Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
Open everything.

Open everything.

There has been some discussion lately about how to use our Firefox landing page, The search bar there right now defaults to a Google search, but aren’t there better ways to use this page?

One of the things we might want to do is to help seed a project like Wikia Search, which aims to do for search what Wikipedia has done for knowledge articles. Wikia aims to be fully free from top to bottom, including their algorithms and engines. In fact, they are using several widely available technologies like Lucene from the Apache foundation.

Part of wikia’s strategy is to enable users and community members to help crawl the web, sending results to wikia for indexing, again in an open, well-mannered, and well-audited way. Since people have started talking about a community grid built around the Fedora community (but hopefully open to clients of all sorts), how much would it rock for us to give people a choice to contribute to open search such as Wikia as part of installing their system? A LOT.


  1. Wikia could probably use the help, though given Wikipedia is already very profiltable already (for Jimmy Wales — something like $400k+/yr), I’d be inclined to just link to the search engine that is actually functional and use the Google revenue to fund Fedora infra.

    Keep in mind Mozilla makes nearly all their money on Google directs.

    Open search is great, but Wikia has a long way to go — and Fedora could use the money, I think, in lots of ways that we could also use to promote openness.

  2. @Michael:

    These are two different issues. I’m talking about using the search on the start.fp.o page, which, whether it hooks to Google or, nets us nothing in funds. That’s why I’d rather couple it with a Fedora MRG instance to create some actual content on Wikia’s behalf. (I think the relationship between Wikia and Wikipedia may not be what many people think: refer to // for more on that.)

    Changing the default search in the *toolbar* of Firefox is an entirely different issue — that’s where most of the value for Mozilla probably comes from, and their trademark usage policy doesn’t let us change that without also giving up the right to use the “Firefox” name and logo. I don’t think crossing that particular river is a worthwhile pursuit right now, but heck, the community could prove me wrong there.

  3. @Michael:

    What I’m trying to express is that we should be using Fedora to expand the capabilities of a clearly well-aligned all-FOSS project (Wikia). Putting wikia search on start.fp.o costs us nothing, gives them some mindshare, and at least exposes people to the idea of a community-powered search. Because people see start.fp.o when they install Fedora, they can see something about wikia and at least try the engine out.

    “RT+AMQP+Condor” would be a means to grow that project’s capabilities, appeal, and success as a FOSS project, and that’s a success story we can tell about Fedora and how we helped make it happen from an early stage. It would be great to see our firstboot process include a check box where people can indicate, “Yes, I’d like to help contribute to community search like wikia,” the same way they can enable hardware statistics gathering in smolt.

    This is just a way of doing something useful with an otherwise not very compelling search bar on start.fp.o, without messing about with the issue of Mozilla/Firefox trademarks.

  4. Yeah, agreed with growing FOSS.

    Disagreed with MRG — if you know what MRG is and how it works, it totally doesn’t fit in this context (IMHO). Would be glad to elaborate otherwise, but in the words of that guy from The Princess Bride, “MRG, You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means”. Never mind it’s interesting stuff, but it doesn’t make a Fedora magic compute grid, nor does a web page have much to do with it either. Advertising for interesting FOSS projects on the start page? Absolutely, heck yes, let’s do it. And MRG can be one of those.

    But should it be special or somehow related more to FPO? Probably not.

  5. Greg DeK

    Michael, read the mailing list post that Paul quotes. It’s my final report on Google — and the takeaway is that we *can’t* make a revenue deal with Google due to legal issues. Trust me — I went a *long* way down this road.

    So if we *can’t* make the big money, the question is, what are the *other* possible uses of that valuable search space? That’s the context for this whole discussion.

  6. @Michael:

    Yeah, I gotcha — really all I’m talking about is the “G” — or part of it anyway. I associate the acronym because of context around the people who were interested in making something happen in Fedora land. If we can build some energy around just that piece, it’s still a win for Fedora and for the open source ideals we all like to see rising in the marketplace. In any case, I think we’re basically in violent agreement.

  7. Nicu Buculei

    Then *why* have a start.fp.o which perform general purpose web searches?
    Is not like we don’t have Firefox as the default browser with a search box on the default layout. I think it does make much sense to have a search box there which would get result from (and only from) the Fedora websites (maybe *.fedoraproject org but it may also include things like,,

    If we want the search feature as a revenue source needed for some cool projects, then maybe some alternatives to Google could be considered (too bad that MS looks that set to purchase Yahoo).

  8. @Nicu:

    I think you’re missing part of the picture. There’s *no* revenue stream from the search bar that appears in the start.fp.o page. No one cares if we change it because of that very fact. The default search in the *toolbar* is where the money is made, and if we make a change to the default, we run afoul of Mozilla’s revenue stream, which is why they don’t allow people to use their trademarks if they change that default.

    Now as far as your Fedora-branded search in the start.fp.o page, that’s definitely an alternative. Everyone needs to separate that in their minds from revenue, because the two aren’t connected as things stand.

  9. Nicu Buculei

    IIRC, a *possible* revenue stream was the reason why start.fp.o was introduced.
    If this have not worked, then I would ask what is the purpose of having a start page? Is it the place where an user lands at the first browser run after an install? Then why not use the main fp.o page for that?

    And if we get a branded fedora search, I think it would be useful to have it on all the Fedora pages, not only on the special “start” page: for example most people will arrive on fp.o, some on them will not understand the layout (no matter how hard we work on that) and a little search box would be useful for them.

  10. @Nicu:

    Agree completely about having the branded search on all Fedora properties. The Websites group is the place to stump for that feature, since there was at least one current discussion going on about standardizing our CSS and appearances everywhere.

    I was careful to point out “as things stand” because revenue is entirely dependent on people creating a clickstream. If we have something compelling on start.fp.o, that may happen. Right now it doesn’t. But hey — why don’t we take this discussion off my blog and somewhere we can get other people interested, like f-websites-l? 🙂

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