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.
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.