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19 years ago
Popularity-contest Frequently Asked Questions.
Q) What informations are reported by popularity-contest ?
A) popularity-contest report the Debian architecture you use, the version of
popularity-contest you use and the list of packages installed on your
system. For each packages, popularity-contest looks at the most recently
used (based on atime) files, and report the filename, its last access time
(atime) and last change time (ctime). However, some files are not considered,
because they have unreliable atime.
Q) What are the privacy consideration for popularity-contest ?
A) Each popularity-contest host is identified by a random 128bit uuid
(MY_HOSTID in /etc/popularity-contest.conf). This uuid is used to
track submission issued by the same host. It should be kept secret.
The reports are sent by email or HTTP to the popcon server. The
server automatically extract the report from the email or HTTP and
store it in a database for a maximum of 20 days or until the host
send a new report. This database is readable only by Debian
Developers. The emails are readable only by the server admins.
Every day, the server compute a summary and post it on
<http://popcon.debian.org/all-popcon-results.txt.gz>. This summary
is a merge of all the submissions and does not include uuids.
Known weakness of the system:
1) Your email submission might be intercepted. We evaluate the possibility
to use public-key cryptography to protect the email.
2) Someone who know you are very likely to use a particular package reported
by only one person (e.g. you are the maintainer) might infer you are not at
home when the package is not reported anymore. However this is only a
problem if you are gone for more than two weeks if the computer is shut-down
and 23 days if it is let idle.
3) Unofficial and local packages are reported. This can be an issue
especially with 2) above, especially for custom-build kernel packages.
We are evaluating how far we can alleviate this problem.
19 years ago
Q) /usr is mounted with 'noatime'.
A) popularity-contest relies on atime to know what packages were used during
the last month. This means you will only report the list of packages
installed without usage information.
Q) When does popularity-contest run ?
A) popularity-contest is run by the weekly cron job
/etc/cron.weekly/popularity-contest.
Under the default configuration of cron, this happens every sundays
at 6:47 in the morning. This can be changed by editing /etc/crontab
but if your computer is not always turned on, we really recommend you
install the anacron package.
Q) I don't want popcon email to be send by root! How can I send that ?
A) To send as user 'myuser', edit the function 'do_sendmail' in
/etc/cron.weekly/popularity-contest to
do_sendmail()
{
su myuser -s /bin/sh -c "/usr/sbin/sendmail -oi \"$MAILTO\""
}
Make sure myuser account is properly configured to send email with a valid
return address.
Q) My system are unable to send email out to the Internet. How can I
participate ?
A) Since version 1.30 of popularity-contest, it is possible to use HTTP
as the transport protocol. This is the default for new installations,
but need to be manually enabled for old installations. To enable it,
run this commmand as root:
dpkg-reconfigure popularity-contest
Q) How can I convert the timestamps in the popcon report to human-readable
dates ?
A) The timestamps are just the number of seconds since the epoch, namely
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC. You can convert e.g. 1139229934 to a human-readable
date with
date -d '1970-01-01 UTC 1139229934 seconds'
or on Etch and later systems, the following is shorter:
date -d '@1139229934'