I made a post in another topic and it was suggested to me that I consider starting a new thread dedicated solely to this topic. So, here goes...
If you read any of the articles, then you already know this was a terrific tactical error on the part of Canonical. The author of the website in question is not someone likely to respond to a threat in any way that would please or soothe Canonical. But what is worse IMHO is that Canonical would resort to these tactics to begin with.
I could certainly understand if the author of the "offending" website was distributing his own version of Ubuntu, a modified version of Ubuntu, or even just trying to reap some commercial or monetary benefit from the Ubuntu name or logo. But he works for a widely known and hugely respectable non-profit organization (which I don't believe is advertised or even mentioned on the "offending" site) that has an entirely non-commercial (and quite noble) mission. Further, his goal in creating the website is purely informative protection for those who unwittingly surrender certain layers of privacy just by using a form of Ubuntu.
I was first drawn to Ubuntu some years ago due to it's popularity and ease of transition for new users. I later learned about the name, the logo, and what it meant (or was supposed to mean) for it's community of users and the world at large. Being somewhat of a romantic at heart - I was hooked. I began using Ubuntu on a new Netbook I purchased (wiping the "Starter Edition" of another OS off before it had even fired up for the first time) and found myself very pleased with it. Subsequently, I've went through four or five netbooks by now, and I've installed Ubuntu on every one of them, every time. (I'm also an Amateur Radio enthusiast [read ham radio] and take my netbook out with me when I go out to play, work special events, etc., so my netbooks tend to take quite a beating from travel, use, weather, and sometimes frustration release.) Though, I've never used Linux beyond very basic stuff, web browsing, word processing,etc., I've always loved the simplicity and ease of use that it provided. Well, also just having a system running Linux (no matter how well I understood it) just made me feel more like a legitimate techie. (Yes, I know - feel free to tar and feather me for that one!)
Over the last year I've come to learn more about the history of Linux (something motivated by the 25th anniversary) and how it came to us. I really began to fall in love with the whole concept of choice, the lack of sinister commercial intent, and the fact that something so powerful could be freely attained (and even modified) by the masses. Students in the poorest of neighborhoods (or countries) could gain a technical education. Governments of third-world countries could take a vast collection of free software that ran on this free system and bring their infrastructure up to 21st century levels (in management terms, at least). The possibilities for a better world seem endless.
So, stumbling across the information that I did, where one of the most popular Linux distro's around seemingly tried to silence someone speaking out against a privacy issue in order to protect a possibly exploitative source of revenue, sent chills down my spine. Whether or not Canonical uses the search loophole for monetary gain or just doesn't care to address the issue is information that only they may be privy to - I make no accusation toward that because I just don't know. But I do know that they took interesting steps to stop someone else from telling the world about that loophole instead of embracing and rectifying the issue - and that right there makes me very nervous. And very disappointed.
I'll be gravitating away from Ubuntu use because of what little I now know (and the very much I may never know) about the development and management behind that distro. I'm shocked to no end that there has been so little said or argued about this topic. I haven't exactly been out interviewing people about their opinion, but surely I would have come across something about this before now if the community at large thought this was an issue.
Should Canonical have addressed this in this way?
Why didn't they embrace this as a concern for their users privacy?
Was trademark infringement really an issue here?
Should anyone except Linus even be able to claim such an issue as trademark infringement?
Should any Linux distro (beyond Red Hat) even have any pecuniary commercial interests?
As I further my journey down the Linux path, I'm finding some of my opinions solidifying and some of them shifting. Rational argument and explanation has a strange way of making me (re)consider my position on things every day in life. So, I'd really like to hear what other people think about this episode with Canonical and about the state and direction of Linux in general.
Sorry for such a long post - I've had a lot of coffee this morning!
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