Software

How to set up Livepatch and the information gathering tool in Ubuntu 18.04

Ubuntu 18.04 includes some very interesting new features, two of which reveal themselves in the first-run wizard. Jack Wallen explains what they are and how to set them up.

Ubuntu Bionic Beaver is here and it brings along with it a number of very useful and shiny new features. Two of those features appear in the first-run wizard: One of which is Livepatch. With Livepatch up and running, many security-related updates, such as the kernel, will not require a reboot. For anyone that's served as a Linux admin, you know how big a step forward that is. What Canonical has done with Livepatch, in Ubuntu 18.04, is fairly remarkable. I say that because the setup of this new feature is incredibly simple. In fact, on first boot, you are greeted with a wizard that walks you through the process.

Within that same first-run wizard is the notorious information gathering tool. Rumors of Canonical collecting user data were rampant, which led to many believing a breach of privacy was imminent. The reality is much less intrusive. I'm going to show you how easy it is to set up this often mission-critical feature on the latest iteration of Ubuntu Linux. I'll be demonstrating on the desktop version of the release. You'll be surprised at how easy it is.

What you'll need

All you need is a newly-installed instance of Ubuntu Linux 18.04, an account to log into that operating system, and a Ubuntu Single Sign-On Account.

Let's setup Livepatch.

The first-run wizard

Upon first login, you'll be greeted by a help window that describes some of the new desktop features. In the window, click the Next button in the upper right corner. Once past that screen, you'll see the Livepatch window (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

Welcome to the new Livepatch feature.


In that screen, click Set Up Livepatch, and click Next. You will be prompted for your sudo password. The resulting window will require you to enter your Ubuntu Single Sign-On Account information. If you don't have an account, head over to the Single Sign-On Account page and set one up. When you've taken care of that or you already have your SSO account information, enter your email address and password for your account, and hit Enter. Once the Livepatch system connects, it will return to the wizard screen, indicating you are all set (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

Livepatch is now configured and running.


Click Next. The resulting window (Figure C) allows you enable the sending of system info to Canonical.

Figure C

Figure C

Sending system information to Canonical (or not).


Yes, this is the rumored feature that so many were up in arms about. If you don't want to send Canonical information about your system, select No, don't send system info. If you're curious as to what information is sent to Canonical, click the Show the First Report button. A window will pop-up, revealing all of the information to be sent (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

The information Ubuntu sends to Canonical is harmless.


Within that report, there is absolutely nothing that should be considered an invasion of privacy. The report gathers things like:

  • Virtual machine technology (if you're running Ubuntu in a VM)
  • BIOS vendor/version
  • CPU (vendor/family/model/stepping)
  • Architecture
  • Screen resolution
  • Autologin (true/false)
  • Livepatch (true/false)
  • Desktop environment
  • Timezone
  • Language

Once you've made your decision, click Next and you're done with the first-run wizard. Livepatch is setup and you've either sent helpful (non privacy-invading) information to Canonical or not. You can now start using your Ubuntu Bionic Beaver desktop, knowing that even when the kernel upgrades, you won't have to restart the system.

Enjoy your new Ubuntu experience, bionic as it is.

Also See

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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