Default Search Engines

Story: Ubuntu Switch to Yahoo. Trouble in Paradise?Total Replies: 15
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Jan 27, 2010
12:00 PM EDT
Personally, I don't see what is so big about a default search engine. Much the same with "default" anything, really. As for search engines, one of the first things I do while setting up my browser, whether Firefox or Chrome, is to change the default search engine to Scroogle or ixquick anyway, since I don't care for either Google nor Yahoo's search data retention policies.

Jan 27, 2010
12:12 PM EDT
Default is actually very important. Users just don't change default settings. Even if it is eventually changed, users try the default, without thinking about it.

In the case of Linux, the default on the live CD would have to be changed each time it is used. I know at least three Windows users who use Linux live CD's to do online banking/purchases.

Jan 27, 2010
1:17 PM EDT
Well, perhaps it's just me then, but I've never used "default" for most anything. I suppose that's why I often read about debates over default wallpaper, etc. I would think of it as the same as leaving default settings for power management and screensavers, whether I was using a laptop or a desktop system. Or, since I prefer KDE desktop, not installing many of the GNOME applications I prefer to use. Above all else, I wouldn't be comfortable using default settings for online banking and purchases either, which I do a lot, with default settings.

Jan 27, 2010
1:18 PM EDT
Quoting:Default is actually very important. Users just don't change default settings.

Yup. Thus why ISPs almost always have an "install cd" (that isn't actually needed) that changes your home page to their site, your default search to whoever they partner with, etc. And how Comcast can claim their site is one of the most visited on the web in their commercials, because most of their customers don't know enough to change their homepage after installing the silly junkware cd they get when they sign up for the service.

Jan 27, 2010
1:31 PM EDT
Sadly, while I too have concerns about data retention and access with google I can't seem to break the habit. My concerns over chrome are even greater, which happily I have only used to play with but is not my default browser. Addiction is a quirky thing.

Jan 27, 2010
5:07 PM EDT
Well, so far as search engines go, I really prefer and use Scroogle. I'm getting essentially the same search as with Google, but without the data retention. It's not a big deal to switch to Scroogle in Firefox. ixquick, so far as search goes, is even better in the data retention area.

I also agree in regard to the live CD's. I don't use them either. I'm a Kubuntu user and always use the Alternate Install CD. Main reason for that is that I encrypt my entire hard drive (except for a small boot partition, obviously). As such, the Alternate Install CD is what I need to use. I figure if I'm at least that security conscious, I'll make the effort to change default search engines, as well. My personal files aren't encrypted by default either, but I make the effort to encrypt them with KGPG, if I am concerned about access.

techiem2, I fully agree about those "install CD's." "Default," at least in my opinion, is what gets so many people into so much trouble....especially Windows users.

Jan 27, 2010
5:20 PM EDT
It's similar to the idea of bundling a particular browser with your OS, it really does shape habit for less advance users (who are the majority). I was going to point this out in the discussion about Internet Explorer. It might be easy for the advance users to switch to whatever, but its hard to persuade your friends who has always use Microsoft for life to switch, even on the basis of ethics, ideology doesn't cut it with the mass. Most people who use free softwares care less about freedom than practical benefits, which is a sad fact, but Google exploited it extremely well. Google has been cunning at this and their understanding of the mass desire of practically, which is why I don't think it will take long for their browser compete or overhaul Mozilla in user number. Their recent handling with the HTML5 video issue as a way to force users to their products remind me of Apple as well.

Do anyone know if Canonical wilingly supply Firefox with Ubuntu or get 'contribution' from Mozilla for doing so? I wonder if we are looking into this too deeply or this trend will continue for softwares bundled with Ubuntu as well. We already see the way enterprises have direct influences on the linux kernel, Microsoft among the contributors.

As for Chrome, yeah I tried the 4th stable version in Virtualbox, even faster than Firefox outside of virtual machine and already plenty of addons to compete. It's astonishing actually. I wouldn't mind an open source browser like it in the future that doesn't dial back to base.

Jan 27, 2010
5:28 PM EDT
Chrome can load pages instantly, for all I care, I don't trust Google.

Jan 27, 2010
6:50 PM EDT

Just now offering my services to Google as one of their shills. So let me get back to you about the trust issue.


Jan 27, 2010
6:59 PM EDT

Jan 28, 2010
2:26 PM EDT
My ISP,, has an interesting "default".

If I put a typo in the domain, the DNS server will not bounce back a "not found", no. It sends back the IP for

Needless to say, was very quickly added to my hosts file:

Jan 29, 2010
1:40 PM EDT
An interesting issue.

Back when I was Windows Register plumber and regular (mostly for only my own system) I used AltaVista for three years while everyone was already using Google. Just because Google looked weird (the mountain was gone!) and Altavista still served my needs. I didn't know why Google was better.

Nowadays I still try to switch, but it's hard.

The thing I use most is quick bookmarks. I type 'rt location' in the URL-bar, and using quick bookmarks it calculates the route from my home to location using Google maps. One can exchange Google for TomTom (Google buys their maps from TomTom) quite easily here, but I haven't done so yet. Moreover, in Google I can type 'butcher near Breda' as the destination, while with the TomTom maps I can only use an address AFAIK. The fact that I - as someone who is concerned about mono-cultures, reads about FOSS and open standars and sometimes writes about it - don't know if those data is in the TeleAtlas maps themselves or an overlay of Google probably shows users don't care about all of this. Nonetheless, Google knows where I live and what I search for.

In Firefox you have the search-toolbar, the one you use when you hit Ctrl+K. That one is rather easy to replace, you can find a guide pretty fast using... Google, of course.

But Firefox has a better feature to search for something, just typing something in the URL-bar and hitting enter. It took my probably two years to figure out it was just Google's "I'm feeling lucky" handling those request. That one is actually much more a PITA to get rid of. It's not documented with a large font, only on the Moz-tech-forums.

I used Ixquick sometime, but changed back to Google because Google was better.

That's when I started to think: "What else of Firefox uses Google without me knowing?" Easy to find out: type "about:config" in the URL-bar, hit Enter, promise to be careful if asked and type 'Google' in the filter-bar above.

Then there's the blacklists Firefox downloads from Google from time to time, about 'malware infected sites'. But who's deciding this? Google does! However, I was glad it turned out Firefox doesn't send the URL's I type to Google to ask if it's OK or not, it only downloads the list. I haven't found alternative blacklists.

There's also some 'geo-URI' defaulting to Google in it and I don't know what it does. Almost scary.

So there it is, that's why I'm still using Hotmail instead of GMail. I wouldn't want Google to know all about me, and therefore Google knows one half, Microsoft knows the other halve, and because that knowledge has value I'm pretty sure Google and MS won't share. Until the they become one company. I hope they don't!

Apart from that, I delete my cookies from time to time. Because they are valid till 2038...

Jan 29, 2010
7:20 PM EDT
You're gonna be vulnerable to info collection in some form, unless you connect through a secure VPN and not input any information. You can only limit the amount. Gotta enable Javascript sooner or later, otherwise I can't watch Youtube videos or download drivers for my hardwares because the EVERY single hardware companies have a website composed of Flash.

Anyway, since we are getting into this topic of privacy, don't mind me while I divulge some of my Firefox addons collection.

Trackers: I use "Ghostery" which block all the marketing trackers. I think this is the one most people are concerned with. (PS. I enjoy the fact that Ghostery doesn't detect any from

Cookies: Instead of clearing cookies from time to time, I disable cookies completely and use "Cookie Monster", which works like NoScript by having an icon on the status bar allowing you to manually enable cookies from a specific site (less annoying than the pop up message).

LSO cookies: Clearing browser cookies isn't enough since it doesn't clear Flash cookies as they aren't locate inside your browser's user profile folder. You can delete them by hand or use the addon "BetterPrivacy" to do the job automatically.

Google: There is an addon called GoogleSharing, it's basically redirect all Google traffic through a proxy and masking your identity from Google.

Or, if you want extreme, best thing is to do what Richard Stallman do, not connect to internet from your own home and don't own cellphone (not sure if he own one), that is counting the car you bought that come with or without a GPS and tires they will sell with tracking chips in it. As James Burke said: in gridding the world, we have gridded ourselves.

Jan 29, 2010
8:23 PM EDT
Quoting:I also agree in regard to the live CD's. I don't use them either. I'm a Kubuntu user and always use the Alternate Install CD. Main reason for that is that I encrypt my entire hard drive (except for a small boot partition, obviously). As such, the Alternate Install CD is what I need to use.

I set up my current Debian Lenny system this way, and it's been working out great. I don't have any actual benchmarks, but I don't feel any kind of slowdown in normal desktop use due to the encrypted drive.

The peace of mind is worth it. This is a laptop, and the real "threat" isn't so much over the network but theft or loss of the actual hardware. This way it's just a cheap plastic brick if it falls into the wrong hands.

Jan 30, 2010
10:34 AM EDT
> You're gonna be vulnerable to info collection in some form, unless you connect through a secure VPN and not input any information.

Makes me wonder how makes enough money to function. They proport to keep no statistics, and act as a proxy for both searches and browsing.

I'm not a customer, just an experimental user and I've heard them touted in the "anon" kinds of fora.

Jan 30, 2010
8:22 PM EDT
TMX: Thank, useful suggestions, and I use none of them at the moment.

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