SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Canonical will incorporate Amazon search data in local system searches in Ubuntu 12.10.
Canonical's Linux based Ubuntu distribution has courted a lot of controversy in the past two years during its move from the Gnome desktop to Unity, and now the outfit is set to once again raise the ire of longstanding users. Canonical will include Amazon search results when users initiate Dash searches.
Canonical's decision to integrate Amazon's search results into something that is clearly designed for application and file system searches has led to heated discussion over privacy. Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth, who founded the Ubuntu project, did little to calm privacy fears, though he said that Ubuntu users who don't want Amazon to provide search results could stick to the current Ubuntu 12.04 LTS release.
Shuttleworth played down the Amazon connection by saying that Canonical will anonymise searches by effectively acting as a proxy between the user and Amazon's web services. As to users trusting Canonical, Shuttleworth made the ridiculous statement, "Don't trust us? Erm, we have root. You do trust us with your data already."
Shuttleworth didn't provide instructions to completely remove Amazon integration from Ubuntu 12.10, instead saying that search will "get smarter over time". Whether Shuttleworth's reference to smarter search means deeper integration with the operating system remains to be seen.
Shuttleworth didn't talk about the financial advantages of Amazon's search results appearing in Ubuntu, but many users on his blog suggested they would prefer to donate rather than use adware. While the firm can be forgiven for foisting a different user interface onto its users, forcing them to use Amazon and handing over data to the retailer, albeit anonymised, might result in yet another mass migration to other Linux distributions. µ