Feeds

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

Penguinista revolt sparks volte-face at Um Bongo towers

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft to bake Skype into IE, without plugins
Redmond thinks the Object Real-Time Communications API for WebRTC is ready to roll
Mozilla: Spidermonkey ATE Apple's JavaScriptCore, THRASHED Google V8
Moz man claims the win on rivals' own benchmarks
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings
Oi, Windows, centOS and openSUSE – behave, we're all friends here
Apple's OS X Yosemite slurps UNSAVED docs into iCloud
Docs, email contacts... shhhlooop, up it goes
Was ist das? Eine neue Suse Linux Enterprise? Ausgezeichnet!
Version 12 first major-number Suse release since 2009
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.