My Thoughts on Yahoo! Search as Default for Ubuntu’s Firefox

Last month Canonical announced that they would switch the default search provider from Google to Yahoo! in the Firefox browser that ships with Ubuntu as of version 10.04.

The prevailing theme is that Canonical is somehow sacrificing its integrity by effectively using Microsoft as its main search provider instead of Google. (Recall that Microsoft owns Bing which now powers Yahoo! search.) One opinion is that this is directly in contradiction to Bug #1 in Launchpad, as it will result in money for Microsoft from revenues they get from searches. However, one can also say that Canonical is now benefiting from Microsoft and in fact having Microsoft pay them, a la “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Unfortunately, making deals, any deals, with Microsoft generally is received negatively by the non-Microsoft fanboy (and drone) crowds. (See Apple Microsoft Deal, Corel Microsoft Deal, and the Novell Microsoft Deal for examples.)

On the flip side, one could see this as Canonical taking a stand against the ever-increasing power of Google with respect to its control over the Internet. Keep in mind that, late last year, an official at Mozilla recommended Bing over Google due to privacy concerns after statements issued by Eric Schmidt.

Realistically speaking, however, it is most likely that the philosophical arguments raised above took a backseat to the money that Yahoo! offered Canonical. While this is somewhat disappointing, my personal opinion is that this is probably what was the deciding factor. While Ubuntu is a free, community-oriented distribution of Linux, Canonical is, after all, a commercial entity.