Remove search engines and other Firefox, Chromium and Opera customizations on Linux Mint 14

Linux Mint LogoLinux Mint 14 has been released yesterday. From end users perspective Cinnamon environment looks and behaves beautifully, much better than Ubuntu 12.10 with it's Unity interface abomination. But if you leave end user stuff aside and take a look under the Linux Mint hood, there is high probability that you won't like what you find there. For the most part Linux Mint is using override system to run over Ubuntu files and apt triggers to override new files upon installing updates to Ubuntu packages of interest. This override system is also used to shove Linux Mint search engines and other revenue oriented browser customizations down your throat on every update of your favorite browser like Firefox, Chromium or Opera.

I understand that programmers must eat and I myself maintain several pieces of open source code. To force something on someone just to make money like Linux Mint is doing, this just isn't nice. In this article I'll show you how to remove search engines and other Firefox, Chromium and Opera customizations on Linux Mint 14. Procedure for cleaning Linux Mint override mess is relatively complicated due to fact that overriding apt package files is a stupid idea, and due to fact that it suites to Linux Mint that this procedure is complicated.

To remove overrides first we must completely remove packages in question, mint-artwork-common package and some other related packages. This will also remove mint-artwork-gnome package due to dependencies. In this article I'll show you how to fix Firefox package:

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sudo apt-get remove --purge mint-search-addon mint-stylish-addon mint-artwork-common firefox* xul-ext-ubufox
sudo rm -fR /usr/lib/firefox*

Then we should download and install my patched version of mint-artwork-common package that configures Linux Mint override system to leave our browsers settings alone.

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wget http://www.techytalk.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/mint-artwork-common_1.5.5ubuntu1_all.deb
sudo dpkg -i mint-artwork-common_1.5.5ubuntu1_all.deb

If Linux Mint guys release updated mint-artwork-common package and you install that update, things will go back to Linux Mint search engines and other browser customizations. I will try to update this package when that happens so you can update it from this post in the future, not using Linux Mint updater.

In the end we will bring mint-artwork-gnome package and Firefox back.

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sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends mint-artwork-gnome firefox firefox-gnome-support firefox-locale-en

Starting Firefox now should give you Firefox default search engines and settings instead of Linux Mint settings. If this isn't the case Linux Mint has polluted your .mozilla folder in your home directory. Linux Mint copies default .mozilla profile into every new user account home directory to push it's default bookmarks and settings. Again not cool. If you can afford to configure your Firefox settings and add-ons from scratch, you should export your Firefox bookmarks to file using Bookmarks Library and wipe your .mozilla directory to start fresh.

Procedure for other browsers like Chromium and Opera is similar (installing patched mint-artwork-common package part is identical) but might deviate. Since Firefox is Linux Mint default browser, Linux Mint guys have taken most time to override Firefox search engines and settings. Because of that fixing other browsers should be even easier then fixing Firefox. General idea is remove Chromium/Opera package to remove overrides and install again after you have installed patched mint-artwork-common package. Good luck!

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9 thoughts on “Remove search engines and other Firefox, Chromium and Opera customizations on Linux Mint 14

  1. Grant

    I agree with you that having Mint hack their browser is the most annoying thing. I would have been happy to stay minty otherwise. Ultimately, I removed all the mint packages, and switched repos to debian ‘testing’. And that was 18 months ago, been happy ever since.

    I know the project needs revenue, but hacking and crapifying the browser is not the way…

    Reply
    1. Marko Author

      Linux Mint has good thing going with Cinnamon, but I’ve never found it to be anything more than Ubuntu with some proprietary packages and malicious code preinstalled. I call it malicious because trying to remove Linux Mint browser customizations somewhat reminds me of removing homepage hijack spyware on other proprietary operating systems.

      Reply
  2. mom2twinzz

    I did all this just 2 days ago. When the update came down, I held back the package and the browser customizations returned. Too bad for mint, I am going elsewhere. I am now declaring Mint malwear as I can not remove the browser customizations that I do not want and it finds new ways to reinstall itself even after removal. I even installed Opera and Firefox direct from them and it was still there.

    Reply
  3. Orbmiser

    True it’s a bit annoying. But at least there is a simple solution. to add google as default search as an example and they show you how. And is just a few clicks to change to google default.

    Couple that with xmarks extension intalled first thing. Then have my xmarks bookmarks overwrite and discard default bookmarks on system.

    And I would think this would probably disappear if enough people donated a few bucks a couple times of year. I wonder how many spend $5 a day for that cuppchino. But think no biggy Not! giving $5,$10 or more for all their hard works. What 1 out of 100?

    Reply
    1. Marko Author

      I appreciate Mint mainly because of Cinnamon but you can get clean Cinnamon without Linux Mint. Let’s face it, Mint gets code from Ubuntu and Ubuntu from Debian right? Debian does over 80% of work , Ubuntu 10% and the rest is on hard working Mint developers. Why shouldn’t you donate to Debian or Ubuntu instead? And what would it look like if both Debian and Ubuntu implement same messy way of securing revenue, your desktop would look like circus. These things should be optional and easy to remove, that is the open source way. I think that forcing people on something belongs to proprietary operating systems and should stay there. Linux is all about options and modular approach.

      Reply
  4. Pete

    Request for updated patch for 1.8.7 Mint 17.2;

    I’m wondering if there is an “official” Mint way of undoing the intrusive search customisations by now? (I can’t find one)

    Would this package (mint-artwork-common_1.5.5ubuntu1_all.deb) still work for Mint 17.2 LTS, I see it’s on 1.8.7 now according to Synaptic on my system (September 9 , 2015)

    http://packages.linuxmint.com/pool/main/m/mint-artwork-common

    mint-artwork-common (1.8.7) rafaela
    I wish I could rebuild the package myself (even better, if Mint maintainer gives us an explicit option about Minty search / customisations) . I managed to find and rename a Firefox customisation directory somewhere and reinstall FF, but Firefox behaves strangely now (eg no right-click and copy link not working, search-box not working)

    Reply

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