CANONICAL HAS revealed plans to start harvesting user data like never before.
Will Cooke, who manages the desktop operation for Ubuntu, told the Ubuntu community this week that it plans to request an option to collect user data to "focus our engineering efforts on the things that most matter to our users".
And if you think that sounds more like Microsoft, we'll tell you another. The list of data that would be harvested would be spectacular - this is copy and pasted from the announcement:
* Ubuntu Flavour
* Ubuntu Version
* Network connectivity or not
* CPU family
* Disk(s) size
* Screen(s) resolution
* GPU vendor and model
* OEM Manufacturer
* Location (based on the location selection made by the user at
install). No IP information would be gathered
* Installation duration (time taken)
* Auto login enabled or not
* Disk layout selected
* Third party software selected or not
* Download updates during install or not
* LivePatch enabled or not
Yes - you read that right. Location. Cooke emphasises the anonymity of the data and that no IP addresses would be collected but nevertheless, this is not going to play well.
The reason many people choose Ubuntu or other Linux flavours is because Microsoft continues to have a very vague grasp on its privacy settings.
Yes, it has calmed them down and given some illusion of control, but there still isn't the granular control that users really want.
Canonical is proposing a single checkbox to opt in (or not). This is actually where Microsoft was two years ago.
In fairness, the Ubuntu community is more likely to be accepting of the need to help their fellow devs, and indeed trust Canonical with the data, but there's a terrifying lack of lessons learnt on show here.
Opting in would also install Popcon and Apport to upload data trends and crash reports and the data, whilst anonymous, would be publicly available as analytics.
Holy Moly, Will, we hope you've got a thick skin because this is not going to play well with a lot of people.
At present, the email reads as a consultation with feedback requested, but we can't imagine that Linux users are going to stand for this the way Windows users do…. Can they?
We're making the phone calls, we'll keep you posted. µ
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