What has gone wrong with the Ubuntu startup page? it look of it has changed so far and in stead of Google being on the left it is on the right with Google custom search. I try to type something into it but it won't let me search. I want to keep it on that as a home page because I heard Canonical gets a little change when you search with the default homepage.
Just go to http://start.ubuntu.com/current/ and set it as your home page.
In Firefox: Edit/Preferences/General/ and click the 'Use current page' button.
Do you use Firefox 5 or later? Google doesn't provide it's Toolbar any longer, take a look at this entry. You could add the Ubuntu Startpage search to the search box of Firefox. Thus you are able to search directly without revisiting about:startpage.
I recommend to install the Firefox Addon Add to Search Bar. Then restart Firefox. Go to about:startpage, rightclick into the search field and choose "Add to Search Bar".
Then you can enter a custom name for that search, choose an icon and a keyword (optional).
The new search appears immediately in the search box. It uses the same settings/strings like the one on Ubuntus startpage.
I cannot recall a source for this off-hand, but I think I read that searching using the search box in Firefox also achieves the same effect. If you notice the search page URL after searching using the search bar, you'll find it adds 'ubuntu' as referral client.
Edit: I may be wrong about this. The search bar referral revenues could be going to Mozilla instead.