Ubuntu system data collection

Ubuntu Report in action

Did you know that the average Ubuntu install takes just 18 minutes?

That’s one of several nuggets of information Canonical has collected (and now revealed) thanks to the new “Ubuntu Report” tool included in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

This tool, when given permission to, collects non-identifiable system data about new Ubuntu installs and upgrades and ferries it back to Canonical for analysis.

What’s great about Ubuntu Report (as opposed to similar data gathering initiatives in play on other operating systems) is that you are firmly in control: you get to see what information will be sent before it’s sent; you can opt-out at any time; and no sensitive information is included in the report drill down.

The data reveals that the average Ubuntu install takes 18 minutes — like lightning compared to Windows 10 installs

Canonical plan to make all the data it collects public. And this week they shared some of the findings in a blog post, ahead of a launching a dedicated, data-centric (and likely uber fancy-pants) website further down the line.

No Raw Stats, Just Percentages

First, Canonical has chosen not to share raw numbers just yet, only percentages. This means you can’t use the stats to umm, hedge or guesstimate your way to the total number of Ubuntu installs out there. Boo!

Second, the stats aren’t mega insightful — not unless you’re really easily excited at the idea of knowing what amount of RAM most Ubuntu users have (4GB!), or what the most common screen resolution is (1920×1080!) — in which case, please remember to breathe while reading this post.

The findings are interesting, if a touch on the …innocuous side. Not useless or fruitless, just a trifle predictable  — not that I was expecting a salacious exposé of how many people pick their nose or spill their tea during installs ;)

Accordingly, we now know that:

  • 67% of users opted in to share system data with Canonical
  • 15% of users choose the new ‘minimal install’ option
  • 28% of users enable automatic login
  • 53% of users install restricted media codecs

The latter of these stats interests me as a blogger. I always include codec installation in my list of “things to do after installing Ubuntu” (a series of posts I started back in 2009, before anyone complains). I had wondered if it was a moot step, but it seems I was right to keep mentioning it as almost half of users don’t install codecs during install.

The data also reveals that the average Ubuntu installation takes 18 minutes — which is like lightning compared to Windows 10 installs. Still, Ubuntu devs reckon there’s room for improvement!

Interestingly the third most common screen resolution is 800×600. To me this suggests a chunk of installs happen in a VM (which often default to 800×600 prior to graphics drivers and other extras being enabled) and not really old hardware.

So far we’re only getting half of the story.

Canonical has yet to share word on the who the popular device OEM/manufacturer is among Ubuntu 18.04 LTS users — any guesses? — nor what the most common device is.

There’s no also word on BIOS info (not that I’m expecting that to be particularly illuminating) or the number of people who opt-in to Canonical’s kernel live patching service.

Admittedly, they’re not done yet though.

It will interesting to see if any dramatic changes occur to these these stats after July. That’s when those running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS will be notified of the upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS — and a tide of additional users opt-in to the metric collection.