Ubuntu sends http requests to Google cloud, here's a fix

(I tried to create this topic in Privacy tools category, but it’s not possible, probably spam protection?)

Ubuntu has this package installed by default:
network-manager-config-connectivity-ubuntu

It’s only purpose is to provide settings for NetworkManager to send requests to connectivity-check.ubuntu.com , and based on the result (AFAIK) detect redirection by captive portals and open an ISP’s page (think public WiFi, or hotel rooms, where you need to authorize to access the net).

Well, connectivity-check.ubuntu.com is hosted on Google cloud (you can check that by running:

dig connectivity-check.ubuntu.com
whois [the IP from previous query]

), so by default Ubuntu sends requests to a Google cloud page.
I don’t say Google counts daily active Ubuntu users (because many of those have the same IP), or that Google actively logs and analyzes that data. But some of you guys may not like that behavior.

So what’s the fix?

Purge the package

sudo apt purge network-manager-config-connectivity-ubuntu

If you do need a captive portal detection, create your own config file to query some HTTP (not HTTPS) page of your choice, in the example below I have a Debian page used for the same purpose. Use your favorite text editor to create and edit /etc/NetworkManager/conf.d/90-connectivity-custom.conf :

[connectivity]
uri=http://network-test.debian.org/nm

Restart NetworkManager

sudo systemctl restart NetworkManager

If you run an Ubuntu derivative, please report if you have network-manager-config-connectivity-ubuntu installed in the comments.

P.S. I would like this post to not be used to raise pitchforks against Ubuntu and Canonical, as I believe without the simplicity of Ubuntu many of it’s current users would still be on Windows, worse even - on Windows 10.

I run that command on the terminal and get this result. 35.232.111.17, 35.224.170.84, 34.122.121.32
Yes, those IPs belong to Google. Thanks for the share.

I run this command on Backbox Linux (which is based on Ubuntu) and get this message:
Package ‘network-manager-config-connectivity-ubuntu’ is not installed, so not removed

I don’t know about Ubuntu GNOME though. I stopped using it around 10 days ago.

i really dont recommend using ubuntu for several reasons. it might be easy for new users but man you will suffer a lot. bad for privacy (proved by your post) and bad for usability, they force you stuff like snap packages and it just a mess! so i recommend something like debian or if you want to dive into linux try arch

Why snap package is a mess? I get the idea that Ubuntu GNOME is bloated, which is why I switched OS recently.

I would definitely test Debian 11 in June, and I have Debian Testing on my PC (not on laptop where I need a stable system), but Debian 10 doesn’t work for me, it has some bugs (all reported by me or other people and should be fixed in 11).

I used Arch for about a year and I don’t like it (great distro for learning Linux though).

What’s so bad about snaps? They save my day when I need a proprietary stuff like Skype contained.

Ubuntu is still miles better than MS Win 10. I think they are slightly more trustworthy when it comes to metadata collection vs Microsoft, but we should probably be wary about it.

I recently converted/convinced the managers of my workplace to switch to Linux because it breaks less than win 10 and I was happy to replace Win10 for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS for the workstation.

Snaps are only an issue if its on my personal computer because reasons. Otherwise, in a work environment, I really dont mind.

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Firefox sends http requests to google too

As hauntsanctuary said, whatever Ubuntu does, it is way better than Windows. The reason why I recommend it to new Linux users is because it is the most popular, has good (community) support and all Linux programs are packed and tested for Ubuntu at least. Most of advanced users will choose some other distro, regardless of their privacy reqiurements.

Regarding snap, I think it is ok, but the problem for me is that some programs (e.g. WickrMe) don’t work in my OS (openSUSE). Snap is made for Ubuntu, and no one can guarante it will work in other distributions. Unlike Appimage or Flatpak which are truly distro agnostic

Similar is with Firefox. Even with default settings and google search, it is better option than Chrome or Opera

1 Like

Pretty sure the situation is quite different:
Firefox at default settings is alright. And whether you’ll use Google or not is an active action of the user. You can change it even before you start searching up stuff, other than the fact that you don’t strictly need a search engine to browse the web. You get the choice to opt in or out before you send any request.

Instead, if what OP said about Ubuntu is 100% true, it’s a hidden and automatic behavior, that the user doesn’t get to know, unless they somehow get informed by an outside source, like in this case. You don’t get the chance to learn about this and opt out unless you somehow know in advance.

Not only search engine but also safebrowsing

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Type about:config in Firefox address bar and then search:

browser.safebrowsing.phishing.enabled = false
browser.safebrowsing.malware.enabled = false

media.peerconnection.enabled (WebRTC) = false
privacy.resistFingerprinting = true
privacy.trackingprotection.fingerprinting.enabled = true
privacy.trackingprotection.cryptomining.enabled = true
privacy.firstparty.isolate = true
privacy.trackingprotection.enabled = true
geo.enabled = false
media.navigator.enabled = false
dom.event.clipboardevents.enabled = false

Reference and more details: Firefox Privacy - The Complete How-To Guide | Restore Privacy