About startpage: since it uses the google results instead of bing-crap (like all the other options) I think startpage is the only one that could be a candidate
That's not conspiracy, is basic "marketing" strategies, just like any enterprise on this monetary-based world is promoted / pushed to do
Don't compare apples with bananas, the OS is the full system your computer, the way and how you use it, the search engine is just an external service connected to a specific application on your operating system, it has no relation to your OS choice.
MS is shit in every sense and every thing that touches becomes rotten poop, their monopol is dangerous, everybody knows how bad is that and keyra can confirm this , and no, hating is not a good reason, I use linux because gives me thousands times more possibilities than M$hit, about tools, about customization, about resources, about fast way of work, about automation... only radical people would use linux instead of MS just because they hate MS but they probably don't even need a computer after all, i'm talking about the choice of the OS as a better alternative, usability, and possibilities, using linux (or let's say Elive) as the OS in your computer instead of MS is an entire difference in what your computer is, how you use it and what you can do with it. But in that sentence you are saying that we should not use google because we use elive, and this has no relation with the OS but is a personal choice, is the same as debating about using a different internet provider because the X company sucks, yes you use it with your computer but is an external service, just like the google search or other one, and the important is to let the user be able to select which one to use, some wants privacy-free ones or others like me prefer google due to its quality results, reliability etc, i'm also happy with this "profile tracking" system because the results are improved in the topics that im interested into (of course im talking about my own choice here).
But about the default setting, why is a so big problem if first: the user can select which one to use (just like many applications that has default settings and the user configures it), but also how needed is to change the default since:
When the browser is run in a first time, the default page (google) shows up, which is what everybody expects / used to have, in that moment, google is not tracking anything (new browser setup, new user, etc...). Since the moment that the user really uses the OS (like, installing on the HD), he setup the browser to have his user (which syncs passwords, bookmarks, settings, etc...) on that moment the default search engine / startup page changes to what the user has configured or wants to have, in all the cases the default page to "google" doesn't matter because in the first moment it doesn't tracks anything (yet), and in the second case the user switches automatically to what he has configured.
What im concerned about changing this default as said many times is that if you remove the google page, some users may feel strange / lost, remember that elive is perfectly usable for old or very-novice people, and showing them a strange / unknown page on the startup may lead to losing users, it is good to have that as an option perfectly selectable, even to promote it (not with an extra annoying popup, we have already too much), but having them as default for everybody i don't think is a good idea, since it is not what the majority wants, and also, the only people that wants that different is the ones that already knows how to change it (instead, the old or very-novice people has no idea or never though that this can be changed).
Privacy is an important and a wanted thing, of course (but maybe not for everybody), google search is only one part of the many privacy issues in the world, other things are needs to be changed too, so I think the first thing we should do to improve the privacy on Elive and let everybody enjoy it is to write a very well documented & complete howto, easy to understand, so that the user can follow a few steps to set his system fully privacy-compliant, we can even include a script tool in the OS & menus to enable privacy features on choice!, but changing this default for everybody I'm not yet convinced that is a good idea.
By other side, I think its much much dangerous the social medias by the 'mr. meta' monopoly (not only because of the monopoly but because their tracking are based in emotions, they profile you on what upsets you and what topics you will vote for), these social medias moves hate in the world, pushes political decisions very easily, and spread the world with official-fake news, I think the world should care much more about these than google, but then, how you can tell people to stop using facebook if everybody is dependent on that and have their families / friends connected from that?