First of all. Sorry for my English, it’s not my native language.
A little bit about me. I’m not new to the community (I’ve been following everything for 2 years now and switching to a more private lifestyle without commenting and just being a lurker) (thanks to Michael Bazell for changing the type of way i see the digital world). A few months ago I thought it was time to switch to linux, so I could take my quest for privacy to the next level and learn how to use linux (it’s been one of the hobby’s I’ve wanted to take up for a while now).
As a new user of Fedora workstation 39 I wanted to see what are the opinions of the members of this community about the suggestion of implementing telemetry op out in Fedora 40. I have not been following the drama very often during the last months (2 months ago I was still using windows and in the end I ended up dual booting, until now I have been enjoying Fedora).
I’m planning to see how the issue develops and see how transparent Fedora is about this implementation which could bring big problems for the privacy aspect of the distribution. So, I ask you comrades. Objectively speaking what do you think about the issue ?
A proposal for optional, anonymized, privacy-preserving telemetry to assist development is extremely far from something “evil” or inherently bad or wrong. (Also the proposal has already been withdrawn)
There is a widespread misunderstanding in this community that telemetry is inherently bad or wrong (because a lot of people confuse telemetry and tracking which are overlapping but different concepts).
Telemetry is not inherently bad or wrong so long as it is (1) consensual (2) optional (3) transparent and clearly stated (4) used for legitimate development purposes. The Fedora proposal meets these criteria, and is explicitly not trying to collect any personal or private information.
I’d encourage everyone to please read the actual proposal in its entirety (its not long) before forming an opinion or commenting on this topic. There is a ton of misinformation on social media about this subject.
Thank you for the article. I had already read it a few days ago but it is good to have it in the topic. I agree with you, after following the topic before installing fedora in dual booting I was thinking about what actually the meaning of the proposition was. Since last year I have been following the linux communities as a lurker and seeing the way different users react as soon as a suggestion like this is brought up. As a newcomer to the community I still think that many users maintain a somewhat archaic way of thinking when it comes to talking about these kinds of issues. However, I wanted to bring this topic up because I find the benefits of telemetry in software and the use of it in a really good way interesting, in contrast to the evil use that Microsoft and other big corporations have implemented. Thanks for the reply
As a long time Linux user, I very much agree with this. A lot of people in the Linux, FOSS, and privacy communities are very set in their ways, and extremely opinionated, often forming opinions based on hearsay without first informing themselves (this last criticism applies to most/all communities, not just Lnux, FOSS, and privacy).
As to your question:
So, I ask you comrades. Objectively speaking what do you think about the issue ?
I think Fedora is going about it in the right way, they have made it a priority to make sure it is done in a privacy-preserving and transparent way where the user is in control, and the proposal was made and is being discussed in the open. Before it could be approved it would be reviewed by a board of people elected from the community. So this proposal could not pass without community approval. I am somewhere between indifferent to the proposal and mildly supportive of it.
I personally feel that those of us who are passionate about FOSS should contribute in the ways that we can, if you can code, or review code that is one way to contribute, writing technical documentation, donating money is another way, but a less talked about way to help out developers is by submitting bug reports, opening github issues, and opting into telemetry if we trust the developers, because it really does aid development, helps developers understand how we use software or understand the types of hardware their users prefer, and to direct development.
I absolutely think telemetry must always be consensual, transparent, privacy-preserving, and optional, but if it meets these criteria and I trust the developers, I will enable it voluntarily, and am not opposed to either opt-in or soft-opt-out telemetry.
I very much agree with you here. To be honest I think this way of implementation could bring a good advancement to the world of linux and unix systems. As long as it is done in an open and transparent way it seems to me a good way to give developers the necessary information to improve the product to the next level. I am interested to see how Fedora intends to deal with this kind of proposition in the future and I can only hope and wish that the community moves forward with the times. It’s about time that we admit a little different tactics in order to take an already good system to the next level.
Im afraid you’re too optimistic. While I do not have a strong opinion one way or the other, Fedora Workstation uses Gnome and Gnome devs (a lot of them Red Hat ppl) openly ignore what users want so, how would this telemetry help much beyond the couple of examples they enumerate?
That’s what’s interesting about all this. I don’t have a great attachment to fedora. So I simply created the topic to instigate an objective conversation and see this for what it is. Taking into account the possibilities of advancement or the possibilities of misuse.
I am fine with telemetry as long as it’s unidentifiable. Telemetry could boost the project performance if it’s used correctly.
However, as @Reset0609 pointed out, Fedora, or rather GNOME, is a very opinionated project. Therefore, many users might not find telemetry to be very useful.
As a newcomer to linux and user of the gnome version. I have to say that although I have disagreed with certain decisions the gnome team has made over the last few years, I still decided to use workstation for my first dual booting linux installation. And I don’t really regret it yet. Maybe in the future if they do something that I totally disagree with, but I still think that the gnome version of the distro brings a great system itself. But then again, this is coming from someone who has never been a big fan of customization if it doesn’t bring me a lot of utility, so the kde version doesn’t bring anything that find worth it. Maybe I’ll try the kde version again next year. It’s always good to add more knowledge to my arsenal.
I do not disagree with this. Objectively speaking the gnome team has made several decisions that I am not a fan of. But considering that this proposal was suggested in such an open and transparent way, I think we should take the time to look into the benefits and disadvantages of it objectively. As users and members of the community we should be looking out for the advancement of the community to an innovative system that can not only give us the best, but also attract new users. In the quest for privacy we sometimes have to stop and think about what ways, techniques and implementations can bring advancement to the area.
What gives you this impression? Gnome is one of the two most popular desktop environments. it is not for everyone and that is fine, but clearly they are building something many users appreciate and get value from, even if they are not doing what you personally want or even what a sizeable portion of the users want (the linux community is many millions of people, with diverse preferences)
A project that tries to be everything to everyone quickly loses focus and becomes hard to sustain. It’s really hard for a Desktop Environment to try to be the right tool for all jobs and all preferences, to the point that it can be counterproductive to try, variety in Linux is a good thing and Gnome has millions of happy users. For those who don’t prefer it, there are a half dozen other good choices, catering to the preferences of people who are not using Gnome in the first place and do not connect with its design philosophy would negatively impact the people that do use and enjoy Gnome
Online communities amplify negativity and complaints, and Gnome is an opinionated, focused, DE with a pretty unique workflow (especially unfamiliar for those coming from Windows) that people tend to either like or very vocally dislike. I really don’t feel the oft repeated “Gnome doesn’t listen to users” thing is completely fair. The Gnome project is building a DE I really appreciate and enjoy, it is hands down the best choice for me and my preferences currently (though I prefer KDE Plasma on a traditional desktop w/ mouse and keyboard).
I am personally very appreciative of the good work the Gnome devs do. Even though I sometimes disagree with decisions they make (I’ve never used a distro or a DE where I’ve agreed with every decision made by the devs, but it is the devs that are contributing their time and energy, pursuing their vision is not so unreasonable.
Well, I have not seen the average user asking for less theming options and the like, for example. On the contrary, it almost seems everyone complains about the increasing lack of customization options. I don’t have proper statistics to tell if thats a majority opinion or not, that’s besides the point. The people who care enough to make themselves heard don’t seem to like it
Dont conflate bringing up a certain viewpoint with agreement. I personally do not care much about customization and actually run Gnome on my main desktop
That was all that I wanted to state. Without judging the merits of it, I question if that stance stands to benefit much from whatever data might be collected
People that are generally content with the way things are, are generally not going to go out of their way to proclaim it on social media, on github, etc.
Well at the very least it would mean we wouldn’t have to speculate about what is or isn’t popular, what is or isn’t common. And it means that the developers would actually have the ability to “listen to users” (content users, are much less likely to make their opinions known, without representative statistics, developers have almost no way to know how most users use their software).
Fair point I was not clear, and I did make an assumption about your preference. Though in this particular case, I was using the second-person pronoun ‘you’ in the general sense, not to refer to you specifically (I think that you can’t use you/voce that way in Portuguese, I think you’d use the 3rd person (?), it is probably a peculiar thing in English). It would’ve been more clear if I used “one” or “an individual”, as in:
Gnome is one of the two most popular desktop environments. it is not for everyone and that is fine, but clearly they are building something many users appreciate and get value from, even if they are not doing what an individual personally wants.
Basically what I was trying to convey is that many millions of people are happily using Gnome, an individual should be able to recognize that a sizeable portion of the Linux community prefers Gnome, even if they as an individual personally dislike Gnome or prefer something else.
We also do that in Portuguese, it would be too informal for an online forum though. There’s a much bigger separation between formal and informal speech, with a lot of layers between the language you’d use with your friends and the one you’d use in the most formal of occasions (where you’d use the 2nd person plural, ‘você’). I digress… overall I dont think we’re really disagreeing
Then, how many of the unhappy people?
I am using GNOME. I am on the happy side, though. Still, there are things I am not happy about GNOME, for example, the current light theme implementation, in which the maintainer said he started to regret for implementing light theme officially. Nevertheless, I actually think it’s the best DE overall in terms of looks and UX experiences.
My point is that it’s hard to tell whether people who use GNOME are happy/unhappy with the software, the attitude/response behavior of the devs, or it’s just the default DE on most major Linux distros. We shouldn’t use the number to undermine an individual’s opinion.
And back to the thread’s topic. I am OK with giving them out an unidentifiable telemetry. But I’m close to 100% sure that they won’t listen to it Otherwise, they would’ve implemented a comment section on their official blog/news site?
Edit: Fix typo.
Without any telemetry or some other source for broadly representative statistics it is impossible to know how many people
Based on the limited and partial statistics I’ve seen (which can’t be considered representative of everyone due to self-selection bias), about 1/3 to 2/3 of people prefer Gnome. It is highly dependent on the distro (Fedora and Ubuntu users on Reddit overwhelmingly report a preference for Gnome, Debian users have a moderate preference for Gnome, Arch users report a slight preference for KDE plasma and OpenSUSE users were the only group polled that report a strong preference for KDE Plasma). I can’t state strongly enough though that self reported data is unreliable and may not be representative.
Do note also that this polling was asking peoples’ preference not what they actually use, so its a somewhat different question than what people use, and should be more independent from what the most common default DE is.
In any case, I don’t think OP intended for this to be a post about Gnome specifically, so I’ll leave the rest of my thoughts for another trhead and another time.