Ubuntu Spyware: What to Do?

Discussion in '*nix Software' started by Albatross, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. Albatross

    Albatross Platinum Member

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    http://www.fsf.org/blogs/rms/ubuntu-spyware-what-to-do


    Ubuntu, a widely used and influential GNU/Linux distribution, has installed surveillance code. When the user searches her own local files for a string using the Ubuntu desktop, Ubuntu sends that string to one of Canonical's servers.
     
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  3. lxskllr

    lxskllr Lifer

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    Ubuntu sits in a space between libre and proprietary software. I'm not sure what to make of it all, but I'm interested in seeing how it turns out. RMS makes good points about the free/non-free distinction, but even something semi-free is certainly better than absolutely non-free, right? I think he's probably right about not recommending Ubuntu to new people, and those that are experienced should proceed with caution.
     
  4. Albatross

    Albatross Platinum Member

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    I think this might be an illustration of a "law" of big numbers:as soon as an OS passes a certain number, people realize it`s an opportunity for boatload of money to be made and sooner or later they take it.
     
  5. lxskllr

    lxskllr Lifer

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    I have no issues with making money, but it shouldn't be at the (potential)expense of user security and privacy. I think this could have been done with more finesse, and maybe come up with a different way to make cash.
     
  6. TheVrolok

    TheVrolok Lifer

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    Marked for later read
     
  7. lxskllr

    lxskllr Lifer

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  8. kornphlake

    kornphlake Golden Member

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    I think the author is more upset about non-free software than he is upset about the surveillance, otherwise he'd just switch it off and move on. It's good to know I might be sending search history to canonical, but honestly the article comes across as a political rant more than an informative piece about computer security.
     
  9. lxskllr

    lxskllr Lifer

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    RMS is all about politics and philosophy. That's what he does. He's also been proven right over and over when he warns about encroachments on user freedom. Ignore him at your peril.

    Edit:
    More from the EFF...

    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/10/privacy-ubuntu-1210-amazon-ads-and-data-leaks

    Edit2:
    A response from Jono Bacon, Ubuntu community manager...

    http://www.jonobacon.org/2012/12/07/on-richard-stallman-and-ubuntu/

    Pretty weak imo. It comes off as being fluffy and soft without any meat. He's comparing the Ubuntu situation to facebook, saying privacy violations can be reasonably debated. It either violates privacy, or it doesn't. While Ubuntu isn't nearly as egregious as facebook, it still has privacy concerns, and could very well get worse in the future. "Feature" creep in this regard is insidious, and well documented in the software world.

    He's correct that RMS is uncompromising, and takes a binary view of software freedom, but that's his job, and without someone holding the hardline, your freedom can feature creep away until you don't have any.
     
    #8 lxskllr, Dec 7, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  10. VirtualLarry

    VirtualLarry Lifer

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    Well, cross Ubuntu off my distro to try out list.

    What about "downstream" distros, based on Ubuntu, like Mint?
     
  11. lxskllr

    lxskllr Lifer

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    They don't meet the RMS seal of approval because they contain, and recommend non-free software. On the privacy particulars though, those are the forks RMS was talking about, where malicious features get fixed. As long as they continue to remove bad features, they'd be an imperfect, but better recommendation than Ubuntu.

    If you wanted a fully free distro that's based on Ubuntu, Trisquel would be a good choice. It's pretty nice, but much more limiting than Ubuntu. It uses the Linux-libre kernel, and has no non-free packages in the repos. You'd have to be far more careful with hardware selection, and would have to like without Flash, and proprietary codecs and stuff like that, but it's doable.
     
  12. theevilsharpie

    theevilsharpie Platinum Member

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    Spying implies taking someone's information without their knowledge. Canonical has been completely up front about their goal of a unified federated search in Unity, along with how that search data is used. For those that are uncomfortable with the feature, it can be disabled. If that's not good enough, Unity is open source, so anyone can go in and remove the feature entirely.

    I'm not really seeing the outage here.
     
  13. Joseph F

    Joseph F Diamond Member

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    I'd like to know why one wouldn't want to use proprietary software if you're not planning on modifying it yourself. I don't want to start a flamewar, but I never saw what all the fuss was about when it came to proprietary codecs, and drivers. Both of them are absolutely critical to my Linux experience. /offtopic

    Regarding the topic at hand, I really don't like the direction this is going in. They've got their foot in the door, and who knows where they'll stop? I'm glad they effectively ruined the distro for me by putting that God-awful UI onto it. I won't ever try it again if they continue to record and phone-home user search queries.
     
    #12 Joseph F, Dec 8, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  14. agibby5

    agibby5 Senior member

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    I've been using Ubuntu for years. It looks like they're on a slippery slope. What distro is comparable and yet not approaching this type of situation? I'd like to stick to something debian based.
     
  15. lxskllr

    lxskllr Lifer

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    Because proprietary software could be doing anything, and you wouldn't know it. It's a security issue. It's also a freedom issue. Regardless of whether or not you want to code, you have the right to code. You may never want to leave your home town, but you wouldn't want to prevent other people from leaving, or remove that option from yourself, would you?