[GSoC] MacPorts Usage Statistics

Ryan Schmidt ryandesign at macports.org
Tue Mar 29 17:28:00 PDT 2011

On Mar 29, 2011, at 19:01, Derek Ingrouville wrote:

> I've been using macports for just about 2 years now so naturally I was
> interested when I saw that you guys were participating in gsoc again.
> I feel like its time to give back to the open source community and
> macports seems a great place to start.
> After reading the macports-users list the question of OS stats came up
> and Scott Webster mentioned Debian's popcon package. This got me
> thinking that it might be useful to the project to be able to collect
> anonymous OS data and see what ports people are installing and using
> most often. Having this data can help with determining what
> hardware/software configurations to target for testing purposes.

I would find it useful to collect this info. We discussed it briefly some years ago and rejected it due to privacy concerns. Making it an opt-in model would resolve that concern, but make the data less useful. I had envisioned this information being available to our web site, which could then show things like popular ports this week, etc.

> Due to privacy concerns the opt-in model seems the best way to go.
> Users opt-in to the program by installing the port. It would also be
> nice to let users choose what sort of data they would like to
> contribute though a configuration file. A default set of options will
> be enabled which hopefully provide of good balance of privacy to
> usefulness.
> I'm interested in working on either porting Debian's popcon or
> developing a similar package for macports.
> What I would like to know primarily is if there is any interest in
> having this developed. If not I'd definitely be interested in working
> on one of the proposed project ideas, specifically one of dependency
> related projects (or a combination thereof).

What is the thought behind having this implemented as a port? Would the port install the actual program that gathers the statistics and sends them to a central MacPorts server? If so, would MacPorts base need to be modified to look for and call this program at certain times?

I would have thought stats gathering would be an integral part of MacPorts base, implemented in MacPorts base, with new configuration options exposed in macports.conf for whether the user wants to participate, and perhaps, as you say, what specific information they want to disclose. But I have no idea how Debian's popcon works or why it's done that way.

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