Gnome is a long-standing desktop environment and user interface that is part of the GNU project and available for use in various Nix-like operating systems including Linux.
Gnome announced plans to switch its main web search engine from Google to DuckDuckGo recently. If you are a regular reader of Ghacks you know that DuckDuckGo is a new type of search engine that came to life in recent time. Instead of focusing solely on search and the user as a product, it aims to protect the privacy of users in several ways.
I do not want to rehash all that has been said already here many times, only this much. DuckDuckGo, and alternatives such as Startpage for that matter, do not put users in a bubble when they search. While some may like personalized search results, I prefer my results to be unbiased when I do research.
A basic example is the following: if a search engine like Google believes you are a Republican voter, you may get a different set of results than if it believed you to be a Democratic voter. While that may be really nice for you when all political searches support your views, it is very dangerous at the same time.
Several reasons are listed by the Gnome project why the switch has been made to DuckDuckGo:
- Privacy: Google, the previous default search engine, tracks users while DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information.
- Cooperation: The search engine shares a percentage of revenue that comes from Gnome users with the project.
- It works: A privacy focused search engine with bad results would not be a suitable candidate. According to tests made by project members, DuckDuckGo works well and has interesting features, like its !bang syntax, that many may appreciate.
It is clear that privacy has been the main focus of the decision, as the two other points fit search engines like Google or Bing as well.
The transition is for a time limited period only, after which it will be evaluated again. Gnome users who are already using a customized search engine have nothing to worry about, as they won't be affected by the change at all. Users who do not want to use DuckDuckGo can change the search engine easily to one they like to use.
According to the announcement, this change will affect Web from 3.1 and be released in September.