I doubt that there are that many Ubuntu users that know how the program or read the source and understand it though. Ubuntu's supposed to be a user friendly Linux distro for the masses.

              Why is it that when MS releases something, everyone darkly talks about hidden backdoors, but when an open source vendor releases someone, people complain that the vendor wasn't completely forthcoming in the release notes?

              What's the difference between MS's backdoors and Ubuntu's backdoors if

        • by Abreu (173023) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:44PM (#28989019)

          Canonical is Free to distribute a computer program that watches how people use it as long as people who use the program know what's going on. But because Firefox/Iceweasel/whatever is free software, you are also Free to download the source code, rip out the data mining, and rebuild it, or to hire someone to do so for you.

          Emphasis mine.

          The problem here is that Canonical did not ask for permission.

          For the record, I would be perfectly willing to use a reasonably private datamining program to support Ubuntu, as long as everyone is clearly informed on what it can do and what it can't.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by xenocide2 (231786)

          Personally, I think it's a bit creepy for Canonical to capture revenues from whatever is installed in Firefox. There's significant participation from outside Canonical -- what prevents an Ubuntu Developer not affiliated with Canonical from taking the relatively simple steps to sell other changes to the highest bidder? Imagine if a Liferea maintainer started accepting payments to include feeds by default. What stops another developer from removing them and placing their own paid feeds?

          Its hard to come up wit

    • Re:Not new (Score:5, Informative)

      by readin (838620) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:19PM (#28988641)
      Google and Slashdot have the ads where you can see them. There is no pretense about it. And you know what when you log into a site or when a site has cookies, there will be some tracking. You control the tracking by deleting cookies or not logging in. There are limits to what Google and Slashdot can do because of the security built into the browser

      This is different. In this case Firefox is the browser that is supposed to protect your privacy and security. Your browser is supposed to do a job - and it isn't collecting data on you. If the program is going to execute on your CPU and collect data about you to send to someone else, it should be very clear about that intention. This sounds like Firefox has become a Trojan. I wonder if my anti-virus software will warn me about it.
      • Re:Not new (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jim_v2000 (818799) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:09PM (#28991475)
        God this reddit or something? YOUR BROWSER ISN'T COLLECTING ANYTHING. You do a Google search through the Ubuntu Google page, and then Canonical can see some aggregate usage data with Google's tools. The browser isn't doing anything other than what it normally does. Don't be a fucking drama queen.
    • by Andr T. (1006215)

      Its nothing new, but it might surprise those who believe in pure, not-revenue-generating OSS. It's how the free for user projects are financed.

      That is really not the problem - at least for me. You can gather user data, you can generate income with it, but you do need my permission. You can't do that without a clear notice.

    • I dont mind linux mint though....its a nice free product.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Paaskonijn (1220996)
      Here's what the Linux Mint's lead developer had to say when they did the same thing:

      The highest single source of revenue for Linux Mint isn't the donations, it isn't ads on the website, it is the default start page in Firefox. This simple search plugin is estimated to generated from 2 to 40 times more money than the start page itself.

      (source [])

      I know I won't be disabling this extension. It's a no-effort, free-as-in-beer way of supporting my favourite OS.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by idlemachine (732136)

        I know I won't be disabling this extension. It's a no-effort, free-as-in-beer way of supporting my favourite OS.

        You don't think Canonical should have asked for your permission first?

    • Re:Not new (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Score Whore (32328) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:54PM (#28989125)

      Lots of people like sex. Very few people like to be raped. The difference is in the consent. Same situation here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet (841228)

      Answer this question: Would you feel the same if it was MSFT and IE? What about Opera? I have NO problems with this kind of behavior IF and ONLY IF the users have EXACTLY what it does explained to them before install AND they get to choose at install whether to have it or not. Otherwise this is NO different than those spyware toolbars that you get on Windows with "free" applications.

      I have been wondering how Canonical would "monetize" a free Linux OS. If this is their plan I predict that Ubuntu will be dr

    • The FIRST thing I did was to look at my Firefox to see if I had this search function. Nada. I opened up Synaptic to see if it were available. Nope.

      So, I checked out the links offered in the article.


      We are talking about an ALPHA thingamabob. Alpha. Test stuff. Meaning that, the people who have the addon VOLUNTEERED to install and TEST the thing.

      TFA is a little bit of grandstanding by a drama llama. This addon is going to be tested, the community will determine if it's useful, and whether i

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:07PM (#28988455)

    There's no point denying it: Big projects need funding. Funding creates dependencies. Since there is no way around the need for funding, it is of utmost importance that dependencies and privacy implications are disclosed. So Ubuntu: FAIL.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I can deal with advertising and such. Spying on me is something completely different.

      Splatter ads all over my screen and I'll get annoyed but continue on. You start watching what I do, log what web sites I visit, analyze who I'm talking to, and other invasion of privacy stuff and I'll get angry. Angry enough to stop using whatever shit you're peddling.

      Yes I know Google does this but that's a single external point that I can watch out for. I can choose to block their ads/tracking stuff or use a proxy. I

  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:16PM (#28988577)
    I hear the Ubuntu extension also has a feature for euthanasia of old people.
  • Do not panic (Score:5, Informative)

    by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:17PM (#28988593)
    I've been following this for some time. The multisearch add-on was only intended for the pre-release versions, as part of a research project. It will NOT be included in the final Karmic release.
    That is what alpha releases are for, after all: testing. Admittedly, the devs could have bothered to mention that they were planning this, but it's better that they did it here than in the final release.
    • by Andr T. (1006215)

      The multisearch add-on was only intended for the pre-release versions, as part of a research project. It will NOT be included in the final Karmic release.

      Citation please?

      Note that we did not necessarily foresee Multisearch as code that we would ship in a stable release. Whatever actions we take in response to the information and feedback will depend on the information and feedback that we collect from this effort.

      That's quite a different statement.

      • Re:Do not panic (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:39PM (#28988947)
        Perhaps I didn't word that quite right.

        The multisearch add-on was only intended for the pre-release versions, as part of a research project. It is very unlikely that it will be included in the final Karmic release in the same form as its current incarnation.

        There, fixed that for me.
        My point was, anyway, that the Ubuntu devs didn't intend to make this Multisearch a part of Firefox as we know it. Some of the same concepts, maybe, but they will assuredly be more fleshed out, more intuitive, than in the Alphas. And next time, maybe they'll tell us first?

  • by analog_line (465182) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:17PM (#28988609)

    I installed Linux Mint about a month ago looking for a new Linux distribution to put on a cheap laptop I had just gotten. All the search pages, no matter where I searched, were coming up branded "Linux Mint". Didn't take too long for me to get annoyed at this, especially when I found out there was no way whatsoever to remove the addon from Firefox. I ended up downloading the distributed package and overwriting the symlinks by hand. Mint is based on Ubuntu, but my 9.04 installs don't have this in there. I guess this is one "innovation" that made it back up the food chain. Personally embarassing for me, since I had just finished recommending Linux Mint to several friends, aquaintances, and customers.

  • by melikamp (631205) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:18PM (#28988613) Homepage Journal

    0. Once prerequisites are installed on Ubuntu,

    1. Download the source:

    2. Unpack source:

    tar xvfj firefox-3.5.2-source.tar.bz2

    3. Create .mozconfig in the top-level directory:

    . $topsrcdir/browser/config/mozconfig
    mk_add_options MOZ_OBJDIR=@TOPSRCDIR@/objdir-ff-release
    mk_add_options MOZ_MAKE_FLAGS="-j4"
    ac_add_options --enable-optimize
    export CFLAGS="-gstabs+"
    export CXXFLAGS="-gstabs+"

    4. make -f

    5. Enjoy objdir-ff-release/dist/bin/firefox

  • Penguin?

    Watching you from the closet...

  • I'm not bothered by Canonical wanting to leverage potential sources of revenue. They're providing me with a service free of charge, as is Google.

    I'm bothered by the fact that it replaced the normal Google UI with something less usable. I'm also bothered that they used a Firefox extension rather than using a standard search engine plugin, making it much more difficult to undo.

  • Browsers. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by saintlupus (227599)

    Epiphany is available in Ubuntu -- it also looks a hell of a lot nicer with GNOME than FF does. Give it a try.


  • i knew it was coming (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FudRucker (866063) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:25PM (#28988731)
    as soon as Linux gained enough popularity that spyware and spyware like activities would start creeping in, glad i learned Linux early, fortunately i dont use ubuntu, and i wonder how long until this is embedded in to firefox itself and not removable, i am using an unofficial build of firefox (Shiretoko-3.5.2) and for all i know it may already have it, if it does i hope word gets out and it bites on the ass. it might even be prudent to just remove the damn thing and use lynx or links instead. maybe even just abandon Linux completely and switch to one of the [Free/net/open]BSDs not sure i could trust PCBSD to not pull the same crap canonical/ubuntu is doing...
  • The screenshots are odd. They all look the same to me and they look like a login page to that forum, not anything to do with Google at all.

    On a side note, does anyone know how to completely disable Firefox from opening new tabs without permission? I've tried to disable it every way I can and I've mostly got it, but every so often I run into a website like this Ubuntu forum that somehow nevertheless manages to force Firefox to open a new tab.

    Why is it that web "designers" can't understand that I have perfect

  • ialwaysfeellike
  • FTW! Free as in "we don't spy on you".

  • by dominux (731134) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:37PM (#28988915) Homepage
    it was introduced in Karmic which is an alpha distribution. It wasn't introduced without announcement to the main production users of Jaunty. It may have been introduced without announcement to the Karmic alpha, because introducing it to the alpha *is* the announcement. It was done to see if it was better, results from alpha testing may reveal it is not better, or may reveal it is better. The results of the experiment will help decide whether it should stay, or go.
  • by spectro (80839) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:55PM (#28989131) Homepage

    Ok, I guess is time to start looking at alternatives. Not saying I will switch but I better keep options open.

    Any user-friendly, easy to install linux distribution like Ubuntu around? (Fedora need not to apply, btw)

    Preferably one without that pulseaudio crap installed by default...

  • The Ubuntu modification uses an Ubuntu custom Google search, rather than the Mozilla custom Google search. Google collects the same data in both cases; the only difference is that, with the Ubuntu search, Ubuntu gets to see aggregates information about popular searches, while, with the Mozilla custom search, Mozilla gets to see this aggregated information. In both cases, Google are the only people who get individually identifiable information about searches. Ubuntu isn't "watching you" any more than Mozilla

  • The Real Issue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Apreche (239272) on Friday August 07, 2009 @03:49PM (#28990671) Homepage Journal

    I don't think anyone begrudges Ubuntu taking advantage of a perfectly acceptable revenue model. That's not the problem here.

    The problem is that Ubuntu is shipping a modified version of Firefox instead of the default Firefox shipped by Mozilla. Sure, both Ubuntu and Debian ship patched versions of just about every package they include in the repository. But the overwhelming majority of those patches don't noticeably effect the user experience.

    Firefox, on the other hand, is pretty much the #1 most important part of the user experience in Ubuntu. It's the application most people are going to use more than anything else. In fact, after Ubuntu is installed, the user will probably spend more time interacting with Firefox than with all the rest of Ubuntu combined. It's not inaccurate to say it's a Firefox machine, as opposed to an Ubuntu or Linux machine.

    Since Firefox is the most important part of the user experience, the users don't want Firefox changed in any way. They want the default Firefox as shipped by Mozilla. They don't want the named changed to Shiretoko or IceWeasel. They don't want the icons changed. They don't want weird extensions that change behaviour. They also don't want updates to come from Ubuntu repositories, as they do for every other package. They want the newest version of Firefox from Mozilla at the exact moment that Mozilla ships it.

    I understand the reasoning behind Ubuntu and Debians policies, but I think it is obvious that Firefox trumps Ubuntu. They should make a special exception for it. Just ship the raw Firefox as released by Mozilla. Don't modify it in any way whatsoever. The world is just getting more browser centric. The operating system is just the code that talks between the browser and the hardware. You can do anything you want to the OS, but don't touch the browser or you'll lose all the users you worked so hard to gain.

    • by spage (73271)
      I alternate between Windows XP and Kubuntu Jaunty with a shared Firefox profile on an NTFS drive, and 90% of the time all I see is minor changes in the task bar underneath Firefox.

      (The other 10% I enjoy a better console and alternate between loving and hating Linux packaging.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tubal-Cain (1289912)

      The problem is that Ubuntu is shipping a modified version of Firefox instead of the default Firefox shipped by Mozilla.

      No it's not. Patches and plugins are fine if they make a positive impact or at least do not make a negative impact and are easily removed. Negative features such as this are not very tolerable regardless of how easy it is to remove.

      They don't want the named changed to Shiretoko or IceWeasel.

      Shiretoko is Mozilla's own codename for Firefox 3.5. You don't get accuse Slashdot (and every other Linux-topic webpage on the Internet) of changing Ubuntu 9.04's name to "Jaunty", do you?

      Some do prefer the name change. When I use Ubuntu I install abrowser, which strips out Mozil

  • by ChrisJones (23624) <> on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:07PM (#28991463) Homepage Journal

    ... is people not really paying attention to the facts.

      * This has been repeatedly stated to be an experiment in an alpha (i.e. testing only) release
      * Revenue gathering from the choice of search engine is nothing new (it's the main way Firefox generates revenue for Mozilla Corp)
      * The data gathered is which of the search boxes you use (the default firefox UI lets you search from the search bar, in the URL bar and the default homepage).

    So basically this seems to be an experiment to figure out which of the search methods people are using most.

    (disclaimer: I work for Canonical as a sysadmin. I'm not a developer and I don't work on Ubuntu directly, so I was not in any way involved in the planning/implementation of this, and I speak here only for myself as an Ubuntu user who's dismayed at the anger people are unbottling with little information)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Alas, it seems that we get a lot of people running development releases who really don't get what they are for. Case in point, the storm of "controversy" that appeared when GNOME began working towards the simplification of icons across the desktop. Because the first step was a major break but didn't actually crash, some people just assume it's a malicious, permanent change that will be in the final release of Ubuntu and that the GNOME developers want to kill us all. That isn't the case. This is a Developmen

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux