For what does Ubuntu use Zeitgeist?

I am using Ubuntu right now and found out that Ubuntu desktop (so unity) work with Zeitgeist core and much more.

Are there differences between the film Zeitgeist and the package Zeitgeist. Does this go back to the word's original meaning?

  • See the 2nd answer, from @Skeetersaurus - about how to disable it without hurting your system.
    – SDsolar
    Sep 8, 2017 at 1:43

2 Answers 2


Zeitgeist is a German word meaning approximately: "the spirit of the times" reference

In the context of Ubuntu, it is a software package that remembers your activities to try and assist in narrowing down what you want to do without having to tell the computer as explicitly.

It is no more associated with the movie "Zeitgeist" than Hollywood is associated with the production of boards made from holly bushes.

Merged in from a comment (thx @izx): Something you might want to read


Pretty-simplified answer, is that Zeitgeist logs your files accessed, sites visited, etc. (your computer-use-actions) and stores them LOCALLY. If your password is vulnerable, then the Zeitgeist database is just as vulnerable. Several Linux programmers have deeply investigated 'is Z uploading anything on you', and the answer is no, it is not. It is to facilitate searches and 'best-fit' to your local query only. That said, if you are using Firefox, Chrome, etc. as a browser, your browser is already logging your actions and THEY ARE being uploaded, depending on the site you visit and what they want to know relative to metadata.

If you want to turn your local Zeitgeist off, simply go to SYSTEM SETTINGS>SECURITY AND PRIVACY SETTINGS (In 14.04LTS, your version may vary), and then on the Files and Applications tab, turn off 'Record Files and Applications' button. If you're really concerned, delete your history there, too. This clears the database. Now, Zeitgeist is resident, but turned off.

My paranoia stems far more from the logging of ANY browser I use, then from Linux or Ubuntu.

  • 1
    Thank you for this. While there, I found that in Diagnostics it was communicating with the Canonical mothership and shut that off, too. btw, the reason I searched for this is that I use rsync and kept seeing it show up in the incremental files being updated. No indication it was going outside but it just was curious. rsync is a useful tool just to see what all changes routinely in the system, like /var/log/auth.log and such.
    – SDsolar
    Sep 8, 2017 at 1:08
  • After shutting it off, I see that it also deleted some startup files called "whoopsie" - rsync deleted them from the backup is how I know. The way I use it, it is like a ROBOCOPY /MIR. This is Unubtu 16.04 LTS
    – SDsolar
    Sep 8, 2017 at 1:10
  • Here is a good article called "Is your Zeitgeist spying on you?" - omgubuntu.co.uk/2012/08/is-zeitgeist-spying-on-you
    – SDsolar
    Sep 8, 2017 at 1:39

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