I rarely bother to log in, much less comment anymore, but I felt compelled to do so on this subject.
For context: I read the initial writeup and source article on RMS' take on Canonical's actions a few days ago here on Slashdot, as well as Mr. Bacon's response today. I've also been a happy, but increasingly disappointed Ubuntu user for a number of years now. I write this on my 10 year old laptop that hasn't had a working hard drive in 5 years (maybe 6?). This machine runs on a Kubuntu Fiesty Live CD, and my desktop dual boots Win7 and Ubuntu 12.04.
As a long-time Free Software enthusiast, I can tell you that RMS pisses me off nearly as often as I begrudgingly agree with him. I am hardly alone in that opinion of him.
Anyway, I've been less than thrilled with the Unbuntu-proper releases for the last couple of years now. Its just a simple case of the design team taking the distro in a direction that decreasingly suits my tastes, particularly on the desktop. I am not a fan of Unity. I begrudgingly used it on my desktop machine for about 2 years, and even after I got used to it, I still didn't like it. The default environment just, I dunno -- it pisses me off. And its gotten increasingly annoying to me in the last couple of releases. That alone is fine. I'm sure there are many users that like things better now. Aside from the desktop environment itself, Ubuntu distros have never failed me in terms of working well with my hardware, which is more than I can say for a couple of distros (which have probably caught up in the prevailing years for all I know.). My weird Wifi and graphics hardware just works. Thats freakin' sweet! My desktop machine currently runs Kubuntu 12.04 because I just got tired of the Unity crap. However I'm likewise not thrilled with KDE at the moment. Plasma and the file manager are only marginally less annoying to me. It pisses me off for similar, but different reasons. That's another story. I realize that I have other options within the Ubuntu ecosystem in regards to Desktop Environment, and I'm also quite aware I have options in switching distributions altogether. That isn't really my gripe.
For all that, and back on topic: RMS is totally right on this one. Yeah, he called out Ubuntu in a pretty blunt way, but it is what it is and RMS is famous for that same tone. That's sort-of Stallman's self-appointed job. It is on him to hold the highest ideal for Free Software and bark loudly when it seems something runs afoul. None of us are surprised. Mr. Bacon's retort (if you can call it that), is simply unsatisfactory because it doesn't really address the issue. If Mr. Bacon had simply accepted that the default behavior of the dash is unfavorable to the user and promised to have it reconsidered, if not changed, that would have been _something_. My personal view is that the Amazon thing should be opt-in, and even that isn't ideal, but I'd be willing to accept that and not get hung up on it.
RMS is many things, but childish and/or short-sighted are not the first words that come to my mind, even though I'm certainly not his biggest fan. I have a slightly looser requirements from my Linux distributions than those recommended by the FSF. For example, I don't really mind loading a binary blob driver from Nvidia so that I can actually use my graphics hardware. Ideologically, RMS is right, but I have shit to do NOW. We can fight the hardware/driver problem later.
At the end of the day, I will strongly consider moving from Ubuntu altogether because this is just the last straw for me. Not really for ideological reasons, but it just isn't usable for me anymore. I've never tried Mint, but enough commenters have spoken favorably of it for me to give it a go. I greatly appreciate what Canonical has done to try to bring Linux to the masses, as it were, but I feel that over time they have deviated from the spirit of what they originally set out to do. I can no longer support Canonical if they choose to continue along this path, and deeply feel that making 'sneaky' decisions like this one greatly serves to take away the momentum they've contributed to the Linux community in regards to achieving the goal of "Linux on the Desktop". Doing stuff like this is a step backward.
Please, Canonical, rethink your motivations for moving down this path. Yes, you want to make money with Free Software. No, there is nothing wrong with that. How you go about doing so speaks loudly of your character, for better or for worse. So, go back to making software that my mother can use, and cut out the bullshit. Getting 'recommended links' or just outright blatant ads piss everyone off, not just us 'enthusiasts'. My mom's exasperation at all of the douchebags trying to sell her shit when all she's after is a "fuckin' cookie recipe, for chrissakes" (her words) might tell you something. Something, I would think, your community manager should be able to pick up on.