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Ubuntu Will Now Have Amazon Ads Pre-Installed 646

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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  • Profit! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fished ( 574624 ) <> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:32AM (#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...

  • Re:Profit! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:36AM (#41420359) Journal
    If you build a free OS and support it for years, I think you're entitled to a little profit. Besides, a single command will get rid of the ads.
  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:39AM (#41420383) Journal
    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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:48AM (#41420431)

    Those bastards at Ubuntu are trying to pay their employees again, I hope they burn in hell for trying to make a tiny profit off of me without any negative effect on my end.

  • Re:Adbuntu (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Knuckles ( 8964 ) <knuckles@danti a n .org> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:53AM (#41420461)

    I wonder how long until someone releases a tool to disable the ads.

    Big deal. sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping. Or for the GUI, open Ubuntu Software Center, search for, e.g., "shop". Click "Show technical items" and uninstall the lens. That could be made a bit more obvious, but it's not like what you are implying.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @09:55AM (#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).

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

    by Yfrwlf ( 998822 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:28AM (#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:I see (Score:4, Interesting)

    by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:42AM (#41420811)

    Not that I'm a hater or anything, but if you're going to go with Gnome 2 on Ubuntu, why not switch to a distro where it's officially supported? Mint has an official MATE roll, which is a Gnome2 fork that showed up specifically because of the whole Gnome3/Unity fiasco. And... because Mint was originally a Ubuntu derivative, it will be familiar enough in terms of package management that there should be effectively zero learning curve.

    And no, I'm not trying to evangelize for Mint... I use a different distro entirely. But if your criteria are wanting a Gnome2-based distro with apt repositories, then Mint/MATE should be a pretty good choice.

  • Re:Uninstall? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:54AM (#41420909) Homepage

    You realize paying for a prime membership is useless, since you can have 3 months for free with a a new account? Just keep making new accounts every 3 months.

    Have you actually done this yourself?

    Surely they have something about this in the terms and conditions and a check in place to ensure that people don't keep doing this. My boss opened a second Merchant Account with (under a slightly different name and email) some years after his first one had been closed following problems with customer service (*). Shortly afterwards they closed the new account claiming it was connected with an older one, but giving no explanation as to why. Given that (IIRC) this was shortly after we'd set up the bank details (or something similar), it was quite obvious that they had some sort of system set up to spot this sort of thing automatically.

    (*) It should be made clear that this was Amazon's fault. I don't remember the exact details (I didn't work there at the time, and it was several years ago now), but apparently Amazon had repeatedly failed to notify us of orders that had been placed or pass on other essential details as they should have, with the result that we'd been given the blame. The new account was reinstated after we provided clear evidence to Amazon that the original problems had been due to their incompetence. Second time round I'm not saying it was perfect, but it wasn't that bad.

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @11:12AM (#41421025)

    You might want to follow your own advice... there's nothing in the GPL which says you can't profit from it, nor that you are even discouraged from trying to profit from it, and there are a *lot* of distros that *do* turn a profit in one way or another. That's without even considering software companies like Crossover or Cedega or PlayOnLinux. Pretty much every Linux developer profits from it in some way, if not directly then from being able to put it on their resume, or from job opportunities that arise through contacts they make in the community, or from keeping their skills up while they work on different projects. Even big name companies that pay people specifically to develop for Linux make a profit out of it... thanks to better Linux support, I went from being a rabid AMD fangirl to buying nothing but Intel in my systems, and NVidia graphics for gaming systems, and I'm not the only one.

    Besides that, Canonical has been selling support contracts for years. What's new is using an ad-supported model, but even that isn't completely new in Linux, and has been done by others. And you know what? It costs money to keep a server going, and they get a lot of downloads. If they are not making enough from donations to stay afloat, then they have every right to try to monetize in other ways. It sure as hell wouldn't be the first time... you know that both Firefox and Ubuntu get money from Google every time you open your browser to the default searchpage? That's their decision to make, and if you have a problem with it you can switch to somebody else, or try giving them money so they don't have to advertise.

  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @11:17AM (#41421081)

    I know it's no longer fashionable to bitch about pulseaudio, but...

    Any time anything goes wrong wit linux audio, it seems to be because pulse has been brought in by some package dependency, and it's screwed something up. Flash can't play sound at the same time as another program? Pulse. Sound dies after a while for no reason? Pulse.

    Now, I'm sure that in many cases the problem is other programs and their sound support being buggy or just rong, but in pretty much all cases I've encountered, ditching pulse and dropping back to ALSA gives me a more functional system.

  • Re:I see (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @11:28AM (#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.

  • Re:I see (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:14PM (#41421555) Journal

    Ya know I just have to say...I find this all VERY enlightening.

    I mean here we have a company that was the darling of the community, who heaped praise upon it, yet when they are bleeding to death and trying to try to survive what does the community do? "ZOMFG block it!" or "I'm going somewhere else, how dare they try to keep the doors open!" and it just goes to show that ALL the community cares about is "free as in beer".

    For a site that supposedly has so many libertarians you'd think TINSTAAFL wouldn't even have to be said, hell the history of the company since Shuttleworth stopped the gravy train has been one of desperation, even unity was an attempt to get an Ubuntu tablet, yet the nerd rage here at Canonical trying to keep the lights on is just incredible.

    But I don't think anyone will have to worry for much longer, the era of "Linux for humans" that was Canonical is nearly over. When the community refuses to buy shit and blocks everything the check from Amazon won't even be enough to pay their phone bill. So long Canonical, it was a nice idea, too bad you can't make money on free desktops.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2012 @01:30PM (#41422179)

    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.

    That was the reason why people liked ubuntu to begin with, myself included: linux was a PITA to install for desktop use. Ubuntu solved most of the problems with installation (video drivers, etc); however, today regular Debian has caught up to the same ease of Ubuntu. Hell, Fedora is just as easy as are most distros now. Why continue using derivatives that are only concerned with form (Unity, ads, etc) when you can use the base that cares only about function?

  • by multiplexo ( 27356 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @03:03PM (#41422855) Journal

    Canonical have provided the community with a polished and free OS

    Free yes, polished? Are you fucking kidding me? I can tell that you've never used Ubuntu for any serious server work. If you had you'd know that it's anything but polished. Take the Upstart init manager as an example. In theory Upstart was supposed to replace the old SYS V init scripts with a leaner, event driven mechanism for system start up. In practice it has done anything but. Some services start through Upstart, some start through init.d and others, such as sshd have different behavior depending upon whether or not you control them via upstart or start and stop them via init.d. Then there's the fact that the braindead dildos who wrote Upstart set it up so that it kills services via kill -9. Yeah, because nothing bad could ever happen if you ran kill -9 to shut your database down, which is exactly what Upstart does when you run

    stop mysql

    Apparently no one at Canonical understands that "kill -9" is something that you use only as a last resort and certainly isn't something you want to use when you're stopping and starting a database. Then there's the piece of shit Plymouth boot manager. Guess what, servers don't need splash screens. Really, they don't. My servers live in remote sites or are hosted in the cloud. I don't need a cutesy picture when they start, I want screen after screen of detailed output telling me what the system is doing. But go ahead and try to remove Plymouth from your Ubuntu system. Guess what! You can't. Some useless son-of-a-crack-whore set up the package dependencies such that attempting to remove Plymouth, which is a real piece of shit from an Ubuntu system also removes the core system.

    Then there's ureadahead. Ureadahead is an OK idea on laptops I guess but does nothing for you when you're on a server and I've started disabling it on the systems I run. Interestingly enough despite ureadahead's supposed performance benefits I haven't seen any penalty for doing so. I could go on and on and on, the out of date rsyslog that ships with Ubuntu (yeah, because collecting log information is boring and old school, who needs that stuff?), bugs in mdraid that cause it to incorrectly detect disk size when it creates your disk label, thus creating a ticking time bomb that can go off and result in massive file corruption, etc, etc, etc. Oh, and the Ubuntu desktop, what a piece of shit. I'd take Windows XP over this POS any day of the week. Newsflash Ubuntu developers, larding your desktop up with shiny crap doesn't make it more useful. The Gnome and Unity UIs are every bit as bloated and stupid as the Windows Vista UI and if any real functionality or value has been added I have yet to see what it is. Gnome and Unity are nothing more than a shiny coat of paint on top of a nasty, stinky turd.

    About a year ago I set up a desktop using straight Debian, and it was fucking amazing. Shit just worked and I realized that the only reason why Ubuntu has been able to stay in business so long is because they've been able to ride on Debian's coat tails and that even though they're idiots they haven't been able to fuck up the solid work that the folks at Debian have done over the years. This cartoon describes Ubuntu best. []

  • by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 ) <> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @04:32PM (#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.

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer