Michael Hudson Doyle, Software Engineer at Canonical, recently announced that new installs of Ubuntu desktops will not include the “Popularity Contest” package by default. Canonical decided to do so after it found the package and its backend broken.
What Is Ubuntu Popularity Contest (PopCon)?
Before I discuss what the removal of PopCon means, let me tell you about this package. Ubuntu Popularity Contest (or PopCon) is a pre-installed package in Ubuntu Linux since 2006 (Ubuntu 6.10). It gathers statistics from users to determine the most or least popular package.
However, PopCon is not enabled by default to track package usage by Ubuntu users. Even though it is pre-loaded on Ubuntu, you first have to enable it and submit (anonymously) a system package report to Ubuntu (if you wish).
You can vote on your popular and most-used application every week. On the basis of the data submitted by the user, Ubuntu generates the following statistics:
- Number of people who installed this package
- Number of people who use this package regularly
- number of people who installed, but don’t use this package regularly
- number of people who upgraded this package recently
- number of people whose entry didn’t contain enough information
The data is also publicly available to view at http://popcon.ubuntu.com/.
No PopCon In Future Ubuntu Installs
Eventually, PopCon’s statistics help Ubuntu developers determine which packages should be included by default in Ubuntu ISO and which package bugs need to be fixed first.
Since PopCon is broken and no longer works, Ubuntu will remove the package from the default installation. For the end-users, it’s neither a loss nor an advantage from the removal of PopCon.
Though PopCon does not work without enabling and giving permission by yourself, you can remove it from your current Ubuntu Linux system by running a single command:
sudo apt remove popularity-contest
If you uninstall the Popularity Contest package, it will also remove the ubuntu-standard package, which is not recommended. Hence, I would say you don’t have to do anything as the package doesn’t compromise your privacy and security.