I have zeitgeist daemon always in processes. I don't see the point of this zeitgeist, it logs my activity. i removed it from startup programs, but it is still there.

Can I uninstall this package? Why do I need it at all?


6 Answers 6


Run sudo apt-get remove zeitgeist* in a terminal. It might remove a few related packages, but so long as you don't see anything suggested for removal that you don't want, you should be fine.

As per comments: you will lose unity functionality (I was not sure how much when I first wrote the answer) if you remove zeitgeist. So, I suggest you just disable logging.

You can also turn off logging altogether from system settings.

  • 4
    You can see what will be removed by executing sudo apt-get remove --dry-run zeitgeist* before removing zeitgeist
    – test30
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 12:06
  • 6
    I was successfull removing zeitgeist packages one by one on 14.04. sudo apt-get remove zeitgeist zeitgeist-datahub zeitgeist-core , in comparison to sudo apt-get remove zeitgeist*, it did not remove unity or other essential things, only zeitgeist and its daemons. Unity is much faster now.
    – mondjunge
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 8:51
  • 1
    The last link is dead.
    – Pawan
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 18:06
  • 3
    I know tis is old, but I uninstall all zeitgeist packages in Ubuntu 16.04 Unity and my Unity Desktop still works perfectly, including Dash. So I'm not sure what benefit zeitgeist has on 16+...
    – Delorean
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 14:40

There is an easy way described here -- which does not include deleting any package, but simply de-activating the corresponding services. I didn't try it myself, but this way side-effects should be minimal (and probably even wanted, as e.g. no "recent items" being available etc. Moreover, it is easily revertable in case of "unwanted" side effects.

The author of that article explicitly states: Here is a way to disable this logging without breaking Unity or any other part of the system, execute these commands in a terminal:

sudo mv /etc/xdg/autostart/zeitgeist-datahub.desktop /etc/xdg/autostart/zeitgeist-datahub.desktop-inactive
rm ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel
mkdir ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel
rm -rf ~/.local/share/zeitgeist

Reverting this (if one wants to enable Zeitgeist again) thus should be done like this:

mkdir ~/.local/share/zeitgeist
rmdir ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel
# no action for the .xbel file, as it will be re-created automatically
sudo mv /etc/xdg/autostart/zeitgeist-datahub.desktop-inactive /etc/xdg/autostart/zeitgeist-datahub.desktop

which is simply "reversing" the steps of the de-activation.

Remark: The ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel has nothing to do with Zeitgeist itself, it just falls into the same category somehow. The article mentioned is about "disabling activity logging", and thus included this. If you just want to disable Zeitgeist, you can skip the two middle steps.

  • 1
    I followed the same procedure but it is not working for me: freshly installed 12.4.3, amd64-desktop version. "ps -ef" keep showing zeitgeist restarted after reboot, and the ".local/share/zeitgeist" directory recreated as well.
    – Peter Teoh
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 4:22
  • 1
    It works for me (lubuntu 14.04). I strongly suggest to follow this guide, since removing zeitgeist packages can broke dependencies. Please don't be overzealous. Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 15:17
  • Exactly my intention: show a way that can easily be "reverted", while minimizing impact on the system :)
    – Izzy
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 17:13
  • Is this up to date?
    – Seth
    Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 2:03
  • 1
    @mondjunge I'm afraid I don't know. Stopped caring for that years ago (in fact, after this answer). Will never ever install Unity again (in fact, my next installations won't even be Ubuntu anymore). Like you, I don't want stuff I cannot control be installed on my device without obvious and user-friendly ways to deactivate/remove it. Having had 3 independent "desktop agents" forced on me that way (Zeitgeist, Akonadi, Nepomuk) with dependencies making an easy uninstall/deactivation impossible was enough for me. I hate when others decide what I have to like :)
    – Izzy
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 15:09

If you remove Zeitgeist then the menu in Unity wont work properly, it stops you searching for programs by typing into the box.

  • 6
    In Ubuntu 14.04 running sudo apt-get remove zeitgeist* will uninstall the Unity system
    – Dan
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 8:08

I found hints about renaming of /etc/xdg/autostart/zeitgeist-datahub.desktop, but it isn't enough. It prevents Zeitgeist from running at startup, but in my case (Ubuntu 12.04.4 LTS) it started later somehow (perhaps as a result of some DBus activity).
If you'd like to keep Zeitgeist installed, but prevent it from running, try renaming its executables:

zeitgeist-daemon --quit
cd /usr/bin/
sudo mv zeitgeist-daemon zeitgeist-daemon.bak
sudo mv zeitgeist-datahub zeitgeist-datahub.bak

Now Zeitgeist daemon won't start. You can check this later with ps aux | grep [z]eitgeist. You can also purge the database which was collected by Zeitgeist by deleting ~/.local/share/zeitgeist/ folder with its contents, if you like to save some space.
To secure these files from updating you can also lock packages zeitgeist-core and zeitgeist-datahub in Synaptic or Aptitude.

To revert the changes simply rename these executables back:

cd /usr/bin/
sudo mv zeitgeist-daemon.bak zeitgeist-daemon
sudo mv zeitgeist-datahub.bak zeitgeist-datahub

If you altered .desktop file in /etc/xdg/autostart/, you should also return it back.

  • nice, I think I can just add this to startup apps and it will be all good, thx! :) zeitgeist-daemon --quit Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 15:13
  • @AquariusPower If it remains disabled, that will be enough, indeed. When I wrote this I was using Ubuntu 12.04 and had to take additional measures to block it completely. Maybe things have changed since.
    – whtyger
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 11:14
  • I am trying this now, needs to wait it start I guess xD bash -c "sleep 60; zeitgeist-daemon --quit" Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 19:54

Here's an editorial on the topic of zeitgeist, including an interview with the creator: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2012/08/is-zeitgeist-spying-on-you And some instructions on disabling (not removal) http://linuxaria.com/howto/how-to-remove-zeitgeist-in-ubuntu-and-why

An easy way to reduce the logging (but not the heavy resource and disk use) is via the control panel: enter image description here

Unfortunately little about Zeitgeist is well disclosed or clear. Zeitgeist is not easy to disable, nor is it easy to see what it's doing. You can't "stop" it like other background system services.

  • "Unfortunately little about Zeitgeist is well disclosed or clear". I thought the link you provided yourself clarifies all the points one might want to know.
    – KhoPhi
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 13:23

My problem with zeitgeist are distracting error messages in journalctl:

$ journalctl -xe | grep zeitgeist.SimpleIndexer
Oct 20 05:30:06 alien org.gnome.zeitgeist.SimpleIndexer[2098]: ** (zeitgeist-fts:4341): WARNING **: Unable to get info on application://nautilus-autostart.desktop
Oct 20 05:30:06 alien org.gnome.zeitgeist.SimpleIndexer[2098]: ** (zeitgeist-fts:4341): WARNING **: Unable to get info on application://eyesome-cfg.desktop

$ journalctl -b-1 | grep zeitgeist
Oct 16 04:47:02 alien org.gnome.zeitgeist.Engine[2134]: Performing VACUUM operation... OK
Oct 16 04:47:02 alien org.gnome.zeitgeist.Engine[2134]: ** (zeitgeist-datahub:4587): WARNING **: zeitgeist-datahub.vala:229: Unable to get name "org.gnome.zeitgeist.datahub" on the bus!
Oct 16 16:39:18 alien org.gnome.zeitgeist.SimpleIndexer[2134]: ** (zeitgeist-fts:4585): WARNING **: Unable to get info on application://multi-timer.desktop
Oct 16 18:23:48 alien org.gnome.zeitgeist.SimpleIndexer[2134]: ** (zeitgeist-fts:4585): WARNING **: Unable to get info on application:///home/rick/Desktop/multi-timer.desktop

I found this article on configuring "Activity Log Manager" in Gnome or "Security and Privacy" in Unity that allows you to tell zeitgeist to ignore certain applications or directories. So I added the directory ~/Desktop to the blacklist.

I didn't do anything about the error application://nautilus-autostart.desktop. I still need to research that gnome application. My instinct tells me it's a bug and not my problem to fix.

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