Tony Yarusso tonyyarusso at gmail.com
Mon Sep 15 07:45:22 UTC 2008

You know, I stayed out of this stuff the last time around, because quite
frankly I didn't care that much about an icon.  A EULA is different.
First, I'm one of those people who tells everyone I know to always read
every last word of every EULA they encounter, just in case.  I regard
them as something not to be trusted, even though they aren't legally
enforceable in many places.  Users shouldn't have to deal with that sort
of thing in Ubuntu, period, and we certainly don't want it to be their
first impression.  Does Mozilla have the right to make this demand?
Absolutely.  However, we also have the right to take the alternative
option and discontinue use of their brand if that demand is unacceptable
for our purposes, which I think it is.

It's been nice having the familiar Firefox name around for new people
switching over to Ubuntu, but it's time to stand up and rely on our own
branding, not Mozilla's.  If Mozilla wants to throw their legal weight
around a bit, let them, but keep it out of Ubuntu's development cycles -
there are better things to spend time on.  I had dismissed the idea in
the past as not being particularly necessary, but given that this is now
our second quibble about Mozilla legal requirements, and one that no
doubt sets a much more dangerous and obnoxious precedent, I am now fully
in favor of going with one of the other options for Ubuntu's default web
browser, and possibly moving Firefox proper to multiverse.  I'm also
significantly disappointed that there wasn't involvement of the broader
community earlier on in this discussion.

As I see it, there are two choices that stand out going forward:

1)  Go with Iceweasel.  After the last bit of bickering this actually
has some significant name recognition itself, would be functionally the
same in terms of general interface, profile compatibility, and
extensions, so a very simple technical leap that could easily still be
implemented in time for Intrepid release.  Additionally, this choice
would reduce our overall delta with Debian, which is usually advocated
as a good thing by the development team.

2)  Use Epiphany-Webkit.  Epiphany has always been a good browser, and
lately has been making more strides into the realm of being a great one.
Someone blogging about the last Ubuntu Developer Summit actually noted
how many people there were using Epiphany instead of Firefox, which says
something about its technical prowess, and ability to cater to power
users as well as people just needing to get to a few web pages fast.
Its simplicity, friendliness, and integration into the Gnome desktop
certainly fits well with the overall Ubuntu project goals.  The recent
transition to Webkit gives it that last technical leg up to make it
worthy of serious consideration even if there wasn't a particular reason
to look at dropping Firefox otherwise.

Given those points, my own personal recommendation would be to implement
Iceweasel for 8.10, given the short timeframe left to do so.  Then, a
significant discussion should be held for 9.04 (and future releases, if
needed) about the relative merits of Iceweasel versus Epiphany-Webkit.

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