Fedora Workstation 40 Considering To Implement Privacy-Preserving Telemetry

Written by Michael Larabel in Fedora on 6 July 2023 at 02:44 PM EDT. 97 Comments
If there wasn't enough Red Hat drama happening in recent weeks, the Red Hat Display Systems Team is now considering to implement privacy-preserving telemetry beginning with Fedora Workstation 40.

Red Hat's desktop developers are interested in "limited data collection of anonymous Fedora Workstation usage metrics." They are not wanting to collect individual user data but are interested in aggregate usage metrics. Their hopes include:
"We believe an open source community can ethically collect limited aggregate data on how its software is used without involving big data companies or building creepy tracking profiles that are not in the best interests of users. Users will have the option to disable data upload before any data is sent for the first time. Our service will be operated by Fedora on Fedora infrastructure, and will not depend on Google Analytics or any other controversial third-party services. And in contrast to proprietary software operating systems, you can redirect the data collection to your own private metrics server instead of Fedora's to see precisely what data is being collected from you, because the server components are open source too."

At this stage the change proposal has been posted, it's open for discussion on the Fedora development list, and still needs to be evaluated in the end by the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee (FESCo) before it can be formally approved.

Fedora is looking at using the Endless OS metrics system for the collection of usage metrics. Among other details in their planned change proposal:
"One of the main goals of metrics collection is to analyze whether Red Hat is achieving its goal to make Fedora Workstation the premier developer platform for cloud software development. Accordingly, we want to know things like which IDEs are most popular among our users, and which runtimes are used to create containers using Toolbx.

Metrics can also be used to inform user interface design decisions. For example, we want to collect the clickthrough rate of the recommended software banners in GNOME Software to assess which banners are actually useful to users. We also want to know how frequently panels in gnome-control-center are visited to determine which panels could be consolidated or removed, because there are other settings we want to add, but our usability research indicates that the current high quantity of settings panels already makes it difficult for users to find commonly-used settings.

Metrics can help us understand the hardware we should be optimizing Fedora for. For example, our boot performance on hard drives dropped drastically when systemd-readahead was removed. Ubuntu has maintained its own readahead implementation, but Fedora does not because we assume that not many users use Fedora on hard drives. It would be nice to collect a metric that indicates whether primary storage is a solid state drive or a hard disk, so we can see actual hard drive usage instead of guessing. We would also want to collect hardware information that would be useful for collaboration with hardware vendors (such as Lenovo), such as laptop model ID."

More details on this proposed change for Fedora 40 can be found via this Fedora devel list thread.
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