Ubuntu collects information from your system including hardware and software and sends them to Ubuntu servers. The data includes the information about the packages you have installed, how you are using it, and the applications crash reports. It also generates reports related to generic hardware related information like upgrades, processor architecture, installed memory, screen resolution and much more. However, one thing to note that Ubuntu does not collect IP address information.
The purpose of Ubuntu behind collecting this data is to build a better understanding of what applications are being installed and used mostly so that they can keep their focus on the areas people care about.
However, if you do not want your data to be sent to online servers, you can force Ubuntu to stop collecting data from your PC. In this article, we will see what kind of data Ubuntu collects from our PC and how to stop it.
Nature of data Ubuntu Collects
Three types of data are collected by Ubuntu:
- System information report
- Packages information
- Crash reports
I will use Ubuntu 18.04 LTS OS for describing the procedure mentioned in this article to stop Ubuntu to collect and send data to Ubuntu servers.
1. System information report
After installing Ubuntu OS when the first time you log in, you will be presented with a window in which it is selected by default to send a system report to Ubuntu. You can change this option so that it does not send information to the server. Following is the information that is sent to the Ubuntu server. The first report is sent after the first boot once the network connection is established.
- Ubuntu flavour
- Ubuntu version
- Network connectivity or not
- CPU family
- Disk(s) size
- Screen(s) information
- GPU information
- CPU information
- OEM Manufacturer
- Location (that was set during installation)
- Installation duration (time taken)
- Auto login enabled or not
- Disk layout selected
- Third party software selected or not
- Download updates during install or not
- LivePatch information
- BIOS info
- Device model
- Time zone
You can also view yourself the information that is sent to Ubuntu servers by running the following command in Terminal:
$ cat /home/NAME/.cache/ubuntu-report/ubuntu.18.04
Stop sending system reports
You can opt out of this information collection by Ubuntu. At the first boot after a new installation, you will see the following screen after a welcome screen. Here in the following screen there is the option, asking you to send this information to Canonical or not. Choose the radio button that says No, do not send system info.
If you did not select this option first time after installation, you can also opt-out of this option later. Run the following command in Terminal to opt-out of sending system information report to Ubuntu server:
$ Ubuntu-report –f send no
2. Packages information
Ubuntu includes an optional tool Popcon or popularity contest that collects information about most frequently installed packages and send them back to the distributions so that they can accordingly prioritize and focus their resources. This information can also be useful to system users who can acquire software recommendation from other distribution users. However, Popcon only sends information for packages installed through Debian packages, not for packages installed through other means like flatpak, snap, etc.
Stop sending packages information report
You can avoid this data collection from Ubuntu. For this, you have to opt-out of the package popularity contest by editing /etc/popularity-contest.conf in any text editor and altering the value of PARTICIPATE to no.
Run the following command in terminal to edit popularity-contest.conf file using nano editor:
$ sudo nano /etc/popularity-contest.conf
You can use any other text editor for this purpose.
When the file opens, find and change the value of “PARTICIPATE” to “no” as shown in the below image.
By doing this, you will be opted out of the popularity contest and it will no longer send the packages information to Ubuntu.
3. Crash reports
Ubuntu includes an Apport tool that is configured to automatically detect application crashes and send crash reports to Ubuntu server without user interruption. These reports are used by application developers to understand and identify what are the issues and bugs in the application and why they are occurring. However, you can also opt-out of this automatic crash report.
Stop sending Crash reports
Click on the upper right corner arrow on your Ubuntu desktop and from the menu that appears, click on the Settings icon.
For a clear understanding, see the below image.
It will launch the settings window. On the left pane, click on Privacy. Then from the corresponding right pane, click on Problem Reporting option.
Click on the toggle Send error reports to Canonical to turn it to off position.
After doing this, Apport will still generate the crash reports but will ask for your approval before sending them.
Any user, who do not want to send their system information including their hardware and software information, installed packages information and their application crash reports to Ubuntu server can easily do that by following the above-described method.