2006-10-07

Another critique of "free" software zealots

This article announces a completely "free" browser named IceWeasel, derived from the Firefox code. This article points out some problems that distributions like Ubuntu and Debian have while distributing Firefox, and why Firefox might not actually be "free".

In my opinion, they present a skewed view of the matters, unfairly picturing the Mozilla corporation as a "bad guy". Quote from the 2nd article: "Though Debian and Debian-derived distributions such as the popular Ubuntu Linux currently include Mozilla Firefox, they do not typically include the actual Mozilla Firefox logo."

The question to ask is: WHY do they remove Firefox of its logo? What do they put instead? Logos have extreme importance in todays world, and can be actually said to sell products (look for example at Nike). What kind of ethics drives these "free" software developers? It seems that not only they want to own the code, they also seem to want to own corporate identity. And be able to remove it from programs at their will, possibly replacing it with their own. That's using hard work of another company to promote themselves. If this is kind of ethics that RMS and FSF stand for, their effort is better renamed to "slave" software.

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6 comments:

Dinko Korunic said...

I agree. Another browser fork for what? Logo and name stripping?! That is just bizarre and a bad move. Instead of making another useless clone with sooner or later outdated code they should have joined the original Firefox project.
Unfortunately that's the problem of Bazaar development, everyone makes his own copy with minimum improvement instead of contributing to the original.

Anonymous said...

You two should get a full picture:
Mozilla license prohibits event from patching the source code!

They say you must give patch upstream and then wait! And if you don't want to do that, the only option left is to fork the project and replace logo and name, becase they are registered as trademark!

That is the main reason Debian will create the fork, not the problem with the name.

zvrba said...

Requiring to send patches upstream is the only way to maintain a high-quality, uniform, stable, and coherent product. Otherwise someone might make bad-quality patches and put the original product into bad light, and eventually it's Mozilla who would be blamed for bad quality. I fully support such policy because it benefits me as an end-user the most.

Not even Linux accepts patches that are not "approved" (i.e. don't conform to some quality standards).

zvrba said...

Oh, and as I final comment, I believe that one of the reasons that Windows are so successfule is that it's not such a fragmented platform.

Forking of large, infrastructural projects (and web browser can be considered infrastructural for desktop today) will just confuse the users, fragment the user base, thus hurting users in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Debian does not represent the entire free software community, nor the FSF. Debian removes the Firefox logo for the same reason that it removes GFDL-covered documentation: because it's not free according to the guidelines they made up. If you don't like their guidelines, you're quite free to use another distribution that isn't as ideologically encumbered.

As for your fragmentation concerns, are you even aware that today's Firefox came into being by fragmenting off Mozilla? Why didn't you invoke the Windows logic then?

zvrba said...

Well, I _am_ using some unencumbered distribution. FF is a fork off Mozilla on technical grounds. This is a fork on ideological grounds and impatience. It has a different "feel".