Revisiting Linux Mint: Google dustup

Linux mint has worked pretty well for me over the past couple of months.   Linux Mint 12 is perhaps a more graceful step into the world of Gnome 3 than the jolting encounter with Unity in Ubuntu.

Now, however, Linux Mint has taken an unacceptable turn: the firefox search box has been rebranded with a Mint page that generates income for Mint, at a cost in my workflow that is unacceptable.   The willy-nilly changes in user interfaces has been a huge roadblock that has been encountered from time to time over my 18 years or so of using GNU/Linux.

Just as one fine tunes his work flow a new wrinkle is encountered—sliding eventually down a slippery slope toward more reliance on GUIs and ease of use, at the expense of the greatness / efficiency of GNU/Linux overall.   Gnome, for example, leaves much to be desired; however, there is a certain facility and beauty, not to mention ease of use, that has led me to a perhaps unhealthy dependency on.  I have developed workflows for various projects based on my reliance upon Gnome, for example.

From time to time, the work flow has been broken.  Oftentimes, it is me myself and I who initiate this disruption, looking for a better experience from, perhaps, KDE, or Fluxbox, or other “window managers.”   I recognise the “window manager” infrastructure has clung far to closely upon the Windoze model.   That “start” button was masterfully commented upon by Andy Rooney.   I can hardly express my disdain for Windoze.  So I won’t waste more of my time on it.

In recent years, KDE, and most particularly, KDE 4, have been the chief competition for Gnome in my mind.   What brings me back to Gnome is my habits, and how easily I can personally do the things I need to do within that kludge space.   What happens to me with something like Gnome 3 is utter disruption of my life.   I cannot handle it.  I won’t do it.

What does that leave me?  For now, I have Mint 12, that enables my work flow to closely adhere to that I have used for so long with Gnome 2, with a hybrid interface to Gnome 3 that enables me to use the panels that I rely up.  Panels are crucial for me.   Mint, however, has taken a turn that has marooned me, once again, in an unfamiliar world in my trusted Firefox browser.

Mint has obfuscated the search box with an insidiously proprietary “branding” page that excludes google search, in an attempt to extort/squeeze/blackmail Google into moving with Mint’s business model.  Harkening, in a most insidious manner to the days of shareware, and the new “app store” models that threaten our very lives.

At first I have tried to sidestep Mint’s jijacking of the search box, following some recipes found “online.”   They didn’t work, or worked cursorily, and I haven’t the interest in following it up any longer.  I am a blue blood.  I would rather jump ship than conform to a process that foils my ability to get things done.

Linux Mint, I quit.   I am now installing Gentoo on a spare partition or two.   Who knows what windows manager I will or will not use?   In the interest of clarifying (at least for myself) what this google embargo of Mint has done to harm me, here’s a short list of what I’ve noticed:

  1. Google is not available as a search engine, out of the box.
  2. Duckduckgo is the new standard (huh?)
  3. It is possible, with a good deal of trouble, to circumvent this, and get google installed as a search engine in the box.   I discovered at least two or three different ways to do this.
  4. Wait until you use Google Scholar!
  5. This is the kicker for me, the reason I quit Linux Mint: I cannot edit preferences for google scholar to enable bibtex citation output.   This is unacceptable.

This is just another case of the butterfly effect.  I will rename this Mint installation as “butterfly” and it will fly away.



About lngndvs

I am a teacher / biologist with eclectic interests.
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