Ubuntu reports 67% of users opt in to on-by-default PC specs slurp

Early data reveals most users run a single CPU, 4GB of RAM, one 1080P monitor


Ubuntu has reported on data collected using the new user-profiling “feature” in version 18.04 of its GNU/Linux distribution.

Canonical, the company that backs Ubuntu, said it wanted to collect information about users’ PCs, attached hardware and location to help it focus future development efforts for the desktop version of the OS. Even with that noble intention, and sternly-worded pledges not to invade users’ privacy, Reg readers mostly disliked Ubuntu’s plan when we reported it in February 2018: we ran a poll on the idea and more than 80 per cent of the 3,894 votes expressed a negative sentiment about the plan.

However just 33 per cent of the undisclosed number of users Canonical’s analysed didn’t opt in to the slurpage.

Which is where things get a little bit weird, because Canonical’s post reports an “Opt In rate”. Yet the data slurpage is selected by default: there’s an active opt out but a passive opt in.

The data also revealed the following about Ubuntu desktop users:

  • They overwhelmingly use one CPU and one monitor;
  • That monitor is mostly 1920 x 1080 at 120dpi, but there’s a lot of Ubuntu users suffering at 1366 x 768;
  • The new “minimum install” option has attracted “a little over” 15 per cent of users;
  • Most users have four or eight gigabytes of RAM;
  • Just over half of users wipe the disk on which they install Ubuntu, but just 3.65 per cent bother to create an encrypted volume.
Ubuntu desktop installation data collection choice dialog

Ubuntu Desktop users’ installed RAM. Click to enlarge

Canonical’s not yet analysed things like core count but said it’s working on that and “the best ways to present the data and ensure that information is safe and anonymous.”

“Our web team will then implement those designs on a public website. This work is scheduled to be completed during the 18.10 development cycle.” ®

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