Is Ubuntu going to adapt Ice Weasel?

Scott Abbey scott at
Wed Oct 11 00:11:41 BST 2006

On Tuesday 10 October 2006 18:43, George Farris wrote:
> On Tue, 2006-10-10 at 15:25 -0700, Jonathan Dodson wrote:
> > On Tue, 2006-10-10 at 18:00 +0100, Ian Jackson wrote:
> >
> > Its a hassle for sure, but Firefox is still free software.
> What the Mozilla Foundation should do, IMHO, is certify Canonical to be
> able to add security patches to the browser and push the change.  The
> certification would be defined by a certain set of rules.  In other
> words, Canonical would be bound to only do security or bug fix updates
> and not feature additions or subtractions.  This way they could still
> call it Firefox and even use the logo.  Would be a smart move on
> Mozilla's part.  Keep the brand recognition including logo.

The problem with all these suggestions (not just those above) is that it 
hinders the freedom of those who might use Ubuntu as the base for their own 
distribution. Software freedom isn't just about YOUR freedom. It's also about 
the freedom of your users to take what you've provided them and change it if 
they like, and then pass it on to someone else, who can then modify it if 
they like, etc.

By requiring distributors to submit all patches to them for approval, Mozilla 
is making their software inherently non-free. Sure, you don't have to pay for 
it, but you can't make whatever changes you like, and then redistribute it 
with the same name.

I, for one, use Ubuntu over another distribution (ie Fedora/Red Hat or Suse) 
because, in it's as-shipped form, it is entirely free. I don't want to ask 
Mozilla, or anyone else, for their permission to make changes to my system. I 
want the freedom to pass on what works for me to anyone I choose, without 
worrying about some big, bad intellectual property lawyer sending me a cease 
and desist letter.

While I sympathize with Mozilla's desire to maintain strong brand recognition, 
etc., there is no middle ground here. Either their software is free, or it is 
not. If they choose to bar users from redistributing modified software under 
the Firefox (or Thunderbird, Mozilla, etc) name, then it is no longer free. 
Luckily, in this circumstance, we have the benefit of being able to simply 
change the name, and continue about our business.

It should be remembered that this problem is not of Ubuntu's, nor of 
Canonical's, nor of Debian's making. This problem lies solely on the 
shoulders of the Mozilla Corporation. They offered Debian two choices: change 
the name, or submit everything to Mozilla for approval. Because of their 
strict rules on software freedom, Debian chose the only alternative they 
could: renaming the package. I humbly submit that the Ubuntu community should 
follow their lead and keep Ubuntu FREE, in all senses of the word.

Kindest regards,

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