Way back when, before Google got into the software biz with stuff like Android and Chrome, Firefox cut a deal with the ad-agency-masquerading-as-a-search-engine which probably made Mozilla’s browser the most well funded open source project outside of Linux. The deal — simply to make Google the default search engine in Firefox — was a no brainer, not only for Google and Mozilla but also for the browser’s user base, as most users would most likely choose Google anyway, since Google then, like today, was overwhelmingly the most used search engine in the solar system.
The deal created a river of money flowing into Mozilla’s coffers — $138 million in 2011 alone — allowing rapid development of Firefox, proper maintenance of Thunderbird and Bugzilla, and the creation of Firefox OS. Although there was a bit of grumbling from some FOSSers who would’ve preferred a default search engine that was more respectful of user privacy rights, the deal was generally seen as a good thing for the free and open source community.
Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux