I was just wondering, did Amazon make some kind of donation to get this high-profile Ubuntu status? How did this come to pass? Curious about the financial situation there. Amazon's great don't get me wrong, I use it almost every day.

  • Are you aware of the light-weight web-applications to be introduced with Unity 8, as this type of linkage to websites and cloud services is the future of Linux on desktop, tablet, and smartphone. To exclude name-brand services or products would be counter-productive.
    – david6
    Dec 27, 2014 at 0:33
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    @david6 as I said, don't get me wrong, I use amazon everyday. Dec 27, 2014 at 0:37
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    @david6 that's a broad claim. I'd say this is quite privacy-intruding and against the general Linux spirit. There are now plenty of people against this kind of practice and think it has gone too far. Maybe they're a bit paranoid to think we're entering a 1984-esque world but they have their points. In fact Stallman even called Ubuntu "containing spyware" and called upon all believers of Free Software to not use Ubuntu. I'm not that radical in general but I still find discovering the Amazon button immediately upon installing Ubuntu really frustrating. This is definitely not what I expected.
    – xji
    Sep 8, 2015 at 16:02
  • @Xiang Ji: Your comments are more about 'search' and possible privacy issues, than relating to having an icon on the Unity bar ..
    – david6
    Sep 8, 2015 at 20:51

2 Answers 2


From techmansworld.com :

By default the Amazon icon is in the launcher, and it has an affiliate tag for Canonical to make money off of your purchases, to support the Ubuntu project. There is in fact settings to set whether you want your searches to be sent to online services (Amazon) or not.

From howtogeek.com:

When you perform any search in Unity’s dash, your search terms will be sent to Canonical. Canonical forwards these search terms to third parties, such as Amazon, on your behalf. This means that Amazon can’t tie your searches to you personally.

Canonical receives these search results from Amazon and sends them back to your computer, where they’re displayed in the dash.

From http://www.markshuttleworth.com: We picked Amazon as a first place to start because most of our users are also regular users of Amazon, and it pays us to make your Amazon journey get off to a faster start. Typing Super “queen marking cage” Just Worked for me this morning. I am now looking forward to my game of Ultimate Where’s Waldo hunting down the queens in my bee colonies, Ubuntu will benefit from the fact that I chose to search Amazon that way, Amazon benefits from being more accessible to a very discerning, time-conscious and hotkey-friendly audience.

But there are many more kinds of things you can search through with Unity scopes. Most of them won’t pay Ubuntu a cent, but we’ll still integrate them into the coolest just-ask-and-you’ll-receive experience. I want us to do this because I think we can make the desktop better.

We are not telling Amazon what you are searching for. Your anonymity is preserved because we handle the query on your behalf. Don’t trust us? Erm, we have root. You do trust us with your data already. You trust us not to screw up on your machine with every update. You trust Debian, and you trust a large swathe of the open source community. And most importantly, you trust us to address it when, being human, we err.

My opinion: So in general Amazon issue is intended to be profitable for everyone - You get better results while searching,Canonical gets paid to be able to write better software for users, Amazon gets better access for its customers.

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    yeah. I like this answer. Amazon is great. Dec 27, 2014 at 1:11

Article on pcworld: Ubuntu's Unity 8 desktop will remove the Amazon search 'spyware'

When Unity 8 is stable and ready, Ubuntu won’t send your local searches over the web and show you Amazon product results anymore, quelling some longstanding fears in the open-source community. ...

Ubuntu 12.04 added an extremely controversial feature—searches you perform in Unity’s dash are sent over the web and you’re presented with results to buy products on Amazon. So, for example, when you search for a terminal application, you’re shown the 2004 movie “The Terminal” on DVD and Blu-ray for purchase. ...

This was probably the most contentious move in Ubuntu’s history ...

The Free Software Foundation’s Richard Stallman branded the Amazon feature “spyware.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation asked Ubuntu to disable this feature and provided a guide to turning it off, saying it was “a major privacy problem.” ...

Canonical’s response to the criticism was perceived as awfully high-handed by many. Founder Mark Shuttleworth wrote: “We are not telling Amazon what you are searching for. Your anonymity is preserved because we handle the query on your behalf. Don't trust us? Erm, we have root."

While it’s true that Ubuntu has root (or administrator) access because you’re running software provided by them, the response seems a bit in poor taste. Free software and Linux distributions were supposed to be different than big operating systems—more about user choice and freedom. Ubuntu’s application launcher now came with a prominent “privacy policy” link, and there was no easy graphical way to disable this feature. They only added a toggle switch in the next release of Ubuntu, six months later. This just all felt wrong.

And perhaps How can I remove Amazon search results from the dash or disable the feature?

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    I don't want to remove it! I use amazon every day! Feb 23, 2015 at 23:57
  • ok, don't. That's only the last line, a common option most users would want after learning about a "spyware-like" program sending their local searches over the web.
    – Xen2050
    Feb 25, 2015 at 13:08

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