F40 Change Request: Privacy-preserving Telemetry for Fedora Workstation (System-Wide)

This proposal is for Fedora Workstation (i.e. GNOME) only. You can simply not install the telemetry components (specifically eos-event-recorder-daemon) on the Budgie spin. Other spins will have to decide for themselves what they wish to do.

If Budgie uses GNOME components, then you might have to do some work to prevent eos-event-recorder-daemon from being installed. But as long as that package is not installed, there will be no telemetry.

We want data from Fedora users, not data from RHEL users. If we were to use RHEL user data to develop Fedora, you would not like the result because RHEL users are very different from Fedora users.

Opt-in telemetry is garbage. I’m going to stop responding to comments that are requesting opt-in because I’ve made my position clear: users who opt-in are not a representative sample, and that opt-in data will not be accurate or useful.

Hm, I hadn’t considered this. I guess we’ll have to figure out how to communicate this in the Fedora data collection policy, but Fedora Workstation is a GNOME desktop and of course we’ll need to share data with GNOME developers for this to be useful.

I will make a note to add this to the feedback section of the change proposal. Blog posts are a lot of work, but it seems worth doing to show some actual successes.


I had to make an account here, as this is too important, and I choose Fedora to be my main OS for me and after some convincing, my parents.
After reading the beginning post (not comments made later), I have a few concerns to how telemetry should be approached.

First, Fedora should know pretty well that one of the main reasons it’s chosen as an Operating System is the promise to be privacy and freedom respecting as explained in Fedora’s Mission and Foundations :: Fedora Docs , as quoted from “Our Vision”: “the user should be in control of their computing.”

Any form of telemetry should, for all users, be OPT-IN, not only for existing installations. Users who freshly install Fedora shouldn’t be forced to an OPT-OUT method.
I’m not saying that Fedora is an evil organization controlled by Big Tech. But the average user without the technical understanding of telemetry (they likely know that telemetry = bad) would likely get suspicious if they see it on a project that sells itself as private and secure.
A majority of users don’t have the need to know exactly what happens to their OS, they just want their computer to work reliably, to open Firefox to watch baby kittens. If this is approached without informing the user, you are essentially lying to them.

Honestly, the best form to add telemetry without causing an uproar (that already happened due to poor communication and yellow journalism) is to make the telemetry OPT-IN, likely copying KDE’s already existent telemetry method making it understandable to all users and not forcing anyone to give data.
If it’s clearly communicated what you will collect in an anonymized way (with a toggle to see the raw data) before giving access (for example: package list and version, usage time, copr repositories) most users would trust the telemetry.

Second, locking this to GNOME technologies is a bad idea. With the variety Fedora offers, it’s likely that telemetry would be turned on by default on users with Window Managers or more traditional Desktops like XFCE or MATE.
I would either make a universal Fedora utility or include the telemetry information inside the Anaconda Installer with an explanation like “if you change your mind, run this command on the terminal: fedora-telemetry off”.

Third, if the main goal for this is to gather data for Red Hat, why not start with RHEL first?

It fits their goals to be the top players in the Enterprise World, if I’m paying for the support I want them to gather telemetry so when I ask for help they already know the crucial information about my deployment of RHEL, removing some of the bureaucracy of troubleshooting.
Not enabling this in RHEL first makes me question what’s the difference from Rocky and Alma.
It’s not like Red Hat is giving me the extra care, why pay them?

I can’t help but feel enslaved by this, it’s almost like Red Hat is forcing telemetry on us (it’s not the case, hence why we are here, but it gives me that feeling, even more with the recent backlash of Rocky/Alma).

TLDR: Please make it OPT-IN, universal for all of Fedora, and with a good explanation for every kind of user.


I am not going to rehash all the general arguments about opt-in vs opt-out, but I will answer your question about tying it to GNOME. So the short answer is that it isn’t inherently tied to GNOME, but if any other spin wants to include this they will have to write some tooling for their desktop of choice to do so. There is no good way of doing this that is completely uncoupled from the desktops.

As for telemetry in RHEL, as I think Michael mentioned that is already done through something called Red Hat Insights. This is about Fedora and how to make Fedora better and also how to justify even more investment into Fedora and thus collecting RHEL data doesn’t really help with that.


A post was merged into an existing topic: Opt-in / Opt-Out? A breakout topic for the F40 Change Request on Privacy-preserving telemetry for Fedora Workstation

Beyond Michael’s answer, it’s also part of Fedora’s 5 year plan:


Fedora’s Firefox defaults to:

  • Allow Firefox to send technical and interaction data to Mozilla
    • Allow Firefox to make personalized extension recommendations
  • Allow Firefox to install and run studies

It also uses the Google Safe Browsing service, which sends statistically sampled URLs to Google (with a probability configured by Google). I expect most web browsers in Fedora to do this, and they probably have metrics gathering similar to Firefox. I would expect various online crash reporters in complex packages to be active in Fedora as well (not just ABRT, which presumably falls under GNOME in this context?).


3 posts were merged into an existing topic: Decision-Making, Governance, Council, Red Hat — a breakout topic for the F40 Change Request on Privacy-preserving telemetry for Fedora Workstation

A post was merged into an existing topic: Opt-in / Opt-Out? A breakout topic for the F40 Change Request on Privacy-preserving telemetry for Fedora Workstation

The problem is that if we send out a poll asking for example 'should we continue shipping Firefox in Fedora (random example) the chance is that the people who choose to respond is the people using Firefox, while it will tell us nothing about if they represent 1% of Fedora users, 10% of Fedora users, 50% of Fedora users or 100% of Fedora users.

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5 posts were merged into an existing topic: Opt-in / Opt-Out? A breakout topic for the F40 Change Request on Privacy-preserving telemetry for Fedora Workstation

Good to see making each spin decide to include/not include.
Why is not adding a “Privacy” option to Anaconda that requires the user to select an option before installing a bad idea? It’s universal (the argument for opt-out is to increase numbers) and it almost guarantees that users will read how their data is used.

I don’t like polling and prefer forced-opt telemetry, however it seems you could ask the user whether they were willing to participate in a poll and either submit results or an explicitly empty result, before showing them what the poll was about.

That way you’d have counts for

A - Keep distributing Firefox
B - Stop distributing Firefox
C - No response

Maybe because understanding if Fedora Workstation users are using GNOME Terminal or Terminator isn’t in any way or form comparable to killing people with a gun?

A post was merged into an existing topic: Opt-in / Opt-Out? A breakout topic for the F40 Change Request on Privacy-preserving telemetry for Fedora Workstation

That poll would only be valuable if I could know how representative of Fedora users it is and also if people have considered the tradeoffs possible. Ie. could the investment in Firefox be moved to VS Code for example. The telemetry data, if representative, could give us quite strong data to make such a decision, while a poll would most likely be distorted by self selection ie. the people wanting to keep firefox is a lot more motivated to participate than the people who don’t care.

A post was merged into an existing topic: Opt-in / Opt-Out? A breakout topic for the F40 Change Request on Privacy-preserving telemetry for Fedora Workstation

There is no abuse here, there is only an attempt at gathering data that would allow Fedora to become a better operating system for its users.

My point was not to make this about whether the data is a matter of life or death, but simply to show that the options presented are either an open assault on a persons privacy, or a choice they are making. Being assaulted is never pleasant.

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Is it worth the loss in trust, though? Just like there are no numbers on how many will leave, there are also no numbers on how quantifiable the improvements will be from implementing this. It is just a promise right now