The problem with Zorin Search

Zorin search is the default homepage that comes shipped out of the box with Zorin OS. The link to it can be found here:
https://start.zorin.com/
Based on my experience I would say Zorin is a privacy respecting company, even going out of their way to disable telemetry that comes with their pre-installed apps(i.e. Firefox). It is also boldly stated on their front page. I and (I believe everyone in this community) respect their stance towards privacy.
But the default homepage and search engine are both Google. Zorin could be an amazing platform to introduce people to open-source, free, and privacy respecting software.
My first impression when I saw this page was that Zorin endorses Google which (for me as a user who was escaping those platforms) is not the best first-impression. I do not think that Zorin developers endorse Google or Google products and I think that this has been included for the sake of simplicity.
That's why I made this topic to shine some light on it and also present an alternative to the developers. SearX

SearX is a self-hosted metasearch engine. You can learn more about SearX at the link above. Not only it is free, open-source and privacy respecting, but most importantly it could be self hosted and branded as well. For instance the /e/ foundation hosts an instance of SearX with their branding for their users to use (Anyone can use it, but it is the default search engine on their platform).

https://spot.ecloud.global/
It is a self hosted SearX instance with the /e/ branding.
If Zorin decides to host a SearX instance of their own maybe even with their own branding it could have many benefits not only for the user but also for the Zorin branding as well.
Firstly, new users are introduced to a free, opensource software and their fear of open source software could dissipate. While for more veteran users it would build a reputable image of Zorin in user's head as they see they endorse these types of projects. And finally, it builds a small Zorin ecosystem for the users to stay in. Users love to have the option to stay in one unified ecosystem (Using Zorin OS + Zorin Connect + Zorin Search, ...).

I will tag @AZorin and @zorink so that this topic would come to their attention. I would also love to hear other community members' thoughts on this topic.

I switched back and force between Mint and Zorin. Mint also does a similar thing. Their default search engine is Yahoo and it takes more than one click to install some other engines including Google - which is OK with me since I stop using Google/Chrome/Chromium for some years now.

This default setting has never bothered me since I always change it immediately after the fresh install.

Yeah exactly, that brings me to a point that I briefly touched upon in the original post. It could turn from a thing that the users immediately change, to a thing that user would actively want to use.

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Interesting. Particularly as Zorin devs made a point to use DDG as search tool on the old forum archive.

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Mozilla, not Zorin OS, sets the default search engine to Google. Firefox is what it is, an excellent and powerful browser that has a longstanding marketing tie-in to Google search.

I haven't studied Mozilla licensing in this regard, but I would be surprised if Zorin OS could package Firefox with a different default search engine. It is a trivial task for users to change the default search engine and Firefox offers quite a number of search engines to toggle on or off. To me it isn't an issue.

Firefox is currently packaged in most mainstream distros -- MX Linux, Manjaro, EndeavourOS, Pop!_OS, Ubuntu, Debian, elementary, openSUSE, Solus, Zorin, et al. A few (Mint, Fedora, KDE Neon) still package Chromium, and Arch packages both Chromium and Firefox, but those distros are the exceptions, not the rule.

Zorin markets itself as a mainstream Linux alternative to Windows. It would be a mistake, in my opinion, to package a browser that is out of the Linux mainstream.

Maybe you should come at this from another direction, working to convince mainstream Linux browsers (Brave, Firefox, Vivaldi and so on) to include SearX as an included search engine along with the half-dozen others most now include, rather than trying to convince distro developers to abandon mainstream browsers.

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That's a very good point that I had not considered. I am not sure how much the pre-packaged Firefox can be altered by the devs.
But assuming that is the case, it still could be easily fixed by adding a tiny pop-up note to the Search engine website to add and set it as the default search engine (Similar to Duckduckgo/Qwant).

Are you sure about that? Currently I'm using the latest versions of Fedora and KDE Neon on two machines and they both came with Firefox out of the box. And in the time that I tested Mint out, I remember seeing Firefox... although my memory is a bit blurred on that and I could be mistaken. It is perhaps a new addition to these distros?

Yeah agreed and I am not arguing for that. Even though Mozilla has some very questionable ethics, Firefox is still better than Chrome and at the end of the day, Chromium/Chrome are google products and I do not endorse/recommend them.
That's why I suggested to replace the current Zorin search website (which just forwards queries to Google) with SearX.

You are right. I checked on DistroWatch and found that Fedora, KDE Neon and Mint package both Chromium and Firefox, as does Arch. Looks like Firefox is more ubiquitous than I thought.

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Zorin's "Start" page appears to be independent of the default set in Firefox, so it does look like Zorin could use a search engine other than Google.

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