Here is a bit of good news for all Linux Mint users. The team behind the popular distro signed an agreement with Mozilla. Now, Mint will ship Firefox without its customizations, which many users never liked.
Simply speaking, Firefox in Linux Mint will no longer have search engine restrictions, a custom home page, and so on. It will be have preferences similar to the official release of the browser.
Specially, the following has been changed.
- The default start page no longer points to https://www.linuxmint.com/start/
- The default search engines no longer include Linux Mint search partners (Yahoo, DuckDuckGo…) but Mozilla search partners (Google, Amazon, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Ebay…)
- The default configuration switches from Mint defaults to Mozilla defaults.
- Firefox no longer includes code changes or patches from Linux Mint, Debian or Ubuntu.
Sounds not bad.
The change is great for both sides of the agreement. Mozilla is getting the browser working the same way across all platforms to ease maintenance and simplify development and bug fixing. There will be no issues exclusive to Linux Mint.
The Linux Mint team will get a simplified maintenance and development process. Instead of building their own Firefox package based on what Ubuntu provides, they will now package the Mozilla version of the Firefox browser.
Certain settings, like manually added search engines will "survive" after your Linux Mint switches to the newer package of Firefox. However, it will reset your default search engine and set it to Google.
Speaking of Ubuntu, which severs as a base for Linux Mint, they are about to discontinue the classic DEB package for Firefox. In order to deliver browser updates faster and error-free, the Ubuntu team will soon go with a snap package for Firefox. The snap format reminds of how apps work on Mac and includes all app's dependencies and libs within the package. Ubuntu already ships Chromium exclusively as a snap app.
The Firefox transition to Mozilla settings is taking place with Firefox version 96, and it is planned for January 11th – January 12th. It will land in Linux Mint 19.x, 20.x and LMDE. In Linux Mint 20.3 the transition took place during the BETA with Firefox version 95. More details can be found in the official announcement.
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