Canonical announced that a system data collection tool would be released with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Bionic Beaver. They stated that the tool would help them improve Ubuntu by providing more information about the kind of hardware that users were running, but they also assured people that the entire process would be optional and that no one would ever get forced to share anything against their will.
Users always have the option to disable the feature, but it seems like Canonical has collected enough information to share it with the world. Since data collection is based on the timezone selected at installation as opposed to IP address geolocation, the process favored US users perhaps by accident.
Some people may have just selected a default at installation time without paying attention, and therefore their Ubuntu installations could be misreporting the United States as their location. India, China, Brazil and Russia all have large concentrations of Ubuntu users according to data from users who were sure to change the timezone from the default.
On top of geographical information, Canonical was also interested in how long it takes to install Ubuntu for end-users. It seemed like the average installation took around 18 or so minutes. Apparently, Canonical has recently vowed to work hard in order to reduce the amount of time it takes to install the operating system even though that already seems nice and snappy. About 25 percent of users were upgrading from a previous version that they already had installed.
Nevertheless, installation data also seems to suggest that most users wipe their partition tables clean and install the GNU/Linux-based operating system from scratch. A majority of people also opt to install the restricted packages.
While Canonical has assured users that this information remains anonymous, around a third of users has opted out of the process. Some of the other versions of Ubuntu don’t collect information in the same way.
For instance, according to the Lubuntu project, while the tool for data collection is installed it doesn’t do anything automatically unless a user runs it on purpose to transmit data. Those who have particular concerns can always remove all relevant packages in order to ensure that they’re not sharing data.