Debunking FUD: “Ubuntu restricts you, Ubuntu spies on you”

This is the latest line used by people  some people in the free software community in Venezuela to talk down on Ubuntu. This is not just a casual comment.This comes from the people that organize a nation wide 12 city tour to talk about free software.

I have already commented on how we have been excluded by censoring us, they require us to say ubuntu is propietary software just like mac and windows, they claim ubuntu users are as naive as those using the previous mention propietary systems.

They claim we allow our providers, The Ubuntu Community and Canonical LTD to restrict us and even spy on us. I have engaged a very active conversations with these people and it has brought some good outcome.

Ubuntu restricts us by providing us with binary drivers for our propietary hardware. It’s obviously not Ubuntu’s fault. I am not restricted, I am making a coucious choice here. However I fail to see how ubuntu spies on us.

Today I ask you, Do you feel spied on, or restricted by Ubuntu in any way? please DO leave a comment so we can show our community conciousness about the issues that other bring up.

Thanks again

54 Replies to “Debunking FUD: “Ubuntu restricts you, Ubuntu spies on you””

  1. I don’t feel spied upon . but I’m sure some developers may feel restricted by the technologies enforced by canonical (indicators , global menu , Unity ).

  2. Restriction is coming as Ubuntu put Unity as default or removed Gimp etc but we can easily go to any other options.
    Spying part would be to collect a data without our knowledge. So far I always agreed to send my hardware data and setting….

    Although I found 11.04 quite restrictive and I am thinking to move back to 10.10.

    1. restriction would be not alowing you to install gimp at all or not give you other desktop experiences, I personally use ubuntu kubuntu because I find unity confusing and the tech under it a bit dated.

  3. i never feel spied or restricted by using Ubuntu, on the contrary i feel empowered and really free to use and do what I want with my system and especially to contribute in making Ubuntu better by using Launchpad and reporting bugs or posting blueprints.
    i’m aware of the possibilities to spy the users, but i think that would not be in the sense of Mark Shuttleworth or all the developers out there contributing Ubuntu!
    i think that would be the beginning of the end of THE greatest Linux-based operating system actually available!

  4. While I agree that 11.04 feels (and is) more restricted than my experiences with Ubuntu since Jaunty at least, I think it is a restriction that will lessen as Unity and Gnome 3 mature more…

    As far as “spying” on users, I do participate in the VOLUNTARY sharing of usage data that helps in the diagnosis and resolution of bugs that pop up occassionally. The only thing I can think of that would be tracking any usage might be the Software Center and Ubuntu One, but again, users do not have to use them…

    I do not follow the logic of their reservations…

  5. For an open-source system to collect information about my hardware and to work toward providing device drivers is a blessing. Telling somebody I just got the latest and greatest iPhone doesn’t make it spying – it’s called boasting with arrogance!

    …now, if only they could support a wireless USB dongle so I can hook up to multiple WiFi networks.

  6. Thats one of the biggest bullshit I ever heard. Dunno what these people smoke there, but it must be hard. You have the complete Freedom in Ubuntu any other arguments are pure nonsense.

  7. @Nitin try Edimax (Ralink) wireless dongles or pcmcia cards, they usually work out-the-box with Ubuntu and with Gnome’s network manager I can connect to two wireless networks at once.

    It’s pretty easy to switch to ‘Gnome Classic’ at the login screen or just install XFCE, LXDE etc or switch to a different distro.

  8. I would correct the initial sentence: «This is the latest line used by SOME people in the free software community in Venezuela to talk down on Ubuntu.»

    I used Ubuntu from 2007-2008. No complaints. Did I feel spied, restricted? Not at all. I participated in every usage or hardware poll they had, sending and sharing my info freely.


      1. No, I never felt spied. I said I like to participate. Back then all those polls were opt-in, and I’m pretty sure they still remain so. I use Arch, but I don’t oppose Ubuntu. My mom uses Ubuntu and I’m trying to get my sister’s company to migrate 😉 Ubuntu would be the first thing they experience in the free world.

  9. Resticted? Maybe a little bit. But moderate restriction is good in desktop systems.
    Spied? Although theoretically possible, but very hard to hide a “spy” in open system, isn’t it? Thats like to spy on someone who see you in front of him.

    1. How are you restricted? Unity is on by default you can choose by switching to gnome classic or kde or any other desktop environment. It’s not like they won’t allow you to do so.

      1. And what if I wanted to use GNOME 3? I mean, not that I want it because I dislike it just as much as Unity, but Ubuntu restricts their users by ignoring all upstream development that is happening on We can only choose from Ubuntu or an outdated GNOME 2.32.

  10. is that the latest chavez jokes ?
    you might explain what open-source is: free but also need to respact rules (licences for the free part and restricted for the non free)

    About spying, is it related to commercial partnership ? like some trial versions proposed, cloud activity or ubuntuone (all these latest can feel like spying i guess)

    or do you need fighting against concurrence that dont want sharing or losing its markets ?

      1. I am part of community and I appreciate the word “Open Source”. If some people don’t like it, they are free to do so. I simply don’t care.

    1. It has nothing to do with Chávez. Well, at least not directly 😛

      But it is true that some of us (some would say many of us) in Venezuela now tend to look more into the roots, causes and history of things. Wording is very important is those cases, and some of us prefer the ideology and wording of Free Software rather than Open Source. That’s all.

      The problem arises when some of us (some would say a few of us) get anal about those points and start making that the bigger issues. Proprietary software is the enemy 😉

  11. That’s just flat out “nuts,” the only information collecting done by Canonical or Ubuntu I volunteered to allow and that, I believe, is just usage statistics to see what software is most popular out there in “Ubuntuland!” You can’t get more unrestrictive than Ubuntu!

  12. Yes, I find it easy to agree with your protesters. When you include proprietary code in your base install, you *don’t know* if you’re spying on your users! Ubuntu doesn’t even contain linux-libre.

    1. good argument. but benefit of the doubt work at all? good faith from Ubuntu community stating that those binary blobs do not secretly send stuff to hardware vendors? IMHO If I found out I had hardware that did stuff other than the ones stated in the licence I would sue the company and not buy it. And we would all know in the community.

  13. Maybe it is not restricted in the way of drivers, etc .. but more restricted in the way canonical choose what is good for you… if you should ask the community about Unity or Gnome 3 (Shell) then unity never should be developed. Also the switch from rhythmbox to banshee (and banshee is based on mono). You also should read the blogs from Jeff Waugh about how Ubuntu/Canonical act in the community (the way they handle with Gnome 3), and maybe you look with different eyes to Ubuntu. And sure you can install the stuff you like, but most people don’t….

    1. How can they ask the community and be sure that the the response they receive is the proper indication of voice of community? I can think of referendum, but who will participate in it. It will be run over by trolls.

      Switching from Banshee to RB. Nopes, I like Banshee more. If mine is mere opinion, so yours is also. Secondly Technical Board has cleared it’s position on Mono

      1. brainstorm is a mess. So many of the ideas are actually so tough to implement.
        Martin Pitt recently came out with 10 top ideas from brainstorm – many of them could not be done downstream and upstream application needs to be patched. This takes time.

        I have been involved in this review process of top 10 ideas faintly and I know what happened. Many of the ideas given there are technically not feasible at this moment, so if they are not implemented, does not mean that Ubuntu does not listen to it’s users

    2. I have read all of Jeff’s posts on the recent kde gnome ubuntu canonical issues. Ubuntu has always made choices for the end user. just because the choice is not what you’d expect it does not make it restrictive. there is choice.

      about gnome3 and unity, you express that if there is no choice if its not on by default

  14. Saying that Canonical forces you into anything or that Ubuntu is not open etc. is nothing but a joke and why would you possibly support people spreading this FUD anyway.

    1. This is true about store integration, but restricting comes only if you cant install other stores and cant uninstall their store. You are free to do it. They cannot install everything by default.

  15. crazy people… Ubuntu is Open Source and Free software.
    There isn’t any restriction. windows lock in are a big restriction. apple drm is a big restriction.

  16. Have been a computer user since the Commodore 64 days, and have built at least 7 computers. Joined the Light side since Ubuntu 5.04 Have had all of the Micro$oft products. I feel a lot better served by the Ubuntu and Canonical people than any other – also tried other distributions. Found out that in my Computer Forensics classes, updating education, that Linux is the way to go.

  17. I may crib once a while but in truth I think you guys do a great job. Never felt spied upon. Been with you for years and never disasatisfied. Have gone through all the microsoft releases and yours too find you people way ahead.
    Wonder why you stick to the slow evolution for mail, still.
    I think most like me have no State secrets to hide and in that respect windows is more open to spying.

  18. Yes, I feel restricted.

    My boss wants me to work on Ubuntu to bring our 100% free and open software into the distribution. However I feel restricted by Canonical’s copyright-assignment that I need to sign to work on Ubuntu.

    I feel restricted by mono which is used for banshee. Of course I can install another media player, but only banshee offers seamless integration into Unity or Ayatana. The fact that someone decides for me what application is best and that only that single application gets attention by the developers is a restriction. Unfortunately it is becoming more frequent these days, GNOME 3 is just as monolithic as Unity.

    I feel restricted by poor quality of X drivers. This is caused Bryce Harrington spending more time on the integration of proprietary drivers rather than development of free ones. He even complained about this, so why does Canonical make him work on proprietary stuff rather than free software?

    1. I am sorry, could you please explain to you boss that taking it to debian is the preffered way to bring an app to Ubuntu. Also, I have pacakged software that does not necesarilly modified the way any of the canonical code works. and yet interacts with it well. This is not a restriction. This is just canonical protecting themselves from intenational copyright laws, Ubuntu does not sign patent deals with microsoft that free them of lawsuits along the way.

      Also consider uploading to debian, where you will be delivering you application to a wider set of distributions including Ubuntu, this is what I did with Turpial, a microbloging client

      1. Uploading it to Debian is only half of what we need. If we want to have our software in Ubuntu we also need to maintain it there. And this requires me to sign the copyright-assignment.

        If it’s just Canonical protecting themselves from international copyright laws, I wonder why no other distribution has something similar. Look at Red Hat, they are located in the US where the copyright laws are even worse and they don’t force Fedora contributors to sign a copyright-assignment. Canonical on the other hand is based on the Isle of Man, an independent tax haven. They don’t have to be afraid of anything there.

        One more thing that I dislike: Landscape. I’m not using it, so it does not really restrict me, but it’s proprietary. Red Hat’s Satellite Server and Skywalk on the other hand are free.

        I really don’t understand Canonical.

    2. There is no copyright assignment required to get a new package into Ubuntu. Copyright assignments are required only for those parts which have the copyright owned by canonical – e.g. unity, ubuntuone, various libraries. The vast majority of the system does not require any assignment whatsoever, and you are free to work on that without signing over anything.

      1. It’s not about gettting a package into Ubuntu. If it was just that, I could submit it for Debian. It is when I need to integrate the software properly, e.g. I need to work on upstart or the Ubuntu installer.

      2. I am in no position to defend cano ical, I do not work for them. I do believe you have a valid point with regards conparing how other systems free their code. I believe this does not restrict you. The copyright holder is requesting that you acknowledge copyright. you are given a very permissive licence in return.

        It is perhaps redtape that makes this a bit more complicated.

  19. this sounds like a whiny distro war and who gives a flying?

    people are obsessed with THEIR distro because its the BESTEST in the world, they are possessive about theri desktops because its BESTEST in the world… its chidish and annoying.

    ANd the most childish and annoying of the lot has to be the Buntu freaks… seriously, they start to sound cultish in their devotion of a product which is really almost identical.
    Take ubuntu (the old Gnome) or kubuntu and put it on side by side with another distro with same desktop and ask a newb if there is a difference.

    A lot Ubuntu users are first time users and I understand the joy and elation of being free from the shackles of crappy OS but they behave… like Mac users. They think that the Mac behaviour shows some kind superiority in the way they behave.
    Ubuntu uses the same apps as other distros. FF? Yup. Chrome. Yup. VLC? Yup.. and so on.
    Whether their presentation is more suited to your liking is fine but this superiority thing is both false and annoying. (installed Kubuntu last month and the user friendly distro STILL uses the ancient Black and White grub menu. User friendly? My cousin saw the menu and asked what went wrong!!!)

    Sometimes when you hear Ubuntu users praise their distro for something EVERY other does as well you just want to punch them in the nose and tell them to stop. What they do is FUD too in a sense and Im sure that is in part responsible for the anti-Buntu FUD.

    I appreciated passion and exhuberance and Im sure that my first shot at Linux, i was pimping it left and right to friends.

    I have no horse in this race, I dont use Gnome. I actually dont mind the sudo’s.
    Canonical does a good job being a point man for Linux but in no way do they represent all of Linux.
    My biggest problem with their success is that it is not repeatable. Ill explain: I think Mandriva’s attempt a monetizing Linux was good for all of us, they were on the stock exchange and has business deals (its european based which means almost zero visibility in the unilinguial american media) with corporations and if it had been better managed could have been a blueprint for all distros.
    Ubuntu isnt. It was created thanks to the money and effort of one billionaire so right there unless you got a sugar daddy, this path is dead for all others. On top of it, it relied heavily on marketing itself based on BS values: Linux for humans? Please dont make me barf.
    Bottom line isnt that I care about the Canonical success but whether it could be repeated and be a blueprint for other distros.
    If it doesnt benefit the whole community, then I really dont care, its just one other distro.
    We are all in this together, what is good for my distro should be good for others and vice versa unless you are Novell-SUSE and sign the extortion deal with MS which makes SUSE the LEGAL Linux that wont be sued by MS. I still have the video of Ballmer saying that RH users like myself owe them money becaus Linux stole from MS but that Novell paid for the theft and SUSE is legal. THAT is the kind of things I dont want to ever see. I dont claim Ubuntu is anywhere as bad as SUSE’s corporate owners of course.

    But this post doesnt say anything but ‘Miss, Miss…Bobby is calling me stupidhead!!’.

    If youre going to raise a fuss about it, at least have the balls to name names, to name the tour, give links, quotes , etc.
    This reads like my nieces blog.
    There was a boy last week who said he didnt Justin Bieber and she was pisssssssed.

    1. Well It is not distro war. It is just us being left out. I hold great respecto for other distros. I did not over exhalted the benefits of ubuntu over any system. I asked two simple questions. I just want to know how are we restricting and spying on users. We ubuntu users take time to do marketing for the proyect we support. If that bothers you then just /ignore it. About us being fanboys and fangirls well that’s your opinion.

      I respect you opinions on ubuntu restricting you, but as far as I know unity is free, and the integration with the messaging menu can be done by any individual. If Rhythm Box people are not interested then someone that cares enough in the community will eventually provide a patch. Heck I have to do the same for a gtk app. I do not even use Unity, I use Kubuntu.

      I didn’t believe the international community wanted me to name the congress or the protestant party. If it is really meaningful to you. “Congreso Nacional de Software Libre” and the organizer is Octavio Rossell, who I have extended my concerns publicly in a blog post in spanish.

      Thanks for you time

  20. Ubuntu does spies with 12.04LTS after all this cyber big brother amendments. Ubuntu seems like its not people friendly Operating system. You can still find Unity a method for them to open unwanted outbound connection like unity-geoip tool.

  21. If it is not spying, can anyone tell me what is gvfs-httpd doing while it is connected to canonical servers in the background ? (gvfs=GNU Virtual File System)
    And other inexplainable behaviors while on the net…

  22. Debunking? Seriously? Debunking? By god you people today are such dumbed down morons! You don’t deserve to have freedoms! Your scum!
    Fact: The Amazon lens collects your private data! That is called spyware you friggin retards! That is called collecting your private data you retards! Simply because some collaborating douche claims they are not using it to spy on you, Does not automatically mean they are not spying on you retards! How stupid are you people? You people today are so stupid your disgusting!

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