11.11.13

Gemini version available ♊︎

Canonical’s Mistakes ‘Made and Addressed’, Except the Privacy Violations

Posted in GNU/Linux, Ubuntu at 7:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mark Shuttleworth with magazine
Photo by Andre urbano

Summary: Mark Shuttleworth apologises for some recent controversial behaviour of the company he founded to make “Linux for human beings”

THE STORY at hand seems like a familiar one. It is one of those cases where by “mistake” one means “we got caught, so it’s a mistake.” Canonical already went after derivatives of Ubuntu, such as “Satanic Edition” (to name just one example where later on Jono Bacon and other community figures tried to quell and put out the fire). Trademark bullying from Canonical is not something new and the company is repeating old mistakes, so these are probably not mistakes.

Mark Shuttleworth posted this long response (“Comments are closed,” but some comments can be read via “Shuttleworth: Mistakes made and addressed” at LWN). It’s a bit of hogwash, but some people still appreciate this and consider it to be a sufficient apology. This apology does not please everyone, but we should give this man the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the decision to go after FixUbuntu was not his at all. “In an encouraging and refreshing move,” wrote Muktware, “Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu and Canonical has apologized for calling Mir opponents the “open source tea party” [...] He also apologized for the take down notice that was sent to EFF staffer Micah F Lee over fixubuntu website.”

To quote Shuttleworth himself: “Last week, someone at Canonical made a mistake in sending the wrong response to a trademark issue out of the range of responses we usually take. That has been addressed, and steps are being taken to reduce the likelihood of a future repeat.”

Muktware correctly points out that this created a controversy, but the author goes further by comparing Canonical to Apple. The author says: “That unprecedented move from Canonical (to sen[d] take down notice) had put Canonical in the league of Apple.

“All leading news sites criticized Canonical for this move and it turned out to be the worst PR disaster for Canonical.”

Nothing actually gets done about the original mistake, which makes Ubuntu some kind of informant to the CIA/NSA (through Amazon) regarding local user searches — a malicious behaviour that Windows has been ‘renowned’ for since about a decade ago (Microsoft is an exceptionally strong NSA ally, whereas Amazon is better known for its new CIA ties as official dossiers host/architect).

Bradley Kuhn (formerly FSF and SFLC) took note of Canonical’s behaviour, having done so before when it comes to copyrights. He also wrote about trademarks in other contexts. Kuhn said: “I was disturbed to read that Canonical, Ltd.’s trademark aggression, which I’ve been vaguely aware of for some time, has reached a new height. And, I say this as someone who regularly encourages Free Software projects to register trademarks, and to occasionally do trademark enforcement and also to actively avoid project policies that might lead to naked licensing. Names matter, and Free Software projects should strive to strike a careful balance between assuring that names mean what they are supposed to mean, and also encourage software sharing and modification at the same time.

“However, Canonical, Ltd.’s behavior shows what happens when lawyers and corporate marketing run amok and fail to strike that necessary balance. Specifically, Canonical, Ltd. sent a standard cease and desist (C&D) letter to Micah F. Lee, for running fixubuntu.com, a site that clearly to any casual reader is not affiliated with Canonical, Ltd. or its Ubuntu® project. In fact, the site is specifically telling you how to undo some anti-privacy stuff that Canonical, Ltd. puts into its Ubuntu, so there is no trademark-governed threat to its Ubuntu branding. Lee fortunately got legal assistance from the EFF, who wrote a letter explaining why Canonical, Ltd. was completely wrong.”

This trademarks issue/dispute which we previously covered (as did others, including some pretty major news sites [1, 2]) is not going away any time soon. Canonical is doing what’s known as “damage control” right now. As Wired put it, even Ubuntu boosters shy away: “The editor of the Ubuntu news site, OMG! Ubuntu!, says that Canonical’s email to Fixubuntu.com “does make for uncomfortable reading,” but Joey-Elijah Sneddon believes that the company is trying to preserve its trademark rights, not silence critics. Although OMG! Ubuntu has been critical of the privacy issues, Canonical hasn’t sent him a nastygram. Were “Canonical really out to suppress criticism, they’d have given me a bit of a prod before now,” he said in an email interview.”

The comments on this article — like many articles of this kind — have been rather hard-hitting too. To quote just the top 2 (not to quote selectively): “Canonical has become a total joke. What started out as a great effort, has degenerated to a disgrace for the whole Linux community.” Another person says: “Canonical and Ubuntu have jumped the shark.”

Ubuntu is a project that I install a lot for clients, even on the servers (not my choice), so I sure hope that Canonical will get its act together and make it comfortable — ethically — to do this. KDE developers, who have just reached some new milestones [1,2], feel similarly. Upsetting KDE developers [3,4,5] is not a smart thing to do, especially by comparing them to far right-wing politics. Based on a link that Will Hill shared with us (development portal), even Debian developers are growing increasingly impatient with Canonical/Ubuntu.

Muktware, a longtime Ubuntu booster (until Canonical called it a “troll” for not towing the party line 100% of the time), said:

Canonical has sent Micah. F.Lee, a staff technologist at EFF, a take-down notice for a website he started to educate people about fixing the privacy invasive feature Canonical has built in Ubuntu.

Lee started a website called fixubuntu.com, which he describes as “a place to quickly and easily learn how to disable the privacy-invasive features that are enabled by default in Ubuntu.”

He received an email from Canonical which asked him to practically shutdown the site as it uses the name Ubuntu in the domain and also showcases Ubuntu logo.

People who accuse Canonical critics of being “divisive” should take a deep look at Canonical itself. Calling people “trolls” or “Tea Party” for simply not agreeing is not just divisive; it is offensive.

Canonical could save itself a lot of trouble by just listening to many users who are upset about the privacy violations of trust, which are probably not worth the money Canonical gets from Amazon (its partners in other areas too). Why this insistence despite the backlash? Is Canonical telling the full story? We don’t know the terms of the deal/s between those two companies and we know that the CIA funds US companies to help spy on customers (based on a new report from the New York Times). The behaviour of the search bar has been controversial and widely vilified well before the EFF spoke out about it (the FSF weighed in much later, and only after I had spoken to Stallman about the subject). The solution is simple and the mistake is well known; the big mistake is not trademark bullying, it is privacy violation. It is worth focusing on the real mistakes. They are technical — not just ethical — mistakes.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. KDE Ships First Beta of Applications and Platform 4.12
  2. KDE 4.11.3 Officially Released with Over 120 Bug Fixes
  3. KDE and Canonical Conflict over Mir Finally Bursts into the Open

    The conflict that has been brewing between the KDE developers and Canonical has finally exploded in a flurry of statements which show just how many problems the Mir display server has caused.

  4. Major KDE Developer Says Goodbye to Ubuntu

    One of the most important KDE developers, Martin Gräßlin, has written a message to the Ubuntu developers, saying goodbye.

  5. KDE Developers Continue To Be Frustrated With Canonical

    Following Mark Shuttleworth’s critical comments about those opposed to Mir and his statements being challenged, multiple KDE developers in particular have been expressing their outrage.

    Aaron Seigo was the KDE developer to challenge Mark Shuttleworth to a public debate over his colorful comments regarding those opposed to Canonical’s Mir Display Server for Ubuntu. Two weeks have passed since suggesting this public debate and there’s still been no public response by Mark Shuttleworth, though Jono Bacon and others have commented on the matter.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. IRC Proceedings: Monday, January 24, 2022

    IRC logs for Monday, January 24, 2022



  2. Links 25/1/2022: GPL Settlement With Patrick McHardy, Godot 4.0 Alpha 1, and DXVK 1.9.4 Released

    Links for the day



  3. Proprietary Software is Pollution

    "My daughter asked me about why are we throwing away some bits of technology," Dr. Andy Farnell says. "This is my attempt to put into words for "ordinary" people what I tried to explain to a 6 year old."



  4. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XV — Cover-Up and Defamation

    Defamation of one’s victims might be another offence to add to the long list of offences committed by Microsoft’s Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot, Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley; attempting to discredit the police report is a new low and can get Mr. Graveley even deeper in trouble (Microsoft protecting him only makes matters worse)



  5. [Meme] Alexander Ramsay and Team UPC Inciting Politicians to Break the Law and Violate Constitutions, Based on Misinformation, Fake News, and Deliberate Lies Wrapped up as 'Studies'

    The EPO‘s law-breaking leadership (Benoît Battistelli, António Campinos and their corrupt cronies), helped by liars who don't enjoy diplomatic immunity, are cooperating to undermine courts across the EU, in effect replacing them with EPO puppets who are patent maximalists (Europe’s equivalents of James Rodney Gilstrap and Alan D Albright, a Donald Trump appointee, in the Eastern and Western Districts of Texas, respectively)



  6. Has the Administrative Council Belatedly Realised What Its Job in the European Patent Organisation Really Is?

    The "Mafia" which took over the EPO (the EPO's own workers call it "Mafia") isn't getting its way with a proposal, so it's preventing the states from even voting on it!



  7. [Meme] Team UPC is Celebrating a Pyrrhic Victory

    Pyrrhic victory best describes what's happening at the moment (it’s a lobbying tactic, faking/staging things to help false prophecies be fulfilled, based on hopes and wishes alone), for faking something without bothering to explain the legal basis is going to lead to further escalations and complaints (already impending)



  8. Links 24/1/2022: Scribus 1.5.8 and LXLE Reviewed

    Links for the day



  9. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, January 23, 2022

    IRC logs for Sunday, January 23, 2022



  10. [Meme] Team UPC Congratulating Itself

    The barrage of fake news and misinformation about the UPC deliberately leaves out all the obvious and very important facts; even the EPO‘s António Campinos and Breton (Benoît Battistelli‘s buddy) participated in the lying



  11. Links 24/1/2022: pgBadger 11.7 Released, Catch-up With Patents

    Links for the day



  12. The Demonisation and Stereotyping of Coders Not Working for Big Corporations (or 'The System')

    The war on encrypted communication (or secure communications) carries on despite a lack of evidence that encryption stands in the way of crime investigations (most criminals use none of it)



  13. On the 'Peak Hacker' Series

    Hacker culture, unlike Ludditism, is ultimately a movement for justice, for equality, and for human rights through personal and collective emancipation; Dr. Farnell has done a good job explaining where we stand and his splendid series has come to a close



  14. Links 23/1/2022: First RC of Linux 5.17 and Sway 1.7 Released

    Links for the day



  15. Peak Code — Part III: After Code

    "Surveillance perimeters, smart TVs (Telescreens built to Orwell's original blueprint) watched over our living rooms. Mandatory smart everything kept us 'trustless'. Safe search, safe thoughts. We withdrew. Inside, we went quietly mad."



  16. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, January 22, 2022

    IRC logs for Saturday, January 22, 2022



  17. Links 23/1/2022: MongoDB 5.2, BuddyPress 10.0.0, and GNU Parallel 20220122

    Links for the day



  18. A Parade of Fake News About the UPC Does Not Change the General Consensus or the Simple Facts

    European Patents (EPs) from the EPO are granted in violation of the EPC; Courts are now targeted by António Campinos and the minions he associates with (mostly parasitic litigation firms and monopolists), for they want puppets for “judges” and for invalid patents to be magically rendered “valid” and “enforceable”



  19. Welcome to 2022: Intentional Lies Are 'Benefits' and 'Alternative Facts'

    A crooks-run EPO, together with the patent litigation cabal that we’ve dubbed ‘Team UPC’ (it has nothing to do with science or with innovation), is spreading tons of misinformation; the lies are designed to make the law-breaking seem OK, knowing that Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos are practically above the law, so perjury as well as gross violations of the EPC and constitutions won’t scare them (prosecution as deterrence just isn’t there, which is another inherent problem with the UPC)



  20. From Software Eating the World to the Pentagon Eating All the Software

    “Software is eating the world,” according to Marc Andreessen (co-founder of Netscape), but the Empire Strikes Back (not the movie, the actual empire) by hijacking all code by proxy, via Microsoft, just as it grabbed a lot of the world’s communications via Skype, bypassing the world's many national telecoms; coders need to fight back rather than participate in racist (imperial) shams such as GitHub



  21. Links 22/1/2022: Skrooge 2.27.0 and Ray-Tracing Stuff

    Links for the day



  22. IRC Proceedings: Friday, January 21, 2022

    IRC logs for Friday, January 21, 2022



  23. Peak Code — Part II: Lost Source

    "Debian and Mozilla played along. They were made “Yeoman Freeholders” in return for rewriting their charters to “work closely with the new Ministry in the interests of all stakeholders” – or some-such vacuous spout… because no one remembers… after that it started."



  24. Links 22/1/2022: Ubuntu MATE 21.10 for GPD Pocket 3, MINISFORUM Preloads GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  25. Computer Users Should be Operators, But Instead They're Being Operated by Vendors and Governments

    Computers have been turned into hostile black boxes (unlike Blackbox) that distrust the person who purchased them; moreover, from a legislative point of view, encryption (i.e. computer security) is perceived and treated by governments like a threat instead of something imperative — a necessity for society’s empowerment (privacy is about control and people in positions of unjust power want total and complete control)



  26. Peak Code — Part I: Before the Wars

    Article/series by Dr. Andy Farnell: "in the period between 1960 and 2060 people had mistaken what they called "The Internet" for a communications system, when it had in fact been an Ideal and a Battleground all along - the site of the 100 years info-war."



  27. Links 21/1/2022: RISC-V Development Board and Rust 1.58.1

    Links for the day



  28. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, January 20, 2022

    IRC logs for Thursday, January 20, 2022



  29. Gemini Lets You Control the Presentation Layer to Suit Your Own Needs

    In Gemini (or the Web as seen through Gemini clients such as Kristall) the user comes first; it's not sites/capsules that tell the user how pages are presented/rendered, as they decide only on structural/semantic aspects



  30. The Future of Techrights

    Futures are difficult to predict, but our general vision for the years ahead revolves around more community involvement and less (none or decreased) reliance on third parties, especially monopolistic corporations, mostly because they oppress the population via the network and via electronic devices


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts