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Old 06-02-2007, 01:50 PM   #1
pixellany
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Open-source idealism--IceWeasel


I just stumbled into the story of "IceWeasel", Debian's re-branding of Firefox.

A quick scan of some sites shows that this emanates from Debian polices wanting to keep their distribution free of anything proprietary, copyrighted, etc. They were using Firefox without the official logo---resulting in a complaint from Mozilla that they basically could not have one without the other. So, they roll their own and give it a new name.

This (and other examples of idealism) strikes me as exceedingly dumb. I totally subscribe to the value of the Open-Source concept which--at the core--is about open development and freedom of use. The key rule applied to users is that they are required to keep open that which came to them as open.

What is the harm in mixing Open-source and proprietary elements to make a more useful end product? I would think that ANYONE promoting the adoption of Linux and Open-Source would be interested in end users being happy with their first trial---even if that means having some proprietary stuff.

Here's how this came to my attention, but as seen thru the eyes of a new user:
  • I have used Firefox on Windows and really like it. I also like to have the Google toolbar.
  • I stumble into "Sidux Linux" and decide to try it.
  • Install goes smoothly---Graphics look great
  • Kmenu-->Internet--> Where is Firefox?
  • Install Synaptic using CLI apt-get (I started with a " lite" version of Sidux)
  • Search for Firefox and found it---but what's this about transition to IceWeasel???
  • Install it anyway---it just installs IceWeasel (Which looks exactly like Firefox)
  • OK--let's install Google toolbar---NOPE: Google toolbar only works on Firefox!!

So, potential convert to Linux is now pissed off. Of course, we know that we can go get Firefox and install it directly. But--what purpose was served by throwing up this little roadblock??

Idealists have their place, but the work of the world gets done by the pragmatists. To the extent that we see a worthy cause in getting some "balance of power" in personal computing, we need to support the pragmatic realities. Silly little things like IceWeasel do not add value for anyone.
 
Old 06-02-2007, 02:24 PM   #2
MensaWater
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Well the reason there are so many distros in the first place is different "ideals" about what is proper.

The branding thing makes sense if you think back to how pissed off folks were when RedHat originally took their name back to make it commercial only. They later supported the Fedora project (essentially RedHat's beta under another name) but there are STILL people that are pissed at RedHat after all these years.

So what if Firefox someday decides it has completely outdone IE and has become the de facto browser for everyone (not just OSS fans) and decides they aren't making much money by letting people use their name? The fact that Mozilla made an issue of non-branding suggests they have future plans for the name.

Of course one can always load what they want and sometimes the ideology spawns other projects. Fedora chooses not to distribute things that aren't GPL. Due to this one has to use lesstif rather than motif for example. Not a huge deal though of course it does require one to learn that particular factoid (as I did when installing Oracle R12 on FC6). Also the fact that they don't distribute it doesn't prevent you from getting motif and compiling it yourself.

If you don't think logos and such are a big deal I invite you to look up cases where McDonald's has sued over such names as McDavid's in Israel (which made a little sense as it was a hamburger chain) or the proposed McSleep Inns (which made no sense given that McDonald's has never been in the hotel industry).

Personally I use RedHat/Fedora for the most part which DO use Firefox but I can see the reasoning for not doing so by others.

P.S. You have to love the name "iceweasel" - both a play on the name firefox and a subtle slam of Mozilla.
 
Old 06-02-2007, 02:55 PM   #3
brianL
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gNewSense do a similar renaming thing. Their Firefox is called "BurningDog".
 
Old 06-02-2007, 02:59 PM   #4
MensaWater
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You have to be damn brave to name your distro as a homonym with "nuisance".
 
Old 06-02-2007, 04:28 PM   #5
AceofSpades19
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If I'm going to use Linux, I don't see the reason to use propraitary stuff outside codecs, considering there is open-source alternetives for almost everything
 
Old 06-02-2007, 05:47 PM   #6
hand of fate
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AceofSpades19
If I'm going to use Linux, I don't see the reason to use propraitary stuff outside codecs, considering there is open-source alternetives for almost everything
On a similar note, is there any need to use open source stuff when there is a proprietory alternatives?

Whether something is open source or not is irrelevant to the user, so it would make far more sense to choose software on it's ability to do it's job, rather than on some obscure licensing clause that has no real relevance.

Restricting a distribution to GPL software may make it easier to distribute, but it does not benefit the user in any way. Excluding perfectly good software from a distribution purely on the basis of a licensing clause that is irrelevant to the user can only be detrimental to the user.
 
Old 06-02-2007, 06:09 PM   #7
MensaWater
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Certainly there's a reason. Proprietary often means $$$ - GPL software is "free".

Does the average user care? Maybe not. Did the folks that used Napster in its original incarnation care? No - until the RIAA decided to sue not only Napster but several of the users of its service. They sued Napster to the point where it had to throw its lot in with folks like BMI to stay in business.

The deal is if you truly have a problem with the ideals of ALL the established distros then you're "free" to create your own and take the risks inherent in your "ideal".

Even with GPL and non-proprietary ideals we are already seeing MicroSloth rattling the "patent violation" sabers. Most people rightly feel this is total BS but there are strategic reasons why M$ is making such claims - they can intimidate people into paying them money whether they are actually owed it just on the off chance they'll do like the RIAA and start suing users rather than the folks that make the distros.

Last edited by MensaWater; 06-02-2007 at 07:49 PM.
 
Old 06-02-2007, 06:56 PM   #8
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Every group needs a conscience.
 
Old 06-02-2007, 07:10 PM   #9
AceofSpades19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hand of fate
On a similar note, is there any need to use open source stuff when there is a proprietory alternatives?

Whether something is open source or not is irrelevant to the user, so it would make far more sense to choose software on it's ability to do it's job, rather than on some obscure licensing clause that has no real relevance.

Restricting a distribution to GPL software may make it easier to distribute, but it does not benefit the user in any way. Excluding perfectly good software from a distribution purely on the basis of a licensing clause that is irrelevant to the user can only be detrimental to the user.
First of all Propriatary software 90% of the time requires money and you can usually only install it on one machine without buying more licenses and how does it not benfit the user, I don't see much difference in using firefox or iceweasel and I highly doubt the user will care what its name is and plus its harder for the distro to distrubute stuff if it violates license and most people use Linux to get away from propriatary software.
 
Old 06-02-2007, 07:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daws
Every group needs a conscience.

M$ seems to do quite well without one.
 
Old 06-02-2007, 08:15 PM   #11
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What's going to be interesting to watch is the path Iceweasel takes in the future. Does it become inferior to Firefox, or can (and if so, will) Debian's developers continue to copy and rename?
 
Old 06-02-2007, 10:19 PM   #12
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I think the idea with Iceweasel is that every new release will be copied and re-branded as Iceweasel.

I personally think it is not petty, as many people are saying. As someone rightly pointed out earlier, "Every group needs a conscience." Debian, in many ways, is our conscience. They do not accept anything that falls outside of their constitution.

I believe that one of the main issues was that Debian has such long release cycles, and can't upgrade the version of Firefox shipped with the Stable release. The Debian developers wanted to provide security updates to Firefox, and Mozilla said that you can't modify Firefox and still call it Firefox - hence Iceweasel was born. This is basic trademarks, and all open source software follows the same line. You can modify Debian and call it something else, (like Sidux for example), but you can not (and why should you be able to) modify Debian and still call it Debian. Mozilla had no problem if the security updates were vetted by them, but Debian won't agree to this (and nor should they).

What I don't understand is why Debian don't just shift to Epiphany as the default browser, and stop including Firefox / Iceweasel all together. Users could then install Firefox from mozilla.org if they want. I have switched completely to Epiphany, and find it to be a very mature product.

--Ian
 
Old 06-03-2007, 04:07 AM   #13
XavierP
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Tech fix - open about:config and search for Iceweasel. Change it to Firefox. Plugins work and so do addons.
 
Old 06-03-2007, 06:51 AM   #14
hand of fate
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AceofSpades19
First of all Propriatary software 90% of the time requires money and you can usually only install it on one machine without buying more licenses
Since when has one had to pay to have the name "Firefox" attached to their browser?

Obviously if a distribution is to be distributed free then it can't have anything that has to be paid for on it, but that doesn't mean it has to have only GPL software. There are a number of perfectly good programs out there that are not GPL but do not cost money (examples include Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Real Player and many more). Excluding these packages from a distribution purely on the basis of a license that is irrelevant to the user does not benefit the user in any way.
 
Old 06-03-2007, 07:13 AM   #15
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Again I'd say if you disagree with the distro's philosophy you should move on to another distro that more closely matches your philosophy.

Continuing to state your OPINION doesn't make it a FACT any more than my OPINION becomes a FACT. You say you see no benefits yet others here including me have said we DO see benefits and have outlined them.

Your last post reminds me of the Monty Python sketch where the person pays for an "argument" and gets only "contradiction" and when it is pointed out as simple contradiction the person doing the contradiction says "no it isn't". (Much the same as the playground "You are too" - "I am not" arguments.)
 
  


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