Canonical backtracks its decision

No, unfortunately, not that decision. The decision to use Yahoo has the default search engine in Mozilla Firefox in Ubuntu 10.04 has been changed back to Google. Granted, I could care less what default search engine is used in Firefox. It’s a setting that can be changed in a very easy and user friendly manner. I’ve also stopped using MemoryLeakFox in favor of a slightly less memory hog, Google Chrome. What gets me is the comment made by Rick Spencer in regard to the decision:

In this case, choosing Google will be familiar to everybody upgrading from 9.10 to 10.04

Last I checked, familiarity was not a valid or adequate reason for  basing decisions on. If familiarity has now become a good enough reason, then I know some other bugs that could use another once-over.

  • Rob

    The funny thing is that firefox has a drop down menu to change search engines in under 5 seconds with two clicks. Price, performance and dependability are in my opinion the the factors that most influence the market. I use ubuntu on this machine because of the huge performance increase I have gained. I also run live distros on usb.

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  • Zac

    It didn't worry me as along Canonical would get some money. But it maybe looks like Yahoo caught on to fact that the majority of Linux users would not use Yahoo/Microsoft Bing search and know how to change it back to Google or whatever with their eyes closed. Just a guess.

    I like that Canonical is willing to try different things, to be dynamic, and if a decision works out to be not so good, have the guts to change it, which is what they have done in this case. I don't want Linux to do the same old same old. A shake up is what Linux needs to grow, and that's what I want. Thumbs up from me.

  • Franck

    Not directly the subject, but I love the new window control positions. In fact I've been tweaking metacity for years to get it on my desktops, as I was more familiar with the close button on the upper left. After all, it has always been the default AmigaOS choice !

    • Zac

      Me too. I had already changed it on my Ubuntu Dell netbook. It resulted in less mouse travel.

    • TGMann

      Glad you said that, but don't forget the Amiga menus (like OS X menus) are at the top of the screen, so more room for error…

  • Echo

    “I could care less”, so you might actually care a lot? See the caring continuum:

    Sorry to nitpick but I want the internet to kick this habit.

  • Oops, no editing.

    I wasn't offering it as a reason for defaulting to Yahoo!

    Should be

    I wasn't offering it as a reason for defaulting to Google

    Cheers, Rick

  • I can confirm the point about familiarity was just that for folks who haven't been using Lucid while it was under development, they're not going to experience getting switched to Yahoo! and then switched back. I wasn't offering it as a reason for defaulting to Yahoo! However, I can see how my email to the developer list could be read that way.

    Note that I am pretty easy to find on freenode (rickspencer3), especially PST work time. I also have email. So if there is any ambiguity or you have any questions in the future, please feel free to just ask me directly. I do my best to make time to discuss with folks who engage me.

    However, I am gong to bed now 😉 ttyt

    Cheers, Rick

  • The default search engine for Ubuntu could potentially be a huge source of revenue for Canonical. I assume the decision was motivated by long term profitability.

    In the end, I don't think it will matter to most users either way. But I would have been briefly annoyed as I changed the search engine settings.

    It is another great example of Canonical making design decisions without discussion or community involvement though. It would be nice to see some public discourse about the decision to change somewhere other than Lefty's blog. Even if it's a simple note that says, “We got a lot of flak over the Yahoo situation, so we worked out a deal with Google.”

    Why is Canonicals blog overloaded with boring “corporate news” and not taking these issues head on before they hit the blogosphere?

    Take the initiative Canonical, don't wait for Lefty to call you out before addressing an issue.

  • guest

    I think you misunderstood the comment about familiarity, it was in response to the earlier “It was not our intention to “flap” between providers, but the underlying
    circumstances can change unpredictably.”

    I think a reasonable paraphrase would be “While it's regrettable that users had to get used to yahoo being the new default only for us to then switch back to google, at least it won't effect users who stay with stable releases as from their point of view there was no switch.”

  • For the love of all that is holy, it's couldN'T care less! If you could care less, that would mean you cared a non-zero, positive amount!

    </grammar rant>

  • Ron

    Mike, I and many others are with ya. I thought you might enjoy this…..

  • Familiarity isn't _the_ reason for the switch back to Google.

    Canonical land the Ubuntu project try to make the best decisions where possible at the time. Previously it was seen as the best decision to switch to Yahoo! for the search provider. Circumstances change, commercial deals are made and now Google is the search provider of choice.

    If you read Ricks announcement, specifically this line:-

    “It was not our intention to “flap” between providers, but the underlying circumstances can change unpredictably”

    You'll probably figure that it's nothing like as superficial as you make out. Underneath the hood Canonical do their best to provide the best services for the Ubuntu desktop. That includes the default (and easily changeable) search provider.

    It's not simply a case of flip-flopping based on familiarity, and to think it is does a disservice to the people who work hard to make our desktop of choice.

  • d2kx

    Regarding your question about whether familiarity can be a reason to justify not doing a change or not… in the case of the window controls, familiarity does not have the final say, because a change in behaviour might lead to innovation or improved user experience (whether that is actually the case, is another question). With the search providers however, the change to Yahoo would not benefit the user, so the argument of keeping Google because of familiarity is valid here.

    Please don't get me wrong. I am not a direct supporter of the change of window controls, but I do accept their justification of it.

  • jef spaleta

    Here's the hard reality… closed door Canonical decision making is greatly influenced by business factors. We know business partners have a voice in Canonical decision roadmapping and planning that external voluntary community do not have. Shuttleworth has said as much about design roadmapping last July in an interview with . And it was made pretty clear that this move was motivated by a business relationship between Yahoo! and Canonical.

    The move to Yahoo! was motivated by a revenue agreement deal… not by usability…not by design…not by community demand…not by data driven meritocracy…but by cash..cold hard cash. The only reasonable take away here is that the revenue sharing deal fell through. That's a shame…someone needs to pay to keep the lights on on Ubuntu infrastructure and indirect ad revenue has a proven ability to do that. What's Canonical planning to do to make up for that lost income?


    • Sorry, you're wrong Jef. It wasn't totally governed by cold hard cash. You can carry on believing that and spouting it on as many blogs as you can find to comment on, but you're flat out wrong. End of.

      • jef spaleta

        Can you point me to a publicly archived discussion about switching to Yahoo! that lists motivation other than revenue? I don't think I ever ran across one. The original email announcement stated quite succinctly that the revenue sharing deal was the impetus.

        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.”

        Are you going to now tell me that there were unspoken motivations beyond that which Rick didn't put into his original heads up announcement? Please enlighten me. His wording was pretty clear to me and I don't think it left much room for misinterpretation. You even blogged about the revenue deal yourself without noting _any_ other benefits to the change. You were and I quote “kinda meh” about the change.

        Now since then, I've run across posts which go into detail about how Yahoo!'s Ubuntu relevant search results are actually a regression in terms of workflows associated with quickly searching for launchpad bugs and finding help because Yahoo! results are just not as good at indexing things like the forums and launchpad. But everyone seemed to just take that with a grain of salt as long as you could switch back to google on a per user basis because by and large people recognize that the revenue opportunity was an important offsetting benefit to the search relevance regression.


        • No, I can't point you to publicly archived discussion about switching to Yahoo! that lists motivation other than revenue.

          However I think you'd have to be pretty blinkered to think that Canonical makes these kinds of decisions based on money in the bank alone. Whilst I agree with many of the posts that choosing Yahoo! was not ideal, my own reaction was indeed 'meh' as I believe most people are capable of changing the search provider pretty easily.

          I also don't believe that Canonical are as bad as you paint them, over and over, everywhere. Hence my comment. I say that as someone who has used Ubuntu for years, atteneded multiple Developer Summits and sits on the Community Council.

          If I honestly believed Canonical didn't have the best interests of the users factored into their decisions I wouldn't be so positive about Ubuntu.

          • jef spaleta

            I never said they didn't have the best interests of users in mind. I have never questioned any canonical employee's stated intentions. I believe that they believe in what they are saying. No doubt.

            But you know what, the ends don't always justify the means. I questions the decision making and the execution… not the intention…not the goals. You should probably learn to recognize the different between being critical of actions and critical of intention. Canonical can intend to do good and cause harm… they are not infallible…none of us are.

            And in this case, like in all cases, I hold great stock in what was actually communicated…not what I or you want to wish was communicated. Trust but verify is a great motto. If you think there's more to it… get Canonical talking more about the other motivations.

            And I happened to think that seeking solid revenue opportunities is in the best interest of users. I've never said otherwise. I'm not being tongue-in-cheek about noting that its a shame the revenue deal fell through. Revenue must flow in to sustain the Ubuntu infrastructure and indirect advertising revenue is a solid well understood revenue stream. The hopeful way to look at this is to ask if Canonical has struck a better deal with Google instead of Yahoo! for indirect revenue from search. Are you that hopeful, that you'll start asking what's coming next in terms of advertising derived revenue?


          • Zac

            I applaud the decision to change it to Yahoo, and I applaud the decision to change it back. What's wrong with that. Nothing that I can see. So it didn't work out. At least Canonical is willing to try something different and that is what Linux needs. This decision didn't disturb me in the least. I would of changed it straight back to Google, and in fact I've been using Google Chrome beta lately. Maybe Yahoo caught on that people would change it back to Google. 🙂

          • jef spaleta

            Just “being different” isn't a sustainable business model. There are a lot of people out there “trying something different” with linux. Most of those people will fail at sustaining a business around their efforts. HP's Mi interface that Canonical was contracted to help create for example. Very different…HP shelved it and isn't using it any more for their netbook products..or in fact using any linux on their netbooks.

            To suggest that linux needs more of random trial and error experimentation that than is already going on seems a particularly uninformed statement with regard to exactly how much idea and code diversification is actually already going on top of linux.


          • Franck


            speaking about Yahoo / Google switch does not seem like a random trial to me. We are speaking about the development phase of Lucid, in alpha or beta state. So if it was a way to negociate with Google a better deal, or even a failed attempt to do so, then this is fine.

            Regarding the UI changes, mimicing Windows always seemed like stupid to me. MacOS X is different, but it succeds because it is innovative and (most of all) coherent.

  • Anonymous

    “I’ve also stopped using MemoryLeakFox”

    Oh please, good sir! You are skewering me with your wit!

  • chris

    “Last I checked, familiarity was not a valid or adequate reason for basing decisions on. If familiarity has now become a good enough reason, then I know some other bugs that could use another once-over.”

    Oh snap! Hah! Good comment!

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