Fedora hardware profiler: meet “smolt” [Update]

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A posting at fedoranews.org revealed the availability of smolt – a tool to gather information about the hardware of the Fedora users. The basic idea is that you submit your hardware profile together with a unique ID to a central server after installation. The data will be collected and provided as statistics to get an idea of the commonly used hardware among Fedora users. The data are, of course, collected anonymous and can only be associated with your machine if you make your ID public.

It is a bit similar to the hardly known Linux Statistics project (“LiSt”) and is somewhat related to Ubuntu’s Popularity Contest (“popcon”) which collects package statistics instead of hardware statistics. Writing about popcon, it would be nice to have statistics like these for Fedora (although it would require a deamon…). Also, some techniques used by LiSt could be copied as well: file system usage, windowmanager/desktop environment (although these two could be tricky), etc.
Btw., is there someone talking to Ubuntu to port popcon? Or are there cooperations to port smolt to other distributions?

However, in all these cases the main question is always: what is about the privacy? Is there taken care of? And, would it make sense to make something like that default with an opt-out option?
In my opinion, the most important bit is that everyone can verify how many information are send – the tool is open source, and it is not the most complicated piece of software ever written.
Also, I think it would make sense to activate it by default on every machine – with a clear opt-out option on installing and also a clear opt-out option in the menu. We might see something like that in Fedora 7…

In any case, if you want to give it a try on Fedora, just hit yum install smolt and execute smoltSendProfile afterwards.

Update
yoho wrote in a comment that mandriva has such properties already. They call is “Community Hardware Compatibility List”.

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5 thoughts on “Fedora hardware profiler: meet “smolt” [Update]

  1. Mandriva already has both a package and hardware statistics collector.

    - The software stats never worked correctly because it relies on the “access timestamp” of files and as you know, most partitions are now set to “noatime” by default to increases performances. So it was useless. I hope Fedora one doesn’t rely on this.

    - The hardware database is reachable through http://hwdb.mandriva.com/ . It is good but would deserve some improvements.

  2. I things do not change, Smolt will be _strictly_ opt in during firstboot, with a confirmation window if you choose to not activate it.

    Even this way, it already raised some concerns on fedora-devel-list…

  3. I believe that there are concerns – and I know that my position of a default opt-out is very disputable.

    But I’m afraid that without a default activate we will not see too many results.

    Another possibility would be to have a single information window where someone would have to chose – that would help as well, but would integrate another step during the installation process.

  4. BTW, it would be very interesting to have a global hardware compatibility database for all distributions. But I wonder who would be empowered enough to create such a project…

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