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Egos and Stupidities….

By on October 17, 2006 in Mozilla

Yes, I know, I’m late to the game.. and out of practice at blogging these days. Just wanted to get my own opinion out, since self-expression makes me feel all fuzzy….
So, yay, now we apparently have Icedove and IceWeasel (which for the sake of being anal and annoying must have a capital W in it. otherwise, hey, somebody might not realize what they’re reading.) Sure, its completely free, as in freedom software. but then again, so is Bon Echo. (Firefox without the –enable-official-branding switch, you know, the thing Debian broke to make their problem worse).
The big problem here, isn’t trademarks or patches, its a battle of egos. Mozilla (the Corporation, enforcer of all things trademarked.) is certainly taking a hard line stance. (To use the Firefox name (and its logo) you must be releasing something that we can certify meets the quality of “Firefox”, which is an official designation for the software.) Other distros apparently do this successfully, but they aren’t concerned about protecting themselves from every straw-man and mythical big-bad corporation beast that’s (supposedly) determined to make their life harder.
Debian of course, is too good to have to ask permission for anything, or even make their patch set readable or answer straight questions about what the patches are they really are applying, avoiding it with (they came from bugzilla. and no more details about why.) and try to make it all about the evils of wanting patches included in something named Firefox approved.
I think its probably more about wanting to know why Debian builds with their included patchset, are far more buggy and cause users of them way more headaches than the Mozilla-released equivilent. Its those problems that led Mozilla to push Debian, to give details of those patches, or stop using the Firefox name, since it makes users think that Firefox itself, sucks, and not the distro provided packages.
So, let them rebrand IceWeasel, and include those patches, IceWeasel will of course suck as bad as the current Debian Fox builds do. Hopefully, somebody else will step-up and provide a base unbranded (or branded even, it shouldn’t be hard.) Bon Echo or Deer Park build for Debian distros so that its users, (who aren’t all FS zealots, i’m sure.) have an option to vote no to IceWeasel, and Ubuntu finds a better way independently of all this mess, like actually working with Mozilla and finding common ground and understanding. Instead of snobbish elitism and a nice big fork.
Oh, and the Mozilla side, should just let it go. If Debian wants to fork, let them, Firefox itself was a fork. As-is Flock, and Netscape 8. So what’s one more, ignoring the politics?
And yes, Stephen Colbert is in the Firefox 2 credits.. Policital play? PR move? Nah, just a joke.. (I don’t think its funny, but then again, I might if I actually /liked/ him.) Go find the name and tell your friends or something.
Oh yeah, Firefox 2 RC3 was released, go download it, poke at it and give feedback.

9 Reader Comments

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  1. Pete says:

    To me this seems like a natural problem of trademarking branding one something open source.
    It seems to me that Mozilla is the root cause of these problems. Here are the main points I see causing gridlock.
    * Debian releases stable distributions with long term support for security.
    * Mozilla offers no security updates on anything other than mainline.
    * Debian must manually backport and hand work security problems in the browser they use.
    * This breaks the terms of trademark use.
    To accept the “review” terms from Mozilla, Debian would be unable to release security fixes until Mozilla had approved. Based on previous experience, this would be crippling to Debian.
    Mozilla also breaks the usage of Firefox in any downstream distribution using the Debian packages. Therefore if Debian gets approval for a security fix, so must all other Debian derived distributions.
    It is insulting to think that Mozilla would find these terms acceptable to anyone. Debian has made the only possible move by rebranding.

  2. Wolf says:

    I’ve seen the “Mozilla won’t let Debian backport security fixes to old stable branch argument” elsewhere.. except. in the bug, Mike specifically brought up the option of allowing Debian to contribute those backported patches upstream to the 1.0.x branch, through the relevant channels, just like other distributions have done with Mozilla long-term stable branches (1.4, 1.7) in the past.
    My understanding is also, that approved patches are not distro specific, (i.e. Debian could use the approved patchset that Red Hat or Novell used.) so only the branding approval is required, not the patch approval.
    Why has Debian not published (in an easy to digest form) its patchset for Firefox?

  3. Most of it sounds like none of the parties hear what the other party is saying.
    From the Debian perspective, one cannot understand why firefox cannot be treated the same way open office or linux is.
    From the Mozilla perspective, one cannot understand why Debian cannot treat firefox the same way other Linux distribution does.
    And that’s all.
    I completely understand Debian not wanting to handle one package differently than the others. I think everybody recognizes that Debian’s strong point is package management. So let’s give them credit for it.
    I completely understand Mozilla to want to enforce some kind of management on the quality of programs having the name firefox. Everybody recognizes that Firefox strong point was user friendliness and quality. So let’s give them credit for it.
    Therefore both views cannot be reconcilled. Point. No need to make a fuss out of it.
    And I think Debian has a patchset for firefox. It’s here:;include=patch;arch=source
    Maybe not an archive or quilt set of files, but its not that bad. Somebody can probably automatically generate the set of patch from that system. If it is not already done. I don’t know I am just an external Debian & Firefox user.

  4. ant says:

    Those extra privacy features on that Gnuzilla page look pretty interesting. Shame Mozilla itself doesn’t innovate like that any more.

  5. Wolf says:

    Sounds like perfect space for a Firefox extension. I don’t think the average user actually can currently understand what those features are protecting them from, (or even moreso, how they’re harmful if allowed, since they’re, umm, not.) to bother users with more UI.
    Why should a user be prompted about a redirection when there’s much bigger threats to their browsing experience? Besides, they’ll become numb to the prompts anyway.
    Users just want the web to work(TM). Of course, breaking compatibility with websites is easy when you’re already going to be broken by every lame browser detection script alive.

  6. Jorge says:

    The Colbert Easter egg might be joke, but it might also prove to be a good marketing tactic. The Colbert Report has lots of geeky tendencies that stem from Colbert’s own geek-ness (new word?). If he finds out about this, it’s most likely going to make it to the show, and it’s a great way to get new people to try Firefox 2.

  7. Jed says:

    I hate this.
    First of all, the ‘Firefox’ brand issue is a no brainer. Debian can’t accept to use the logo, so that solves it.
    What I think sucks though is;
    1) How broken and sh*t the debian firefox/iceweasel builds are. I’ve never had a version of ‘firefox’ crash on me that often nor be incompatible with as many extensions.
    2) Debian’s Firefox is super super slow. Not sure why.
    3) The whole Debian patch mentallity is retarded.
    There is a reason WHY mozilla wants to approve patches, and even more so security patches. It’s naive to think that a company won’t want to review a patch to make sure that
    a) It doesn’t break anything
    b) It indeed is a proper security fix.
    I love Debian, and I love Mozilla/Gecko/Firefox, but the Firefox maintainers at Debian seem to be totally Anal about this.
    Hell even Ian Murdock thinks this is stupid.

  8. Jed: you should read Glandium post about the patches applied to Firefox in Debian:
    It also has comments about the possible reason for your crashes (different versions of libstdc++).