Feeds

Canonical bungs kill switch onto Ubuntu's Amazon 'adware'

Penguinista revolt sparks volte-face at Um Bongo towers

Top three mobile application threats

Canonical is reining in its Ubuntu Linux distro's new Amazon "adware" desktop search feature after penguinistas vented their rage.

Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon has explained in a blog post how users can disable the controversial system that, by default, sends desktop search queries unencrypted to Amazon via Canonical's servers so that links to products related to the queries can be shown in the results.

The catch is, the fix won’t just stop you from receiving results from Amazon: it will eliminate all online results from the search.

“There is work going on to have a toggle switch in the settings to disable it. Note that this will affect all online searches (e.g. Gwibber),” Bacon sniffed.

As commentators on Bacon’s blog noted, though, it’s not clear whether the ability to stop Dash searches pulling in Amazon results was a response to the backlash. Canonical will formally introduce the new Dash search feature in Ubuntu 12.10, due out next month.

Certainly, when Ubuntu daddy Mark Shuttleworth tried to calm users’ concerns over privacy earlier this week, he made no mention of being able to "turn Amazon off".

Shuttleworth instead suggested narrowing the scope of searches using a hotkey to specify the specific scope, "like Super-A for apps, or Super-F for files".

Ubuntu features a universal search feature called the Home lens. The new feature in 12.10 means that when a user conducts a search, Home lens will not just return results from the local drive but also links considered relevant from the Amazon uber-warehouse in the sky.

Canonical will get a share of revenue from purchases made, and has strongly defended the deal, saying it would help fund the Ubuntu project.

Shuttleworth tried to calm Ubuntu users' fears over the feature at the weekend, writing: “We are not telling Amazon what you are searching for. Your anonymity is preserved because we handle the query on your behalf.”

He also denied that Ubuntu would be selling ads or product placements.

It’s the latest wrinkle in Canonical’s relationship with the open-source community. In past years, Shuttleworth has pressed for release-schedule co-ordination between open-source projects to improve feature development and delivery.

A decision by those in charge of Debian, the basis for Ubuntu, to freeze release cycles every two years to assist Ubuntu releases produced such a backlash that project leaders reversed their decision within 24 hours.

One commenter responding to Bacon on the latest issue, and with the moniker veryannoyed, reckoned the Amazon Lens issue had "seriously compromised the integrity of Canonical as a steward of Ubuntu".

“Canonical is beginning to see that many, many Linux users care about their control over their own private information. Money making schemes that compromise this are not worth it,” veryannoyed wrote. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Next Windows obsolescence panic is 450 days from … NOW!
The clock is ticking louder for Windows Server 2003 R2 users
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.