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Why Ubuntu GNU/Linux Should Not Make Microsoft Even Stronger



Summary: Former Microsoft employee announces that Canonical will send Ubuntu users to Microsoft's datacentres and herein we explain why it's a big mistake that will alienate users

MANY readers have heard the news by now. It's even in the front page of Slashdot. The short story is that Ubuntu will channel users towards Microsoft's datacentre, via Yahoo! (bar EU approval for the search deal). "15 days of lost time," calls it a reader of ours citing this comment. "Not that more than a single digit percent will change any default settings," he adds, but the numbers cited there are US-only search numbers (thus incorrect) and Fedora claims 20 million installations.



My first reaction to this news goes almost a day back when Alan Pope (Popey from Ubuntu) announced the news:

Those of you testing out the development version of Ubuntu Lucid should notice a change in Firefox very soon. The default search provider for new installations of Ubuntu Lucid (10.04) and upgrades will be Yahoo! and not Google. Canonical have struck a revenue sharing deal with Yahoo! which generates income for the company. This revenue should help pay the wages of Ubuntu Developers employed by Canonical, and support the infrastructure required to develop and build the distribution.


It is worth noting that announcing this on behalf of Canonical was Rick Spencer, who came to Canonical from Microsoft. We warned about him before because the suggestion to remove GIMP from Ubuntu (under the excuse that a Mono program would replace it) came from him too. It was a grave mistake [1, 2, 3, 4] -- a decision that most Ubuntu users are opposed to, based on a big poll at Ubuntu Forums.

I told Popey: 'But Yahoo! is going to redirect to the convicted monopoly that called Ubuntu "cancer"'

Popey then told me: 'Deep irony if their dollars pay Ubuntu developers.'

“What Ubuntu has done is cut off funding to Mozilla to go into there own pockets, so damaging the upstream.”
      --Oiaohm
If Microsoft is funding Ubuntu developers, then they are becoming what Microsoft called "pawns in the battle" (in the battle against Google in this case).

"Yahoo is Bingo in disguise," said our Hungarian reader MinceR. Our reader Kecskebak (also from Hungary) was more blunt. He wrote: "Well, seeing as Yahoo! has done a deal with Bing it's Bing by proxy. Shuttlecock - say Bing!"

Mozilla makes money when it is Google in the search bar, so the old way (Firefox defaults) supported both Mozilla and Google, not Ubuntu and Microsoft.

Our reader Oiaohm wrote: "Ubuntu is getting more criminal. What Ubuntu has done is cut off funding to Mozilla to go into there own pockets, so damaging the upstream. Really it shows how much respect Ubuntu has for the open source world. None. Really it would not matter who they changed the search company to. I hope Mozilla hits Ubuntu for trademark infringement. Altering the search provider cutting of money normally pisses Mozilla off."

Yahoo! search is becoming just a surrogate identity to Microsoft, just like Mono is a surrogate to Microsoft, developed by its ally Novell (same with Moonlight).

It is Ubuntu's crisis of democracy as Novell's Banshee is still being promoted for Ubuntu by some people, despite the obvious problem with Microsoft's community promise (Banshee uses excluded components [1, 2, 3, 4]).

Another thing that Ubuntu is doing right now (which is quite benign in comparison) is development of Ubuntu One for Windows. That's fine, it's a very separate project constructed for other reasons, but a lot of people missed the news.

“Could Ubuntu maybe retract or withdraw this deal?”All the above was discussed in great length in our IRC channel since yesterday (starting here). We are still talking about it today. We think it is not worth making a huge scene out of it because it was discussed in IRC for hours (with Jono Bacon included) and clarified to the extent possible. It was never clearly insinuated that malicious intent led to such a deal, but Ubuntu is supporting Microsoft without saying so. Linspire signed such a search deal with Microsoft as part of the 2007 patent deal, sending their customers to essentially enrich Microsoft and share data with the company that's almost alone in viciously attacking those very same users (or at least their operating system of choice). Could Ubuntu maybe retract or withdraw this deal? We sure hope so.

What do users think of the possibility that many (if not most) GNU/Linux users are to be redirected for Microsoft to spy on their search habits (and gather statistics/intelligence on the competition), not to mention that it would give them GNU/Linux-hostile search results (Bong [sic] is doctored for built-in bias, including thin and mostly negative results on the subject of GNU/Linux).

Verizon's recent search deal with Microsoft shows that not giving users what they want simply makes them angry. This would not be smart for Ubuntu to do, either. Many people come to Ubuntu in order to escape Microsoft and even Firefox for Windows uses Google by default. This is a bizarre reversal of role.

"Gathering intelligence on enemy activities is critical to the success of the Slog."

--Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

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