The rumors aren’t verified, but they’re not really hiding either. The tech press at ZDnet ran an article last year, and Bloomberg even noticed in December. Something’s brewing over at Canonical and the game just got another push forward.
Canonical Ltd. is is a British company that creates the most popular server software in the world (Ubuntu) enabling large portions of the internet to function. The company’s strategy for software releases includes long term support (LTS) versions and shorter release versions of its software. The LTS versions are supported for security and features for 5 years. Ubuntu 18.04 (due in April of 18) is projected to be a significant LTS release incorporating new technologies and positioning the company towards a more productive future. It’s owner, Mark Shuttleworth, is rumored to be taking the company to an IPO and 18.04 is rumored to play a significant role in the IPO process.
Ubuntu has been operating nearly blindly not knowing who their customers are. It tracks metrics for full software and patch downloads, but does not know how many systems those downloads are associated with. They recently announced the release of their latest update and a new feature to collect user data to better understand their consumers and how to precede. They are interested in collecting data on the preferred “flavor” or variations, the versions, hardware specifications, country of origin among other statistical data.
This data collection will give Ubuntu answers it needs to be able to answer future investor’s questions. One of the big questions with this feature roll out is whether or not the users will play along. Ubuntu and the open source community is known for being more security aware than the average user. Whether or not they see this as an invasion of their security remains to be seen.