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Linux Mint is reverting Firefox to Mozilla config after partnership signed

Having to switch from the new default of Google as search engine of choice and turning off telemetry likely to be biggest obstacles for users.
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Written by Chris Duckett on
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Mozilla and Linux Mint have signed a partnership that will see the Linux distribution dump its customisation of the web browser, in favour of rolling out the defaults chosen by Mozilla.

"In the past Linux Mint used its own default settings and configured Firefox in a specific way. Most of this configuration is abandoned to go back to Mozilla defaults," distribution founder Clement Lefebvre wrote.

Among the change will be the default start page no longer pointing to a page controlled by Mint; search engines switching from Linux Mint search partners including Yahoo and DuckDuckGo to Mozilla search partners including Google, Amazon, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Ebay; and patches from Mint upstream distributions Debian and Ubuntu being dropped.

The relationship between Mozilla and Mint is commercial and technical, with hopes that Mint users will be able to update the browser from within Firefox, similar to how Windows users do, rather than needing to use the distribution's package manager.

"For Mozilla, the goal is to make Firefox work the same way across all platforms to ease maintenance and simplify development and bug fixing. With these changes, Firefox will give the same experience in Linux Mint as it does in other operating systems," Lefebvre said.

"For us, this change means a tremendous simplification in terms of maintenance and development. We used to build Firefox ourselves using Ubuntu's packaging (which is set to be discontinued as Ubuntu is moving towards snap). We now package the Mozilla version of Firefox instead."

Lefebvre said any changes to default settings made by users will stay, but those relying on defaults would see changes. For instance, users that stuck with the default search engine from Mint -- one of Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, or Startpage -- will see their default switched to Google, while users that manually added one of the search engines will see it remain.

Similarly, despite Mint previously disabling telemetry, users will need to turn it off again.

"It's on by default in Mozilla's configuration but what's also on is a dialog requesting your review," Lefebvre said responding to a comment.

"Review your settings upon transitioning. There's only one transition. Firefox asks you to look at them anyway."

The transition is due to happen for Mint 19.x, 20.x, and Linux Mint Debian Edition when Mozilla releases Firefox 96 due this week. Once the change happens, the only search engine in Firefox to generate revenue for Mint will be Google. In other browsers, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, and Startpage will continue to pay Mint.

Lefebvre added Mint was seeing "slightly faster performance" with the changes.

Earlier this week, Mint 20.3 Una was released.

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