Stallman attacks are 'FUD,' argues Canonical community manager

A senior spokesperson for Canonical has attacked free software guru Richard Stallman's depiction of Ubuntu features as 'spyware'

Canonical community manager Jono Bacon says that Richard Stallman's accusations that Ubuntu spies on users are "childish" and aimed at creating an air of FUD around the product.

PREVIOUSLY: Stallman slams Ubuntu, calls Amazon integration 'spyware'

In a Friday blog post -- which he prefaced by saying was his opinion, not that of Canonical -- Bacon took issue with Stallman's claim that Ubuntu's controversial integration of Amazon searches amounted to embedding spyware in the product.

"We want Ubuntu to be a safe, predictable, and pleasurable platform for everyone, irrespective of their personal views on privacy, but we also respect that there will be some folks who don't feel we are doing enough to represent their particular personal privacy needs," he wrote (italics in original).

Bacon also accused Stallman of ideological inflexibility, while presenting Canonical's own stance on privacy as a way of catering to different groups of users.

"Unfortunately, as far as Richard is concerned, if Ubuntu doesn't meet his specific requirements around privacy or Free Software, irrespective that it has brought Free Software to millions of users and thousands of organizations, and despite the fact that you might not share his viewpoint, you should shun it," he wrote.

We want Ubuntu to be a safe, predictable, and pleasurable platform for everyone, irrespective of their personal views on privacy, but we also respect that there will be some folks who don’t feel we are doing enough to represent their particular personal privacy needs.

— Jono Bacon

Stallman had said in his initial broadside that Ubuntu should not be recommended by free software advocates and "shunned" from free software events, arguing that the Amazon search integration -- which includes items from the online retailer's site in desktop search results -- represents a slippery slope toward the erosion of user privacy rights.

Bacon's response included praise for Stallman and his Free Software Foundation as critical players in the creation of the free software community.

"Let's turn the tables around. Do I agree with everything the Free Software Foundation does? Not at all, but I do think their general body of work is fantastic, worthwhile, and provides an important and valuable service, and I would never want to suggest you should boycott them if you disagree with one part of what they do," he said.

UPDATE: Bacon has now published a second post apologizing for his use of the word "childish" to describe Stallman's attacks. The substance of his arguments against the FSF founder's position, however, remains unchanged.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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