steampunk laptop

Upgraders, even steampunk adventures, can choose to take part in diagnostic gathering during the upgrade process

Canonical, as I’ve no doubt you’re now fully aware of, plan to collect system data in new installs of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on an opt-out basis.

The data they want to collect — forgive the feverish proclamations of some — is rather anaemic compared to that combed by more lubricious operating systems.

All data is anonymised and covers the standard fare: what processor you have, how much RAM you use, your screen size, how long the install took, and so on.

While some see the move to ferret data as one likely to yield Ubuntu developers valuable data on the sort of devices people use (and help them target engineering accordingly).

Others find the decision to “opt-in” everyone en masse lest they spot a box to uncheck in the installer a little on the distasteful side.

But regardless of the rights and wrongs one question hadn’t been asked (until now):

What happens to those who upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS from an earlier release? Will they be automatically opted-in to data collection too?

Enter Canonical’s Dustin Kirkland with a bit of clarification. In a mailing list post he writes:

”Upgrading users would need to purposely “opt-in” to this behaviour, as that wasn’t
explicitly asked in the past.

This means if you upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS from an existing release no system data will be collected, compiled, or combed on behalf of Canonical.

You Can (And Should) Opt In

But perhaps you want to help Ubuntu learn what its users actually use.

Good news if so as anyone who chooses to upgrade Ubuntu 16.04 LTS to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS can, should they wish, take part in the data collection initiative by checking the diagnostics option in System Settings > Privacy.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine many people will remember to do that after upgrading to a new release.

Ubuntu doesn’t think so either.

So Kirkland says Canonical is tasking its usability bods with investigating “a tasteful way of asking [the opt in] question” at some point in the upgrade process.

Which is pretty fair, I reckon.