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Ubuntu will take one step more into the commercial realm when it releases version 13.04 next April.

A post on the official blog of Canonical, the compnay behind the GNU/Linux distribution, said that version 12.10 had taken "another important step towards fulfilling its intended purpose of being an online, global search tool that helps users find anything, instantly, right from their home environment".

This would be extended in 13.04 with the use of "smart scopes" - daemons capable of presenting local or remote information within the Dash (seen above with theresults of a search for the word Beatles) which is the search window for Ubuntu's Unity interface. These "scopes" would be category-wise; depending on the search term a particular "scope" would be triggered.

"For example, a search for “The Beatles” is likely to trigger the Music and Video scopes, showing results that will contain local and online sources – with the online sources querying your personal cloud as well as other free and commercial sources like YouTube, Last.fm, Amazon, etc," said the post, written by Cristian Parrino, vice-president for online services at Canonical.

Another new feature would be the ability to make instant purchases; the number of retailers from whom search results would be returned would be increased.

"We are also testing a few additional user controls like filters for local and global searching – more to come on this front as we learn from those sessions. In the meantime, users can already focus a search to local files only with a simple super-f keystroke," Parrino wrote.

Canonical has come under fire for returning Amazon search results when one searches locally in version 12.10; Free Software Foundation chairman Richard Stallman was among the critics.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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