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    The ads themselves may be quite innocent. It is the slippery slope that they may lead to. If Canonical is putting ads into motd, why wouldn’t the author of tmux (I am just taking a completely random utility) start every tmux session with an advertisement of their Patreon page and perhaps advertisements for their highest-paying Patreon supporters? If this would really get of the ground, this can only lead to two equally bad outcomes: (1) many useful programs will get littered with ads; or (2) Canonical will act as a gatekeeper and patch out all such ads, which would not result in a level playing field.

    Note that there is some precedence in free software. GNU (!) parallel displays this annoying message:

    Academic tradition requires you to cite works you base your article on.
    If you use programs that use GNU Parallel to process data for an article in a
    scientific publication, please cite:
    
      O. Tange (2018): GNU Parallel 2018, Mar 2018, ISBN 9781387509881,
      DOI https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1146014
    
    This helps funding further development; AND IT WON'T COST YOU A CENT.
    If you pay 10000 EUR you should feel free to use GNU Parallel without citing.
    

    This pollutes the terminal. Secondly, why do I have to cite them and not every other piece of software that is only marginally relevant to the actual research (Rust, gcc, coreutils, …)? Finally, why does the GNU project even permit this, since you are not allowed to impose additional restrictions on use/distribution beyond the GPL?

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      I tend to over-cite free software that I happily use. But in the case of gnu parallel, the ad is so obnoxious that I don’t, as a matter of principle.

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        why wouldn’t the author of tmux (I am just taking a completely random utility) start every tmux session with …

        Or why wouldn’t the author of vim start every vim session with instructions to help his favorite charity? Oh. Wait…

        he’s done that for many years without any blowback. Every packager I’ve noticed chooses to leave it intact even though it would be trivial for a packager to change. Try typing :help uganda or :help iccf on any vim command prompt.

        I guess I’m not so much saying your “slippery slope” is wrong. I’m really saying that the slope has been in place forever, it’s no more slippery than it used to be, and the results haven’t been bad. Neither your (1) nor your (2) only possible “equally bad outcomes” have happened.

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          The vim message is non-obstrusive for normal usage of vim (opening an already existing file). Moreover, it disappears silently, without leaving rubbish on your terminal. The GNU parallel message pollutes your output stream in an unacceptable way. It is very different. Thus, nobody complains about vim’s ad (and most people won’t notice, since it is rare to launch vim without an argument), and many people, rightfully, complain about GNU parallel.

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            Not being a parallel user, I wasn’t aware of that one prior to reading the comment I replied to. Does it not have the decency to spit that to stderr instead of stdout? That’s kind of rotten.

            I guess I must also launch vim with no argument more than most people do :). vim -> ,e -> select file is a frequent workflow for me.

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            Or why wouldn’t the author of vim start every vim session with instructions to help his favorite charity? Oh. Wait he’s done that for many years without any blowback. Every packager I’ve noticed chooses to leave it intact even though it would be trivial for a packager to change.

            I think most maintainers would find removing an invitation to donate to a charity unethical, or do not want to deal with the backlash. Or maybe it does not bother them ;). It’s hard to say…

            Neither your (1) nor your (2) only possible “equally bad outcomes” have happened.

            I completely agree that the slope has been around for a while, I even mentioned another example. But I think it has an impact when more highly visible parties, such as Canonical, do such things. And the thing with slippery slopes is that things tend to speed up when the ball starts rolling. Look at subscriptions on the Mac, in the beginning a very small number of applications switched to subscriptions and there was a large public outcry. Now about every 1-2 weeks some Mac application model switches to a subscription model.

            Not that I believe this would fly very far on FLOSS operating systems in general, because their maintainers will intervene when it gets out of hand.

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              I do believe that most packagers would simply decline to package rather than remove a plug for such an un-controversial charity as ICCF or oxfam (the two most common free software charity plugs that spring to mind).

              the thing with slippery slopes is that things tend to speed up when the ball starts rolling

              Fair point!

              And the thing with slippery slopes is that things tend to speed up when the ball starts rolling. Look at subscriptions on the Mac, in the beginning a very small number of applications switched to subscriptions and there was a large public outcry. Now about every 1-2 weeks some Mac application model switches to a subscription model.

              Got a link to some examples? I’ve been mostly de-Mac’d for almost two years now (due to dissatisfaction with their laptop hardware options) and had not noticed that trend before I shifted over to Linux.

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                Got a link to some examples? I’ve been mostly de-Mac’d for almost two years now (due to dissatisfaction with their laptop hardware options) and had not noticed that trend before I shifted over to Linux.

                An incomplete list. I don’t think there is a definite list:

                • Adobe (2012), they really started to get the ball rolling.
                • 1Password (2016), though they still have a well-hidden standalone version
                • Text Expander (2016)
                • Ulysses (2017)
                • Day One (2017)
                • Git Tower (2018)
                • Gemini (2018???)
                • Capo (2018)
                • Drafts (2018)
                • Quicken (2018)
                • Airmail (2019)
                • BBEdit (2019, but only app store?)
                • MindNode (2019)
                • VirtualHostX Pro (2019)
                • Enpass (2019)
                • Pocket casts (2019)
                • Fantastical (2020)

                I primarily switched back to Linux because of (the power of) NixOS. But the other large factor was: ‘are the apps that I rely on going to switch to the subscription model next?’ Of these, I have used Adobe Lightroom (still no good replacement), 1Password, Airmail, and Fantastical at some point.

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                Look at subscriptions on the Mac, in the beginning a very small number of applications switched to subscriptions and there was a large public outcry.

                Is your issue with subscriptions that they lead to higher overall costs for consumers?

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                  The inversion of control.

                  With perpetual licensing, it was our choice as a consumer to decide if a new version is worth it and whether we agreed with the pricing. It also makes financial planning easier, you can buy that upgrade whenever it suits you financially.

                  With subscriptions the app developer is in control. If they have some amount of lock-in, they can raise prices whenever they want. They can choose to never do any meaningful updates, but you still continue to pay. You are not the owner of a license anymore, but completely at the mercy of the developer. Worst case, they go bankrupt and your software won’t work anymore.

                  For some types of software, I understand the motivation, if you have a program that does just one thing, there is not a lot of incentive for users to upgrade. But you still have to maintain the software, answer support requests, etc.

                  But it still sucks for the user.

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                    As long as you (as I do) accept the fact that some software requires payment, the payment structure is a detail.

                    Subscriptions are popular because they provide a better revenue stream for the developer.

                    Having an “account” with a vendor has many benefits - no need to keep track of physical media and license keys, easier to integrate backups, etc.

                    The issues with lack of updates, going out of business etc. are best left to the market anyway. Build a better product and/or provide it for less money, and a vendor will gain customers.

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                      It’s not just the payment structure that is a detail, and it’s no small detail. Why? Because software is not a free market. If an app holds your data and doesn’t provide a way to export it to a format readily importable into another app, then you are not free to just switch to an alternative.

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              If this would really get of the ground

              A lot of single-maintainer github repos that I’ve visited recently have links to the maintainer’s patreon account. I don’t believe we’re that far off from popular open source projects asking their audience to “comment, like, subscribe, follow us on Twitter and Instagram” with links to Patreon and so forth right in the main UI.

              I think it’s only a matter of time before it’s not only common but half-expected that open source project maintainers approach their users with hat in hand. I’m not saying I like it as it smacks just a bit too much of entitlement to me, I’m just saying it feels like it’s inevitable.

              Finally, why does the GNU project even permit this, since you are not allowed to impose additional restrictions on use/distribution beyond the GPL?

              In this specific example, the authors are not limiting restrictions on use or distribution, they’re attempting to impose a demand regarding “acedemic tradition”. And like most demands, it’s completely unenforceable and in poor taste.

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                And like most demands, it’s completely unenforceable and in poor taste.

                Agreed that it’s unenforceable. But I wouldn’t be surprised if colleagues who are less familiar with FLOSS licensing [1] would think that it is a requirement for using GNU parallel.

                [1] In our field, a lot of people do not use Linux for ethical reasons, but because the machine learning ecosystem is just the strongest on Linux.

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              The IDE ad is incredibly misleading; there’s nothing in there for us crazy Emacs fans!

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                PyCharm, Sublime…. what’s with all the nonfree crap they’re peddling?

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                  Also, what is Postman doing there?

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                  You can vote with your wallet and just not use Ubuntu. Debian is a great distro, on which Ubuntu is based.

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                    Another option is to just criticize these attempts but keep using Ubuntu, since there might be many reasons to do so. While it is based off of Debian, it has definitely brought big improvements to Linux. Especially desktop Linux.

                    The same goes for me in terms of Mozilla and Pocket. I will continue to use and recommend Firefox, but I will not accept the integration of Pocket.

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                      I typically use Debian. But occasionally there’s stuff that’s been specifically developed for Ubuntu. Such as MySQL Workbench. Maybe I’m too lame to put it on Debian.

                      I hate Pocket too, so:

                      extensions.pocket.enabled;false

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                    The fact that you can’t just wipe that advertisement crap out of your own system with fire (because it’ll pull down the base metapackage and then throw all base components to autoremove*) and instead you need to fsck around this with “disabling” which they so kindly provided is just extremely disgusting.

                    * Taking it into DPKG pinning/blacklist is also a fscking around the actual problem as you can’t simply kill it and have a nice day

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                        Seems Mark Shuttleworth does the updates: https://code.launchpad.net/~ubuntu-motd/ubuntu-motd/trunk

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                          Wow. Nicely spotted. If this feature gives him an outlet for his meddling, and he chooses to use it instead of meddling with things that actually matter, I’m all in on this feature. It’s clearly the least harmful way he could possibly mess with the system.

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                        I am not a fan of ‘ads’ in my OS either. At least they don’t include telemetry/analytics and they can be disabled, I suppose. If you happen to use puppet/chef/ansible or other provisioning methods, these can be disabled from the get go.

                        Beyond that, use Debian! It is Ubuntu without the dodgy inclusions (Amzn search, MOTD ads, who knows what else).

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                          Well, you send quite a bit of information to the Canonical servers:

                          https://git.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/base-files/tree/motd/50-motd-news#n73

                          This seems like telemetry/analytics to me.

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                            Isn’t this just for server version and not the desktop?

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                              Yep, it sure does! Thanks for the link, i had no idea…

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                            I honestly find that most motds that are more than one or two lines bother me a lot. At work, we have a ten-line disclaimer about improperly accessing private systems that prints every time you SSH into a lab machine. As someone who frequently clears the screen to reset my focus, it drives me crazy.