Fedora Proposes Adding Telemetry to Fedora 40

Fedora is proposing a controversial change to its Linux distro, raising the possibility of adding telemetry to Fedora 40....
Fedora Proposes Adding Telemetry to Fedora 40
Written by Staff
  • Fedora is proposing a controversial change to its Linux distro, raising the possibility of adding telemetry to Fedora 40.

    Telemetry collection is a touchy proposition in the Linux community. Many users come from Windows and are now using Linux specifically to escape Microsoft’s aggressive telemetry and data collection. Canonical famously angered users by including telemetry in Ubuntu.

    According to a Fedora developer mailing list thread, the upstream distro to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is considering wading into the telemetry waters:

    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.

    The proposal emphasizes the project’s interest in preserving user privacy:

    Fedora is an open source community project, and nobody is interested in violating user privacy. We do not want to collect data about individual users. We want to collect only aggregate usage metrics that are actually needed to achieve specific Fedora improvement objectives, and no more. We understand that if we violate our users’ trust, then we won’t have many users left, so if metrics collection is approved, we will need to be very careful to roll this out in a way that respects our users at all times. (For example, we should not collect users’ search queries, because that would be creepy.)

    Despite the assurances, however, developer Michael Catanzaro makes clear that the project has no interest in making the telemetry opt-in. Catanzaro was replying to a user who said the telemetry should be opt-in or not included at all:

    As explained in the proposal document, we know that opt-in metrics are not very useful because few users would opt in, and these users would not be representative of Fedora users as a whole. We are not interested in opt-in metrics.

    Needless to say, users are pushing back in the discussion, with the vast majority demanding that any telemetry be opt-in. Meanwhile, Fedora and Red Hat developers are pushing back and maintaining that opt-in telemetry “data will be garbage.”

    In the bigger picture, the news — and especially the developers’ insistence on opt-in telemetry — is concerning, coming in the wake of Red Hat’s recent source code decision. The company has already been accused of breaking the spirit, if not the letter, of the GPL.

    Many Fedora users took comfort that their distro of choice was still a community-driven upstream distro to RHEL. With moves like this, however, Fedora users may be looking to move to a distro that respects user privacy and preferences.

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