Richard Stallman and Jono Bacon Differ on Ubuntu's Amazon Search

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 10, 2012

 While some loyal Ubuntu users have quietly accepted the fact that Ubuntu now includes shopping suggestions from Amazon in desktop search results, many purists have cried foul over the practice. Joining the chorus of naysayers, open source software advocate Richard Stallman has posted a public objection to Canonical's Amazon arrangement, and now, Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon has responded to Stallman. Watch the fur fly.

In a Free Software Foundation post, Stallman writes:

"One of the major advantages of free software is that the community protects users from malicious software. Now Ubuntu GNU/Linux has become a counterexample...Amazon commits many wrongs (see; by promoting Amazon, Canonical contributes to them. However, the ads are not the core of the problem. The main issue is the spying. Canonical says it does not tell Amazon who searched for what. However, it is just as bad for Canonical to collect your personal information as it would have been for Amazon to collect it."

Stallman notes that Canonical includes functionality allowing users to switch the Amazon results off, but also says: "Clearly Canonical thinks that many Ubuntu users will leave this setting in the default state (on). And many may do so, because it doesn't occur to them to try to do anything about it."

Meanwhile, Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon responds:

"This is FUD....just because someone may have differing views to mine on the implementation of privacy in software doesn’t mean they are wrong. Likewise, just because my views may differ to theirs doesn’t mean I am wrong. We are all different and we all manage our information and our expectations around information sharing in different ways."

"Just look at Facebook; the privacy debates there have been raging on for years and have encompassed many different views and perspectives ranging from 'I want to control every detail of my privacy in Facebook' to 'I don’t care, if it is on the Internet, I don’t care who sees it,' and everything in-between."

Bacon especially expresses dismay over Stallman's encouragement for people running Software Freedom Day events to not install and run Ubuntu.

The funny thing about all of this is that these debates have gone on before. Few people criticize Mozilla for the substantial annual revenues it gets in exchange for putting prominent Google search placement in the Firefox browser. As Stallman himself notes, forks of Ubuntu are already appearing that have the Amazon search results switched off by default. Users have a choice.

How do you feel about this dispute?