Fivnex Developer Group

Open Letter to Canonical Ltd

kailyons profile image KaiLikesLinux Updated on ・2 min read

UPDATE: Someone at Canonical has sent an email to me to get further information. Not much is said in the email, but they mentioned wanting to talk. I have yet to respond (just saw it right before the update) but responding soon. It was a kind response, something I normally expect from Canonical.

Dear Canonical Ltd, I expected better. While opening an install of Ubuntu 20.04 server I set up for my friend, I noticed an issue in the MOTD. I looked all over the internet to see others who have noticed this issue. My disappointment is immeasurable.

Alt Text

From Softpedia News

I will not stand for an ad in the Ubuntu MOTD, because this small thing is a huge issue. I have pushed the message for a long time that you are not turning into Microsoft. I am currently not that sure. The MOTD ad represents several issues and is causing distrust in the community and your contributors. As one of the remix developers, I am beyond livid.

The advertising on the Ubuntu platform itself is an issue of insanely serious privacy concerns. This issue is more than problematic. Users of the Ubuntu platform are not alone in thinking this can be bad. Users of Snappy, LXD, an Ubuntu remix/flavor/derivative, and many others are rightfully worried. The issue at hand is becoming trust, and while you might not collect data for these ads, this is a huge trust issue by any means.

Please, Canonical, remove the ad in the MOTD, and never attempt something like this again. Advertizing on the MOTD is unacceptable, and I expected better of you. I do not blame those who are leaving, who are considering, I have contemplated the termination of Ubuntu Lumina remix because of this issue. I decided against it because of the remaining trust I have in you. Please, remove the ad and never do such a thing again.

  • Kai Lyons Fivnex / Ubuntu Lumina

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kailyons profile



I am Kai Lyons, a general OS enthusiast, programming language fanatic, and domain extension guru. I have weird hobbies. I founded, fund, and work on Fivnex related projects

Fivnex Developer Group

The Fivnex development group that hosts multiple open-source projects for productivity, development, and experimentation. Join us on Telegram: [t.me/fivnex](https://t.me/fivnex)


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Honestly, I wouldn't have much of a problem with this, if they're developing an OS otherwise for free and without proprietary strings attached. I would hardly blame them for wanting to make some money in return for their enormous labor put into their free-to-use, open-source software.

That said, the other advertising issues sound much more concerning from what I've heard (which isn't much), and I can understand how this would look different to someone already offended by that (and more involved than me).


I wish it was more optional. I would 100% let them put ads on my desktop, but I do not want it done without my permission first.


The configuration of MOTD can be easily changed. You can disable it or witch it to providing silly quotes or math jokes, if you prefer.


It is optional... Install minimal and you do not get motd.


I removed MOTD by turning off the feature. It's in a config somewhere but I don't have that documentation handy at the moment.


Canonical is a company (which means "for-profit") that offers you a free operating system by integrating the last changes and making it easy for people to use. It's also quite small company compared to Apple, Microsoft or even RedHat.
You have written a rant because when you login to the session you have 3 textual lines of ads about k8s? Does this bothers you so much to this point? Your personal information is never sent to third parties and the ad itself is not flashy with popups so what hurts you exactly in this case? You can even clean it in a second.
I thought they made an ad appear periodically after writing a couple of commands...

Companies in our system needs to get cash instead they die. So better focus the critics on the big ones that already are hurting people and managing to never get any opposition at all.

P.S.: I don't work with Canonical but I use it as my OS for more than 10 years now, and during these years I've always seen civil wars in the FLOSS community and from the outside on this same community.


An 100% resonable argument. Canonical needs to survive


I don't think of it as an ad. It's a line about their own product they produced... There not getting paid for it... It's only an ad if it's 3rd party.. Microk8s is a Canonical product that is free. They did linked to a third party walkthrough. But that maybe less advertising and more somebody already written walkthrough why should we... They have links to support and documentation... Why shouldn't they have links to additional software that is related and created by them?


It promotes material, so, therefore, an ad. The issue is not coming in that it exists (ftmp) but what it might lead to. I am not a super hater, and I did screw up some of my phrasings but the point stands that this should not be there. I could have written this better, but the point stands, and I don't want to rewrite it as the point stands perfectly. It is what it can lead to that scares me, even though this ad is fairly harmless otherwise.


They make more than one now they want to tell people. Maybe it's not leading anywhere, I think you're just jumping to conclusions. If they start promoting someone else then... Your point would be valid. And the definition of an ad is material paid for by a 3rd party for promotion printed, or shared though types of media. They put a line about their own product hence... Not an ad.

It is an ad, by definition, and maybe I am jumping to conclusions but Canonical has struggled with trust recently.

Yours is hate not reason. They have a right to promote their in-house product


They also did this before they were mentioning the automatic security patching canonical livepatch... Did that bother you too?

I have yet to have information on it, but once I do I will then form an opinion.


It shouldn't come as any surprise, as soon as I started using unity with personalized scopes I quit and moved to a smaller distro. I'm not even sure that Linux is for me anymore, reading about BSD license vs GNU, I'm not certain that anything in Linux is shiney and pure, and definitely not one from a business like canonical.


I'm not even sure that Linux is for me anymore, reading about BSD license vs GNU

What do you mean by this? The main difference between GPL and BSD is that GPL requires derivatives to be released under the same license. Bad for people that want to take the code and use it in commercial apps, but good for users.


I'm now a Mac user if that helps contextualize what I have said.
The origins of MacOS came from BSD due to license and commercial viability. That's all I'm saying, that and Linus is a terrible people person, smart but terrible, I don't even like using git but hey. I don't have to make sense I just feel some bad feelings towards Linux that most people just gloss over.

He's doesn't take fools gladly and made at least two huge contributions to humanity and continues to shepherd a complicated open source community, rather than making billions and aggressively avoiding tax. Some might think his crassness outweighs that, I for one salute him.

Yea im thinking same about him, and unlike some of old guard be isnt just someone we drag along

This is not an attack, he himself has admitted that he has been a jerk to work with and has taken a break from Linux to learn empathy that is a fact. Jerk is a massive understatement as far as I have read. It is not my responsibility to ruin people to put on pedistals, Google this one if you want to know more.


I don't see this as a problem at all. The default setting includes some ads (and for something useful). The MOTD is a standard thing and configuration is well-documented. Just change it to something else.


This is not the first time this has happened, and it won't be the last. This is a company being a company and it will only get worse as Ubuntu becomes coupled to Windows. This is why I have been switching all my docker images and such workflows to use Debain instead of Ubuntu. The vast majority of packages are synced from Debian with no modification so there is not much difference. Let's get real for a second, it's the good people of Debian who do all the hard work of package maintenance not Ubuntu. As a former Ubuntu MOTU I now make all my contributions to Debian directly as should you.


I really like to use debian , I use raspbian but the biggest problem I have had is the issue of drivers out of box which is better in Ubuntu than debian. But I think that is something better to check out now


If you want to check out something new. I reccomend manjaro Linux, it's basically Arch but without the hassle. I used Manjaro Linux with KDE. The support community is undoubtedly smaller than ubuntu, but I found customizing KDE much more easier than Gnome 3. I also really liked using the AUR (Arch User Repository) throw a stone at any software you'd want and odds are the community has already taken the task of compiling the source code and has executable binaries ready to use. Unity game engine? Check. Steam? Check. Pacman - the Arch based package manager is pretty nice, not like I had any issue with apt-get, aside from occasionally having to add a ppa certificate for some other repository. My only issue with ubuntu is it has older packages, that aren't maintained very well, such as node.js (which if I recall correctly is like on version 3 on ubuntu's repository) its beyond depreciated. I think the current version LTS version for node.js is like 10? Again you could just download the .deb installation file from the Node website or install the repository by adding a ppa certificate to apt get via the command line it only takes a few seconds to google it, but it just bothers me a little One thing I like specifically about manjaro is that you can actually use ubuntu's snaps in manjaro as well. I'm not the hugest fan of snaps but you have more of a choice on how you can install certain software. I just like having more options. One thing to note. In my experience drivers were not an issue. However if you have an nvidia gpu (like I did), and want to get the proprietary drivers it may be a little annoying to find, but I recall finding it somewhere in settings. The open source drivers are good enough, for most use cases but if you ever need to run any recording software just make sure to go into settings and make sure your default rendering method isn't set to OpenGL 2.0. As for audio. I encountered no such issues but your millage may vary.

I take it that it's been awhile since you actually looked at nodejs versions on current Ubuntu Server repos? Ubuntu Server 20.04 has nodejs version 10.19.0, 18.04 had 8.10.0, and 16.04 had 4.2.6. 20.04 is still a bit behind, as the current nodejs is at 14.4.0. Given that Debian testing is using nodejs 10.21.0, and Sid is using 12.18.0, the nodejs version situation on Ubuntu isn't as bad as you imply.

I was not using ubuntu server, sorry my mistake. I was using ubuntu 18.04 LTS for my laptop. The issue most likely has been resolved last I checked. I'll take this as an opportunity to expand my knowledge are there any differences between repositories from ubuntu and ubuntu server? I haven't tried out ubuntu server yet. My bad.

No, they both draw from the same repositories. I specified Server because that's what I was checking (between work and my personal servers, I've got servers running on all 3 versions (16.04, 18.04, and 20.04)).

I note that the nodejs package is in the Universe repo, which is essentially community-supported, as opposed to the Main repo, which is directly supported by the Ubuntu team. I wouldn't be surprised if the nodejs package is generally pulled from Debian stable or testing at the time of release (given that 20.04 has 10.19.0, and the current Debian stable and testing both have 10.21.0).

Could it have been because I was using WSL (Windows Sub System for Linux) on my partition? That is a whole other can of worms. Honestly, I have no idea. I don't even remember if it was on my windows partition with WSL or the Ubuntu partition. Most likely it was WSL.

No. AFAIK, the WSL version and the normal Ubuntu use the same repositories. That looks like you're using Ubuntu 18.04. 2 years ago when it was released, 8.10.0 probably wasn't the latest, but it probably wouldn't have been obsolete.


The os is free and incredibly usable, why shouldn't they include three lines of text to make back some money? We all got to eat. Holding on to archaic views of free software is just gonna kill it, i think it's got to develop with the times.


They get money, a lot of money, but not from this. this isn't even them advertising other products (yet), it is their own. The issue comes with it being a floodgate issue.


My article here explains why it isn't that they did this (I would allow ads on my desktop if given the option). The issue is in that this can cause issues.


I’m pretty sure these ads have been in Ubuntu Server, for as long as I’ve had an Ubuntu server. (Which is about 3 years or so)


I'm sure many of us use browser based adblocking extensions, and I go the extra step and use Pi-Hole on a Raspberry Pi at home for DNS level blocking.

I do it because I don't like advertisements (I don't care much if they are how content is "monetized"); I do pay for/donate to companies or individuals that provide me useful software. Many people justify adblocking by saying they'd be fine with non-invasive ads and tracking type ads that can be privacy violating, but I think the case is that they're mostly like me...they would rather just not see ads.

So I see your point somewhat, as I'm currently running Ubuntu myself. I would not want to see that content in my terminal, personally. Though, rather than ask Canonical (likely in vain) to address this issue, I just don't have MOTD on at all.

I guess what I'm saying is the solution is pretty simple: just disable it and move on. On a lighter note, I'm not sure what kind of clickthrough they'd anticipate on a headless server. Gonna follow that link with lynx?


The issue isn't that it can be disabled, but I wasn't asked to allow it on my OS. Websites are different, in the sense, I really don't care. My OS install is where I do care. I can disable it, but I shouldn't have to do that in the first place.


I would definitely agree that a person shouldn't have to do it. Stripped down to the simplest of terms it's opt-in versus opt-out. Your reply makes me think: I introduced the website scenario, and I'm realizing now it's a false dichotomy.

The in-practice implemention of things ends up different than either of us would like I think. If I visit a website that uses invasive advertisements or something similar, I really didn't know that until I got there. The reality with a website is I never had the chance to opt out (aside from closing the browser after the fact), but I wouldn't have had that info that prior to visiting it. With an OS install, I'm willing to admit I probably clicked "I Agree" on something too onerous to read and agreed to... something, as it were.

I not really disagreeing on the principles. I don't think there's an issue with addressing Canonical's decision in this manner, and free and open source communities wouldn't exist if people had simply let the status quo reign. The reality is that turning MOTD off produces the desired result as well, and people do tend to take the path of least resistance (otherwise, we'd all be running Arch, right?)


Okay, if you won’t stand for it, then sit down. There has been a link to some paid-for service in the moth for years.


I just found out, but if it has been an issue for years, months, or days, issues are issues.


ironicly Microk8s is a free thing


I just don't get how you are "livid" at this.

This isn't a privacy issue at all. It doesn't collect your data, and it doesn't use interest-based ad targeting. It doesn't require any personal information and Ubuntu doesn't require any personal information to use. This ad just doesn't invade your privacy ad all, from what I can tell

This is a policy issue. You don't like an ad on the MOTD. I get that, and you say it breaks trust, but how?

Canonical are always going to make decisions on behalf of their users, not everything gets a vote. Canonical will simply never be able to make decisions that satisfy all users, so does that mean the trust is broken for everyone at some point?

I suspect you might not like this because it is commercial content inside of Ubuntu, albeit a line of text in a MOTD.

I don't like this either, personally, but not because of any privacy or policy or commercialization issues.

I just don't see the value of this decision. Ads are really only successful when you are able to track their effecacy and there is no way to test this here.

How many people go to that link from the MOTD? How many of them convert? What is the benefit of this text promo compared to other promotion of the link on other media?

At best this seems a punt to point people at that page. I think Canonical could get better results with other approaches.


well this isnt ment as a ad its more ment as a showcase of a canonical services besicly i have seen everything from a joke about their product to something like this and even this to me isnt an ad realy its just some cleverly written text


It's a "server".

Next thing you know they'll be suggesting you set up a Hotmail email account for "root".
(MS always was suggesting that when I logged on as the "Domain FREAKING Administrator" !!!)
Please go at 'em!
Rub Canonical's nose in it!
Get them potty trained please.
No "advertising" on a SERVER!


I agree, I did get contacted by a Canonical employee recently, so let's see where that goes.


Cannonical is a company that can do whatever they want with their product. This is a non-issue that you are clearly trying to blow out of proportion to justify making an article. If you don't like it, disregard it. I thought you learned when you had to archive some articles here already...


You might be interested in a package I wrote, on my GitHub, that removes this ad. I'll brand it a bit more, but right now it's called feren-advertisements-removal.

But this is a very annoying problem, and makes me mad that Canonical would do this.


i never realy tought of it as a ad but more as a small space where canonical showcases some of their products(which could be considered ad by some) i have never seen some outside service


Ubuntu has ads for years now. Back then. When I used Ubuntu they already put an Amazon link in the Unity Dock.
But this is by far not the biggest problem with Ubuntu. Much worse is the fact, that updates will destroy Ubuntu. I just had this some days ago again. I wanted to update Ubuntu, ran the apt command to update all packages and after a reboot I had no network interfaces anymore.
So. Ads are not the biggest Problem for Ubuntu.


They aren't the biggest problem, but problems are problems.


I'd recommend Debian instead. I don't think Ubuntu has any major advantages over Debian.


Easier to use, that is why I prefer Ubuntu over Debian


What's easier about Ubuntu vs Debian?

Ubuntu is easier to configure and install, Ubuntu is easier to use as root, Ubuntu is pretty much easier in almost every way to debian.


It is optional just remove the config from the motd done


But it is there from the get-go. It doesn't matter if you can remove it, people have a severe issue with Canonical for Snapd being in Ubuntu (and it infecting items in APT) even though sudo apt remove snapd


This has been around for a long time and is easy to disable AND customise with your own URL for info to grab to your serves, like scheduled maintenance etc


Removability isn't the issue. You can remove Snapd and people STILL take issue with it. It is a small issue, sure, but an issue none the less. Ask me first to put ads on my OS.


Eh, really? How is this an issue? For starters, MOTD is fully configurable. Or, you can delete it. Or change it.. anyway this is a big non-issue if I've seen one..


The problem is not the add the problem is not that you can remove it the problem is that you are shown it before being asked if it is ok to show ot is you. They did great stuff in the FOSS world but then go against what FOSS stands for


My issue is that I wasn't asked first, an issue that is so easily fixed. You can remove it, yes, but removability isn't the issue.


that ads is only for CANONICAL products
If you are angry with them, you can simply request a refund


The ad isn't an issue of money, but an issue of trust. My issue is what could happen given Canonicals rep,


Are you aware of the amazon integration Ubuntu used to have?


Yes, and I was outspoken against that too


The company needs to survive, that is something so small and user controllable. No need for such Lamentations. Ubuntu forever


I was never asked before I first saw it. Who cares if you can get rid of it after, shouldn't be there if you didn't personally say yes.


This is really worrying some time back npm tried doing it, now ubuntu.


ubuntu has been doing it for years btw


Well you are first one or firat time someone said about this motd had such mesaages for at least 2 years(but i newer see motd on amything but servers and even then i disregard it realy)


I still see issue with it, no matter how old the issue is, it is an issue.