Is Ubuntu Ditching Firefox?

Brad Chacos

You know that cute old couple down the street, the two that have been married since before your parents were born? Firefox and Ubuntu are kind of like that. It's hard to remember a time when you could find one without the other. But are the browser and the operating system experiencing irreconcilable differences? Any conservative radio host can tell you that the divorce rate is sky-high in America, and the Ubuntu team's considering tossing Firefox to the curb and chasing some hot young Chrome tail.

The whiff of discontent comes courtesy of a Network World interview with Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth. During the interview, Canonical said that the Ubuntu team considered making the switch with the next release of the operating system, and "it's a real possibility" that Chrome may displace Firefox in the future. For now, Firefox will be included in the upcoming Ubuntu 11.10 release. "That probably keeps us on Firefox for another year, at least, and we'll see from there," Shuttleworth said.

If the rest of the interview's any indication, the future of Firefox on Ubuntu doesn't look very bright. Shuttleworth spent a large chunk of the interview talking about Chrome and how awesome it is, especially in the Linux environment. Google's browser has been developed from the ground up to include Linux support – Chrome OS is a Linux variant – and Shuttleworth says that focus makes Chrome a performance powerhouse on the open-source operating system.

Would it be a welcome change? There was a mini-furor when Ubuntu switched from Gnome to the Unity desktop a little while back. Could two major changes in such a short time drive upset Ubuntu fanatics in the arms of other distros?

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