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The Latest on the Firefox EULA Matter - Update: Progress!
Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 07:48 AM EDT

Mitchell Baker has posted on her blog a notice that Mozilla will let us know today what solution they've come up with for the Firefox EULA dispute:
Firefox without EULAs — Update

We’re still working on this. There’s been a bunch of helpful feedback. We appreciate this. We think we’ve integrated the feedback into something that’s a good solution; different from out last version in both its essence and its presentation and content.

We’ve come to understand that anything EULA-like is disturbing, even if the content is FLOSS based. So we’re eliminating that. We still feel that something about the web services integrated into the browser is needed; these services can be turned off and not interrupt the flow of using the browser. We also want to tell people about the FLOSS license — as a notice, not as as EULA or use restriction. Again, this won’t block the flow or provide the unwelcoming feeling that one comment to my previous post described so eloquently.

We expect to have the materials that show this plan posted tomorrow morning.

So that sounds promising. I don't think the EULA content was FLOSS based, actually, and I'll show you why I don't think so. I hope it will be a positive contribution to the general discussion.

It isn't just that the community isn't accustomed to EULAs. And it isn't just that Linux has no use restrictions, in that the GPL doesn't restrict use, only distribution. The Open Source Initiative's definition of "Open Source" includes this clause, explained in the annotated version:

7. Distribution of License

The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.

Rationale: This clause is intended to forbid closing up software by indirect means such as requiring a non-disclosure agreement.

Now, originally, the Mozilla EULA for Firefox did require clicking "I agree" or you couldn't use the software:

A source code version of certain Firefox Browser functionality that you may use, modify and distribute is available to you free-of-charge from under the Mozilla Public License and other open source software licenses.

The accompanying executable code version of Mozilla Firefox and related documentation (the "Product") is made available to you under the terms of this Mozilla Firefox End-User Software License Agreement (the "Agreement"). By clicking the "Accept" button, or by installing or using the Mozilla Firefox Browser, you are consenting to be bound by the Agreement. If you do not agree to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, do not click the "Accept" button, and do not install or use any part of the Mozilla Firefox Browser.

Is that a conflict? Ask your lawyer. But it is the right question. It's bad enough to be unable to call your product free software; if you can't even call it open source, then exactly what is it? It's a fair question.

And I do think it's fair to ask Mozilla and Canonical: what were you thinking? How did this get this far, this wrong? Is there maybe a need to dig a bit deeper into community values and norms? Why, I wonder, didn't anyone think to ask the Software Freedom Law Center for an opinion on how to protect Mozilla's legal interests in a way that would not violate community values? That's what it's there for, after all, to prevent community members from making legal mistakes. I think this dustup could easily have been avoided, and yes, I think it would have been better if it had been. There is an entity in place. It simply makes sense to use the resources that we have available as a community.

When earlier there was a draft of the new Firefox "EULA for Linux", there was this mea culpa:

We’ve been working for a while to fix some objections to both the presentation of a EULA and the content of the EULA in certain Linux distributions. The issue came to light because of a change in settings in the 3.0 builds, that turned on the EULA display at installation, similar to the Windows environment. This caused two big problems. One, it put a EULA in front of a set of end-users who are not accustomed to seeing such agreements. Second, the license grant itself was inconsistent with the values of many of the users in the Linux communities and our own. They viewed the EULA as improperly imposing restrictions on the use of Firefox. Red Hat and Fedora were staunch advocates for making a change, and helped us understand the problem and potential fixes.

Upon review, they were right.

So much for all those who thought it was a few extreme zealots making a big fuss over nothing. It was not nothing. They were right. And now Mozilla has acknowledged it, to their credit.

You know why Red Hat and Fedora always seem to be the ones taking the lead legally and getting things right? I think it's because they distribute under the GPL, and once you understand that license, it frames your expectations. There are no use restrictions on GPL code. There can't be. It's what makes it shine. The Mozilla Public License is not the GPL, and it is a license that makes it easier to get things wrong, as happened here, in part because of that attitudinal difference. Now, you can use it if you like it, but it's good to at least understand it precisely and clearly. Here's a problem, as I see it, with the Mozilla Public License:

You may distribute the Executable version of Covered Code or ownership rights under a license of Your choice, which may contain terms different from this License, provided that You are in compliance with the terms of this License and that the license for the Executable version does not attempt to limit or alter the recipient's rights in the Source Code version from the rights set forth in this License. If You distribute the Executable version under a different license You must make it absolutely clear that any terms which differ from this License are offered by You alone, not by the Initial Developer or any Contributor. You hereby agree to indemnify the Initial Developer and every Contributor for any liability incurred by the Initial Developer or such Contributor as a result of any such terms You offer.

In other words, anyone can take MPL code and release it under another license. The GPL, in contrast, requires that GPL code stay that way forever. It's a huge difference. Now, maybe you like the MPL precisely because it doesn't include that requirement, so to you it's a feature, not a bug. Some vendors likely would pick the MPL over the GPL, all things being equal, particularly if they are used to proprietary software.

But what about programmers? What I've learned from this event for FLOSS programmers to consider is that your code is not protected in a triple-licensed project like Firefox beyond whatever is the least protective license of the three. Here's Mozilla's license policy page, and here's the part about the triple license:

Acceptable Licenses

1. The following license (the "Mozilla tri-license") is acceptable in all circumstances except for those covered by point 4, below:

  • MPL/GPL/LGPL triple license, allowing use of the file under the terms of any one of:
    • The Mozilla Public License, version 1.1 or later (MPL)
    • The GNU General Public License, version 2 or later (GPL)
    • The GNU Lesser General Public License, version 2.1 or later (LGPL)
For new source files please use the boilerplate license notice appropriate for the type of file you are creating. Please don't copy boilerplate from existing files.

2. The following license is acceptable for trivial pieces of Support Code, such as testcases:

  • Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication, using the following boilerplate:
    Any copyright is dedicated to the Public Domain.
3. The following licenses are acceptable only for Support Code in directories whose files are already under the license in question, as outlined later in this policy:
  • The Mozilla Public License, version 1.1 or later (MPL) alone
  • The Netscape Public License, version 1.1 or later (NPL) alone
  • MPL/GPL dual license, allowing use of the file under the terms of either of:
    • The Mozilla Public License, version 1.1 or later (MPL)
    • The GNU General Public License, version 2 or later (GPL)
4. For Third Party Code, you should use the license pertaining to that code when modifying it or adding new files to it, and the tri-license when adding Mozilla-specific files such as build system files. See below for a list of directories this applies to.

5. All Product Code must be under either the tri-license or, for Third Party Product Code, a license compatible with all three sets of terms in the tri-license. The purpose of this rule is to make sure that users of our code can take and use the same code under any one of the three licenses; no group is disadvantaged.

6. If importing new Third Party Code, always inform They can then check whether the license is compatible - even simple-looking licenses can have twists in them - and make sure we are meeting the requirements.

I guess I never really thought deeply about the MPL before in the way this incident forced me to, and before I read paragraph 5 as meaning that no one could take the code and release it under a license that would conflict with the GPL. Of course it doesn't mean that. I should have known it doesn't, because the MPL itself gives you the option to not even use the MPL. So the wiggle room is built in from the starting gate. Paragraph 5, as I understand it now, is just saying that while you must contribute under the triple license, anyone can choose whatever license they want to use from the three for a distribution, and Mozilla chooses the MPL. So don't imagine that the GPL being one of the three fully protects your code in your contributions to Firefox the way the GPL normally would if Firefox were licensed under the GPL the way Linux is. It does protect your ability to take the code, minus the trademark, and do whatever you wish to do with it as per the GPL license requirements, and that's not nothing, as we saw in this incident, but it's not the same. You probably already knew this, but I hadn't thought it through before.

It's one thing for a proprietary company to restrict its own code. That bothers me not at all, since I can just avoid it if I wish to. But if you work and contribute labor or code free of charge to a project and then the code or the project forks away from the very values that motivated you to volunteer in the first place, and they can, why would you continue to support that project? And if the protections you feel are important are not found in the license, where will they be found? Some things are just obvious. If ever there was an incident that illustrates that just being able to see the source code is not enough or all there is to FOSS, this one was it.

I trust both Mozilla and Canonical now see that there is no way to pressure the FOSS community. They don't have to care about that, but it's simply true that there is no 'have to' with FOSS. The majority of the comments I saw on Launchpad were saying that folks were ready to drop both Firefox and Ubuntu in a heartbeat, if necessary. Me too, actually. Mozilla and Canonical can, of course, decide to drop the community. I am very glad, though, that it looks like there will be a happy ending, as we all want Firefox and Ubuntu to be successful. But not if they violate everything the community cares about. I may be more polite than some few comments were about it, because I believe in being polite and respectful -- and by the way I certainly also saw some very rude comments attacking those who cared about this issue -- but I am very glad the community made it clear that they feel that freedom and community values matter. Because they do. And the simple truth is that no one will represent the community's interests fully but the community itself.

Update: Progress! Not the final yet, but soooo much better. Take a look here. One relevant bit:

We’ve received a lot of feedback on the licensing proposal. The commentary overwhelmingly indicated the proposed approach wasn’t good enough (that would be an understatement). We looked at it again, incorporated suggestions from the community at large and from some of the Linux distributors. The new design addresses both presentation and content. We’re still tweaking the language a bit and working on the implementation, but directionally this is where we’re going.

Presentation: There’s no click-through, or license splashed in the users face on start-up (or at any point thereafter). We’ll either include some text on the first-run page or in an info box that links to a static page in the browser that contains a notice about your rights. We’re still working through which implementation works best - so this isn’t final. ...

Content: There is no EULA. There are no caps except where grammatically required. There is a notice page that points to the MPL, provides summary information on the rights that come with it, includes a statement about trademarks, and a statement about optional web services (like safe-browsing) that are not covered under the MPL. The notice includes a link to the terms related to the services.


The Latest on the Firefox EULA Matter - Update: Progress! | 323 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections thread
Authored by: Arthur Marsh on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 07:56 AM EDT
Please post any corrections to the text above with enough context to clearly
show what text needs to be modified.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Newspicks discussion
Authored by: Arthur Marsh on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 07:58 AM EDT
Please post Newspicks discussion under this thread, using the Newspick title as
the title in your posting.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Off-topic thread
Authored by: Arthur Marsh on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 08:00 AM EDT
Please post off-topic comments below this thread. Use HTML mode when posting
URL's if possible.


[ Reply to This | # ]

"Grumbles from freetards"
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 08:24 AM EDT

You assume that critics are a lot nicer to us than they really are. Kelly Fiveash refers to the community as "freetards" even on this issue.

The media has been brainwashed by government and industry to believe that anything related to freedom is somehow evil or involved in terrorism, and here's yet more proof:


[ Reply to This | # ]

GPL Firefox?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 08:31 AM EDT
Does this mean that somebody could compile an eecutable version of firefox and
release it under the GPL. I guess the source would eb under the tri-license.
Would there be a benefit in this?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Whats proportion?
Authored by: MadTom1999 on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 08:33 AM EDT
This all seems to be getting a bit silly in parts.
I get the impression that Mozilla are trying to protect a trademark and logos.
And thats all they're doing. Exactly the same way Debian restricts the use of
their trademark and logos.
No one would want an MS released version of FireFox anymore than they would want
an MS released version of Debian.
Is it so wrong for them to try and protect the trademark - perhaps they could
have handled it better but theres some whos knee-jerk reaction has made a
mountain range out of a molehill.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest on the Firefox EULA Matter
Authored by: MrCharon on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 09:40 AM EDT
As a Delphi programmer I tend to use the MPL because it is the license of chose
for Project JEDI. I also prefer having a file based source code license, as it
tends to make more since with the structure of Pascal Unit files. Are any other
Pascal programmers doing the same?


[ Reply to This | # ]

A developers perspective...
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 09:47 AM EDT

When I was examining various licenses, BSD, MPL, LGPL and GPL were all included. After having read through them, I concluded that the GPL is the best balance of protection for myself as both a developer and an end-user.

At that point I made it a general rule that my license of choice was the GPL. All code I produced (for myself) would be placed under the GPL. Anything I used would have to be licensed under the GPL.

I do make the odd exception now and then with regards to using a product such as having Firefox and NVidia on my PC, however there is no exception with regards code produced.

Considering the number of projects that have been released under the GPL vs the others, I imagine I'm not alone in that conclusion.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Swiftfox, an example of the MPL gone bad.
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 09:49 AM EDT
Swiftfox is a prime example of what is wrong with the MPL. The developer of Swiftfox doesn't actually change the code, he simply "builds" it. The only changes to the code are the cosmetic ones required to remove the Firefox branding.
This is a build specifically for Linux, there is no Windows version. But the builder has placed the Swiftfox license on the compiled binaries. The license restricts distribution and redistribution under the guise of "security". Saying it is making sure tainted versions are not distributed under its name. But the trademark itself would allow this. In fact the application imho is less secure because fewer people use it and look at the code.
This has been pointed out in more than one place. Jason, the developer has a huge foot gun.

[ Reply to This | # ]

They listen
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 10:03 AM EDT
Looks like the Mozilla foundation is listening to their users.
Certain proprietary software vendors have forgotten how to do that - and *their*
users are customers!

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest on the Firefox EULA Matter
Authored by: jiri on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 10:13 AM EDT
Hmm, this sort of thing happens every now and then, this certainly isn't the
first time... The last one that comes to mind was the XFree -> XOrg event in
early 2004. Basically, the leaders of the XFree project tried to change the
license. Within days, they were alone in the project - the bulk of the
developers took the last version of XFree that had the old license and made it
into XOrg.

(X is a fairly significant part of the infrastructure for the GUI in Linux and
most Unix systems.)

Please e-mail me if you reply, I usually read with "No comments".

[ Reply to This | # ]

SUSE doesn't have any issues
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 10:54 AM EDT
SUSE doesn't have any of these issues and never has.

Novell/Suse has rebranded firefox in some ways and never had these issues.

This is why I will never use a different distro.

I will never use Ubuntu, debian or red hat, it's just not worth it, they don't
know what they're doing.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent treatment
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 11:07 AM EDT

At one time, I believe MPL was significantly better than GPL (2) with respect to the treatment of patent threats. Perhaps that was somewhat nullified by the triple license option, allowing abusers to get away with anything that any of the licenses permitted by relicensing.

But I would be interested in seeing a comparison between MPL and GPL3 with respect to patent enforcement.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How can something be licensed under both GPL and MPL?
Authored by: mvs_tomm on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 12:14 PM EDT
MPL says,
You may distribute the Executable version of Covered Code or ownership rights under a license of Your choice . . .
GPL requires that the program can only be redistributed under the GPL. How can both licenses apply?

Tom Marchant

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest on the Firefox EULA Matter
Authored by: DarkPhoenix on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 12:22 PM EDT
Technically, if the need came for one, there's already a setup for Firefox to be
forked, in the person of IceCat, the FSF's build of Firefox (which has source
code as well, of course). It's tri-licensed as well, but I have no doubt that
if the Mozilla Foundation went against the ideas of freedom, the FSF would turn
IceCat into a full fork instead of just a local copy of the Firefox source...

Please note that sections in quotes are NOT copied verbatim from articles, but
are my interpretations of the articles.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"anyone can take MPL code ..."
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 12:29 PM EDT
Actually, PJ, that's not what the license says. The license says anyone can
<i>compile</i> MPL code and license the
<b>executable</b> however they please, but it explicitly states that
such relicensing may not be used to restrict the downstream users' rights in the
the <i>source code</i>.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why not the "just installed" page?
Authored by: Minsk on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 01:04 PM EDT
Maybe I'm completely out to lunch, but what would have motivated them to use an
EULA-like popup rather than just putting it on the "Welcome to
Firefox" page?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is This A Case About: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 01:32 PM EDT

(John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton)

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."


I keep hearing about "the community" in reference to FOSS. But does it really exist? Most FOSS or is it OSS developers are salaried employees working for a company. So is it all about money (and or power); with the "community" (users) being pawns in a money/power game?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols's Blog.
Authored by: SilverWave on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 02:06 PM EDT
Not too sympathetic a post by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols...

I do follow his PT blog as is is usually entertaining and informative... also
very acerbic :)

But in this case I think he is the one who needs the cluestick ...


"And, as for the EULA being restrictive, have any of the people whining
about this EULA actually ever read the major open-source licenses such as the
GPL (Gnu General Public License) version 2 [13], which governs Linux, or its
updated big-brother GPLv3 [14]? Now, there, you'll find some restrictions!

I could live with the revised Mozilla Firefox license as is, and I hope,
Shuttleworth, after having Canonical's lawyers go over it with a fine-comb,
agrees and just puts the new Firefox, EULA and all, in Ubuntu. As for those who
can't live with the revised Firefox EULA: Get over it."

It was not "whining" Steven, it was a point of principle.

It was also the community advising Mozilla that they were making a mistake.

Mozilla have admitted they got it wrong and are now going to remove it - so it
was not wasted effort.

RMS: The 4 Freedoms
0 run the program for any purpose
1 study the source code and change it
2 make copies and distribute them
3 publish modified versions

[ Reply to This | # ]

Indeed past experience has shown
Authored by: billyskank on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 02:29 PM EDT
that nothing motivates more strongly a fork than a licencing issue.

The XFree86 project used to attract lots of criticism on technological and
organisational grounds. But the problems were tolerated until they changed the
licence in an unacceptable way. Then people abandoned the project overnight.

It's not the software that's free; it's you.

[ Reply to This | # ]

we absolutely could not ship what Fedora shipped
Authored by: SilverWave on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 03:31 PM EDT
Well this is interesting on a number ogf levels...


Mark Shuttleworth wrote 1 hour ago: Re: [Bug 269656]
No, Scott, we absolutely could not ship what Fedora shipped, and I hope you will
trust me that that is the case. We also would not have this current conversation
if we had not chosen to ship what was requested, immediately.


Well well...

RMS: The 4 Freedoms
0 run the program for any purpose
1 study the source code and change it
2 make copies and distribute them
3 publish modified versions

[ Reply to This | # ]

Mozilla Show Fixes: Look fine to me!
Authored by: theopensourcerer on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 04:05 PM EDT


The Way Out Is Open

[ Reply to This | # ]

Cannonical's View
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 06:13 PM EDT
PJ said:
I trust both Mozilla and Canonical now see that there is no way to pressure the FOSS community. They don't have to care about that, but it's simply true that there is no 'have to' with FOSS. The majority of the comments I saw on Launchpad were saying that folks were ready to drop both Firefox and Ubuntu in a heartbeat, if necessary. Me too, actually. Mozilla and Canonical can, of course, decide to drop the community.
The Ubuntu version in question is a developer Alpha release. It's not intended for normal "use". It's not evidence that Canonical had agreed to Mozilla's terms. In fact, what we do know about Cannonical's view is that they hadn't agreed to Mozilla's proposal and were still negotiating with them.

When Canonical dumped that version of Firefox EULA out in a developer release, I suspect they knew exactly what the public reaction would be. They did it with no announcement and no explanation, which is guaranteed to get the strongest possible reaction. Shuttleworth was involved in Free Software and Debian long before he founded Canonical, so he would know what the community is like. I wouldn't be surprised if Canonical was in fact counting on getting exactly the reaction they did. Mozilla now seems to have completely reversed their earlier position, so it would appear to have been a very successful tactic for Canonical, whether it was deliberate or not.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest on the Firefox EULA Matter
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 07:24 PM EDT
> You know why Red Hat and Fedora always seem to be the ones
> taking the lead legally and getting things right?

Debian might take issue with that statement.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest on the Firefox EULA Matter
Authored by: JimDiGriz on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 09:39 PM EDT
Rob Sayre’s Mozilla Blog

Robert Sayre

Mozilla is Linux

I think there’s been great progress on the Firefox first run experience. One thing that disturbed me about the initial response was the us vs. them mentality present in the feedback. It’s as though Linux users feel that Mozilla is a giant evil entity of some kind. The fact of the matter is that Mozilla is a tiny company that operates almost completely in the open, which means we make mistakes in public, and lots of us use Linux! We might have to run it on a macbook, because we need to fix bugs on three platforms minimum, but we do it. We’re also really small. Smaller than Opera, let alone Microsoft, Apple, and Google. We do employ a few lawyers. They believe in free software too.

Linux folks, please remember, we are you. As both users and developers. Here’s some Mozilla involvement you might not know about:

  • Mozilla SpiderMonkey is used by many JavaScript embeddings, and distributed as a separate package on Debian.
  • Mozilla developers actively contribute to Cairo, and Firefox 3 ships Cairo on all supported platforms. This was not practical or performant when Mozilla developers began contributing to Cairo.
  • Mozilla developers have contibuted to libbpng, libjpeg, littlecms, pango, pixman, and other graphics libraries.
  • Mozilla developers have actively contributed to valgrind, and built some amazing software on top of it.
  • Mozilla developers now maintain both GNOME and Qt UI code, and contribute patches upstream.
  • Mozilla helps to fund the SQLite Consortium.
  • Many Linux projects use bugzilla.
  • In 2007 alone, the Mozilla Foundation gave grants to the Perl Foundation, Creative Commons, the GNOME foundation, and the FSF, among others. It awarded contracts for work concerning OpenSSL, Accerciser, Orca, GNOME accessibility, and lots more open source accessibility work.
  • Mozilla code and tests are used by WebKit and Chrome, so if you use one of those, Mozilla has helped make it real. It’s not Internet Explorer, and that’s what’s most important.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest on the Firefox EULA Matter - Update: Progress!
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 11:36 PM EDT
Gates is (will be, according to anything I've heard) still the Chairman of the
Board of Microsoft. His "stepping down" simply means he has Balmer
well enough trained to let Stevie handle the day-to-day stuff. Nothing else.
Gates is still in control and will give up control when he's forced to, or

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why doesn't Mozilla just...
Authored by: Alan(UK) on Thursday, September 18 2008 @ 02:59 PM EDT
...release the code in source and binary forms with some suitably bland icons
etc. in place of their trademarks; then...

...release a sooper seekrit, DRM protected, binary-only file containing
encrypted copies of the icons etc. and enough code to check that the source or
binary (as appropriate) is the pure, uncorrupted, Mozilla code - in which case
it replaces the bland icons etc. with Mozilla's trademarks?

RMS can hurl the binary blob into the circular file under his desk and Mark
Shuttleworth can negotiate with Mozilla to have the blob approve the Ubuntu
version and thus insert the trademarks.

Of course it all crashes in ruins of the first update - but that is why you
should never accept binary blobs.

Microsoft is nailing up its own coffin from the inside.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Latest on the Firefox EULA Matter - Update: Progress!
Authored by: bloggsie on Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 09:33 PM EDT
Let's look at this from a user's point of view. In the 'real world of physical
things' the brand on a product signifies to its user that he has purchased a
genuine item, not a cheap, and possibly faulty, knock-off from some sweatshop in
an unknown location. In the F/LOSS situation the concept is identical. If I have
installed a web browser which has the fox and world icon serving as its brand I
want to be quite certain that the program I am going to run is indeed the real
thing from the Mozilla Foundation, not something 'improved' by a clever, but
naive, hacker. In this context let us not forget the recent the Debian debacle
over ssh keys. So my suggestion is that the Mozilla Foundation release their
packages, both as source code and binary executables, without any branding at
all, or with a somewhat undesirable name and icon - 'Frozen-Fowl' and a turkey
ready for the oven immediately come to mind - and also offer a secure method of
branding. My idea is that he branding installer would check that the installed
executable program it was branding was indeed the genuine item before it
installed the icons; be available only from Mozilla controlled archives, and
self destruct after it had done its job. A beneficial side effect of this method
of satisfying the legalities would allow an accurate count of the Firefox
instances. btw Mozilla Foundation, you really should have a small fox &
world brand visible at run-time. An icon to display the about info perhaps?

Ditto all the other F/LOSS apps.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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