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IceWeasel — Why Closed Source Wins

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the some-say-the-world-will-end-in-fire dept.

551

engtech writes, "There's been some hype about the Debian fork of FireFox called IceWeasel. Politics aside, this is a bad idea because it fragments the user base, divides the focus, and opens the path for Microsoft and Internet Explorer 7 to regain marketshare."

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551 comments

Seamonkey (5, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414169)

Just like how Firefox fragmented the Mozilla userbase?

Re:Seamonkey (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414269)

Linux users talking about fragmentation? Never heard of that before. Anyway, I'm off to distrowatch to download my 643rd distro. See you guys later.

Re:Seamonkey (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414331)

But Firefox is installable on a ton of platforms.

Ice Weasel sounds like it will be only installable on Debian, perhaps Debian-descended platforms like Ubuntu. Of course, since it's open source, anyone can port it to other platforms, I suppose. But why bother, all Ice Weasel is, is Firefox devoid of any nonfree trademarked art. And any updates to Firefox will be bought to Iceweasel.

But there are already other variations of Firefox, like Swiftfox. Firefox will be the main flavor for a long time.

The only way a fracture in the community will happen is if the releases are not compatible with each other, but the projects don't sound like they will develop on their own, but always staying with the main branch of Firefox. They can't really afford not to.

Re:Seamonkey (1)

BKX (5066) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414471)

Port? Debian is Linux. I see no reason for it not to run on any other Linux of similar Glibc (in other works, practically all of them since three years ago.). Shit, I run software "for Redhat" and "for Debian" all the time on my Gentoo system and have never had any problems. (In case you wonder, the printer and scanner drivers for my Brother MFC-7420 are "for debian". I extracted them using Knoppix disc and copied them to my Gentoo box. My Counter-Strike Source dedicated server is "for redhat", as is VMWare-Server, but they work fine.)

If you were just talking about it only being in .deb and source form, don't forget that all major distros include and package format converter/installer that'll have no troubles installing a .deb, and they all have the libraries and compilers necessary to do it from source.

more... (1)

hummassa (157160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414551)

people forget that, beyond all that, many commercial distros do NOT distribute the "blessed" mozilla, but something called "Web Browser" or somesuch...

Re:Seamonkey (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414645)

In the vaugely related light of compatibility:

You people and your directly connected printers. Anything between ASCII and PS/PCL is just asking for trouble IMHO.

Save yourself some headaches and spend an extra $75 to get the exact same printer you already own except with a PS engine and a network interface. It will work with all your computers without any extra software. Heck, you don't even have to download the PPD except to use the fancier features.

Re:Seamonkey (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414691)

i agree.. network everything.. but to be honest. if they are buying a "Brother" then well.. they more than likly only paid 75$ for it..

Re:Seamonkey (1, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414609)

Ice Weasel sounds like it will be only installable on Debian, perhaps Debian-descended platforms like Ubuntu. Of course, since it's open source, anyone can port it to other platforms, I suppose. But why bother, all Ice Weasel is, is Firefox devoid of any nonfree trademarked art. And any updates to Firefox will be bought to Iceweasel.

Then, if everyone is so fucking concerned with "unity" in the userbase stop using vi, vim, Emacs, pico, nano, joe, and echo and instead just come up with a standard editor and use just that. Fuck, all those editors are installable on a bunch of different platforms. All these different text editors are just fragmenting the userbase just because of differences of opinion in some small part of the program.

Or, the best solution would be for the Firefox folks (if they were so concerned with "unity" in the userbase) to just get rid of the questionable graphics so that everyone could run Firefox and defeat the big bad IE monster!

Oh and down with those assholes that use lynx, w3m, Opera, Netscape, and Mozilla. They ruin the Internet.

Err (5, Insightful)

republican gourd (879711) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414173)

Exactly *how*, is Microsoft going to capitalize on a fracture of Firefox... within *Debian*? This doesn't touch the userbase that is competing with IE etc whatsoever.

Re:Err (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414227)

Basically I guess it would allow them to play more numbers games with webstats, which are pretty meaningless as recent slashdot stories have demonstrated. Furthermore, we are talking a small percentage of a small percentage, I doubt it will have any longlasting effects.

Re:Err (1)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414473)

Does Iceweasel even send a different UserAgent string? I thought the only alteration was to remove the trademarked portions of FF, and I presume no one was asinine enough to trademark the user agent ...

Re:Err (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414651)

"The Mozilla trademarks include, among others, the names Mozilla®, mozilla.org®, Firefox® [mozilla.org], Thunderbird(TM), Bugzilla(TM), Camino®, Sunbird(TM) and Seamonkey(TM), as well as the Mozilla logo, Firefox logo, Thunderbird logo and the red lizard logo."

The policy says that if you change it, you can't use their name or logos, so I would guess new agent.

Debian marketshare = ??? (1)

richdun (672214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414175)

Honestly, is IE7 going to make up that much marketshare just because Debian users start using a different browser? Just because there's another option for one small tiny part of the population doesn't mean a great mass are going to be affected.

Re:Debian marketshare = ??? (2, Insightful)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414265)

Indeed, this isn't even like all Linux users are being forced to move, it's still the default on Fedora and Ubuntu (I think)... Not only that but Debian, at least the last time I heard, wasn't going to create something completely different, they just wanted a different name and logos - I bet most of the code would be the same.

Re:Debian marketshare = ??? (4, Funny)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414381)

Hey those what 10,000 debian desktop machines will really mess things up for Firefox.
I am a Linux user but let us all get a grip. Firefox on Linux is a tiny blip... Firefox on windows is where what scares Microsoft.
Even then Suse, Fedora, Gentoo, Ubuntu, and Linspire all use Firefox.
So I would rate this news as two yawns and a stretch.

it's bad either way (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414181)

Either it's forked with a new name, or the Mozilla foundation has to deal with a version that's significantly diverged from the original, with its own bugs and issues. Perhaps Debian could live with using the mainline codebase, and contributing patches to Mozilla rather than going out on its own?

Re:it's bad either way (5, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414295)

Debian's goals are to quickly patch security problems, and to backport fixes to versions declared stable for the benefit of their users.

Both these goals a) good, useful, helpful, and worthwhile, and b) in conflict with the wishes of the Mozilla Corporation.

Perhaps Mozilla could give a little here, instead of Debian. Hmm?

Re:it's bad either way (2, Insightful)

perlchild (582235) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414371)

I am quoting from memory, but here's the situation in a nutshell:
That's been tried, the core of the issue was that Mozilla included non-free(as per Debian's DFSG) images along with Firefox, presenting Debian with the two following options:
1) Not distributing Firefox
2) Finding a way to distribute Firefox without the offending image

They picked two, which caused the uproar, which caused the request from Mozilla not to use the Firefox name if the non-free images weren't there. Debian said "We'll fork and use a new name".

Re:it's bad either way (2, Interesting)

Trifthen (40989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414465)

That's what I was wondering. We're talking about Debian here, easily the slowest releasing distribution in the Linux world. Are they saying they can't submit patches to the Mozilla foundation so Mozilla can check the fixes for bugs or come up with a better patch, because they can't wait that long? Sure, Firefox is open source, but what Debian is distributing is not Firefox. It's somewhat sad Debian had to react in a petulant manner and come up with a childish reactionary name like "IceWeasel." I seem to remember them forcing vendors to remove "Debian" from their name, too...

why childish? (1)

hummassa (157160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414643)

as a non-native-English-speaker, I'm losing something but why is "ice-weasel" a more childish name than "fire-fox"? could someone explain it to me as if I'm a 4-year-old, because I'm stunned?

Re:it's bad either way (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414657)

Debian releases are slow. Debian security patches are lightning fast.

Re:it's bad either way (4, Insightful)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414575)

As I understand it Debian does contribute patches back to Mozilla. But Debian wants to backport security fixes to versions of Firefox that Moz. Foundation no longer supports. I'm pretty sure this is true.

As I understand it Mozilla used to let them call these versions "Debian Firefox" but now they don't anymore. I'm not entirely sure this is quite right. Also there's a DFSG issue that I don't remember the details of.

Mozilla Foundation doesn't have to "deal with" Iceweasel at all, except to respond to all of this publicity. This looks "big-picture bad" to some people but to Debian keeping the stable branch secure is more important than Firefox advocacy. In other words, the "small-picture" disagreements that made this happen are actually the big picture.

For most users there's not much of a reason to use package management for a program like Firefox. It's frequently-updated and for most people frequently-used, and it has an auto-update system if you use the official binaries. People will usually want the updated version. For people that have a good reason to stick with a really old version, or who don't use the browser enough to keep it updated independently of other software Iceweasel gives them their security backports. And I can understand why MoFo wouldn't want their trademark applied to software that's maintained by Debian.

Missing the point... (5, Informative)

roster238 (969495) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414183)

The point of open source software is to allow users the freedom to modify the code to meet their needs. If you restrict users to one single unmodified browser for the sake of unity then we have met the enemy and he is us.

Re:Missing the point... Yourself (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414407)

The Mozilla Foundation doesn't have a problem with Debian modifying FireFox. What they have a problem with is Debian modifying FireFox fairly significantly, yet continuing to call the product "FireFox". FireFox(tm) is a specific codebase, maintained by the Mozilla Foundation. I think they have every right to ask Debian to rename their fork, so that end users are not confused, thinking that bugs in Iceweasel are general FireFox bugs (in some cases, they may be, in other cases, not).

I don't see anything wrong with asking someone who forks your codebase to use a different name to avoid confusion. What's the problem with that?

Plus, there is this thing about Trademark law. If you don't actively police it, you can lose the right to the mark.

wait... what was the point? (1)

teh_chrizzle (963897) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414667)

i thought open source was all about being cooler than people that use software from microsoft and laughing at them when new vulnerabilities are annouonced... or was that why we all love macs?

Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414189)

It's true. Because some lamer says so on his blog, then sumbits it to slashdot to increase his ad-hits.

WHEN did closed source win ? huh ? (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414195)

Nobody have warned me as such ? When did that happen ?

Re:WHEN did closed source win ? huh ? (1)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414443)

It happened when Firefox became mainstream. According to geek rule A45-124.7 Firefox must now be considered evil.

Re:WHEN did closed source win ? huh ? (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414611)

It happened when Firefox became mainstream. According to geek rule A45-124.7 Firefox must now be considered evil.

Actually, you may have a point there. But it's not just geeks. It's any counterculture. Look at indie music -- once an unknown band becomes a mainstream hit, suddenly they've sold out and are beneath contempt.

Some subsets of our culture have an attitude that quality is inversely proportional to popularity. Others have the opposite tendency.

THE MOMENT YOUR POS OSS WAS BORN (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414629)

Open source software was, is and always will be inferior.

Linux is shit.

You are a failure.

My Thoughts on the Issue (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414199)

My first reaction to this entire situation is that, it's more complicated than it looks. On one hand, Mozilla doesn't want binaries being redistributed that they didn't build themselves. On the other hand, Debian wants to be able to handle source patches of their entire source tree. The result is that you get two competing ideals, both seemingly valid, creating this bit of a mess.

After stepping back for a moment, however, I realized that the problem isn't as complex as it seems. In fact, I think it highlights something I've been saying for a while: Package systems under Linux are a broken concept.

When I was working on the Linux Desktop Distribution of the Future [intelligentblogger.com] article, I received quite a bit of criticism for calling the package management systems a major source of breakage. In the follow-up [intelligentblogger.com], I was forced to point out that complete system packaging creates a massive, monolithic code base:

There is no way to fully test a package repository. Since every package modifies the base system, the only way to prove that a package will work is to test it against every possible package configuration available! In case you're wondering, the math for that is P * P, where P is the number of packages available. A mere 100 packages could potentially result in 10,000 available configurations! That's a lot of potential for breakage! Now consider that most distros today have thousands of packages under their care, and the number is not declining.

Minor Correction: Reader Bradley Momberger has correctly pointed out that my math was a little screwy on this one. The correct forumla for the number of combinations is 2^P, which is actually quite a bit worse. 100 packages yields 1.26e30 possible combinations!


What we're seeing here is a legal extension of that same problem. By integrating the software into the codebase, Debian is attempting to take legal responsibility for the software. Yet the software provider (Mozilla) is already handling that responsibiity, and does not wish to give it up. On any other operating system, the binaries would get bundled (or not at all, if they're too untrustworthy) as a self-contained application, and the software provider would be allowed to continue handling updates. End of story.

In this case, Debian wants this software to be managed like all the other software they manage. Which means that taking responsibility becomes easier for them, rather than allowing the software producer to handle their own software. While this theoretically allows for a more cohesive system, that cohesiveness only goes as far as the packages checked into Debian's repository. Mozilla should be outside of that repository, but any software that's not in the repository is not well supported by the packaging system. Ergo, the process breaks down.

That's just my thoughts, anyway. I'm sure many will disagree. Loudly. And rudely. Oh well. :P

Re:My Thoughts on the Issue (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414455)

Debian is attempting to take legal responsibility for the software. Yet the software provider (Mozilla) is already handling that responsibiity

There is no "legal responsibility" here. Mozilla is trying to protect a trademark, and by extension, a brand. The brand and the recognition it carries is worth much more than any of their products - even more so because in this case the software is not sold. Debian has its inflexible Covenant of Freeness that considers any type of compromise to be a death sentence.

The licenses under which these two "things" are released explicitly state that the originator has no liability, just like - wait for it - commercial licenses. There is no "legal" issue here other than Mozilla's desire to make a buck and that desire crashing with Debian's apparent zeal in preventing everyone from making one as well.

So's not to disappoint (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414481)

YOUR FATHER IS A HAMSTER AND YOUR MOTHER SMELLS OF ELDERBERRIES!

Go away or I shall taunt you once more.

Yes that truly is the lamest filter. I feel like a spam author avoiding those tricksy Bayesian filters.

Distros are response to configuration problems. (3, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414485)

I agree with you.

However, I'm not sure that people haven't at least realized some of the underlying concepts behind your point before. The complexity of packaging systems is what leads to specialization in distros.

It's possible to take Debian and install packages on it, and make almost anything you want. A PVR machine, a digital audio workstation, a web server, a firewall, whatever. You can do it (and frankly, it probably works well in all of those roles, because they're fairly well-tested).

But rather than doing that, lots of people who want a machine in a particular role, don't just get "Linux" and then install a lot of packages on it, but get a particular, preconfigured distribution that already has a lot of packages installed and tested, and uses that.

The diversity of distros is basically an attempt to take the huge number of possible configurations possible with Linux and its ecosystem of packages, and produce a smaller number of well-tested configurations. So rather than building your own digital audio workstation, you get a digital-audio-workstaion distribution that already has everything rolled together. It's convenient, and it's less likely to have bugs.

So while I think that the diversity of packages is a source of possible conflicts because of the huge number of possible configurations, I don't think it's a totally insurmountable problem.

Re:My Thoughts on the Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414489)

By integrating the software into the codebase, Debian is attempting to take legal responsibility for the software.

All debian wants is for it to work with their font manager and their directory layout, amongst other things. I don't see where this turns into "taking legal responsibility" for it.

Re:My Thoughts on the Issue (1)

dmartin (235398) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414613)

Since every package modifies the base system, the only way to prove that a package will work is to test it against every possible package configuration available! In case you're wondering, the math for that is P * P, where P is the number of packages available. A mere 100 packages could potentially result in 10,000 available configurations!

It is worse than a possible P*P = P^2 number of combinations. Each package can either be there, or not. You can represent this as a P-digit binary number, where the i-th digit tells you if the i-th pacakge is installed or not. For example, for only three packages you can represent a combination as 011 (not package 1, but both packages 2 & 3). The total number of such combinations is 2^P, or in the case of three packages this is 8 possible configurations!

For the 100 packages you were mentioning this is approximately 10^30 possible configs.

(The P^2 gives you close to the right answer if the question is "how many configurations are there if I install 2 packages from these 100". The answer is then P(P-1)/2, which is roughly a factor of 2 out from P^2 for large P)

Re:My Thoughts on the Issue (2, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414665)

I'm afraid that your point "it's not possible to fully test a package repository" is simplistic.

It's not even theoretically possible to fully test an individual program in the time you would have to do so - the complexity limit is that low. This has spurred the development of functional programming, as the only programming paradigm that has a hope of mathematical verification in a reasonable amount of time, but that has not reached the point of practicality for most development.

A package repository is a collection of programs, generally without much interaction between them except for dependencies. The fact that they are in a single repository does not increase their complication.

Indeed, multiple repositories make the problem worse because the dependencies can get out of phase. The few things that you can test with a single repository, that all of the programs install correctly without missing dependencies and collission between packages, go out the window once there are multiple repositories. Just look at all of the problems people have installing packages in Red Hat or Fedora from an unofficial repository. Those things go out of phase with every release.

The problem is that Firefox isn't even Open Source until you change the name, because they use trademark law to prohibit the distribution of modified versions. Obviously, they're going overboard, and should establish a trust relationship with the Debian packagers. This hasn't anything to do with repositories.

Bruce

When did this become advertise my crappy blog-dot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414211)

So, some dumbass thinks that debian trying to avoid being sued is going to help IE? Based on his complete lack of understanding of the situation? And we want to advertise he stupid blog with his stupid opinion why exactly? How much does it cost to get whatever crap I want on the front page, and who do I have to contact?

Summary has it all wrong... (1)

benzzene (755902) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414217)

With two versions of Firefox there will be twice as many opportunities not to use IE. The Open Source market share will double.

Ummm (4, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414229)

How does this make Debian users use IE?

Re:Ummm (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414405)

That should have been the first and last comment in this whole stupid friken topic/article.

Paradox of Choice (3, Interesting)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414231)

The article brings up an interesting question: to what extent does having multiple choices "split the vote" (as the article put it)? Let's take two scenarios:

  1. Choose between IE and Firefox.
  2. Choose between IE, Firefox, Opera, IceWeasel, and Flock.

Is someone more likely to choose IE in scenario 2 than scenario 1?

Possibly yes, if the paradox of choice [slashdot.org] holds true. If the number of options paralyze your decision, you'll be more likely to stick with the status quo... which for Windows users means Internet Explorer."

Should proponents of alternative browsers pick one to rally behind? If so, should it be Firefox? Would it be worth voting third-party (so to speak), but pooling resources to campaign for the lead challenger?

typo (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414363)

s/IceWeasel/K-Meleon/ in the example scenario. The point isn't IceWeasel, the point is the number of options.

Wrong (4, Interesting)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414247)

I might be mistaken here but the whole stupid "Iceweasel" thing is exclusive to Debian. The author's contention that this will "hurt" adoption of "open source" because choice is confusing to end users might by correct in some instances but would a Windows version of Iceweasel ever see the light of day? I don't think the Debian "you're not free enough for us" hacks will also create a "more free" port of Iceweasel that runs on Windows. I can't see that happening.

No, the problem will be relegated to people who use Linux, and more specifically, Debian and derivatives (I guess). Issues with extensions and themes not working for whatever reasons and so on are possible, I suppose, but people who use Firefox on other platforms wouldn't even see Iceweasel at all.

Re:Wrong (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414593)

TFA basically admits your point:
Is this a real issue? Not if it stays within the Linux community.

So long as there is no IceWeasel for Windows to detract from Firefox, it's all good.

P.S. -- Attention Debian, please tell your weasel to stop humping my leg. [wordpress.com]

marketshare? (5, Insightful)

teslar (706653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414257)

and opens the path for Microsoft and Internet Explorer 7 to regain marketshare
Pray, do tell me again, what exactly is the current marketshare of IE7 on debian?

Stupid Stupid Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414259)

This whole argument is stupid. Firefox isn't going to lose market share or open the way for IE7 by being forked. The only people who will use IceWeasel are LINUX users. LINUX users aren't the target for IE7 (as they can't run it) and quite frankly, aren't a large enough demographic for anyone to care. I highly doubt IceWeasel is going to go out of their way to get people running windows to switch. It will be used by those who have Debian and Debian derivitives and perhaps some idealists. This whole debate is perhaps the stupidest shit I've read in years, and it's been everywhere.

To sum up: IceWeasel is a Debian thing. Debian isn't targetting Windows. IE7 is Windows only. Firefox will not lose anything in the Windows environment because of this. People who use Linux probably use a multitude of browsers anyway.

Can we kill this fucking story already? Seriously?

No fragmentation here. (2, Funny)

hondamankev (1000186) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414281)

People who run a linux desktop, likely dont use debian anyway. The few (thousand?) who DO, prefer lynx.

mein vord (2, Insightful)

WisC (963341) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414283)

mein vord indeed, i switch on slashdot and what do i see? not the usual Crack smoking open source fetishism, not the usual don't trust the big evil corporation, none of the usual shet eating and anal streching. I have to take a reality check, an article that advocates closed source, WOW!

Not exactly related, but... (5, Funny)

suparjerk (784861) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414289)

That is a disturbing logo.

Re:Not exactly related, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414529)

That can't possibly be correct! What is that weasel doing to that poor sphere?!

I guess that's what we should expect from the creators of Woody [debian.org]...

Actually... (1)

theshibboleth (968645) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414291)

This should be a good thing for those who want to see free software gain market share. Flock, IceWeasel, and all the other free browsers appeal to different people. Even if Firefox's user base shrinks a little, there will be a net increase of users of free software.

Oh Please (1)

Retardican (1006101) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414297)

No it doesn't. Forking for freedom has never had long term negative effects on the survival or decrease in usage of the software. Usually forking ends up growing the market, as new forks are embraced by new groups (netscape, OpenBSD, Xorg, etc etc).

This article should be labeled "-1 troll". It's almost as bad as asking "GWB, a good president, or a great president".

Reality called... (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414301)

"and opens the path for Microsoft and Internet Explorer 7 to regain marketshare."

Yeah, I'm sure all those dedicated Debian users are going to have a huge impact on browser use numbers. If they all switch over to IceWeasel, IE 7 might pick up two, even three hundredths of a percent. That would definitely spell the end for Firefox.

Isn't this a strength of open source? (1)

randomErr (172078) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414305)

OpenWeasel fills a niche that isn't being address in some developers'mind. If they have any sucess they can back port the cool new features into Firefox. Otherwise a better product will come out we'll flock to it. How many people still use Cello or Mosaic as a browser? Not many. They've moved on becuase some one else moved onto to build a better product.

IceWeasel... (-1, Flamebait)

avalys (221114) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414321)

Yet another example of a horrendously-named open-source software package.

Why IceChicken if they're going for opposites.

Or better yet, why not Ice-Bunch-of-increasingly-irrelevant-whining-pedan tic-idiots.

Firefox and Ubuntu (3, Interesting)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414325)

I don't know what's happening with Firefox and Ubuntu, but I do know that if it does get replaced with IceWeasel, I'll either

1. Download it from some 3rd party website
2. Download the source, compile it, package it up and host it on my website

And to be honest I'd encourage everyone else to do the same. I'm really not trying to troll, I just don't want to one day find a vulnerability or incompatibility in IceWeasel that's not in Firefox.

Re:Firefox and Ubuntu (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414479)

> And to be honest I'd encourage everyone else to do the same. I'm really not trying to troll, I just don't
> want to one day find a vulnerability or incompatibility in IceWeasel that's not in Firefox.

Two options:

1. IceWeasel IS the Moz Corp codebase with patch es to change the name and artwork. Plus patches to integrate it into Debian (current situation) plus security patches (current situation). Difference is that IceWeasel can continue to be patchesd long after Moz Corp would demand FireFox be version upgraded. I know which I'd prefer for an Enterprise deployment where stability beats new features any day of the week. IceWeasel will become the preferred name on all Free distributions but FireFox will probably be the name of the browser on RHEL and SUSE.

2. IceWeasel starts adding in new features that Moz Corp doesn't want to include, there are rumors of this being a real possibility. New ad blocking tech, etc. See XFree86 => X.org for what happens wien the traditional developers lose touch with the needs of the users. It is a major reason for preferring Open SOurce/Free Software. In this scenario IceWeasel devours Firefox (probably in combination with SeaMonkey) on all playforms including Windows.

Re:Firefox and Ubuntu (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414555)


I just don't want to one day find a vulnerability or incompatibility in IceWeasel that's not in Firefox.


What about vulnerabilities in Firefox which are not there in IceWeasel?

whine (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414335)

If folks are really worried that masses will flock back to MS and IE after a fork in versions then I would be inclined to believe that there are far deeper problems than just the fork. Unity in open source requires compromise if both sides of an issue cant meet on common ground you get a fork. I do agree with the comments in that in corporations you have a common goal and a common set of goals, in open source many times one developers whim deviates his focus to another direction, the end result is sometimes an improved program but more often ends up in a pissing contest with everyone threatening to take their toys and go home. Thats the biggest flaw and hurdle to open source taking over not the quality of the work.

nope nope nope (1)

EllynGeek (824747) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414337)

Firefox forked from Mozilla, which forked from Netscape. It's still Firefox on Windows, IceWeasel has nothing to do with winduhs at all, so it won't affect the Firefox vs. Aieee war Forks are insurance against idiot vendors.

Debian vs. Mozilla.COM (5, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414339)

Unfortunately, the Firefox.com folks didn't leave Debian a choice. The current terms under which they distribute Firefox make it not Open Source at all as long as you call it "Firefox". The Mozilla.com folks are using trademark law to enforce that no versions of Firefox can be modified and still called "Firefox".

Debian can't carry the browser in their distribution under the "Firefox" name if they are to have any ability to tune it for their distribution or to fix bugs before the Firefox team makes their own release.

The software will be essentially identical to Firefox. I think we may see other distributions doing the same thing, as it's just not tenable for ANY distribution to contain software that it can't service.

And then hopefully we'll see the Firefox team go back to the policy they negotiated with the Debian organization only a year ago, before their new .com folks took charge, which was that they would agree to trust some people to modify the code and not make a fuss about it.

The author of the quoted piece is being absurd to say this is "Why closed-source wins". It's not about fragmenting the user base, it doesn't have much effect on the brand and won't be very visible to naive users. It's just turning an obnoxious trademark policy that is flagrantly in conflict with the purportedly Open Source nature of the product on its head.

Bruce

Re:Debian vs. Mozilla.COM (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414503)

> Unfortunately, the Firefox.com folks didn't leave Debian a choice.

The "Firefox.com folks" are called Mozilla. And true, they forced the issue, they didn't force them to come up with such a stunningly idiotic name.

Re:Debian vs. Mozilla.COM (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414513)

http://www.debian.org/logos/ [debian.org]

Debian Official Use Logo License

Copyright (c) 1999 Software in the Public Interest

      1. This logo may only be used if:
                    * the product it is used for is made using a documented procedure as published on www.debian.org (for example official CD-creation)
                    * official approval is given by Debian for its use in this purpose
      2. May be used if an official part of debian (decided using the rules in I) is part of the complete product, if it is made clear that only this part is officially approved
      3. We reserve the right to revoke a license for a product

Permission has been given to use the official logo on clothing (shirts, hats, etc) as long as they are made by a Debian developer and not sold for profit.

Re:Debian vs. Mozilla.COM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414597)

let's face it, the firefox.com firefox users don't use debian, or any of the debian based distributions, anyway. it was installed by their distro and will probably be maintained by their distro. all except for the nutjubs (#include self) who insist on building seamonkey themselves.

Re:Debian vs. Mozilla.COM (2, Informative)

Natasha (31280) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414699)

I can understand the need to tune it or fix bugs, but it seems to go beyond that. On the fresh Ubuntu install I recently did, my Firefox has a fun "feature". If you move the mouse over a button, the button goes yellow and flat. And it doesn't change back when you move the mouse away. Hardly what I would describe as tuning or fixing. My first thought when I saw it was "stupid Firefox". My second thought was "It doesn't do that on Windows". Only after that did I think, "Oh, must be a Ubuntu change". Is that really the experience the Mozilla folks want people to have when they interact with the browser for the first time.

I think the Mozilla folks should probably adjust the licensing terms on the artwork, but it does reflect badly on them when distros make changes that affect the user experience.

This doesn't hurt Firefox (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414343)

It hurts Debian. They could simply have moved it to non-free, and many would have respected Debian for sticking to the letter of the DFSG. But instead, they chose this snarky little twist.

What do I care, I use Ubuntu. Debian is becoming the new XFree86.

Debin - the do as I say not as I do crew. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414355)

http://www.debian.org/logos/ [debian.org] Debian Official Use Logo License Copyright (c) 1999 Software in the Public Interest 1. This logo may only be used if: * the product it is used for is made using a documented procedure as published on www.debian.org (for example official CD-creation) * official approval is given by Debian for its use in this purpose 2. May be used if an official part of debian (decided using the rules in I) is part of the complete product, if it is made clear that only this part is officially approved 3. We reserve the right to revoke a license for a product Permission has been given to use the official logo on clothing (shirts, hats, etc) as long as they are made by a Debian developer and not sold for profit.

Computer Hippies are the Worst (1)

M4N14C (873188) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414359)

Has it really gotten to the point where we cry about copyrights applied to the artwork in a program, or the plugins. The code is all open source, so what do they stand to gain by this other than a symbolically different browser they can brag about to their nerdy friends.

Why does firefox need to be 'more' open source?

Goddamn TurdWeasel.

Re:Computer Hippies are the Worst (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414579)

You may only use the FireFox trademark if you do not apply patches to FireFox. The Debian team want to apply security fixes and bug fixes to their packaged version. They can either do this and not call it FireFox, or not do it. If you were a Debian user, which would you rather they did?

Re:Computer Hippies are the Worst (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414625)

The issue in trademark law not copyright law. Trademark law is a whole different animal. Unlike copyrights and patents, you can lose your trademark if you fail to defend it.

Er, what? (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414379)

The only reason the name has to be changed to "Iceweasel" is because the Debian team wanted to make changes to the package. If it was closed-source, that wouldn't be possible in the first place.

So it looks to me like open-source only gives more abilities in this case, not less.

(Yes, I realize that the reason they wanted package changes was because it conflicted with their license. That's rather tangential to the discussion.)

Microsoft? So what? (2, Interesting)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414383)

No one told me that Free Software was about beating Microsoft at all costs.

What kind of news is this?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414385)

This is basically just an editorial from some random slashdot reader?! How did this ever make it onto Slashdot? It would be just as ridiculous to have a "news" article that read, "it sure is great the way Debian is dumping Firefox for IceWeasel" since that's not news either, just someone's opinion.

"FireFox Community Edition" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414397)

The Mozilla Corporation should fix up the issues with the "FireFox Community Edition" naming that was originally going to be the path for this kind of thing so that it's actually usable for this kind of thing. Then, everyone knows it's not the 'real' FireFox, but it is still recognizable as some form of FireFox, and everyone winds up happy.

There's really no way Debian could comply with the patch review requirements otherwise, since Debian is the only distro that actually backports security patches for stable FireFox releases - the Mozilla team makes it so hard to extract the security fixes from the feature changes that everyone else has long since given up even trying to hold it stable.

Nonsense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414419)

This is pretty specific to Debian, and I can't see much of the Debian userbase switching to IE7. How is it that a distro, purportedly dead or in it's last throes, can cause so much confusion?

Unofficial (0, Flamebait)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414441)

There are tons of "unofficial" builds of Firefox. And Linspire claims to make HUNDREDS of changes to the Firefox code. So long as you don't use the official artwork, and make it clear that your version is different and unofficial, you don't have to rename or fork.

They're fine with you calling it an "unofficial" build of Firefox.

Debian isn't willing to use the word unofficial, so out of stubbornness they're going to fork. Open source loses in this regard, because while GPL code is open if you ask for it, often it is very difficult to find all the patches and changes people make to projects in all these splintered forks. They never go upstream, and very few people benefit. If everyone submitted their fixes upstream, then everyone would benefit.

If you want to do an unofficial build that is fine. I don't see why everyone has to be so childish though.

Spirit of open source (1)

zitintheass (1005533) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414445)

There are many people around arguing that IE is stinking pile of shit and needs to be eliminated. In my minority view I would rather have like three major closed source browsers competing, Opera vs Netscape vs IE etc., then one big bloated open source project that undermines competition and now (obviously) discourages new developments. Someone wants to steer Firefox their way and they get slapped by dividing the focus and the base. Looks like there are "some", actually about 5 individuals of Firefox/Mozilla Foundation that heavily $$$profits$$$ from donations and their trademarked material of Firefox brand. Shop full of branded stuff and trademark licencing ??? WTF?? Those guys obviously don't want you to fork off their base or move users to some other sites or god forbid rename and make their own browser.

Are you kidding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414453)

So let me get this straight... you're saying that the best way to fight a monoculture is with another monoculture? If that's true, then open source is rather pointless; nobody should ever be allowed to fork. I'll just go see what I need to do to go back to XFree86...

Seriously, though, the idea that marketshare must be had at all costs, and by a single entity no less, is bogus. The automotive industry seems to be doing fine with all the brands it has, and I don't see General Motors taking aggressive steps to produce all their vehicles under the GM badge, because having Chevy, Pontiac, etc. confuses people.

Do all 6 Debian users care ? (2, Insightful)

SnapperHead (178050) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414461)

Yes, the subject is slightly misleading. I am a Debian user, soon to be former Debian user. Not because of this, this has nothing to do with me switching distros (again). I am moving away because if the slow as balls release cycles. Even after its released, you are already behind by 6 months to a year.

I only used Debian for apt. It totally blows away yum. But, with the slow ass release cycles I can't take it much longer.

I wish more Distros would base on Debian, rather then base on Red Hat. I really don't care for RPMs.

Politics? (2, Insightful)

subreality (157447) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414469)

Politics aside, this is a bad idea because it fragments the user base, divides the focus, and opens the path for Microsoft and Internet Explorer 7 to regain marketshare.


No, trying to fight those things IS politics. The Debian project has never been interested in fighting those kinds of battles. They don't care about market share. They have a single focus: Making the best possible distribution, which can absolutely, no questions asked, be used by anyone for any purpose.

I for one am glad they put those principles first. I don't want compromises for the sake of market share.

Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414477)

I like the name better than firefox anyway :-) When is it hitting portage?

Not "Open Source Enough" (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414487)

There are things that should be done with Firefox that can't because of the license. The biggest feature I'd add to Firefox would be integration of EVINCE or some other GPLed PDF viewer - you know, one that isn't a separate download from Adobe and doesn't advertise updates and other product, and loads quickly. Unfortunately the main Firefox codebase can not accept such things because they have multiple licenses and some (MPL) can not integrate GPLed code. I think a GPL only fork of Firefox could easily win out because of issues like this. However, they do need a better name IMHO. Hopefully the fork will be maintained as a set of patches against the official version so they can be Firefox plus extras - then they'll always be ahead.

opens the path for Microsoft... (3, Insightful)

joebooty (967881) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414491)

"...and opens the path for Microsoft and Internet Explorer 7 to regain marketshare."

This is a worthless mindset. The goal should be to release a good product that end users appreciate. Competition will make both products better.

Er (0, Flamebait)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414493)

I have no idea how in freaking fuck IE7 will be gaining marketshare on a platform it doesn't even run on, due to a distribution issue with a completely different browser on a different operating system.

Why can't Mozilla package it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414549)

Is there any reason why Mozilla couldn't package a .deb themselves for people to download? Skype does this, along with various other applications out there (Frostwire, OpenOffice, etc.) Wouldn't that help solve the problem?

Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16414553)

I'm tired of this. Can someone get Mozilla to release a trademark free, open source tarball of Firefox under a different name just for the Debian people?

Debian users? Forking the Firefox userbase? (1)

gavinroy (94729) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414563)

You're kidding right? No, seriously? The debian project's extreme politics is what caused this and the user base isn't going to cause a mainstream fork, nor will it impact the Firefox user base by a noticeable percentage. The sky isn't falling.

I may be looking too much into this... (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414583)

Does anyone else stop at the part where the OP says, "Politics aside, this is a bad idea because.." and wonder how you can put politics aside, then go on to detail your idea on how it will hurt Firefox?

overestimating your importance (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414623)

Politics aside, this is a bad idea because it fragments the user base, divides the focus, and opens the path for Microsoft and Internet Explorer 7 to regain marketshare."

Methinks someone overestimates Debian's relevance in the browser marketplace. And yes, I know about Ubuntu.

Is it just me? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414671)

... or does the logo at the top of the article look a lot like a rodent humping the planet?

There's something just plain disturbing about this...

Look at it this way (1)

Datasage (214357) | more than 7 years ago | (#16414675)

The open source community has limited resources in manpower. Most people are volunteers and are limited in how much time they can contribute. This said, it would seem logical, that in the case of a common goal, there is only one project to support it.

Take for example browsers. In the open source world, we have Mozilla, KHTML and other rendering engines, plus all the different browsers that are based on those engines. Some are created for special circumstances (mobile platforms, consoles), but many are just different ways of solving the same problem. A PC browser. The question is would we be better off pooling these resources behind one project, instead of splitting it up and fragmenting our resources into many different projects.

Having other projects are not necessarily a bad thing. It does open up development for other ideas to be tried. Look at Debian, a fork is not being created because of practical or developmental reasons, but for idealogical reasons. Now should the limited manpower resource be devoted to maintaining that fork? To what end? There is no reason that Firefox or fork of even needs to be included in the Debian distribution. Its not included with Windows or OS X.
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