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Privacy GUI Ubuntu Linux

Shuttleworth: Trust Us, We're Trying to Make Shopping Better 255

An anonymous reader writes "In a blog post responding to the latest controversy over Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth says 'integrating online scope results' are 'not putting ads in Ubuntu' because the shopping results 'are not paid placement', but 'straightforward search results'. He goes on to explain his plans to make the Home Lens of the Dash a place to find 'anything anywhere'. Like a cross between Chrome OS's new app launcher, Siri and Google Now 'it will get smarter and smarter' so you can 'ask for whatever you want' it 'just works'."
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Shuttleworth: Trust Us, We're Trying to Make Shopping Better

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Monday September 24, 2012 @11:56AM (#41437963) Journal
    From the Q&A part of his blog:

    This is just a moneymaking scheme.

    We picked Amazon as a first place to start because most of our users are also regular users of Amazon, and it pays us to make your Amazon journey get off to a faster start. Typing Super “queen marking cage” Just Worked for me this morning. I am now looking forward to my game of Ultimate Where’s Waldo hunting down the queens in my bee colonies, Ubuntu will benefit from the fact that I chose to search Amazon that way, Amazon benefits from being more accessible to a very discerning, time-conscious and hotkey-friendly audience.

    Cool, thanks for at least being honesty about that part. Although I don't understand why this wasn't the front-and-center thesis of your blog post. You're getting paid to bring us to Amazon faster. Okay. You can opt out of it but it's enabled by default. Okay. I get that. It's okay, nobody's going to fault you if you're trying to figure out new revenue models. But you should really be up front with your user base about it or you're going to get some seriously knee jerk reactions that might doom your product before it's out the door (regardless of how true it is). You're running damage control now and that probably could have been avoided if your floated this out in front of "leaked" screenshots.

    I'm also really curious about this next part of your answer to this question:

    But there are many more kinds of things you can search through with Unity scopes. Most of them won’t pay Ubuntu a cent, but we’ll still integrate them into the coolest just-ask-and-you’ll-receive experience. I want us to do this because I think we can make the desktop better.

    So what happens when it's time to integrate and "bring the user faster" to Barnes & Noble? What happens when you've "integrated" with both Amazon, B&N, Abe's Books, eBay, Go Hastings, etc and I type in "Ender's Game"? What happens when the outfit that sold you your "queen marking cage" doesn't sell them on Amazon and there's middle men re-listing everything at a higher price on Amazon on the chance that someone with a default scope searches for it through Ubuntu? I have reservations that this move is making an already omnipotent Amazon unduly more powerful ...

  • by OldKingCole ( 2672649 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @12:00PM (#41438035)
    Why can't you just integrate Google search into the lens?
  • by deusmetallum ( 1607059 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @12:13PM (#41438267)
    I have been thinking long and hard about this and I can only come to this conclusion. It is a nice feature. It needs tweaks, so results for photoshop don't pop up, or if they do it should explain it's not compatible with Linux. But what it needs more than anything, which is something Canonical keep missing out of all of their super new features is a simple tickbox for on or off. I understand that this is still beta, and it's certainly not LTS so it is more or less a testing platform, so I'm not jumping up and down right now. Canonical have proven to me that they can iron things out between normal releases and LTS, and I'm happy to accept that this may well be the case here. I'm basing this on evidence that I have seen over the last 4 years, not just what Mark says. This really is a great step forward for UX, as it is saying "hey, let's do more 'cloud' stuff from the desktop." Think about what else will be possible with a bit of thought. We could have it bring up all of your photos, from all sources (picassa, facebook, twitter) and present them in one place. I could type something like "London" into my dash and it shows me all the photos I've taken in London, a list of all my friends who are currently *in* London, and maybe sell me a London guide book. I cannot begin to express how awesome features like this can be. Amazon is only a single step to a full set of amazing features, and we must remember that these aren't *ads.* I am searching for a product, I can chose to buy it, and I won't get prompted to buy anything similar next time I fire up the dash. One thing that I also think is important to remember, is that we are a set of pretty clued up power users and as such we will see problems and we will jump to justify why something is a bad idea. However, if I were to install this on my Dad's laptop tomorrow, I can guarantee he would actually be quite thrilled with this feature. This is Linux for Human Beings and I think product searching is a very human thing to have.
  • by eric_herm ( 1231134 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @12:14PM (#41438279)

    And once adult oriented results while be filtered, someone will ask to remove blasphematory results ( like India/Pakistan ), then someone will remove gay related content ( if this isn't already removed as "adult oriented result", as often with such filter ), then someone will remove violent game ( like in australia ),then users will also ask to not see song they already purchased songs from the result, and then RIAA will ask to not show pirate song and mp3.

    And then Canonical will be screwed to have deployed a censorship system, because it will be abused like the others. in the end, Canonical will not enven get enough money just to pay the system, let alone engineers to make new products.

  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @12:14PM (#41438287)

    so many other things that need fixing, and they're whacking off about internet search.

    To be frank, a lot of what needs fixing takes money to fix. Particularly integration and compatibility issues which seem to be, by far, the biggest source of problems. This requires labs full of hardware and people to develop and automate the testing.

    If you're struggling to find sources of income (which wouldn't surprise me, given the attitude expressed here on Slashdot previously) then it's hard to step up and develop the QA infrastructure that's needed to resolve the issues. Most Slashdotters would simply write them off and move on to the next useless distro.

  • by OldKingCole ( 2672649 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @12:15PM (#41438307)
    My point exactly. This is not about enabling us to find the best answer to what we ask but rather push referral ads down our throats.
  • by Volanin ( 935080 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @12:16PM (#41438313)

    Some people are also questioning if the home lens (the default lens to make any local search) is the right place to integrate these remote searches to third party services. In theory, amazon could gather information about every file you search, every program you launch through the lens, and such. There is even a bug report [], marked as confirmed, questioning this very thing.

  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @12:16PM (#41438325)

    Linux would survive without them.

    It would, but it would be a pale shadow of its current self. Sure it'd survive on servers and in the mobile space, but the desktop would be even tinier. What would Valve do, shift their target to Fedora? Which is even less end-user targeted than Ubuntu?

  • by yog ( 19073 ) * on Monday September 24, 2012 @12:24PM (#41438477) Homepage Journal

    Ubuntu was at one time an appealing alternative to Windows. I had it running on a desktop and laptop at home, and at least one VM at work ran Ubuntu. It just worked. But the minute they came up with this Unity dashboard thing, it broke the familiar UI and as far as I'm concerned, tweaking Ubuntu to make it usable again to myself and my users became more effort than it was worth.

    Meanwhile, Suse has plowed ahead with a record of pretty consistent, solid distributions. Fedora's been pretty good as well, but once I got Suse I just got used to the Suse way of doing things and didn't look back.

    Yeah, I miss how Ubuntu can locate printers very reliably on the network, while I have to manually plug in the IP addresses in YaST, but that's not a show stopper. What is a showstopper is when I can't find basic stuff like the calculator because it's been moved from a simple accessories pulldown menu and hidden in some goofy app picker.

    This ad thing is merely more fuel on the fire. I don't get what those people are thinking. I guess they have to keep pushing the envelope, looking for ways to monetize their product and keep growing, but I would have thought they'd do better by just making it the easiest and most affordable alternative there is to Windows. Anyway -- R.I.P. Ubuntu!

  • by anarcat ( 306985 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @12:51PM (#41438949) Homepage

    Apart from what's already been mentioned here, one bit particularly troubles me:

    We are not telling Amazon what you are searching for. Your anonymity is preserved because we handle the query on your behalf. Don’t trust us? Erm, we have root. You do trust us with your data already.

    I don't equate having root with having people's data, personally. I happen to adhere to a Ethics Code (SAGE's []) that *keeps* me from peeking over people's personal data, *especially* for my own interests. Adding a snitch that report back not only the machine's existence (you get that through APT automated updates) but also personal search requests to Canonical headquarters by default does seem like a major privacy breach.

    That the dictator of Ubuntu and Canonical brushes his responsibilities aside like this is downright scary if you ask me, especially given the argument is "we have root, we 0wn you already, sorry bud".

  • It makes no sense! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 24, 2012 @01:16PM (#41439379)

    As a fellow that's the family's tech support I agree. I installed Ubuntu on my mother's laptop because of the "noob friendliness" and it just working. Ubuntu had a Gnome interface and deb-package management which I am both familiar with and I never had problems with it.

    I need to keep things consistent. And since this whole Unity thing was introduced as not just something that's a feature, but as the default window manager and me having to install Ubuntu again, I needed to install gnome-shell myself, and that lacked features! (I did it because I thought "It can't be so bad!", but it was just lacking features)

    The Unity interface is built upon the icon-based navigation that's prominent in tablets/phones. (This is one of few things blame Apple for -- unwarranted? maybe) Unity is an offspring of Apple's "Look at all the shiny!". Even Windows 8's metro interface is going in this new "radical" changes direction. For anyone that uses computers more than an hour per day or for someone that's your family's tech support: it makes no sense! All these different UIs are going to be experimental, beta and incompatible. (Incompatible more so than the popular desktop environments in Linux)

    Unity is the ugly offspring of Canonical and Apple. The icon-based interface, beta software as a window manger and now the including of just ads in Ubuntu is the last time I'll be using Ubuntu. And it is just that: advertising. I wonder, how do other businesses feel about this? Why not include Google search results instead of Amazon shopping? People use Google way more often than Amazon shopping.

    Run a damn fundraiser, use donations, sell actual products! Don't earn money by bashing your users like this, Canonical.
    Only if you turn your ship around *now* will I keep using Ubuntu. I speak for myself, but I feel I share the view of not the Ubuntu community, but a lot of the Slashdot users.

  • by Anna Merikin ( 529843 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @01:43PM (#41439795) Journal

    I might find this useful if I could choose which retailers to include or exclude. No NewEgg? Add it. Don't like Amazon? Delete it.

    Someone (not google, apple nor microsoft) should act as a clearing house for payment for these custom searches as these very "well-qualified sales leads" are much more valuable to a retailer than random Ubuntu-sent queries through a private Amazon acting as a commercial clearinghouse.

    IMHO and YMMV

  • by ifiwereasculptor ( 1870574 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @02:16PM (#41440259)

    If they follow the example of Mint and Firefox, inclusion and exclusion would be fair game. Even if they don't, it's open source. And unlike carrier-defiled Android, they can't remove your administrative rights from the machine so you'd have to root it (well, they can, but that would be a whole new level of stupid). Shuttleworth already said he doesn't want the Unity dock placed on the bottom of the screen, but mods are trivial and aplenty.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama