Anonymous Aggregate User Behaviour Analytics

Homebrew has begun gathering anonymous aggregate user behaviour analytics and reporting these to Google Analytics. You will be notified the first time you run brew update or install Homebrew.

Why?

Homebrew is provided free of charge and run entirely by volunteers in their spare time. As a result, we do not have the resources to do detailed user studies of Homebrew users to decide on how best to design future features and prioritise current work. Anonymous aggregate user analytics allow us to prioritise fixes and features based on how, where and when people use Homebrew. For example:

What?

Homebrew’s analytics record some shared information for every event:

Homebrew’s analytics records the following different events:

You can also view all the information that is sent by Homebrew’s analytics by setting HOMEBREW_ANALYTICS_DEBUG=1 in your environment. Please note this will also stop any analytics from being sent.

It is impossible for the Homebrew developers to match any particular event to any particular user, even if we had access to the Homebrew analytics user ID (which we do not). An example of the most user-specific information we can see from Google Analytics:

Aggregate user analytics

As far as we can tell it would be impossible for Google to match the randomly generated Homebrew-only analytics user ID to any other Google Analytics user ID. If Google turned evil the only thing they could do would be to lie about anonymising IP addresses and attempt to match users based on IP addresses.

When/Where?

Homebrew’s analytics are sent throughout Homebrew’s execution to Google Analytics over HTTPS.

Who?

Homebrew’s analytics are accessible to Homebrew’s current maintainers. Contact @MikeMcQuaid if you are a maintainer and need access.

How?

The code is viewable in analytics.rb and analytics.sh. They are done in a separate background process and fail fast to avoid delaying any execution. They will fail immediately and silently if you have no network connection.

Opting out

Homebrew analytics helps us maintainers and leaving it on is appreciated. However, if you want to opt out of Homebrew’s analytics, you can set this variable in your environment:

export HOMEBREW_NO_ANALYTICS=1

Alternatively, this will prevent analytics from ever being sent:

brew analytics off
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