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Privacy on pre-installed Linux?


New Member
Dec 15, 2022
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I'm new to Linux and wanted to move certain tasks to Linux because of privacy and security reasons.
So, I have purchased a Dell XPS 9315 notebook with pre-installed Ubuntu on it.

It seems there's some Dell stuff installed on this version of Ubuntu.
And also when I've opened the root folder I saw some folders that I've never seen before when playing around with Ubuntu on a VM.
For example a "dell" and "proc" folder.

  1. Is Dell able to track me or receive any information about me?
  2. Are there things I can disable to avoid it?
  3. Or some apps that I can install to help for avoid it?

On the Ubuntu website it says "Standard images of Ubuntu may not work well, or at all." with my Dell.
So, that means installing a fresh Ubuntu version, without having all this Dell related pre-installed things on it, might not work.

Welcome to the forums

If its the 2021/2 version of the laptop then you may be better off with Linux mint as a newbie, or MX-AHS if it has cutting edge components, MX is a business orientated distribution that claims better security than most, or you could try the HOME version of Parrotsec [designed for security testing]
that being said, Linux generally is inherently more secure than Windows, most of us just use a firewall and common sense instead of screening everything through an antivirus. the biggest security danger in any system comes from between the seat and the keypad
/proc is supposed to be there.

/dell is probably the added Dell tools.

You can be pretty confident that Dell's not spying on you, unless you gave them permission in some sort of setup process. The Dell tools will likely be the things that let you set up your laptop - meaning you were able to get it, and then pick a username and password without doing a clean install.

You can check your network traffic easily enough.

Dell would be pilloried if they monitored Linux users with their installed OS. And, yeah, someone in the community would have noticed and rang the alarm bells. There'd be much drama, as that's kinda what we do when finding things like that.

As for not being able to use the base Ubuntu image, they're just exercising an abundance of caution with their statement. You may have proprietary drivers installed to make your Dell fully functional. Odds are good that you can still make all your hardware work.

Does the laptop come with a restore feature that puts the operating system back to "factory ship" status? Do they have an installer that will wipe the drive and put it back to the same setup as when you opened the box?

If so, then I would suggest trying different alternate installations. Try the distros that were recommended above, like Linux Mint or MX or whatever. Try installing a generic Ubuntu and see what happens. When you're done, revert back to factory ship if you don't find something else that you like.
I appreciate your feedback! I might try the mentioned methods to monitor the network traffic and the ports. Not sure what the restore function exactly will do, but I think it was only to restore the OS without the data.

As I understood it makes sense to have the data on a separate partition, in case the OS breaks or I want to change the distribution.
I'm confused now, as under "Devices & Locations" it shows two different locations.
What's the meaning of the folder icon vs the disk icon, btw?
Is the Ubuntu partition virtually divided or would all data be deleted when installing a different distribution?

At the moment I have three partitions on the HD.

1. probably BIOS
2. probably for Windows (Partition Type: Microsoft Reserved)
3. Ubuntu

/ is root - including the root directory (the top-most directory).

/home/<user> is just a sub-directory - probably. That's your home directory, the stuff that belongs to you. (Linux is a multi-user operating system. You'll learn to think of it like that.)

You can screenshot the output from 'Disks' or GParted and we should be able to spot if /home is on a dedicated disk or dedicated partition.

I haven't bothered using a defined /home partition in years. I just backup the few files I care about and call it good.

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