Opinion on data collection (Ubuntu), what do you guys think about it? (Include News)

"Ubuntu Gets in the User Data Collection Business"¹

:arrow_right:( https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/linux/ubuntu-gets-in-the-user-data-collection-business/


What do you think about it?

Would it be a new time of telemetry or new features to improve the distro?

Is there an impact on privacy?

Let’s talk about…

This has all of the hallmarks of the dumb foot in mouth stuff Canonical used to do a few years ago. The wider Linux community will draw parallels with Windows 10 “telemetry” (they say it’s anonymous too!) Lunduke will have a field day with this one and I don’t think it would totally unjustified. I wouldn’t want to be Canonicals public relations because I fear this will become a s**t storm of bad publicity.

I can understand how this would be interesting but it opens us up to another round of ridicule. It’s not always easy to be a Ubuntu user but I wish Canonical would stop handing out the clubs to beat us with.

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I think collecting this kind of info is very important to be able to work on issues that really concern the majority of users.
As long as it is optional and no personal or sensitive information is collected I don’t see how it could be a problem.
Steam also has a similar program, I think it’s reasonable that developers want to know on what hardware software like an OS or a gaming platform is run.


Any connection with the fact that Canonical did some sort of ‘rapprochement’ with MS ?
One would wonder.

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I saw it here http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2018/02/ubuntu-data-collection-opt-out this morning and had much the same reaction. @Swart just beat me to posting about it (grins).

Personally, I’m not thrilled about it, but as long as the “opt-out” checkbox actually works, I guess I won’t sweat it… for now.

All they had to do was make it opt IN instead of opt OUT. I just don’t understand why that is so difficult to comprehend. Look at some of the comments on Slashdot - basically “it’s just like Windows 10”. Of course, the average /. poster has the critical thinking skills of a 5 year old.


Yeah sorry, I don’t see the intellectual authority in “some of the comments on Slashdot”. I think the difference is not meaningful if the information is not private or sensitive.

Every opinion is important, it is healthy to debate ideas about new implementations.

I remember the example of Firefox, activating or disabling ‘telemetry’. So having an option to “enable” or “disable” is important.

As for the return of this implementation, which can be gratifying to all of the ecosystem, mainly more compatibility with Software/Hardware and new devices. For developers I believe it will bring more important information to the projects.

And for users the experience and transparency with features allows an evolution for future distros.

That was my point - comments on Slashdot do not have any particular intellectual authority, but that’s what people will, and do, say. It’s a PR black eye for Ubuntu.

I think there is a huge difference between opt in and opt out. It doesn’t matter what I think, though, or what you think - the point is that Ubuntu will catch sh*t about it being opt out.

A lot of people are very cautious about their privacy, sometimes to a really prickly degree. Right or wrong, reasonable or not, people are being alienated.


Ubuntu (and its derivatives)… unless you contribute financially to these you are getting a highly performant OS gratis.

Then you expect it to work. And work well. And do almost everything.

Privacy is extremely important.

So the thing is, if you’re the supplier having to join the dots how do you do it? How do you pay the developers that work for you?

Canonical have left the “Unity” project behind them. People then lost their jobs. To find out where to concentrate their efforts to give users what users want (all users, not just the vocal few thousands) they need information. Market research. How do you do that for an OS that people can obtain without payment?

As long as they put “a big sign” up on the installer screen, so that you are aware that you have a choice to make (how will they do this for people upgrading, as opposed to doing a fresh install?), I think it’s not entirely unreasonable.

If Canonical ever made the collected information available to others… what could ensue recalls to mind “Cerebro” and “Striker”.

So for me it’s all about the details. Canonical, we are listening, over. :ear:


It’s started, expect to see a lot more headlines like this over the next few weeks.

If they are being open and transparent about it, Then there is not, in principle, a problem with it. Having it checked by default is not so good. But, so long as the checkbox is front and centre during the installation and it is easy to un-check then, again, it’s just about okay.

But, Cannonical have form in this area with Unity and the Amazon nonsense. So, when push comes to shove, I don’t trust them. Like quidsup, I fear that this will be expanded over time to include a lot more than mere installation “diagnostics”.

Consequently, on balance, I will now be leaving the Ubuntu family.



Lets hope Martin can leave it out or make it an opt in.

Although this has been presented as a development tool I’m sure this data will help with the eventual sale of Canonical. Nothing like hard numbers, like the size of your install base when negotiating a price.

Personally I just don’t care but I do get tired the Ubuntu hate I come across in the wider Linux community. This is just another thing to bash the users with.

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Edit: fixed attribution.

Juerg Haefliger has requested this to be opt-in.

Actually even better: instead of opt in/out, they should make this a “share”/“do not share” question which you have to explicitly select (and for unattended installs don’t share by default).

If I understand it correctly from what I have seen even negative response will give some information. The negative response will be sent so it would give tell Canonical the size of their install base. This in itself is useful information even without all of the hardware info.

I have no issues with letting any distribution know that I have installed their OS. A simple head count, I’m a little surprised distributions don’t do this when checking repos during an update.

Finally knowing what the install base is will be useful.


I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with distros harvesting anonymous data on the numbers of people installing their OS.

I do have a problem with distros wanting more information than the above. But, accept that others may not feel that way.

I have a significant problem with distros using the “opt-out” method of harvesting data from their users.

I have a massive problem with Cannonical being linked to the aforementioned data-harvesting because Cannonical already have form in this with the Amazon/Unity farce.

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It just occurred to me: what happens during an upgrade? Seems like that data would slip out before you could turn it off.


Since it’s just machine information, I don’t mind too much personally. It’s like how Steam conducts surveys (although that is entirely optional and random). Stats like that can be useful for developers, but I am wondering about quite a few things:

  • Can a user review exactly what is being sent before it’s sent?
  • Is anything in place to prevent data skewing?
  • Are they mass collecting everything, or will it be like Steam where they pick machines at random?
  • What is someone changes their hardware? How often does this send?
  • Also the good question @grenouille raises. :point_up:
  • Does this include the mini ISO and server edition?

I do not like this. I would prefer to have it opt-in.
I’m also interested in following:

"Beyond collecting some install-time data Canonical also says it wants to enable two other services to collect other data as you use your system:
Ubuntu Popcon — to track the relative popularity of apps, packages and so on
Apport — to automatically send anonymous crash reports" - from omgubuntu.co.uk article.

So this is not even opt out. You will need to remove the packeges after update/install and information will be stolen before.

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