Feeds

The year GNOMES, Ubuntu sufferers forked off to Mint Linux

It is only wafer-thin, and no cheque required

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

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. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: Great changes, but sssh don't mention the...
Why HELLO Amazon! You weren't here last time
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Next Windows obsolescence panic is 450 days from … NOW!
The clock is ticking louder for Windows Server 2003 R2 users
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
OpenBSD founder wants to bin buggy OpenSSL library, launches fork
One Heartbleed vuln was too many for Theo de Raadt
Got Windows 8.1 Update yet? Get ready for YET ANOTHER ONE – rumor
Leaker claims big release due this fall as Microsoft herds us into the CLOUD
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
Apple inaugurates free OS X beta program for world+dog
Prerelease software now open to anyone, not just developers – as long as you keep quiet
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
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.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
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.