There are few Linux distributions that give these kinds of surprises and Manjaro is one of them. We are talking about changing the usual defaults , usually free software totems, for more debatable and even proprietary alternatives, as is the case at hand: Manjaro Cinnamon puts Vivaldi as the default web browser and although it is still an anecdote for the no importance of this particular flavor …
Indeed, it is a controversial decision for what it means: replacing free software with proprietary software, when it is not essential . As you know, it is very common for Linux distributions to include proprietary add-ons to offer the basic or desired functionality, that is, both so that certain hardware components work, and so that they do so with the best guarantees. This is usually done through drivers.
But it is also common for large Linux distros to facilitate the installation of popular proprietary applications, such as Steam, Spotify, VSCode or many others. What is quite unusual is to find a distribution that pre-installs some of these applications, much less one that replaces a free software application with a proprietary one, when the free one meets contracted quality requirements.
The reason why this is done is obvious: most of the large distributions aspire to offer only free software, but they put the user experience first and that is why they pre-install or facilitate the installation of proprietary software. They don’t do it for fun. And then there is Manjaro.
As you will remember, Manjaro already had its controversy with this matter a couple of years ago, when it closed an agreement with FreeOffice to include its office suite as a default option. FreeOffice is an interesting alternative to LibreOffice with better compatibility with Microsoft Office, but considering criteria such as quality and freedom, the change made no sense . Manjaro did it for money, but the scandal was such that they ended up backing down and leaving the user to choose what to use during the installation process.
Well, if the change from LibreOffice to FreeOffice was controversial, the change from Firefox to Vivaldi is no less so, given that it stumbles on the same stone: change free software for proprietary, when free software fulfills its function with all the guarantee. In fact, the case of Firefox is more bleeding, because unlike the plus that it supposes to offer better compatibility with Microsoft Office, with the browsers this advantage is not given.
In other words, it is true that Chromium-based browsers offer better performance than Firefox, and that their compatibility with Google sites may be better, but the change is not justified to the same degree. And not only that: unlike what happened with FreeOffice, Vivaldi has not paid anything -or they have not said it, although it does not seem the case- and the change is only given in Manjaro Cinnamon, one of the community editions of the distribution , and not in the official ones.
From what they have on the Vivaldi blog , where they have given this theme more importance than one might expect, Manjaro already offers Vivaldi in its repositories, in addition, with a custom theme included so that its integration with the desktop is optimal ; and now they take the step in Manjaro Cinnamon to make this the default option (in the comments of that article it is said that FerenOS was the first Linux distribution to put Vivaldi as the default browser).
What do you think of the news?
As a Vivaldi user, I don’t like it. If I want Vivaldi, I install it myself, but do not put proprietary software in the installation image unless it is essential, which it is not. And if you deny Firefox, what reasons are there a few to do so, go for a free alternative, such as Chromium or Brave. Yes, Vivaldi is very cool, it is reliable and such, but it is not open source and there are no valid excuses , no matter how much they think there are.