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Ubuntu Will Now Have Amazon Ads Pre-Installed 646

Posted by timothy
from the not-what-I-want-by-default dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Scheduled to be released next month, Ubuntu 12.10 now includes both Amazon ads in the user's dash and by default an Amazon store in the user's launcher. The reason for these 'features'? Affiliate revenue. Despite previous controversies with Banshee and Yahoo, Canonical is 'confident it will be an interesting and useful feature for our 12.10 users.' But are the 'users' becoming products?" Update: 09/22 19:35 GMT by T : Reader bkerensa scoffs, calling the Amazon integration unobtrusive, and says objections to its inclusion in the OS should be ignored, "because in reality ads will not be found in 12.10 unless you are seeing them on a third party website you go to in a web browser." He's got screenshots.
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Ubuntu Will Now Have Amazon Ads Pre-Installed

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  • I see (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:28AM (#41420299)

    Mass migration in 3...2...1...

    • Re:I see (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rubycodez (864176) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:48AM (#41420433)

      you mean the second one, of those people remaining after the Unity / GNOME3 rendered any concept of multi-task workflow useless

      stick a fork in Canonical, they are done

      • Re:I see (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:18AM (#41420641) Homepage

        after the Unity / GNOME3 rendered any concept of multi-task workflow useless

        What's "useless" about it? It works just fine here...

        • Re:I see (Score:5, Informative)

          by wvmarle (1070040) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:40AM (#41420795)

          They may have fixed it, but my experience was so terrifying (in 11.04 or 11.10, I forgot, when it was first introduced) I'm not going to try the latest version. Here my key complaints:

          - everything runs full-screen. That sucks. No drag and drop between windows, without first un-maximising them.

          - after you close an application in a not-maximised window, it will relaunch maximised. I un-maximised it not just because!

          - the above works when the not maximised window is - the "start" menu sucks. A few "favourite" applications, the rest you have to search for. A HUGE screen area taken for each application; scrolling galore as I don't have a 25" monitor. Or you have to start typing the name of the application to narrow down your search. Big suck. A well arranged menu searches quicker, takes little space, and no need to remove my hand from the mouse.

          - crtl-tab window switching did not work. I had to dig deep first online then on my machine to get that basic switcher working. It took me seconds from installing Unity to find that out, all in all about half an hour (!) to fix that. And it still didn't work really well. Now that was a total show-stopper, if I had never before tried Ubuntu I'd have dropped it there and then, and not bothered to find out how to get it working.

          Then in the process I found out that there is a "Gnome Classic" too, switched to that, and didn't look back. When upgrading Ubuntu I'm just selecting Gnome Classic and not even trying anything else. It's just that in 12.04 Gnome Classic sucks too, just not sucky enough to go through downloading and installing a whole new distro which sucks too. I'm first and foremost a user of my computer, after all!

          • Re:I see (Score:4, Informative)

            by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:04AM (#41420975) Homepage

            - everything runs full-screen. That sucks. No drag and drop between windows, without first un-maximising them.

            Uhm, no it doesn't, and checking back to 11.04 it didn't even then.

            - after you close an application in a not-maximised window, it will relaunch maximised. I un-maximised it not just because!

            No it doesn't, and it didn't in 11.04

            - the above works when the not maximised window is - the "start" menu sucks. A few "favourite" applications, the rest you have to search for. A HUGE screen area taken for each application; scrolling galore as I don't have a 25" monitor. Or you have to start typing the name of the application to narrow down your search. Big suck. A well arranged menu searches quicker, takes little space, and no need to remove my hand from the mouse.

            I must admit in "old-fashioned" UIs like Gnome 2 I mostly start with alt-f2 and begin typing the name of the thing I want to run. That still works in Unity, although it works better if you just hit the <meta> key.

            - crtl-tab window switching did not work. I had to dig deep first online then on my machine to get that basic switcher working

            I don't think <ctrl-tab> ever switched windows - in Firefox it switches tabs though. Maybe you're thinking of <alt-tab> which switches windows but was admittedly buggy as all hell in 11.04? It works pretty well in 12.04 though.

            • Re:I see (Score:4, Insightful)

              by slack_justyb (862874) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @03:41PM (#41423471)
              I second Gordonjcp! About 80% of the complaints that I've heard about Unity are just pure bunk. Many of the warehouses that I oversee have Ubuntu 12.04 with the Unity interface for many of the order processing stations and users have had great experiences with Unity. Additionally, I know many of the javascript developers in our IT department to be using Ubuntu 12.04 with the Unity UI. Never have heard a peep from them, more so, they get to choose the OS they want to use and they choose Ubuntu and Unity, that should say something.

              Honestly, I think there's just a bunch of old timers that just object to everything that isn't GNOME 2 or KDE 3. To them that was the high point in desktop environments. They simply need to get over themselves.
      • Re:I see (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:28AM (#41421171) Journal

        Which just proves what I've been saying, there is no money to be made in Linux desktops. Canonical will join the ranks of Corel, Linspire, Xandros, Mandriva, and more we have forgotten in the list of failed Linux desktop business ventures.

        In server you can make money with support, there is simply no business selling support to home and business desktop users. Windows server can cost many thousands of dollars when you figure in the CALs and depending on what features you need, Windows desktops are $100 for Home and $140 for Pro, and a hell of a lot lower than that for OEMs. At numbers that low you have to get huge economies of scale going to pay for the developers, the lights, the building, but its a catch-22 because you can't make money until you get huge economies of scale but you can't survive long enough to get the huge economies of scale because the money runs out.

        As I said here more than 2 years ago when Shuttleworth announced he would sink no more millions into Canonical that it was over and now we have the final nail. Look at their history since the Shuttleworth announcement...Ubuntu Netbook (trying to get into the netbook craze after the ship had sailed), selling search results to Yahoo, selling MP3s through Amazon, trying to get into the server business after Shuttleworth talking about how Ubuntu was gonna be "the desktop Linux" for the masses, trying to come up with Ubuntu Phone and Ubuntu TV...their entire history since that announcement has been that of a desperate company trying to find SOME way, any way, to stem the flow of red ink and find a positive revenue stream.

        But I've said it before and I'll say it again...Linux on the server, the embedded space? There is money to be made there. as far as Linux on the phone it would be hard to see how Google is gonna make back their billion dollars a year development costs but of course Google wants as many eyeballs as possible so hard to know what their monetary strategy is, but on the desktop? Sorry, not gonna happen, as Shuttleworth found out it costs millions to make and support a Linux desktop and there is just no money there to be made, this is one area where being "free as in beer" hurts more than it helps.

        Final prediction? Canonical joins the other dead Linux desktops in a year and a half, maybe sooner. All those based on Ubuntu better be switching to Debian as a base NOW because it won't be much longer before Shuttleworth pulls the plug and hits the lights on his way out. I wouldn't be surprised to read in a month or two he has it up for sale just to try to recoup some of the money, doubt there will be any takers though, just no money in desktops.

        • This is why Red Hat actually succeeds. They make their money from the enterprise users: servers and business desktops with RHEL. The "desktop for the masses" is Fedora. Everyone wins: Red Hat makes money from the server/enterprise market, and home users can reap the benefits of a solid distribution.

          With Ubuntu you have a (until recently) good desktop distribution, but no clear way to make money and keep the train rolling. If Shuttleworth had created a server distro and aggressively marketed it, things proba

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      I'm going to migrate, for sure. And this is definitely making it more so.

      I've not migrated. I'm lazy. I know I should check out Mint, haven't done so. The Gnome Classic UI from Ubuntu 12.04 sucks badly: disappearing window borders, amongst many other irritations and bugs, so I'm already refusing to upgrade. My office is on 10.04 LTS, bugging me all the time for new LTS, not going to happen. I like 10.04, I really do, and am sad to see it go. That is one distro that Just Works. For me, at least. After I foug

  • by TechieRefugee (2105386) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:29AM (#41420305)
    It really isn't. I mean come on, a distro as large as Ubuntu is gonna need revenue from places other than donations. And, as long as it isn't too obtrusive in the UI, I won't really complain about it. Besides, there's always other flavors of Ubuntu which may have the ad feature removed.
    • I mean come on, a distro as large as Ubuntu is gonna need revenue from places other than donations

      Then they should do the one thing that actually turns a profit for free software vendors: subscriptions (for e.g. support, updates, etc.), targeting business users. If Ubuntu is now turning to ad revenue as a way to make money, they must really be in trouble (or they just do not get "it").

      • by Raenex (947668)

        Then they should do the one thing that actually turns a profit for free software vendors: subscriptions (for e.g. support, updates, etc.), targeting business users.

        They do that [ubuntu.com] already.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      I dunno. Perhaps they should try what every other serious consumer oriented distribution has done: actually sell the product.

    • by adosch (1397357)

      It really isn't. I mean come on, a distro as large as Ubuntu is gonna need revenue from places other than donations. And, as long as it isn't too obtrusive in the UI, I won't really complain about it. Besides, there's always other flavors of Ubuntu which may have the ad feature removed.

      Bah, don't try to console the masses with the it-won't-be-so-bad speech.

      If there's a need for revenue then start doing subscriptions and tier off your desktop builds then with "innovative" feature sets that are specific and elegant to a UI experience.

      Ad's piss people off and IMHO they will just drive people to build package sets an cust repos that rid the ads or just find Ubuntu alternatives. Shame on you, Ubuntu.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      The biggest deal for me is that ads are quite a large exploit vector. I block ads in my browser because I consider them to be from an untrusted source. If these are simply text and PNG, then perhaps it's not so bad.

      • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @03:32PM (#41423423) Journal

        "The biggest deal for me is that ads are quite a large exploit vector. I block ads in my browser because I consider them to be from an untrusted source. If these are simply text and PNG, then perhaps it's not so bad."

        Good, after scanning most of the thread, you're one of the few looking at the security side. I'll presume that Canonical won't allow a full fledged virus attack, but if ads are in fact integrated into the OS and not just "a web store" or whatever, I think that creates data leak risks that could have really nasty implications.

        Since everyone is playing with tablet-phone ideas for OSes, I'll say that some of the ads on some of the free versions of my iPhone apps ARE intrusive. They're sandwiched between parts of the app, so when you reach for a settings or menu button, your finger hits the ad instead, and "poof" - you're ripped away from your app and then get to burn 15 seconds while the App store triggered by the ad loads up. It gets VERY intrusive, VERY fast.

    • by Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:39AM (#41421267)

      And, as long as it isn't too obtrusive in the UI,

      surely you mean, "as long as I can easily uninstall it"? I'm not one to complain about Canonical trying to generate revenue, and I'd leave the ads there initially, but if they annoy me, I want to option to easily remove them. Otherwise... new distro!

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      They would need less ad revenue if they didnt constantly shit on, and drive away their users.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:30AM (#41420309)

    I'm switching to Linux... oh wait

  • Profit! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fished (574624) <amphigory@gmail. ... m minus language> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:32AM (#41420331)

    1. Build a free operating system.
    2. Support it for years.
    3. ... have Amazon "affiliate" ads ...
    4. Profit!

    We've finally found out what the '...' stood for. Look for a fork of Ubuntu in 5 ... 4... 3...

  • Easily disabled (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:34AM (#41420337) Homepage Journal

    I too am offended to be getting advertisements by default. But thankfully, they are trivial to remove. FTFA,

    Removing Shopping Results from Unity

    Much like the Amazon and Ubuntu One Music web-apps you can disable the âShoppingâ(TM) feature easily.

    Just open up a terminal and run:

            sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping

    • Re:Easily disabled (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Yfrwlf (998822) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:28AM (#41420717)
      You forgot the other ones. You need to remove the video and music lenses which pull info from YouTube, Google, and others, otherwise you will be querying those businesses even if you are just trying to search your own computer for content. It's a form of spyware.

      Also having to remove crapware you don't want after you install something was an often-heard compaint about Windows. I'd rather not have it be on Linux now too.

      Canonical: You're getting your morals turned around. Community should come before money. Forget what the spirit of Ubuntu was supposed to represent?
    • Re:Easily disabled (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chemisor (97276) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:59AM (#41420937)

      You forgot the other lenses and scopes, which also bring up external search results. So instead, open a terminal window and type:

      % sudo dpkg --list |grep "lens" | awk '{print $2}' | xargs sudo apt-get remove
      % sudo dpkg --list |grep "scope" | awk '{print $2}' | xargs sudo apt-get remove

      See? Easy as pie. Absolutely anybody ought to be able to do this. Ubuntu is not like Windows where users are assumed to be incompetent morons. On Ubuntu, every user is smart, skilled, and infinitely patient. It's paradise, really.

  • by pr0nbot (313417) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:34AM (#41420343)

    I've enjoyed using Ubuntu. It was the first Linux distro that "just worked" for me (by which I mean, wifi/video/audio worked out of the box). And it's free!

    I don't know what kind of ARPU they expect from this, but as an Ubuntu user I'd prefer to just pay. A freemium model would do, maybe something like "get the previous LTS version for free, get the current one for $X". Or "donate to enable advanced features" or something. But peppering my work/leisure environment with third-party advertisements (i.e. spyware and probably malware at some point)? No thanks.

    • Mandriva tried that, and it didn't really work out for them. Really, software is best monetized with subscriptions (e.g. RHEL), but I do not think Ubuntu's users will be willing to pay for subscriptions.
    • So the while time you've been using Linux you've been paying, donating to your favorite projects, right? You've always had the opportunity to pay. If someone hasn't donated even $10 ever, I'd say that means they'd rather let it come to this. Users have always had the choice. If you'd rather pay, apt-remove and donate to an ad-free project. I'm about to eat breakfast. I'm a Linux developer. Breakfast costs money. If you'd rather pay, then do so. Lunch is coming up in a few hours and it has to be paid for
  • It's a small price to pay for such a well polished distro [lubuntu.net] ...
  • by raymorris (2726007) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:39AM (#41420383)
    I groaned when I read the headline, picturing permanent banner ads on the desktop. When I TFA, I saw they did a goof job of it. An unobtrusive maybe even useful, way for non-coders to contribute a just a little bit to Ubuntu development. I do continue code, weekly, but still I wouldn't mind those types of carefully integrated search results too much.
  • Dash (Score:5, Funny)

    by Halo1 (136547) <jonas.maebe@NospAm.elis.ugent.be> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:39AM (#41420389) Homepage

    Ubuntu 12.10 now includes both Amazon ads in the user's dash

    I hope I'm not the only one that got visions of a /etc/profile spewing out Amazon commercials when reading the above.

  • by overshoot (39700) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:45AM (#41420405)

    Here's a hint: if you're not paying for it, you are the product.

    This has very obviously been Microsoft's business model for operating systems from the very beginning: they don't sell the OS to you, they sell you to the OEMs.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:02AM (#41420539)

      Here's a hint: if you're not paying for it, you are the product.

      I do not pay for this:

      https://www.scientificlinux.org/ [scientificlinux.org]

      Somehow, I do not think that Fermilab or CERN view me as the product.

      • by ae1294 (1547521)

        Somehow, I do not think that Fermilab or CERN view me as the product.

        Surely not! Now If you would be so kind as to climb up and start the rotors we can bring the anti - mass spectrometer to 80%.

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        CERN and Fermilab want a linux distro that's tailored to their needs, so they create one. They pay for that, just like most companies do for their software (by buying Windows, or Red Hat, or Suse, or whatnot). Bigger companies pay for their software even more by hiring an IT department.

        SL goes a little further, creating their own OS. And because they're nice (and scientists like to be nice and share their ideas usually), and because it doesn't cost them much if anything extra, they allow the world to get a

  • Wow, glad I just finished setting up Debian testing on my new x230 and migrated to Debian stable on a personal server I while back after the uefi bit. Ubuntu got me into Debian and away from slack and gen too from way back. Been good Ubuntu, bye.
    • by rubycodez (864176)

      Ubuntu was great for desktop, till they ruined it with Unity. I never considered Ubuntu good enough for server like Debian

      only thing better than Debian for stability and testing, is a BSD

    • by tomhath (637240)
      I prefer Debian anyway. Never understood what was better about Ubuntu - bloated and ugly
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:55AM (#41420475)

    But are the 'users' becoming products?

    More specifically, the attention of the users has become the product being sold. Similar to magazine subscriptions, the object is to profit off the attention of the user (reader).

  • If people want Linux for the Desktop, having it re-installed is the only way. PC sellers are willing to sell their PCs with any OS on it, as long as they make money.

    The margins on hardware are minimal, so they look at extra income. Anti-virus programs are a nice source of income. So if they can generate extra income from Linux, they will be interested in doing that.

    This is not about you and me who install are sorts of add blockers and on our Windows machines, run our free Anti virus programs.
    This is about

  • Two points here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rumith (983060) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:00AM (#41420519)
    1) Remember, while most geeks will either be annoyed or even outright disgusted of this move, this is exactly the kind of thing that gets an operating system rolling for the wider audiences (IMO) and adds economical grounds for further expansion. Could this also be Amazon testing the potential of making Ubuntu a partner OS, since they currently lack a desktop operating system integrated with their online shopping "experience"? Maybe.
    2) However what I know for sure is that this feature is likely to be US-only (unfortunately for those international Ubuntu users who prefer buying their music instead of pirating them), as is much of Amazon's stock. I mean, come on. I know that overseas shipping of physical items is hard, but working out the paperwork with the studios for selling a damn file? How hard can that be?
    • Re:Two points here (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rubycodez (864176) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:16AM (#41420637)

      no, Ubuntu's only viable option for cash flow is larger acceptance into corporate workplace. The huge user base is what got them to the top & to be noticed. if they cut that off (continue the mass exodus that Unity started), then there will be no one pushing it in the corproate environment and Canonical will die. good riddance.

    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      What? Amazon's entire sales regime revolves around making shopping as thoughtless as possible, hence that infamous one-click buying patent. Shilling for a branded browser is one thing, but a whole operating system? Come on. There's fantasy, there's conspiracy, and then there's utter delusion.
  • He who pays, owns. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:01AM (#41420521)

    This is not just annoying, it's the beginning of the end of Ubuntu as free software. No matter how unobtrusive the ads are, if Amazon is paying Ubuntu, Ubuntu is bound to become dependent on that cash stream, which means Amazon controls what happens to Ubuntu. And Amazon has shown little interest in the future of free software.

    Now, this isn't entirely a new thing: companies like IBM and Google have been paying for Linux development (in the form of hiring Linux developers) for years. But when an entire distro is financially captured by the biggest online retailer on the planet... that's something new.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      This is not just annoying, it's the beginning of the end of Ubuntu as free software. No matter how unobtrusive the ads are, if Amazon is paying Ubuntu, Ubuntu is bound to become dependent on that cash stream, which means Amazon controls what happens to Ubuntu. And Amazon has shown little interest in the future of free software.

      So who cares if it's just incidental? Amazon pays to develop Ubuntu => Ubuntu has polish => users choose Ubuntu => ad revenue from some of the users => more money to develop Ubuntu. As long as that circle is turning a profit and code gets written, who cares? The only thing they could possibly close source on are the things Ubuntu owns 100% copyright on, which is very little. And how exactly would that improve their cash flow since they'd lose an enormous amount of community goodwill and charging

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:09AM (#41420587)

    all the people who run it, but never paid, are not "freeloaders", they are the massive user base that gave the Ubuntu distro momentum and pushed it to the top of linux distros. they got it into the corporate workplace (my employer uses Ubuntu), they make the helpful forum posts, etc.

    your monetizing needs to be done outside of those people, it's done with services, support, add-ons for the corporate environment, etc.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:14AM (#41420617) Journal

    Now that Unity has gained Ubuntu such a great usage/market share and cemented user loyalty, Canonical can bring home the moolah by integrating Amazon ads with Unity.

    (This pas was written in an alternative universe where the above makes sense)

    • by couchslug (175151)

      The "above" makes PERFECT sense, since it's easy to defeat!

      I'm all for online ads. I block them so I don't give a fuck about what I do not see.

  • Can I not go anywhere without being harassed? Now my own desktop is unsafe. If it is easy to disable or uninstall them then I will not scream about it, but if they are obnoxious then I'll just pick a different flavor linux for use. It's not like there are not other options.
  • Since Kubuntu is now a "community project", it shouldn't be beholden to the mercenary caprice of Canonical. One real draw to Ubuntu is the repositories and PPAs. Hopefully, Kubuntu can provide that without the marketing troll.
  • Adbuntu (Score:5, Funny)

    by flyingfsck (986395) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:34AM (#41420755)
    Adbuntu, the consumer friendly distribution.
  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:37AM (#41420775) Homepage

    And here I thought my switch to Debian might have been premature.

  • by Microlith (54737) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @03:22PM (#41423363)

    The unmitigated hatred against Canonical for trying to find a way to generate income so that they can stay in business and continue developing Ubuntu is amazing. What the hell else do you expect them to do? If they offered a way to buy a copy I'm sure we'd have an equally trollish, hate filled thread here on Slashdot.

  • by Nyder (754090) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @04:21PM (#41423717) Journal

    I'm going to give you some advice. This is based on history.

    If you do NOT complain about the ads in Ubuntu now it's going to get worse. Way worse. This is a toe testing the water. Make the water way the fuck too cold now. If not, you will find, in probably a year, the every linux distro will have ads, and not only in small places. It will ruin linux.

    You think I'm wrong? oh no, the greed of the people say this will not stop and only get worse.

    This will ruin linux for ever. People will associate linux with ads. MS will say, by a Ad Free OS, not Ad Infested Linux. And worse, Linux distros will start selling Ad Free versions.

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