Firefox Google Plugin

If you’ve upgraded to Firefox 2.0.0.12 you probably noticed some changes in the results brought by searches from the top-right corner Google search plugin.

Basically:

– The result page shows a Linux Mint logo instead of a Google one.
– The layout of the page is a bit different (ads are on top instead of being on the right).
– There is no access to advanced Google features (account, cached links, similar pages..etc).

The reason it is different is because instead of using the default plugin we now distribute our own and take advantage of a Google Custom Search Engine. The reason it it is different from the default Google search is because Google doesn’t offer the same features to Custom search engines as it does when searching directly from google.com. The reason we changed from default google to a custom engine is because it generates a lot of revenue and this single plugin could potentially make Linux Mint into a company which actually hires full-time employees.

The highest single source of revenue for Linux Mint isn’t the donations, it isn’t ads on the website, it is the default start page in Firefox. This simple search plugin is estimated to generated from 2 to 40 times more money than the start page itself. If this proves to be the case we’ll be in a position to grow and to achieve things we never dreamed off before. At the moment Linux Mint is maintained by me on a 2.5 hours / day basis with the help of a team of volunteers who are paid nothing. The income is similar to a single small salary. With this plugin, and although you may not enjoy the same level of comfort as when searching with the default Google layout, you contribute to making Linux Mint grow and we should soon see the day where our distribution gets maintained by a team of people working full-time on it.

For most distributions the business model is to sell associated products (Powerpack, Enterprise Desktops, Server offers) or services (Professional Support..etc). Although this allows the distributions to hire full staff employees it also takes a lot of resources and most employees end up working on these associated services/products instead of focusing on the distribution itself. If we find a way to finance ourselves by clever little changes like this one we can grow into a medium sized company with full time employees working ONLY on the distribution itself. As you can see this is a very interesting perspective.

For people used to using Google Images we included a second search engine so that they could achieve the same things as before. For people used to cached links and used to access their google account there is a workaround and it is possible to revert to the default Firefox plugin. Of course this is a pity and we don’t encourage you to do that (since this is the best way you can contribute to Mint and it costs you nothing) but it’s your desktop, not ours, and we always believed you should have a choice. So if you really want to revert back to the default plugin, follow the steps below:

Go to https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3682
Install the addon and restart Firefox
Go to google http://www.google.com
Right click in google search bar and select “add to search bar”
Left-click arrow at left side of firefox search combo
Select “manage search engine”
You should find google at the bottom of the list
Move it to the top

By doing so your search results will use the original Google layout again (cached links, etc..) but hey everytime you make a search you could have made us grow at the same time.

It’s good to have a choice and it’s good to know why you’re going one direction or another. I’m sorry we rolled out this as an update without informing people. Hopefully this blog post will make things clearer and if you’ve been surprised by this new plugin you’ll now be able to understand how and why you want to keep it or change it back to the original plugin.

I’ll talk about Mint, as a Republic of Ireland registered company, in a separate blog post.

Clem.