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


However innocent a feature the devs at Canonical think this is it smells fishy. There are many reasons that a person choses Linux over the alternatives. One really important one is motivated by a dislike of tracking and data harvesting. This move flies in the face of all of those users. This arms the haters, supplying them with ample ammunition.

For the experienced Linux user that has chosen Ubuntu this is more than enough to tip them over to using a different distro.

What with the return to Gnome, dropping Mir and the other side projects many of us thought Canonical had finally taken the sensible pill and returned to it’s original course of being a regular Distro for all users. Then it pulls the shotgun from the crazy locker and shoots it’s foot clean off.

All of the other distro’s are sat in class getting on with their school work and Ubuntu is sat in the supply cupboard eating glue again.



I do love a good metaphor


LMAO! But 100% agree.


This sort of thing has to be done - if you do not know even the basic details of what your software is installed on, you are fixing bugs with one hand tied behind your back - and what has been proposed is not offensive.

I am amazed that, as far as I can determine, nobody here or elsewhere seems to have looked up what Windows 10 does: Microsoft is surprisingly open about it. That link points to a long semi-technical read which is quite astounding and damning.

The four big points I see are that:

  • The lowest easily-available Windows 10 telemetry setting (i.e. the most private) sends roughly 100KB of data a day including beauties such as “how an app is used, including how long an app is used, when the app has focus, and when the app is started”;

  • I use “easily-available” because the lowest telemetry setting cannot be set from the standard user interface by a user - only by an administrator - and, in any case, is not available at all from the Windows 10 versions used by the general public;

  • If you want to send no telemetry at all, you must use the cut-down Long Term Servicing Branch (I have installed it and, in its general approach, it feels oddly like a Linux distribution. However, it is not available to the general public);

  • Although user names and machine IDs are obfuscated, there are a lot of exact items collected (although usually only when something goes wrong) such as “[Movie] URL for a specific two-second chunk of content if there is an error”.

There are assurances all over the place that the data will be securely held but, given the frequency of data breaches around the world, I take that with pinches of salt. Somehow, someday, something will get out. (And that applies to Canonical too).

Compared to all that, what Canonical is doing is nothing - an optional one-off which will send probably a few KB of data, once!


New User- I hate Windows because it tracks me.
Linux advocate- Use Linux it doesn’t track you, except Ubuntu that dose.
New User- I’ll install Linux but avoid Ubuntu.

Experience Linux user- Another reason to avoid Ubuntu

As far as I know no other distro has this form of tracking however benign. There are reasons why this happens, it’s not the Linux way. Linux desktop Distro’s respect your privacy. Sending any amount of data, however small is flying in the face of that.

This is one of those subjects that it’s hard to have a rational conversation about. I will not use a Linux distro with this feature, I can not recommend a Linux distro with this feature. Privacy is one of the great motivators for using Linux on the desktop. This is dumb, just plain dumb!



Just thought… will this make Ubuntu even lesser to free software?

The freedom to run the program as you wish

The freedom to run the program means the freedom for any kind of person or organization to use it on any kind of computer system, for any kind of overall job and purpose, without being required to communicate about it with the developer or any other specific entity. In this freedom, it is the user’s purpose that matters, not the developer’s purpose; you as a user are free to run the program for your purposes, and if you distribute it to someone else, she is then free to run it for her purposes, but you are not entitled to impose your purposes on her.


This “call home” approach likely means Ubuntu will be considered “spyware” out of the box again.


Nice find, there is a reason no other Linux distros report home. It is counter to the guiding ethos of Linux and free software.


I know it’s not a popular opinion in this thread, but I’m all for this data collection provided it’s done right.

  • Opt In
  • Hardware reports should not include UIDs (for disks, network interfaces)
  • Hardware reports should not be kept as a single record (meaning the information that this combination of hardware exists somewhere should not be kept, instead they should register that this particular motherboard for instance has been seen used X times)
  • Popcon reports should also not be kept as a list of all packages installed on a given machine
  • Automatic crash reports should not include core dumps etc, but a stacktrace is fine.

I’m now an expert in installing Ubuntu on a wide range of hardware. There’s not much that can stop me anymore. But on my road to this point I’ve seen so many installation issues it’s not even funny.
The fact is right now you have to be either an expert or just incredibly lucky to run an install. If this data can help ubuntu devs prioritize their work on the stuff that matters, that would be really helpful.


I know why they are making opt-out rather than opt-in. It’s because of all of those unattended server installs. I have a feeling this has less to do with regular desktop users and much more about server deployment in the enterprise. They really want that server install data. (never forget the IPO!)

How I would do it from the desktop users perspective.

A separate application that a user can run themselves, uninstall if they want. Run a campaign three months after each release, that way people will have their systems set up the way they want to use them (surly more useful than at install). Make it a regular community thing, asking users to take part. A month later publish the results. The Linux news media and the community will be all over this info much like the Steam hardware survey.

Those that want to be involved will jump at the opportunity. The data will be incomplete, as not every user will want to do it. However enough will to make it a useful thing for them to do. The biannual Ubuntu system survey. Basic hardware information, type of drivers used and such.


We should do a vote in our community and decide if we want telemetry or not. If more people vote that we don’t want telemetry, then we should remove it from Ubuntu Mate default installation.


That sounds like a very good idea.


Have a listen to the interview with Will Cooke and Dustin Kirkland that took place last night. Data collection is user controlled.


This is desktop only.


After listening to this I can say that it has clarified the situation. I was wrong and this has made me change my mind about this issue. This looks to a an over all positive for the desktop user.

However, there will still be some that will think of this as unwelcome.

Thank you for posting the video.


As a curious aside to this, I was just installing Debian Testing on an old piece of junk I dug out of the garage and, during the install, lo and behold came a request to send info much like being discussed here.

Of course, in this case, the default was to opt OUT…


I want Ubuntu to know how I, and the users I admin for, use Ubuntu MATE. I’d like the apps we use to be noticed and the way things work to be thought about. From a business or home perspective, the more the developers understand what users do, the better decisions they can make. From my perspective as a long time admin and full time Linux user, I’ve seen too many developer decisions mess up the established workflow and just change stuff for the sake of changing stuff. Maybe they had their reasons, but I would have challenged them! So, I will turn this on and make sure it is on any system in the lab I work in. It is good for Linux. Look, if you can’t trust your developers and help them, you might as well go back to Apple or Microsoft.
Best wishes,


I think that is a bit of a false dichotomy there. It is more true to state that if you don’t feel you can trust a given Linux distro, you can try another Linux distro.

The fact is, there are two issues with Ubuntu on this:

  1. It should have been opt in, not opt out.

  2. Cannonical already have form on passing data to third parties like Amazon. All the more reason, then, that one might have expected Cannonical to have anticipated anxiety amongst some of its user base about this move and so have preempted that anxiety by assuring people it would be opt-in. The fact they did not consider this important is, in itself, telling.


Having an option to opt out is like installing wintendo binary installation packages that come with some spyware integrated. And then, when you install it, you have to opt out or it will be installed.

Let’s all hope this will not become a practice with the snap packages in the future. They would probably offer some option to read the licence agreement about data collection before installing.

Ubuntu chould make one marketing experiment. Build one installation image with data collection embeded, and one without. But Ubuntu already knows which one would be downloaded the most.

Once upon a time there was a company with the moto: “Linux for Human Beings”. Now, like with other multinational companies, thanks to consumerism, humans are just a product whose interests can be sold to Amazon and beyond, unless we opt out. This goes against the free software philosophy.

Sharing or selling data to third party companies is absolutely creepy, but data collection can also be intercepted by the interested third party with just enough skills and computing power to decode the data and store them in their already massive databases.

Not to mention the concern about advertizing that targets children.


Well said @sgage. Tell me and let me choose, don’t do it and wait for somebody to expose the ugly truth. Be nice in all things, not just some.


And where is the switch to flip?
Is it labeled “Data Collection off”?