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Re: thoughts on LWN "how many Fedora users are there"

Anne Wilson wrote:
On Thursday 12 October 2006 22:26, Rahul Sundaram wrote:

There really is a lot of bs talked, isn't there? I get Fedora for free. I've always assumed that it was perfectly reasonable that Fedora should be able to know that I use their update systems. So they want to actually count? So what? 'Tracking system' implies watching where you go and what you are doing. I don't see any reason to believe that that was the intention.

LWN had an article the other month that their subscriptions were a bit moribund. Since then they had the rpm kerfuffle, the busybox kerfuffle and now the rhat 'tracking' kerfuffle. I think they're doing a good job becoming non-moribund - and good luck to them since it's informative and entertaining to read corbet's work. However, these are all really quite political issues with an inevitable slant in how they are summarized (despite I see some effort usually to show both sides of the coin). This one is "RHAT is becoming MSFT".

There is a rich vein to mine about the way that a funded organization in control of a free project (let's not forget, Novell, Ubuntu, Mandriva) affects the relationship of the users and in decision making. I don't think the tracking jpeg is a good way to come at acquiring stats on the userbase, but if RHAT wanted to put it in it hardly seems worth objecting to, since the box will shortly have its fingerprints all over the mirrorlist and update mirrors anyway, for which we must thank RHAT for managing for $0.

Just to clear up the issue of European privacy laws, they refer to *retention* of personal details. It will be for lawyers to decide whether IPs are being retained long enough to cause a breach.

IPs are in the logs anyway, it can't be a problem.

I think the guy that proposed the mirrorlist fetch tracking was on to the right way for sure. Even better would be a programme to process mirror logs to get anaonymized stats, done at the mirror site. I know they are independently managed and using a wide set of platforms, but you wouldn't have to capture all of them to get a statistically useful window into how many boxes are installed, and on regular or irregular updates, with nothing on the clientside. It would be quite interesting to look at security update uptake over time as well.


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