Linux in General > Os Talk

Bloatware on Ubuntu.


Although a longtime user of Kubuntu, I'm about ready to switch to another distribution, if I can find one with more privacy.

Recently I've been checking out privacy policies with Kubuntu, and find them seriously lacking.  No sooner do I manage to get rid of one search, index, or log of past use than I find another. I don't use Facebook or other social sites, nor do I wish my computer resources wasted on searching programs I never use.

Bloatware and lack of privacy (viruses and malware) were the reasons I switched from Windows. Now, that bloatware is intruding on Linux.

Is there a method that will get rid of all that, what I think of as, junk?  A few minutes ago, I found instant message programs running in the background,  I got rid of them, but what else have I missed? Zeitgeist, Amarok, music and movie players keeping lists (constantly updated) just to name a few. I read that local searches also go to Facebook, Google and that crap. I stopped those, but still feel unsafe.

I'm a fiction writer. I do a lot of internet research. Lately, the last few years, whenever I search on a subject, I have to go down ten or twenty pages for relevent information. The first pages are nothing but sales attempts.

Oh, for the good old days on the internet, without web browsers or commercialization. Those were a time where anyone trying to sell something over the internet were "flamed."  There was one lawyer, I forget his name, that kept trying.  When spotted, he invariably recieved so many flame emails that he'd lose his provider.

My question is "Can you *Shudder!* suggest a distribution that keeps less personal data on files and activities?"


While the distro is not noobie friendly, nothing gets installed without you knowing about. Also, some things can be switched off if you don't want a "feature" installed.  The distro I use is Gentoo.  Most of the things you mentioned can either be disabled by a USE flag or turned off in a config file or tool. 

The reason I said it is not noobie friendly, it is not easy to install.  It also requires some knowledge and time to keep updated as well.  It also requires you to compile every package that gets installed.  If you have a really fast puter, that may not be a problem but if your puter is older or limited in some way, CPU speed, memory and/or slow drives, then it may not be what you want. 

Another option.  Find a distro that is based on Gentoo but has binaries like you want.  That way you get a Gentoo based system with some things disabled but someone else does the compiling for you. 

Another thing to consider.  Your desktop GUI.  If you use KDE or Gnome, maybe you want something lighter like Fluxbox, blackbox, Icewm or some other light weight GUI.  KDE certainly comes with some bloat and I've read Gnome does as well lately.   I use KDE4 but haven't seen Gnome in a really long time. 

Also, Linux is a multi-user system.  You could set up a different user for certain tasks.  That way when you are doing something on one user, the other user has no knowledge of what the other is doing or has done. 

There is a couple paths you can take.  Maybe one of those will give you a option to consider. 

Thanks for the info.

I  have disabled everything I've found of that nature, but wonder if there's anything I've missed, now or will in the future.

I simply like my privacy and hate the idea  that someone else can find where I've been on the internet and what files I've used in the past.  I don't like the idea of logging off every time I use the restroom or eat a meal to keep inquisitive kids from my computer, or that anyone and their brothers can get in over my modem to search.  It's better if the information isn't there to find.

I use Ubuntu, which is becoming bloatware.  There's a recent addition called zeitgeist that tracks everything, constantly updating it's index and taking major resources to do ... to help in searching I never have occasion to do.  And there are the others, such as smplayer and music players indexing past use.  With all those turned off, I've noticed quite an improvement in speed.  I have no use for "recent documents" or "recent applications."  Sure, I'm an old man and single. 

I often view porn and would rather that use is not available to the rest of the family. If it were, all the computers in my home would be inundated with advertising.  Malware built into downloads from porno sites could easily track my use and send that advertising.  Not a major issue, but one I'd like to avoid. 

Easier to do without that darned Zeitgeist keeping an ongoing "Journal" of all my activities.  The privacy issue didn't much interest me up until I found that "Journal" and now it's become somewhat of an obsession. That program tracks EVERYTHING, and takes a lot of resources to do it, or did before I disabled it.  Doing so crippled the original desktop by deleting "Unity".  No big thing since I use the Xfce desktop, which is considerably faster.


With the distro I use, you can disable some things you can't in a binary based distro.  That's one of the things about a distro that you have to compile yourself.  Take Firefox for example.  This is the options for it.

--- Quote ---[ebuild     U ~] www-client/firefox-44.0::gentoo [43.0::gentoo] USE="dbus ffmpeg%* gmp-autoupdate gstreamer gtk3 hwaccel jemalloc3 jit startup-notification -bindist -custom-cflags -custom-optimization -debug -gstreamer-0 -hardened (-neon) (-pgo) -pulseaudio (-selinux) -system-cairo -system-icu -system-jpeg -system-libevent% -system-libvpx -system-sqlite {-test} -wifi (-egl%) (-minimal%*)" LINGUAS="-af -ar -as -ast -be -bg -bn_BD -bn_IN -br -bs -ca -cs -cy -da -de -el -en_GB -en_ZA -eo -es_AR -es_CL -es_ES -es_MX -et -eu -fa -fi -fr -fy_NL -ga_IE -gd -gl -gu_IN -he -hi_IN -hr -hu -hy_AM -id -is -it -ja -kk -km -kn -ko -lt -lv -mai -mk -ml -mr -nb_NO -nl -nn_NO -or -pa_IN -pl -pt_BR -pt_PT -rm -ro -ru -si -sk -sl -son -sq -sr -sv_SE -ta -te -th -tr -uk -vi -xh -zh_CN -zh_TW"

--- End quote ---

The USE= part is things that can be enabled/disabled.  The "-" sign means I have it disabled here. The other stuff is language support.  If you don't need a language, disable it.  As a example, I didn't want Firefox to use sqlite.  I don't need it, even tho I have sqlite installed here for other things.  I have it disabled here.  I don't mind other things using it locally but I didn't want Firefox to use it.  That may be one of the things that you wouldn't want either.  Thing is, if you use a binary based distro, they may have it enabled and no method for you to disable it.  You don't have that option.  Of course, about:config may allow you to disable some things too.  You may want to google up on that option as well.  That is if you use Firefox. 

While I'm not quite as privacy oriented as you are, I do understand where you are coming from.  I think there is to much hocus pocus going on that we are not aware of too.  It's one reason I use Linux to begin with because at least it is more secure than anything M$ makes.  My biggest concern is when I visit financial type sites.  That's when I'm a bit picky about privacy. 

One thing I do here as far as someone hacking in, I put a router between my modem and my puter.  I rarely have more than one puter going here so I really don't need one as far as networking goes.  However, it does put one more thing between my puter and the internet.  Basically, they would have to get past the modem and the router to even get to my puter.  Since I don't store important info here, I have no idea why a person would want to spend the time doing all that.  Also, my internet is not that fast so even doing a search of what I have here would take a while and likely be noticed by me since it would slow down other things. 

My hope with these posts is that it will give you some ideas.  It just may be that something I posted will cause that light bulb to come on and a google search later, you have found the Grandma of all solutions.   

 :) :)


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