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After the recent upgrade to 12, I notice permanent connections to canonical servers.

Running netstat -tp gives:

Foreign Address         State       PID/Program name

mulberry.canonical:http CLOSE_WAIT  6537/ubuntu-geoip-p

alkes.canonical.co:http CLOSE_WAIT  6667/python     

alkes.canonical.co:http CLOSE_WAIT  6667/python     

Why are there permanent connections and how could I stop this behavior?

And if this is intentional, who is responsible?

I would like to understand why this was done because to me it seems like a bad idea.

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5 Answers

One is a Ubuntu GeoIP Provider and the others are scopes.

To list what services are connecting to IP addresses try sudo lsof -n -P -i +c 15

Ubuntu GeoIp Provider

I don't know what the geoip provider connection is for, what it does, or why we've been told we need it. I can find little information about it, and any attempted explanations about what it is for are ambiguous, at best. This is the only rogue connection I have left.

What I do know, is that geoip calls home every time you connect to the internet, and also at seemingly arbitrary times too. In 12.10 these connections increase.

What is the value of this connection? Who knows. Ubuntu, in its infinite wisdom, obviously feels there is a value. Why else would they implement a connection that always calls home, is enabled by default, and does not have an option to disable?

Changing Settings > Time & Date > Automatically from the internet -> Manually will not stop geoip connections.

For more on ubuntu-geoip-provider read Is ubuntu-geoip geoclue used for tracking. Apparently if you want to disable it you can do so by removing the datetime indicator.

-- update -- I seemed to have stumbled upon a way to disable this connection. * **

  1. Open your dconf editor: $ dconf-editor
  2. Navigate to the com/ubuntu/geoip option
  3. Set the value of geoip-url to nothing "".

or

$ gsettings set com.ubuntu.geoip geoip-url ""

# check success    
$ gsettings list-recursively | grep geoip
com.ubuntu.geoip geoip-url ''

Done. Happy days, no more geoip connections.

* Disclaimer: I don't know if there any negative effects of disabling geoip provider connections in the way described above.

** This may only apply to 12.10

Scopes

A scope is essentially a data provider. Example, open your dash, then click on the video icon (Super+v), then search for a video. If you have a video scope installed, you will see an "Online Videos" section in the results that are displayed. Those results are from your video scope! The video scope has queried its video data provider and returned videos relevant to your search.

You may have other scopes, e.g. music (super+m), photos, amazon, ebay, etc.

A scope is used with a lens.

For more information: What exactly is a lens and What's the difference between a lens & scope.

To check what scopes and lens are currently installed you can use dpkg with grep:

  • What scopes are installed? dpkg -l | grep scope
  • What lens's are installed? dpkg -l | grep lens

Example:

$ dpkg -l | grep lens
ii  unity-lens-applications    5.12.0-0ubuntu1    Application lens for unity
ii  unity-lens-files           5.10.0-0ubuntu1    File lens for unity

To see what scopes and lens you can install search the Software Center for Unity Lens & unity Scope, or use apt-get:

$ apt-get install unity-lens-<Hit Tab Twice For Auto Complete>
unity-lens-applications  unity-lens-files         
unity-lens-music         unity-lens-wikipedia     
unity-lens-askubuntu     unity-lens-gwibber       
unity-lens-video         

$ apt-get install unity-scope-<Hit Tab Twice For Auto Complete>
unity-scope-musicstores   unity-scope-video-remote

Removing Scopes

You can remove scopes with no problems, after all, they are just data providers.

sudo apt-get remove unity-scope-video 

I removed the video scope and I don't have any PID/python connections anymore. I can't search for online videos from the dash, but I never used that feature anyways.

Scopes in 12.10

12.10 introduces an option to disable network connections when seaching in the dash. To disable go to System Settings > Privacy > Search Results and turn off the option "When searching in Dash: Include online search results."

This does not disable geoip connections, which are not part of the dash.

There's now a legal notice about this data collection. You'll find a link to it in the bottom right of the dash. I figure I'll post the notice here in full for posterity (see notes section) and here's the part I always love best:

Canonical may change this legal notice from time to time, and at Canonical's sole discretion. Please check this page from time to time for any changes to this legal notice as we will not be able to notify you directly.

Notes on updating to 12.10

On updating to 12.10 I found a new scope installed unuty-scope-gdocs and several new lenses, one of which I guess triggered the introduction of the option to disable connections: unity-lens-shopping.

$ dpkg -l | grep scope
ii  unity-scope-gdocs  

$ dpkg -l | grep lens
ii  unity-lens-applications     ...     Application lens for unity
ii  unity-lens-files            ...     File lens for unity
ii  unity-lens-gwibber          ...     Gwibber Lens for unity
ii  unity-lens-photos           ...     Unity Photos Lens
ii  unity-lens-shopping         ...     Shopping lens for unity

You might want to uninstall some these — the shopping lens for a start [rolls eyes].

Searching in the dash - Legal notice - 21 Oct 2012

Searching in the dash - Legal notice

This search function is provided to you by Canonical Group Limited (Canonical). This legal notice applies to searching in the dash and incorporates the terms of Canonical's legal notice (and privacy policy).

Collection and use of data

When you enter a search term into the dash Ubuntu will search your Ubuntu computer and will record the search terms locally.

Unless you have opted out (see the “Online Search” section below), we will also send your keystrokes as a search term to productsearch.ubuntu.com and selected third parties so that we may complement your search results with online search results from such third parties including: Facebook, Twitter, BBC and Amazon. Canonical and these selected third parties will collect your search terms and use them to provide you with search results while using Ubuntu.

By searching in the dash you consent to:

  • the collection and use of your search terms and IP address in this way; and
  • the storage of your search terms and IP address by Canonical and such selected third parties (if applicable).

Canonical will only use your search terms and IP address in accordance with this legal notice and our privacy policy. Please see our privacy policy for further information about how Canonical protects your personal information. For information on how our selected third parties may use your information, please see their privacy policies.

Online Search

You may restrict your dash so that we don’t send searches to third parties and you don't receive online search results. To do this go to the Privacy panel and toggle the ‘Include online search results’ option to off. The Privacy panel can be found in your System Settings or via a dash search. For a current list of our selected third parties, please see www.ubuntu.com/privacypolicy/thirdparties.

Changes

Although most changes are likely to be minor, Canonical may change this legal notice from time to time, and at Canonical's sole discretion. Please check this page from time to time for any changes to this legal notice as we will not be able to notify you directly.

How to contact us

Please submit any questions or comments about searching in the dash or this legal notice by contacting us at the following address: Canonical Group Ltd, 5th Floor, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London, England, SE1 0SU.

Remote Login Service

When LightDM starts it pings uccs.landscape.canonical.com to make sure the service exists and is usable before prompting the user to interact with it. To disable this feature (and remote login profile storage access in general) you can edit /etc/remote-login-service.conf and remove the Canonical entry from the list of servers in the Remote Login Service group. The original looks like:

[Remote Login Service]
Servers=Canonical

[Server Canonical]
Name=Remote Login
URI=https://uccs.landscape.canonical.com/

The edited version should look like:

[Remote Login Service]
Servers=

[Server Canonical]
Name=Remote Login
URI=https://uccs.landscape.canonical.com/
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Thanks for the edit @ted-gould. LightDM pinging canonical is outrageous. When exactly will this ping occur? LightDdm is the display manager, so does this ping happen everytime you login? –  BullfrogBlues Mar 22 '13 at 20:53
    
It happens every time the Unity Greeter is started and it checks on the remote login service. –  Ted Gould Apr 23 '13 at 19:46
    
The remote-login-service.conf does not exists in 12.04. I also have not found a similar file. Do you know if it only exists in 12.10 or newer? –  king_julien Jul 30 '13 at 10:04
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The connections to alkes.canonical.co:http may be the Video and Music lenses connecting to the internet. You can try removing them to see:

You can uninstall these lenses with the following:

sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-music unity-lens-video

Alternatively, you can use this command to remove the packages and any unused dependencies associated with them:

sudo apt-get autoremove unity-lens-music unity-lens-video

A third option to try for users of 12.10 is to turn off the Dash's ability to connect to the internet. This is accomplished by going into the System Systems > Privacy center and setting the internet connectivity option to Off.

The mulberry connection is as other answers indicate, the geoip package, which the provided link explains.

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If I turn off Dash's ability to connect to the internet, will it negatively impact the OS and will it also disconnect unity-lens-music and unity-lens-video from the internet? –  n00b Dec 28 '12 at 14:58
1  
Disabling Dash's ability to connect to the internet will stop only the dash & any installed dash-lenses from connecting to the internet. It will not "break" or "negatively impact" your use of ubuntu per se. However, you will obviously not have the dash-internet-connectivity feature that a default install of ubuntu provides. If you only want to stop a particular lens from connecting to the internet, but not all, I do not believe this is possible with the 12.10 release. ubuntu designers have removed the ability to make "selective" internet connections (as was possible in 12.04 dash-lenses). –  Greg Dec 28 '12 at 15:10
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It sounds like they are associated with setting your timezone and being able to search for online videos by searching for something in the launcher and clicking the "video" button to search online for videos.

According to one bug report, it sounds like there is no plan to remove these connections even if you don't need/use them: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/944251

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  1. You should not uninstall python, as many Ubuntu programs rely on it.

  2. Already answered here.

  3. I don't know.

  4. I don't think Zeitgeist sends personal identifiable information.

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@ ThiagoPonte: Thanks for your answer and references. –  n00b Dec 28 '12 at 13:50
    
Zeitgeist has personal identifiable information (a ton of it), but it doesn't send it anywhere. It all stays locally on your machine and is used there. –  Ted Gould Apr 27 '13 at 3:05
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There is a "quick fix" for most of this... A utility that rids you of zeitgeist and whoopsie and restricts the geo-ip traffic without breaking anything. Also, it provides some basic hardening against external attacks and turns off IP forwarding. See http://foxtrot7security.blogspot.com/2013/04/ubuntu-linux-improving-privacy-and.html or get the code from http://code.google.com/p/pangolin-lockdown-utility. It is a simple shell script so it is not like you are downloading a random executable. You can read it and modify as you see fit.

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Welcome to Ask Ubuntu! Even though it's pretty clear you're not trying to conceal this information, we still require that you explicitly disclose that you're linking to your own blog, when doing so. At minimum, please edit your post to include such disclosure. In addition, it would be even better to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. –  Aditya Apr 16 '13 at 21:39
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