Rick Spencer of Canonical, which distributes the Ubuntu version of Linux, revealed that Canonical has formed a revenue-sharing deal with Yahoo, which will see Yahoo become the default search engine in the Mozilla Firefox browser in the upcoming 10.04 version (aka "Lucid Lynx") of the operating system.
Note that this won't in any way effect the ability of a user to choose and use the search provider of their choice. It's literally 2 easily discoverable clicks to change this setting, a simple matter of switching to that search provider in the chrome by clicking on the icon and choosing the desired provider. Note also that Yahoo! does not share any personally identifiable or usage information.
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.
The move is an interesting one for both Canonical and Yahoo. Yahoo needs to do whatever it can to gain search market share, and Ubuntu is a popular version of Linux.
"Canonical is unusual among major commercial Linux distributors in the sense that it doesn't sell an 'enterprise' or 'pro' version of its software," notes Ars Technica author Ryan Paul. "In an effort to make this approach sustainable, Canonical is experimenting with a number of different business models, including commercial support for end users, subscription-based Web services, and integration support for hardware makers. In the announcement about the search engine change, Spencer says that Canonical's partnership with Yahoo will help to fund the ongoing development of the distribution."
Terms of the deal between Canoncial and Yahoo were not made available. Meanwhile, the search and advertising deal between Microsoft and Yahoo is still pending. The effects of that on Yahoo's market share remain to be seen.