UPDATED: Yahoo! to become Firefox’s default search engine on Ubuntu

According to a recent email by Canonical’s Rick Spencer in the Ubuntu development mailing list, Canonical is planning to change Firefox’s default search provider to Yahoo! starting with forthcoming Lucid Lynx, due in April.

The change will also change the default home page from the current Ubuntu customized Google search page to a Yahoo! home page.

The post emphasizes that previous user choices of search engines will be respected, so the change will apply for new users only (new installations, or new local users).

The post also explains the motivations:”I am pursuing this change because Canonical has negotiated a revenue sharing deal with Yahoo! and this revenue will help Canonical to provide developers and resources to continue the open development of Ubuntu and the Ubuntu Platform. This change will help provide these resources as well as continuing to respect our user’s default search across Firefox.”

I have tried several Ubuntu releases since the very early days, turning back to Windows every time because I found it too complicated to get things working, or couldn’t get the application I needed without roaming forums for about a half-hour. This all changed for me with 9.10, which has proved to be the solid OS I need. I have been double booting between Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.10 for the last 6+ months, and can finally feel comfortable with it to even recommend it to family and friends.

So I like Ubuntu very much, and I am glad there is a chance Canonical may find a way for some constant cash flow. But I can’t help feeling concerned about this change because the post doesn’t mention any negotiation with Mozilla which also has a financial interest and a contract with Google to have it as the default search engine.

I really hope it  just wasn’t mentioned, and not that it hasn’t been previously talked. This could lead to yet another argument between open source communities like the issues with Debian which led to a Firefox fork known as IceWeasel, and with Firebird before that which led to Firebird, the web browser, being renamed to Firefox.

Via popey.com

Update: Good news! In this identi.ca conversation, Jono Bacon, Canonical Community Manager, says “Mozilla [is] entirely comfortable and supportive of the deal.”

Thanks to DarkHole for the tip.


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12 Comments

  1. Stan January 27, 2010 12:35 pm 

    “Firebird before that which led to Firebird, the web browser, being renamed to Firefox.”
    Phoenix you mean?

  2. Feech January 27, 2010 1:04 pm 

    I’ll bet another firefox fork is along the way. (I doubt ubuntu will use iceweasel.)

  3. Dwight Stegall January 27, 2010 6:33 pm 

    Sticking newbies with a crappy search engine like Yahoo? Why do they hate newbies so much? :)

    • Percy Cabello January 28, 2010 9:19 am 

      Thanks for the tip! I’ve updated the article.

  4. Jesse January 27, 2010 8:49 pm 

    @Stan: The browser formerly known as Phoenix was renamed due to a naming conflict with a commercial BIOS. The new name was Firebird, which means pretty much the same thing and didn’t conflict with any commercial products – but it did conflict with the Firebird database (based on Borland’s open-sourced InterBase). Since the database already had some history, Mozilla did the right thing (after taking some heat – see http://www.ibphoenix.com/main.nfs?a=ibphoenix&page=ibp_Mozilla0) and found another name that wasn’t already taken.

    A bit painful at the time, but I think it worked out in the end. Firefox is a great name – unique, brief, and memorable.

  5. Ken Saunders January 27, 2010 9:52 pm 

    Um, so they’ll pretty much going to be using Bing?
    That will go over well with users.

  6. Sinani201 January 27, 2010 11:39 pm 

    NOOO!

    Looks like Yahoo is being evil again… I hate it when they pay everyone to include their crappy search engine into products. You should put in a search engine ballet similar to the EU Win7 for browsers so that people can choose their search engine. But Yahoo? People who are switching to Ubuntu will only give it a mark down for that.

  7. Stan January 28, 2010 9:39 am 

    @Jesse:”and with Firebird before that which led to Firebird, the web browser, being renamed to Firefox” doesn’t make any sense, I think he means “and with Phoenix before that which led to Firebird, the web browser, being renamed to Firefox”.

  8. Mohan January 28, 2010 5:03 pm 

    I am Ubuntu user have been for 5 years now and I don’t see the problem considering it’s like two clicks to change it.

  9. Anders February 3, 2010 4:04 am 

    For the longest time, my Firefox on Ubuntu was called Shiretoko, i.e. rebranded. I wonder if they will do something like this again to evade legal complications with Mozilla/Google.

  10. Kirk M February 13, 2010 3:38 pm 

    I have to agree that Ubuntu does have it’s inherent problems and it’s really not ready to go “out of the box” without a bit of tweaking (so what OS is?). But overall, it’s a fine release and it’s a simple thing to change the default home page and search engine in Firefox. I do that all the time anyway as I prefer the generic Google Home page rather than the Ubuntu flavored one.

    With that said, I eventually went from Ubuntu to Linux Mint (currently the latest KDE CE) as the Mint developers spend a great deal of time fixing the inherent bugs found in Ubuntu and adding their own tools which improve on some of the standard tools provided by Ubuntu, add the codecs needed to “make things just work” and generally polish the overall distro up before release.

    Which all means that Firefox in Linux Mint 9 will probably have Yahoo set as the default search engine in Firefox as well (that is, if the Mint developers don’t change it back to a mint flavored Google which they might do). So I’ll change it to what I want as usual.

    I try not to allow the politics and business dealings behind any one distro affect me any. If I did I probably wouldn’t use any of the major distros at all. They make their decisions and if I don’t like the results I’ll post my opinion on the appropriate forum and then change things back the way I like them.

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