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Smolt, FC7, System Privacy

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Jun. 1st, 2007 | 11:19 am

I've been looking through the Fedora Core 7 release notes this morning. One thing which stood out was their inclusion of Smolt.

Smolt is a hardware profiler which sends out put back to a public webserver being run by Redhat. Turn it on, and Redhat can see what hardware you are running. This type of phone home service is one that we have talked about for a long time at MySQL.

Would users be open to us sending back non private data about their systems? OS, machine type, config parameters, storage engines used... information found in show variables. What is the level of detail?

Would any detail be too much? Even if the code laid dormant unless turned on, what would users think?

I'm happy to see one of the open source vendors take this leap. I think open information like this is great, since it allows software writers to target more. I am not that concerned with this sort of information being made publicly (and yes I realize that knowing kernel version could be used to target machines to be hacked).

You can see the current statistics here:
http://smolt.fedoraproject.org/stats

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Comments {7}

Jay Bonci

(no subject)

from: jaybonci
date: Jun. 1st, 2007 07:06 pm (UTC)
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popcon.debian.org does it now.

I think for support purposes and for debugging help, and if it's open-source/opt-in, I cannot see a reason why people would have a problem with it. I also can't see a reason why people would get upset.

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Dossy

(no subject)

from: dossy
date: Jun. 1st, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC)
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Make it value-added and I think it'd be easier to justify opting in. Just "for the vendor's sake" is pretty lame, IMHO. Add some phone-home statistics gathering and offer customers a login to review reports (slow queries, etc.) and I think you could even sell "premium" service to customers. In the EULA, you'd specify that MySQL AB will use "anonymous, non-private data for [some innocuous] purposes" with an explicit way of opting out of this, too.

Just my two cents, of course. In this day and age, nobody seems to care if good companies to evil things, anyway.

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(no subject)

from: jamesd
date: Jun. 1st, 2007 10:03 pm (UTC)
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That would also reveal some customers having more servers than covered by their licensing and that might not be so exciting for them when they get the phone call asking them to rectify the situation.

I do think that it would be useful to have such consolidated data, both for support purposes and for statistical analysis (how often servers have screwed up settings, for example).

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Roy Corey

(no subject)

from: xerhino
date: Jun. 1st, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC)
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Aren't hardware statistics like this used ostensibly to provide better support for the most popular hardware configurations? With Linux I'd think that would be a mostly flat distribution. Old PCs, new Macs, spark stations, AMD, Intel, etc. Linux gets thrown on so many things I'd think the statistics would be nearly meaningless.

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mmcgrath

Leverage

from: mmcgrath
date: Jul. 11th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
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In addition to stats we're hoping to better focus our QA on the profiles in smolt. A ratings system should be out soon for this. One big thing we're hoping to do (once we get more profiles in there) is to go to the different hardware vendors :: COUGH COUGH :: nvidia, and say "look at all of these people who are unable to fully use your hardware in our OS because your drivers aren't Open Source"

We'll see how that goes over.

BTW, I'm hoping to build a full reporting tool into smolt so others can pull specifics out of the database, its just not there yet.

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Brian "Krow" Aker

Re: Leverage

from: krow
date: Jul. 12th, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
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What about extending/opening this up to allow other projects to collect basic information?

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mmcgrath

Re: Leverage

from: mmcgrath
date: Jul. 12th, 2007 09:45 pm (UTC)
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Its GPL:

https://hosted.fedoraproject.org/projects/smolt/

I've talked to the open suse guys about stuff (though I've been not so good about getting back to them :-/ )

There's a small community of developers working on it now, we'd love whatever help someone could lend. I'd love to get some ground work laid down to have it transmit via xmlrpc, it'd be easy to open up for others to write other clients and things on it.

Stop by if you're a python or turbogears programmer, I can always use some extra eyes / help

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