Friday, October 4, 2013

Ubuntu Saucy Salamander Smart Scopes is Dumb

by Dietrich Schmitz

I think I've seen just about everything now.  Just when I thought Canonical couldn't pull another boner move like the Amazon 'Lens' privacy issue, they continue head long into Smart Scopes, a full specification fleshed out for Ubuntu 13.04 and beyond.

I think you'll find the picture below showing Smart Scopes in action descriptive:

Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander 'Smart Scopes' Feature

My reaction is one of confusion.  And that is from someone who has been around computers for years.

What were they thinking?  Smart?  I say: Dumb!  Very Dumb!  It's a jumbled mess.

The obvious question to me is:  Why should I alter my habit of using a browser which is self-contained and optimized for doing on-line searches, shopping over SSL in favor of this confusing interface?

The answer is: I shouldn't abandon the browser for this abomination.

Do I want my search activity mediated by Canonical Ltd on their web servers?: No way.  I don't care if it's tunneled over SSL.  I'll stick with what works reliably: a browser.

Thankfully, Ubuntu has global toggles to turn this and other features off.  I wouldn't want it and I would suspect the majority of Ubuntu users, new and old, will share the same reaction.

There are some features in Ubuntu 13.10 that might be of interest but this certainly isn't one of them.

Does the Canonical Development Team even do any 'User Acceptance Testing'?

It would seem to me that they'd get an ear-full of negative feedback on this one.  

No, It's deja-vu all over again I am afraid.  Someone pushes a feature request from the top (cough Mark Shuttleworth), and it gets written regardless of whether it even makes sense to do so.

That appears to be how Ubuntu development is governed, with some favoritism mixed in.  Unlikely there is any consensus vote taken for feature acceptance -- just put in -- no questions asked.  I've written before that Ubuntu community are chumps on the outside looking in.  Had they really any control over their 'own' community Distro, would Smart Scopes ever have seen the light of day?  I think not.

It's just more affirmation that the Ubuntu community should seriously give consideration to forking Ubuntu to regain control and rebuild what was once a great product.

Mir, a new 'one of a kind' Display server technology, so far will only be adopted and used in Ubuntu and not by any other Distribution.  Plans announced in June 2013 to add Mir to 13.10 (without an X fallback option) were postponed on October 1, 2013 and so won't be making their debut until version 14.04 at the earliest.  

As mentioned, other Derivative Ubuntu development teams have steered away from supporting Mir in favor of staying for the 13.10 cycle with server technology but a view to adopting Wayland in the long term.

Ubuntu continues on a course which is questionable and with each release cycle a new round of feature enhancements put its future into question.

-- Dietrich

Enhanced by Zemanta


Post a Comment