Telemetry and crash reports can be done right so you should not hate the concept but the bad implementation.
First step is that it should all be optional and it should be disabled by default or have it as an option you are forced to decider if yes or no. You should also be informed when data is sent and what is sent and have the option to deny. Like if app X crashes I send the crash report but if app Y crashes I won't send it.
Also about telemetry if all power users turn it off then you can have situations where developers will drop a feature because they don't use it and there is no data to show that more then 12 people are using it.
Yet another reason not to put telemetry in your software.
Can you explain a bit more your way of though? How should you decide what to support if not having the information from your user?
The only other alternative is to ask, and then only the one that answer will get supported, which sure is great for the one that answer, but that may means a much bigger audience that you won't support even though they need to be supported.
There are many well-known and largely perfected methods of getting that information without the use of telemetry. The thing that general telemetry really brings is cost savings and convenience. But it also brings a peculiar kind of blindness as well, since companies largely stopped doing product research that isn't telemetry.
Can you link to a few of this many known methods? I am interested in ones that would fit open source projects that have no budgets for research. Thanks
Just ask your users.
Then they made the conscious choice that their usage won't get known and thus be aware that another way of communication will have to be used.
> Just ask your users.
"A very significant proportion of your potential users" won't tell what they want, or won't even know what they want. The one that will be the most vocal won't necessarily be the voice of reasons either.
I see nothing wrong with that.
> Why did you just quote the beginning
Because the rest can be extrapolated from it.
> We are on Hacker News please
So? Just because we happen to be on Y Combinator's corporate propaganda machine doesn't mean I'm any more compelled to respond to things about which I care not.
Opt-out and hard-coded systems immediately put you no the back foot. You make people question why? and is it worth it? If all you've got it reporting numbers of users, you can go do one. The risk of genuine private data leaking out is not worth your marketing numbers to me.
The Amazon link was much more egregious though. You were sending all Dash searches through to Amazon. This was unacceptable and poorly explained. I'm sure some people liked it, and they honestly could have made the integration a better trade for the user (play videos off Prime Video, etc), but only as an opt-in feature where you can see the ramifications.
You do realize that no version of Ubuntu was ever released with that feature? Sure, the Amazon scope was available for a while but you had to opt in in all shipped versions. Even if you had, Canonical turned their servers off in 2017 so it wouldn't have done much except time out.
It's easy to get upset about stuff people have made up in echo chamber "news" sites.
The feature article is about the link to open Amazon in the browser, not the Amazon scope in the Dash.
Not sure that is true - I seem to remember that it was enabled by default in a couple of releases (I think somewhere around 12.04?).
> you had to opt in
> It's easy to get upset about stuff people have made up
I raised this issue early in the Lens development phase. The response from the mailing list was (paraphrasing) "well, people can always uninstall the package if they don't want the feature" (at which point I then opted out entirely).
Opt-in came much, _much_ later.
Look no further than how a recent Chrome update almost completely broke the software for Citrix users. Their telemetry (somehow) was not tracking this so it took days to get a fix because IT/ops people had to figure out that a Chrome update caused the bug and then escalate through chromium bug reports. Now imagine that happening any time a crash or major bug makes it into connected software...
For stuff that just runs offline, like Excel or whatever, it's super justified to not want telemetry in it if that's the tradeoff users want.
Incidentally this is basically the reason why all the major browsers are on rapid forced (unless you're in the enterprise) updates - the risk of having users stay on older versions with security holes is just too high because it ends up leading to massive botnets. I hate it, but hundreds of millions of people use those apps.
If it's happening so frequently that the popup becomes annoying, you've got bigger problems.
You can always decide to go elsewhere of course, and software developers have the right to decide personally not to put that stuff into their apps - none of my personal projects have telemetry and most of them don't have updaters.
The problem with web browsers is that you really can't. There are really only 2 options now, and the web has become so ridiculously complicated that creating a reasonable alternative browser is nearly impossible.
Plus it means little to the end user, and outside of HN, Slashdot, or other tech forums, most folks don't even know what telemetry means in an OS context. They click No, and move on.
Also, are you implying software should send telemetry to the mothership regardless of users' will?
There used to be a time software was tested and released finished.
In my observation the precise opposite is true; your average user will immediately click "Yes" without reading in the hopes of making the error go away.
Naturally a ton of work has to go into properly designing telemetry for something like Firefox or Chrome - not only is disclosing URLs a no-go, but you need to make sure your telemetry isn't unintentionally exposing details that are identifying in some other fashion, like on-stack data from a crash report or that sort of thing.
If that's true (and I don't really agree that it is), that's an excellent argument for avoiding large-scale software.
Everyone's using the same massive-scale app and now that it's a central point of failure it's wildly irresponsible to not load it down with telemetry. It sucks. If it were instead a healthy market of like 4-8 different browsers people were using, a major issue in one of them wouldn't necessarily be a crisis because people could just boot up a different browser and the bug would only impact say 5-25% of a website's visitors at most instead of The Majority Of Them.
I agree and this is why I said good implementation can exists. I never implemented telemtry but I implemented once crash reporting. Before I added this feature the users had to contact support and tall us what is wrong, then we would send email back and forward asking about OS , application version. asking for screenshots, asking to enable debug mode and try again and then screenshot the error and send it to us. Because i was the one doing the customer support too I noticed this is very repetitive and very demanding for users (even explaing a user to find a log file in %appdata% in windows is a complex process) so I simplified it as much as possible, a crash or the user could open the report a bug popup, you would see exactly the data that is sent to me, it was plain text info like OS and app versions and a stack trace and other logging data and you had the option not to send it to me but if you sent it then I have the stack trace I have the info and I could put an update to fix teh bug in a day rather then we spend time emailing each other questions.
Bonus points for an implementation that comes with a few unbiased examples about why one might want to disable and why not.
You are working under draconian legal secrecy requirements or on an exceptionally narrow/expensive uplink? Disable. You worry about secrecy but not enough to go 2FA, you occasionally wish for a bigger pipe to the internet? Disable if you insist, but it would be nice of you to contribute data.
Firefox and the RSS situation. Mozilla did not even think 1 second that this might occur.
If I feel too lazy to install Debian, I install Ubuntu in a VM to try something for short term then either migrate to Debian or delete the VM, that's it.
- linux is faster and smoother (for me)
- better support (for the tools I use: git, jdk, dotnet core etc)
- better ux (again, for me. I love KDE but I'm not here to convince anyone to leave their favorite desktop behind.)
I can choose Windows or Mac every time my laptop is up for replacement so cost is not a reason for me.
Also, the IT department at work and with most of our customers has probably put some thought into it and still approved Windows, so I guess it is OK for work.
That's more likely a case of not having a choice.
I'm not sure combined web/app/site-search is useful to me on a desktop. Desktop search is useful on its own. Web search is useful on its own and site search helps with that but combining doesn't help.
And a standalone thing to access Amazon doesn't really have utility to me.
Because I could easily edit the system to not be painful I stuck to Ubuntu.
- Better support for the programming tools and languages I use.
- Free (as in, no cost)
Sample size one though, so YMMV. I'm sure there are more than enough distros you can use instead.
Ubuntu does include optional telemetry (screen during installation, preference can be later tweaked in privacy settings) since 18.04 and it seems to be less aggressive than in other OSes . Not sure about other flavors.
 - https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/linux/ubuntu-gets-in-t...
 - https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2018-February...
Back in the day I used Linux, because I needed UNIX clone at home to do university work, which originally used DG/UX on their servers.
It can be. That isn't often the case. A lot of people just want control over their OS but aren't concerned about whether they're using proprietary software or if their software is phoning home.
The idea was to make a user's experience as great as possible. The desktop design department all lived through their iPhones, and felt that most non-techie computer users wanted the same experience. The whole desktop-phone convergence thing was the prime directive, and having search be the prime experience on desktop for a fully-integrated web experience was the way there. There were many "scopes" plugged in that searched all kinds of things, and among them was one that searched Amazon.
It didn't hurt that Canonical made a bit of income from affiliate referrals. At least until Amazon found out. Then, it just became another web search scope.
Whaa? How does including an Amazon (or any retailer)app make the user's experience "great"? I admit that I'm not the usual user, and therefore may simply not understand, but the inclusion of stuff like that doesn't enhance the experience, it degrades it.
Can’t believe the most annoying feature was part of the ‘vision.’
> non-techie computer users
MS made the same bet, but is this really your userbase?
Ubuntu is getting rid of affiliate links which it originally introduced to generate revenue, but have proved controversial and by the sounds of it unfruitful.
Ubuntu has also previously included Amazon search results in its start menu search (known as 'lenses' or the 'HUD') which were also controversial, but these were removed when Ubuntu switched to shipping the Gnome desktop by default.
Mindshare is important here, because otherwise, something like RedHat would likely be the default choice for businesses.
I mean, with regards to Linux Enterprise stuff... it is. SuSE is the boss when it comes to SAP, but otherwise everything lives on some flavor of Red Hat or derivative; CentOS is everywhere.
In the Enterprise we only roll with stuff that is officially supported. Hiring freezes, layoffs, and general work ebb-and-flow means we will need to rope in help at some point, and while I may be a wiz at some CLI functions I'm not up on what each patch is doing to the environment. Having a support contract to lean on is a huge advantage.
Canonical was (is?) effectively trying to do this on the .deb side of the house (as opposed to the .rpm side), though I don't know how successful they were/are. I looked at interviewing w/ Canonical, but the Glassdoor reviews painted a picture of an org that was having deep growing pains and internal struggles.
> Ubuntu 20.04 ‘Focal Fossa’ will not include the Amazon web launcher, and neither will the next Ubuntu 18.04 LTS point release.
Why won't they listen to us?
next up: remove the malware from MOTD.