Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution have announced that they will be entering a shared revenue agreement with Yahoo. Which means that the default search engine within the Firefox web browser that is shipped with Ubuntu 10.04: Lucid Lynx will no longer be Google.
The move has generated a bit of controversy among some Ubuntu enthusiasts who are concerned by the adoption of a default that doesn’t represent the general preference of a majority of the users. In practice, the ease with which the default can be changed largely mitigates any potentially detrimental implications. As long as Canonical’s efforts to monetize the desktop doesn’t escalate into the kind of crapware epidemic that has infected the major PC makers, it’s not going to be a problem. Selling the default search seems like a fairly uninvasive and practical way for Canonical to boost its revenue, thus helping to ensure that the company can continue to provide its software to users at no cost.
The change will encompass both the search provider in Firefox’s toolbar and the default start page. Users will still be able to quickly change the default search service by clicking the search provider icon in Firefox and selecting the search service of their choice from the dropdown menu. In order to make it easier for users to switch completely, Canonical is customizing the browser so that switching your default search provider will also change your start page if you haven’t already set one.