NetworkManager is a top Linux application, available in each major Linux distributions and heavily used on laptops, desktops, and since Pinephone and Librem 5 - on Linux phones too. Networking and user privacy are important more than ever, and there are some questions related to the last. MAC address randomization

Making suggested changes to default would break a lot of stuff. For example, enabling MAC randomization would cause connectivity issues if the user connects to a router with MAC filtering for example.

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Yeah this article is paranoia clickbait

Or if your DHCP server hands out static IP addresses based on MAC. It would be kinda good for there to be a default-off “This is a trusted network” check box, which turns off the privacy preserving settings that can break things.

Alternative title: please make it impossible to get normal people to like Linux

Why would more sane defaults make it impossible for normal people to like Linux?

Look, everything here is a good suggestion for someone who knows what they are doing, but all of them have the potential to have some impact on the user experience in a variety of negative ways


MAC addresses should be randomised by default, but only when scanning and when connecting to untrusted networks, but how do we know that a network is untrusted? Many newer open networks (e.g. at restaurants, resorts, hotels, parks, etc) use a WPA2-PSK instead of an unencrypted captive portal, so it’s not true that a WPA2-PSK means a network is trustworthy

So, we’d have to prompt the user to ask them, but now we need to explain the risks and why they should care, and we now also need to help inform the user and offer to reverse this choice if it’s not compatible with the network they really want to join


The UX for dealing with all of these suggestions becomes complicated pretty quickly

A privacy-minded person will appreciate the extra knowledge of what their system is doing, but someone trying to switch from Windows or macOS is probably going to be confused unless developers spend a huge amount of time considering every possibility (spoiler: many won’t)

Perhaps what we could do is have a preference that is like Firefox’s privacy settings (standard versus strict), as a way for the user to tell NetworkManager their risk-appetite and which set of default behaviours is more appropriate?

It would be even better if this was a system-wide

useful stuff

well just as systemd-networkd it probably only randomizes the mac address at boot? so not much useful for laptops imo.

also if on your router you configure or filter devices by mac address then randomizing them would be troublesome.

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