Zeitgeist - logging everything you do in Mint11

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Zeitgeist - logging everything you do in Mint11

Postby ginjabunny on Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:49 am

When looking on my System Monitor today I noticed a process called "zeitgeist-daemon" and I wondered what it was, now I know and I don't like it, zeitgeist logs every time you open a file or open an application, basically everything you do, I found this description

"Zeitgeist logs user's activities and notifications (files opened, websites visited, conversations hold with other people, etc.) and makes the relevant information available to other applications". Starting with Ubuntu 11.04, Zeitgeist is installed by default in Ubuntu and is used by the new Unity menu called "Dash" (Applications / Files Places) as well as other applications such as Synapse, Sezen, Avant Window Navigator, DockBarX, Docky, Cairo Dock, Gnome Activity Journal and more. It will also be used in Gnome Shell.

See http://www.webupd8.org/2011/05/keep-fil ... unity.html, even though we are not using Unity/Dash this is still logging everything you do, this page explains how to exclude or switch it off but you have to install programs from a separate ppa.

Is there a good reason to keep it? What are they going to use it for next, maybe I'm being paranoid but I think it could lead to an invasion of my privacy and is probably an unwanted overhead anyway, I think I'll try removing zeitgeist or maybe switch to LMDE.

Not happy :(
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Re: Zeitgeist - logging everything you do in Mint11

Postby lmintnewb on Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:04 am

Hmmm, thought this was gonna be spam. Things of this nature are why I'd never install or use anything closely based on buntu. Sadly one of the major deciding factors in getting rid of LM 10 and going elsewhere. Other reasons include but are not limited to my personal opinions that buntu is buggy, bloated, junkware when compared to a gazillion other gnu/nix OS's. Have no idea how buntu came to be synonymous with linux. Still scratching my head over it.

Distro's that do so much more, better ... using so much less. Found stuff that does something spectacular. However ... those distros are swathed in secrecy and virtually unheard of in terms of popularity. While ubuntu, doing nothing special and spitting out buggy software that poorly represents gnu/linux every time someone turns around. Has practically come to embody and represent linux altogether to the world ? How ... why, is it a conspiracy ?! D: Dunno ...

Not sure about the pertinent facts here. Though the poss of data collection, intrusion and invasion of privacy by canonical wouldn't surprise me in the least. Yet ... one more of a ton of reasons why I dislike ubuntu, shrugs.

:D

PS, Would think some things canonical seems unaware of would be self evident. Ie: Bugs = bad, poor quality control = bad, stoopid design choices that make a butt ugly and bloated OS = bad. Apparently buntu central has yet to hear of these ground breaking common sense developments though.
Last edited by lmintnewb on Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:12 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Zeitgeist - logging everything you do in Mint11

Postby kaizer on Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:05 am

as long as you can delete the log whenever you want ......
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Re: Zeitgeist - logging everything you do in Mint11

Postby xenopeek on Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:07 am

I've disabled Zeitgeist in the Startup Applications (I did this directly after installation), and have not seen anything that didn't work as a consequence. Perhaps more is needed to kill it, I'll have a look with the link you shared later. I think it is only useful for Unity and especially GNOME Shell, as they present your recent activities in various "useful" ways.
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Re: Zeitgeist - logging everything you do in Mint11

Postby ThistleWeb on Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:10 am

It is an Ubuntu thing, it's been introduced to make it easier for regular users to use. They have a way to configure so it does not log stuff you don't want, like not tracking any activity in certain folders. You can disable it entirely if you like. As far as an invasion of privacy is concerned, perhaps you'd do well to have your own account on your computer. Then everything you do would be private to you. Zeitgeist does not do anything with your data outside of your PC, none of the info is being sent anywhere.

The only info that gets sent back to mothership Canonical is a "hello, I'm running Ubuntu" ping when it connects to the internet at boot. They may have enabled the package tracking by default, even that just sends back a list of what apps you have installed, so they get an idea of what people use. It's all anonymous, and an opt-in as far as I know. I think they discussed opting new installs in unless told otherwise at the install phase, but the backlash about "OMG CANONICAL SPYING ON USERS!" made them pull back from even that benign function. All of that data, as little as it is, is fully anonymous.

If you're concerned about malware or hackers getting in, forget it. Linux is a very hard target to hit for a LOT of reasons. Even a stolen laptop that doesn't boot into Windows will be enough to freak potential data thieves out if you add a password to log in. The Ubuntu based Mint allows you to encrypt your /home easily when installing, so even a live CD won't be able to mount your /home folder and rifle about in it.

As I understand it, the plan is to be able to use the search bar to search for much much more than just applications or files. "I had a conversation last month about SMplayer, I can't remember who it was with, I think it was on IRC but they did send an email I think" it searches the logs and offers that information. It can only offer what it has logged.

For me, this would be added overhead as I don't work like this. Some people do, for them Zeitgeist is a brilliant concept. Since it's local I don't see any privacy concerns. If this was on ChromeOS, with Google services, I'd run a mile. I'd be stunned if Google don't implement something similar, it's an obvious move. If you don't need that workflow then it'd be fine to disable or remove it.
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Re: Zeitgeist - logging everything you do in Mint11

Postby lmintnewb on Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:45 am

Oh well, one of the many benefits of using software covered under the GPL and opensource. Should be more transparency involved. With as much scrutiny as ubuntu should be under. Would think they'd get busted fairly quickly if they were outright including spyware in their software. So doubting it's all that big a thing to worry over. Though for various reasons, am not a ubuntu fan ( or close cousin buntu fan ) Even though think LM is good software. Don't even doubt ubuntu will work well enough, imo esp if people stick to buntu's LTS releases.

Guessing buntu isn't openly spying on users. Too many geeks in the world watching them and what's sent and received on their comps. If buntu was sending large encrypted transmissions back to canonical. Imagine it would get noticed. Though admit am not a GPL/opensource software licensing expert ... etc.
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Re: Zeitgeist - logging everything you do in Mint11

Postby ThistleWeb on Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:54 am

The package tracking is a Debian thing as far as I know, Debian use it too as opt in. Fedora has a similar thing when it pings their update servers. That's how they know how many installs they have. In their case I believe it only says "hello, I'm running Fedora". If you update one PC and use that as a local repo, it'll only count once, as it only hits Fedora's servers once. It's not 100% accurate, but then no Linux distro has any 100% accurate way to get the size of the install base. You can download an iso and never install it, or install it on 1,000,000's of PCs from that one download. The levels of intrusion in Linux are VERY benign, and designed to help developers and maintainers in where to focus their limited resources to make their stuff better.
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Re: Zeitgeist - logging everything you do in Mint11

Postby xenopeek on Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:39 am

I've just checked: disabling Zeitgeist Datahub in Startup Applications ends all zeitgeist daemons from running.

You can remove all zeitgeist packages with following. This will remove all 5 zeitgeist packages, and nothing else in Linux Mint 11. Apparently no other applications are using zeitgeist?
Code: Select all
sudo apt-get purge zeitgeist-core libzeitgeist-1.0-1


Edit: all zeitgeist data is stored in ~/.local/share/zeitgeist. No files in this folder have been modified since I turned off Zeitgeist Datahub (which was a month ago). So delete that folder also completes removal of this.
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Re: Zeitgeist - logging everything you do in Mint11

Postby JohnGolucky on Sun Aug 19, 2012 6:14 pm

Vincent Vermeulen wrote:I've just checked: disabling Zeitgeist Datahub in Startup Applications ends all zeitgeist daemons from running.

You can remove all zeitgeist packages with following. This will remove all 5 zeitgeist packages, and nothing else in Linux Mint 11. Apparently no other applications are using zeitgeist?
Code: Select all
sudo apt-get purge zeitgeist-core libzeitgeist-1.0-1


Edit: all zeitgeist data is stored in ~/.local/share/zeitgeist. No files in this folder have been modified since I turned off Zeitgeist Datahub (which was a month ago). So delete that folder also completes removal of this.


I just did all this, and now I have no Nautilus file browser. So I did an "apt-get install nautilus" to get it back, but it looks like Nautilus depends on zeitgeist now. There might be some more apps that depend on Zeitgeist. :-( Guess I am looking for a new file browser.
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Re: Zeitgeist - logging everything you do in Mint11

Postby xenopeek on Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:15 am

If you are using Linux Mint 13, indeed the above will remove Nautilus. Use the more complete steps for Linux Mint 13, as detailed here: viewtopic.php?f=42&t=109331
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