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Richard Stallman Talks About Ubuntu (Ubuntu The Spyware)

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Richard Stallman Talks About Ubuntu


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Chapter 1. Introduction

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Videotranscript "Richard Stallman Talks About Ubuntu - TFiR - 2013/02/16" 🎥 written by Priscilla F. Harmanus ♀🇳🇱

So, first of all what is Ubuntu? Ubuntu is a distribution of the GNU plus Linux system. There are over a thousand distributions variants of the GNU slash Linux system. Ubuntu is one of them. Most of these distributions have ethical flaws. For instance, most of them contain some non free software. Effectively, they say their priority is not your freedom, it's just convenience.

So, if you install one of those non free distros, well, you're closer to freedom than if you ran Windows or some Apple system, but you're not all the way there.

But even worse. Because, they present convenience rather than freedom as their goal, they're teaching people not to value freedom. And by doing that, they're doing a deep form of harm to our whole community. Ubuntu is one of them. It's a variant of the GNU slash Linux that installs various non free programs and proposes even more. But Ubuntu has an unusual flaw too  which is it's spyware. Malicious functionalities to do things like spy on the user. Well, those are typically found in proprietary software. They are rare in free software but Ubuntu is one example.

Ubuntu has a desktop feature to search for something, and they're trying to make it a an all-purpose convenient way of searching for things. And when the user searches this way, it sends the users search terms to Canonical (the company that makes and distributes Ubuntu), and this already is spyware you know. When you search for something it shouldn't be by default send anything to a company. That should be something you do optionally, knowing you're doing it each time so that you think about “Do I want to show somebody else that I'm looking for this? Or do I just want to look in my own computer? In any case, what Canonical does is, Canonical has a list of Amazon products. And it sees which Amazon products relate to those search terms and it tells Amazon to display ads for those products on the user's computer.

And since Amazon is sending those ads directly to the users computer, Amazon gets to find out something about that user too. Namely, that user was sent these ads probably the user was searching for such-and-such.
This is egregious, and we need to teach Canonical a lesson. We need to teach Canonical not to spy on its users.

He had to apologize for calling me childish because people jumped on him for that. Yeah, the point is, that they didn't apologize for spying on users, of course not, that was a business decision. And unless we push them hard they won't change it and they won't apologize for it. Actually, I'm more concerned with whether they change it than whether they apologize for it you know. I'm not so much interested in making them eat crow as in making them stop, because, one of the advantages that we cite for free software is the users can protect themselves from malicious features. 

And we can protect ourselves from malicious features in Ubuntu, by changing it, by making a modified version which doesn't spy. And there already are modified versions that don't spy but the point is...

What we really want to be able to say to people, is the dissuasive force. The deterrent force of the community's rejection of malicious functionalities is so strong, that you could be pretty confident that it won't even try to spy on you.

And to recover that, we've got to convince the Ubuntu developers to stop spying. That's why this issue is important!

Of course, they will try to spin it a different way based on different values.

They say convenience above all. Look at the convenience we're giving you. And by the way, Amazon will give us some money and we can use that to write some free programs which in and of itself is good but doesn't justify perverting free software. And that's, it doesn't justify something egregious. So they've got to stop it. 

Now, as for putting Ubuntu GNU slash Linux in phones? Well, I don't know what those are going to do. Maybe they'll have the same spyware feature. I suppose they probably will, but we'll see what the facts are. I also expect that they will contain non free programs.



Ubuntu on Public Clouds | Ubuntu https://ubuntu.com/public-cloud Ubuntu is the world’s most popular cloud operating system across public clouds. Thanks to its security, versatility and policy of regular updates, Ubuntu is the leading cloud guest OS and the only free cloud operating system with the option of enterprise-grade commercial support.

Ubuntu, Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman, FSF, Ubuntu Phones, Jono Bacon, Canonical

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