Let’s go back a few days: it was the 1st of November. I woke up, drank a creamy latte, turned on my workstation, and opened my trusty web browser. The rain was deviously peaceful.
That was until I discovered an extension named “Fedora User Agent” had been installed in my browser. What was this? Where did it come from?
After some basic research, I found out Fedora User Agent was the subject of heavy controversy.
Modifying your User Agent to tell websites you’re using Fedora did not go down well with some critics, claiming the extension was ‘dubiously’ installed, and unnecessary.
Firstly, it’s installed without making any noise. Not a warning, or a popup box. Quietly adding itself to your browser in the background, you won’t know it’s installed until you navigate to the Extensions page.
Not a good start, but it does raise a very important question: is it wrong to do this? Should the user be notified here?
Some commentors suggest this is, in fact, the role of an Operating System. Others disagree. What do you think?
Moving on to the second point, how does this affect fingerprinting? It really depends on two variables:
- Linux’s market share
- Fedora’s market share
If the amount of people with this extension running is low, it may be best to follow suit.
It would be much easier to uniquely identify you, as you now have another fairly unique identifier: you’re using Fedora!
However, some claim this is a double-edged sword. If Fedora does have a strong market share, it may boost the importance of Fedora in the eyes of webmasters.
With the rise of universal package formats for Linux, such as Flatpak, the distribution they use may not matter after all. An application can be packaged for any Linux distribution.
Chromium browsers already tell websites if you’re using Linux. Perhaps that is enough, after all?
I’d love to hear what you think. Reach out and share your thoughts, readers!