Canonical - the corporation behind popular Linux distribution Ubuntu - has agreed a deal which will see Yahoo! becoming the default search engine in future versions of its operating system in return for a share of advertising revenue.

The deal - as reported in an article over on CNet - is similar to the agreement between the Mozilla Foundation and Google, which sees Google used as the default search engine and homepage in Firefox in return for advertising revenue - revenue which makes up the vast majority of the Foundation's income.

It's this income which is somewhat threatened by Canonical's deal: the terms of the agreement mean that Ubuntu's customised version of Firefox, which is based on the open-source version produced by the Mozilla Foundation, will use Yahoo! as its default search engine - diverting money that would have gone to the Mozilla Foundation into Canonical's pockets instead.

Canonical's Rick Spencer has stated that the revenue brought in by the Yahoo! deal will "help Canonical to provide developers and resources to continue the open development of Ubuntu and the Ubuntu Platform."

The move doesn't lock other search providers out completely, of course: Firefox will still come with a selection of search engines built in, with the user given free choice over which to use - including the version of Google that will ensure revenue goes to the Mozilla Foundation. While traditionally many are reticent to change their default search engine - mostly out of apathy - Google has many adherents, and as it is usually the more technically-minded that use a Linux distribution on the desktop in the first place one of the major barriers to fiddling with defaults is removed. How many users will keep their search set to Yahoo! - and thus contribute to Canonical's coffers - remains to be seen.

Are you appalled that Canonical is using the Mozilla Foundation's only real source of income for its own ends, or is Canonical welcome to a share of the proceeds so long as it is spent in a way that benefits the open-source community as a whole? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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