Is Ubuntu going to adapt Ice Weasel?

Markus Lutzer m.lutzer at
Thu Oct 12 06:48:55 BST 2006

To not forget the marketing point of view is

Need a Reason? Here are 5 for stopping the Firefox fork
October 11th, 2006 by acachinero

Richard M. Stallman has long advocated for the use of the term GNU/Linux
instead of the simple Linux term. It seems that this motivation is
behind the shredding of one of open-source’s biggest success story.

Why you should NOT fork Firefox:

1.- Firefox has public awareness.

The very general public is technology agnostic. In my eyes, Firefox’s
biggest success was to get into mainstream media and into the conscience
of the public. Introducing yet another alternative will only confuse.
Assuming IceWeasel gets off the ground, that is.

EDIT: As the mystically named commenter ‘I AGREEE!!!!’ helpfully pointed
out, there are many elements in my argument with fairly large holes in
them. Thus I come with bricks and mortar to patch things up a bit.

In point number 1, I should add that this argument can be used for
Windoze Advocacy. I suppose I was not clear in the least that for a
technology agnostic computer user, there are very few to no incentives
to switching a browser which may even work. Firefox has recently managed
to creep up its market share, which is a fantastic achievement
considering. If you come up to an end-user and tell him “Hey, remember
how I told you how great Firefox was? Well now you need to get
IceWeasel”. I know people who argue Windoze is good because it’s “easy”
and “it’s what everyone uses”. With such mindsets, you really don’t need
to start filling the boxing ring.

2.- Firefox works

For all the bugs and version control, Firefox is a fully functional
browser. There is no need for an alternative which competes against it.
This isn’t like IE which simply doesn’t work.

3.- You’re only pitting FLOSS against FLOSS

Realistically, IceWeasel is only going to compete with Firefox. The
whole debate was centred on Debian, and against Firefox. Understandably,
Ubuntu is a part of this (and it will comply to remove Firefox builds in
the future), but again, this isn’t a FLOSS vs IE or even FLOSS vs Safari
fight. This is FLOSS vs FLOSS which only helps to shred market share
from each other.

EDIT: More patching. Competition is in fact good. I posted on Brian’s
blog my views on the competition aspect. Basically, although competition
helps to stimulate innovation, stand in the shoes of a technincally
agnostic user for just five minutes. If you’re being ’sold’ two
different browsers as an alternative to one you’re using now (and which
may or may not give you any problems), chances are the agnostic end-user
will just stick with his original tool. Chances are he’ll stick with his
initial browser anyway, I mean, for all Firefox has achieved, it still
has ‘only’ 12% market share. In this case, introducing competition out
of an easily solved dispute helps nobody, because let’s face it. The
competition of IceWeasel arises because of a trademark issue, not
because of the quality of the code (even if the code stands to be improved).

4.- Doesn’t the GNU organisation have better things to do?

Hey, my most sincere respect to those guys. Their GPL revolutionised the
software world. No doubt. But they’re getting boring, like treehuggers
tied to trees. Some people need to get work done, and the efforts of the
GNU (such as in the GPLv3) seem to only serve their own agendas. What
the hell are their agendas anyway? Stop the end-user from using anything
other than Windoze? Frankly, the end-user only cares about the
experience, which is why Ubuntu has so much potential. The GNU would be
better off making its own full OS and playing around with legalese as
much as it wanted with Hurd.

EDIT: Because of this:
I deem RMS to be a little less ‘aait’ because of it. As the editor from
LJ puts it: “Perhaps RMS is frustrated because Linus got the glory for
what RMS wanted to do.” . This does relate to the Firefox/IceWeasel
issue because of the fact that given IceWeasel is a GNU project, along
with Gnuzilla and IceMonkey etc. (and whatever souped up alternatives
they have for Thunderbird), and it just reeks of the GNU/Linux
nomenclature dispute.

5.- Seriously now. IceWeasel?

Firefox has a certain flair to it. A lot of open-source projects share
this kind of eclectic attrativeness (Ruby, in my eyes, is a project with
a lot of flair to it; the Tux penguin, for example, etc. etc.). Firefox
is no exception - the name just sounds right and the logo is very much
omnipresent (not only that, it actually looks good). But IceWeasel? Come
on. Trust the people who thought of the name ‘Hurd’ to come up with a
very unattractive name for a project. From the fantastically appealing
Fox, we turn to this rat humping the planet:

EDIT: OK people, this last one was entirely my opinion (arguably all my
points are my opinion, but this last one I cannot possibly try to
‘prove’ as there is no scientific measure of ‘appealness’). Brian
McKenna makes a similar statement in his post, only saying IceWeasel is
appealing. No biggie, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just
think that compared to Firefox, IceWeasel just sounds like someone’s
trying to play catch up to a popular name. (And here I succumb to
opinion again:) They could have at the very least used an animal with
some flair like a lynx (hmm, already a browser with that name) or a
jackal or whatever. A weasel? I thought it was most amusing, choosing a
friggin’ weasel.

Don’t get me wrong. The Mozilla Foundation needs to cut everyone a lot
of slack. However, it’s understandable that they would want to protect
their image in order to avoid it being used elsewhere. I mean, for
chrissakes, I saw the Tux logo in the Paris suburbs advertising a
friggin’ furniture store:

Just cool it down, people. Relax, breathe deeply. I’m sure we can all
come to an understanding without shredding each other’s efforts.

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