Feeds

Ubuntu 13.04: No privacy controls as promised, but hey - photo search!

A lot of stuff's missing, but the tweaks make a difference, honest

Seven Steps to Software Security

First the bad news: most of the big new features planned for Ubuntu 13.04, or Raring Ringtail, haven’t made it – they’ve been pushed back to 13.10, due in October. Despite this, the Ringtail is actually rather good.

Assuming you're a fan of the Unity interface and got past the privacy fiasco of last year - either because you’ve become comfortable with Canonical sending your desktop search queries to Amazon and others or have simply disabled the feature - Ubuntu 13.04 packs a number of new features, big and small, that make it well worth the upgrade.

First, though, it’s worth nothing what hasn't made it into 13.04. This includes the planned Smart Scopes feature. Smart Scopes are part of Canonical's long-term plan to make the Unity Dash as much a web-search interface as application launcher. The goal is to add some 100 different search providers to the Unity Dash, allowing you to search everything from websites like IMDb and DeviantArt to your browser bookmarks, Tomboy notes and more.

Unfortunately, Ubuntu developers have deemed Smart Scopes too unstable for 13.04. The new plan is to ship it with 13.10 in October. If you simply must have them, you can install Smart Scopes, but - be forewarned - they are buggy and unstable.

The setback for Smart Scopes has led to a secondary casualty - the planned improvements to Ubuntu's privacy settings. The outcry from privacy advocates about last year's Amazon Search Lens controversy prompted Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth to promise that future releases would offer more fine-grained privacy control and an easy way to opt out of individual search tools.

ubuntu 13.04 photolens

All your images R belong to us: the Photo Search Lens draws on photos in Shotwell, Flickr, Facebook and Google

The plan is to add something that's a bit like the private browsing mode available in web browsers, but - like Smart Scopes – it, too, has been pushed back. Like Ubuntu 12.10, Raring Ringtail's privacy panel still only offers the all or nothing "include online search results" toggle.

It's too bad that the new privacy features didn't make the cut for this release because one of the best new features in the Unity dash is the new Photo Search Lens, which taps not just any photos you have in Shotwell, but any images you've uploaded to Flickr, Facebook or Google. To make it work though, you'll have to turn on the "show online search results" option, which means you'll also see the much-maligned Amazon results.

The killer feature that makes the case for web-based search

It's almost worth it, though, because the Photo Lens is the kind of very cool new feature that makes Unity momentarily less annoying and almost convinces you that putting web-based search in the Dash is a good idea. And then you search for something else and suddenly your results are littered with irrelevant Amazon search results. One step forward, two steps back.

The Photo Lens also indirectly showcases a nice new feature in the settings panel - the Online Accounts pane. The Online Accounts pane makes it easy to keep track of all your accounts in one spot and allows any apps that need access to pull from the same, single source. Among the providers are Flickr, Yahoo, Google, Twitter, AIM and Windows Live.

Ubuntu 13.04 privacy settings

All or nothing: Raring Ringtail's privacy settings still only basic options

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be support for self-hosted accounts like OpenPhoto or OwnCloud. Also note that only some apps are connected to this system. That means that when searching the Photo Lens your local results will consist of only those images Shotwell is aware of, not, for example, any photos you've got in more serious photo apps like Darktable.

However, cool as the Photo Lens is, unless you really love Amazon search results in your Dash, you're better off skipping the Photo Lens until the Smart Scopes and better privacy controls land later in 13.10 or you uninstall the Amazon Lens.

There's another missing feature you may notice in Ubuntu 13.04. The Ubuntu One Music Store has been ripped out of Rhythmbox, Ubuntu's default music player (the plugin is gone from Banshee as well). The music-player based version of the Ubuntu Music Store has been retired in favor of the web-based store, which debuted just before Ubuntu 12.10 last year.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

Next page: Missing the music

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.