I have used Ubuntu in the past (version 9.x) and now want to install the newest version in a new laptop. But a red flag has popped up, causing me to hesitate.

Katherine Noyes published in linux.com the following:

Regarding Ubuntu, however, a number of issues have come up over the past year or so, including the inclusion of online shopping results in searches – an addition Richard Stallman and the EFF have called “spyware.”

I did a little research, including reading Stallman's original piece on this subject and frankly, I find this a bit alarming. I expect this kind of thing from Microsoft, Apple, Google or other sellers of commercial proprietary OS's, but not from the Linux community!

Has Canonical been seduced by the Dark Side of the Force?? What EXACTLY does this mean? Is Canonical paid to collect - through Ubuntu - information (anonymous or not) from my search behavior, enabling third parties to target me with sponsored results? Besides this, to what other "issues" is Noyes referring?

I apologize in advance if this topic has been covered elsewhere in this forum, but my searches so far have turned up nothing that actually explains what the controversy is about. But Richard Stallman - a well-known and respected member of the Linux community - has pulled no punches in giving Ubuntu the poison pen, recommending that no one continue to recommend Ubuntu, let alone install it.

If this horse is dead, please humor me and beat him some more for me. He probably won't care... He's already dead. But I'll be informed, and grateful. For others who, like me, need to be brought up to speed, it might even be good to put a sticky on it.