Feeds

The year GNOMES, Ubuntu sufferers forked off to Mint Linux

It is only wafer-thin, and no cheque required

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

No, honestly boss, I was looking up 'analyse', not that

But the Amazon Lens squeezes itself into attempts to look for files on the desktop in front of the user, or on the local network, rather than web searches. Having Amazon shopping results come back when you're looking for a document or program on your desktop proved not only surprising, but next to useless - you're searching, say, for that holiday journal you kept in Russia two years ago, not Moleskine journals, diaries and bags on special offer.

The search results can even be, depending on your sensibilities, offensive.

Thanks to Unity's find-as-you-type feature, seemingly benign searches for words such as "analyze" and "assets" can bring up smutty Amazon video results for slow typists.

It got worse. As the EFF pointed out, your local search queries are sent to Amazon via Canonical's servers over a secure connection, but what Amazon sends back is not. That means, because images for suggested products are loaded directly from Amazon's servers rather than the in-between systems run by Canonical, Amazon has the ability to correlate search queries with your IP address.

Free-software firebrand Richard Stallman jumped into the fray by calling the Amazon Lens "spyware" and "surveillance code". Stallman went on to suggest that the free software community "tell people that Ubuntu is shunned for spying". Ubuntu's Jono Bacon called Stallman's tongue-lashing "childish" although the Ubuntu man later apologised and was unable to refute anything Stallman actually wrote. If the 300-plus comments on Bacon's blog post prove anything it is that - for once - the vast, vast majority of Linux users appear to agree with Stallman.

So why go out on a limb to turn on a feature that's largely useless, potentially offensive, may violate user privacy and is insecure to boot? Critics said Canonical is desperate for revenue. Shuttleworth said he just wants to make Unity more useful. Either way, despite the backlash and public criticisms over privacy, Canonical did not back down. Ubuntu 12.10 shipped with the Amazon Lens enabled by default but offered a kill switch.

Ubuntu's Amazon lens: a marriage of your desktop and the web bazaar's Jeff Bezos

In other words, it's our way or the highway. Again.

Of course while GNOME and Ubuntu may be turning a deaf ear to the community and forging off on their own separate paths, one Linux distro seems to be gaining converts: Mint Linux.

Not only does the Mint team listen to its users, it's solving real problems and offers two alternatives to the GNOME Shell: the temporary fix that is the MATE desktop and the longer-term alternative Cinnamon.

MATE, originally forked from GNOME 2 by an Arch Linux developer, is for anyone who wants to stick with the familiar GNOME 2 desktop. Cinnamon, on the other hand, takes GNOME 3's guts, rips out the GNOME Shell and replaces it with a user interface for those who prefer to "get things done", as Team Mint puts it. Cinnamon isn't perfect. In fact it can be quite buggy at times, but at least it's heading in a direction roughly opposite to GNOME and Unity.

Both of the Mint-sponsored desktops have proved popular enough that they're now part of Fedora's default repositories as well. Ubuntu, once the darling of desktop Linux and the overwhelmingly popular choice for newcomers, may soon lose that role to Mint.

Maybe 2012 will be the year we look back upon as the beginning of a changing of the guard among the Linux distros. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.