Why I hate Ubuntu: Reason #14

You know how when you search for something within a search engine and the first results are adverts (sponsored links) ?

Now, you can get that feature right in your desktop environment ! Indeed Ubuntu has now added this thing, when you search for a program through the "lens" you get software results and right below "More Suggestions" which are products from your local Amazon online store.

Ubuntu and its followers defend this stating that Ubuntu needs to be funded somehow. It's a strange point of view that users of free email might understand as they already accept to have advertisements on their personal email pages (webmail). However I think both are perverse, we already are subject to so much consumer propaganda in public spaces as it is.

If Ubuntu is really in lack of money, they could have easily obtained funds by asking their users to donate. They already do that I heard, but I couldn't find where. Just put the link near the download link, or on the home page, or at least in the main menu. Offer services, like support, I don't know, maybe they should start a kickstarter page. Instead it looks like they are going in the direction of ChromeOS. I'll even predict that the next Ubuntu will be a just boot loader with the whole OS on their cloud.

Oh, I almost forgot, this probably means that whatever you type in the "Lens" thing is sent to Amazon.com with your IP (see update below).

Update: There is even a bug report about this. It seems the user's queries are not sent to Amazon directly but are sent to Ubuntu, the Ubuntu user's computer then gets a JSON formatted reply. That reply contains links to product informations and remote images that the user's computer will then request directly from Amazon.

This what a search like "games" looks like.

Mark Shuttleworth's honest response should make any Ubuntu user worried:

Why are you telling Amazon what I am searching for?

We are not telling Amazon what you are searching for. Your anonymity is preserved because we handle the query on your behalf. Don’t trust us? Erm, we have root. You do trust us with your data already.

No mister Shuttleworth, I don't trust you with my data, and this is just one of the reasons why.

Update 2: And so the bug reports are coming in, here are just a few.

Update 3: A post from the Free Software Foundation on Ubuntu, by RMS: Ubuntu Spyware: What to Do?

Update 4: The Ubuntu/Amazon parody logo is now under CC-BY-NC CC-BY-SA license thanks to Richard Stallman.



I find this even more ironic:

Mark Shuttleworth:
We’re not putting ads in Ubuntu

But the suggestions will be advertising Amazon and products on Amazon.

It's sad that a Free OS (well, not completely Free in the case of Ubuntu) will be potentially advertising DRM'd products by Amazon.

manu - http://manurevah.com

It even advertises for the Adobe programs which are not only DRM'd, but also are not compatible with Ubuntu.

I think Mark Shuttleworth's idea is to refine all this over time with the help (work) of "the community" and so on. Basically, the community that helped build and popularize Ubuntu is expected to help make the revenue element of Ubuntu even better.

Designs and patches welcome in the usual places.


Even with the help of the community, I find it hard to support this latest move. Freedom should come before money, and Amazon certainly doesn't support freedom.

On a side note, I liked your Ubuntu logo. :)

manu - http://manurevah.com

That's irony of it, the community helping to develop a way to monetize themselves.

Thanks for the logo, I wasn't sure anyone would even notice.


Whats wrong with shopping on amazon? Why should i have to go to my bowser? I only wish that there was more vendor variety

manu - http://manurevah.com

Most users will be searching Amazon and other 3rd party services without knowing about it. By default what appears to be a local search is now a global search. This should be an option that should be off by default, users who want that option will activate it. By doing things this way Ubuntu is deceiving its users.

There are a few good reasons not to buy from Amazon, however that wasn't the topic here.



@chubbs searching for a file on your computer can get permanently recorded in a database by Amazon/Canonical. Sure, maybe you don't think they will do anything bad with it, but why give them the chance?

It's no secret that Amazon and Canonical are required to present what they know about you to the US gov if that data is requested. Companies like Amazon already do "Big Data" analytics on their users and maybe even people who don't shop on Amazon.

It's deceptive because most users won't even know about it. How many people read a privacy policy?
Leave a comment
You may use the following HTML tags: <p> <a> <strong> <b> <em> <i> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <pre>

Your comments WILL NOT be submitted to any third party (not even for anti spam verification).