The “popularity-contest” tool that has shipped as part of the standard Ubuntu install since the distro’s early days is being removed.
But what does
popcon do? To quote the Ubuntu help page for it:
The Ubuntu Popularity Contest […] gathers statistics determining which packages are the most popular with Ubuntu users. Once a week, the popularity-contest package submits data to a central server.
The stats that
popcon gathers is used to help “improve future versions of Ubuntu so that the most popular packages are the ones which are installed automatically for new users.”
Except it’s been a long time since Ubuntu added or removed an app to its default install (and when it did choose to add the GNOME To Do app a few years back wasn’t because of “popularity”).
Privacy Conscious? This is the data Ubuntu collects about your PC
But with Snaps, Flatpaks, PPAs and other avenues giving developers more direct ways to market to users (not to mention more accurate numbers on how many people use their software) the relative merits of “what’s popular in the repos” is …Well, a touch moot.
So future installs of Ubuntu desktop will no longerinclude the popularity contest package by default.
Which it turns out is just as well because the thing doesn’t work!Canonical’s Michael Hudson Doyle says “…the package and backend have both been broken since 18.04 LTS without being much missed.”
Though a little creepy sounding all of tracking was anonymous and the results of data viewable publicly on the popcon.ubuntu.com website.
Is “Ubuntu removes thing which doesn’t work and no-one uses” front page news? No, but it’s a rather notable removal that keeps pace with the changing nature of Linux package distribution and procurement. It is possible to remove Ubuntu popularity contest from an existing Ubuntu install. Just launch a Terminal window and run:
Browsers and privacy
sudo apt remove popularity-contest
Enter your password and hit
y to approve. The process will also remove the
ubuntu-standard package. This is a meta-package that tells Ubuntu which packages to pull in as part of a ‘standard’ install. While it shouldn’t (generally speaking) be removed it’s the only way to remove popcon fully.