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IceWeasel — Why Closed Source Wins 551

Posted by kdawson
from the some-say-the-world-will-end-in-fire dept.
engtech writes, "There's been some hype about the Debian fork of FireFox called IceWeasel. Politics aside, this is a bad idea because it fragments the user base, divides the focus, and opens the path for Microsoft and Internet Explorer 7 to regain marketshare."
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IceWeasel — Why Closed Source Wins

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  • Missing the point... (Score:5, Informative)

    by roster238 (969495) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @05:28PM (#16414183)
    The point of open source software is to allow users the freedom to modify the code to meet their needs. If you restrict users to one single unmodified browser for the sake of unity then we have met the enemy and he is us.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @05:48PM (#16414513)
    http://www.debian.org/logos/ [debian.org]

    Debian Official Use Logo License

    Copyright (c) 1999 Software in the Public Interest

          1. This logo may only be used if:
                        * the product it is used for is made using a documented procedure as published on www.debian.org (for example official CD-creation)
                        * official approval is given by Debian for its use in this purpose
          2. May be used if an official part of debian (decided using the rules in I) is part of the complete product, if it is made clear that only this part is officially approved
          3. We reserve the right to revoke a license for a product

    Permission has been given to use the official logo on clothing (shirts, hats, etc) as long as they are made by a Debian developer and not sold for profit.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @05:52PM (#16414579) Journal
    You may only use the FireFox trademark if you do not apply patches to FireFox. The Debian team want to apply security fixes and bug fixes to their packaged version. They can either do this and not call it FireFox, or not do it. If you were a Debian user, which would you rather they did?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @05:55PM (#16414625)
    The issue in trademark law not copyright law. Trademark law is a whole different animal. Unlike copyrights and patents, you can lose your trademark if you fail to defend it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @05:58PM (#16414657)
    Debian releases are slow. Debian security patches are lightning fast.
  • by Natasha (31280) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:02PM (#16414699)
    I can understand the need to tune it or fix bugs, but it seems to go beyond that. On the fresh Ubuntu install I recently did, my Firefox has a fun "feature". If you move the mouse over a button, the button goes yellow and flat. And it doesn't change back when you move the mouse away. Hardly what I would describe as tuning or fixing. My first thought when I saw it was "stupid Firefox". My second thought was "It doesn't do that on Windows". Only after that did I think, "Oh, must be a Ubuntu change". Is that really the experience the Mozilla folks want people to have when they interact with the browser for the first time.

    I think the Mozilla folks should probably adjust the licensing terms on the artwork, but it does reflect badly on them when distros make changes that affect the user experience.
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:07PM (#16414771) Homepage Journal
    Dear AC, You quoted Debian's "official use" logo policy, but I think you missed the point. Debian publishes an "unofficial use" logo which allows consistent branding to be used by modified versions. And if you don't call your product "Official Debian", you can modify it.

    A lot of thought was put into that. It would be fine if there was an "Official Firefox" and "Firefox", similarly to the way Debian handles their trademark.

    Bruce

  • by Intron (870560) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:13PM (#16414875)
    Except that the Mozilla developers work on what they want to do, not what you want them to do. Take a look at bug 33654 - TEXTAREA incorrectly applying ROWS= and COLS=. This was reported in 2000 (yes, 6 years ago) and makes forms not line up properly. If you were to fix this, you couldn't technically distribute your fixed version, because the firefox license prohibits it. Hence, iceWeasel.
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:23PM (#16415001) Homepage Journal
    Plus, there is this thing about Trademark law. If you don't actively police it, you can lose the right to the mark.

    I hear this repeated a lot. It's not true. If you allow your mark to become generic you can lose your right to it. Firefox is not at risk of this happening. Google is. You can be selective about enforcement as long as you don't allow the mark to become generic.

    Debian has handled this problem, for years, by having an official-use and an un-official-use logo for their own distribution. This allows people to package the program with modifications and still use consistent branding.

    Bruce

  • by Kelson (129150) * on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:24PM (#16415017) Homepage Journal
    Plus, there is this thing about Trademark law. If you don't actively police it, you can lose the right to the mark.

    Of course, they can actively police it *and* grant permission to use it. That didn't work in this case, because the conditions Mozilla placed on that permission weren't acceptable to Debian.

    Also, I seem to recall something in the DFSG such that licenses *must* be transferable to derived products. I suspect Mozilla's trademark license would have been specific to Debian, and therefore not qualify for the DFSG.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:27PM (#16415073)

    I only used Debian for apt. It totally blows away yum. But, with the slow ass release cycles I can't take it much longer.

    Don't use the stable branch then, use testing or unstable. With only some care before upgrading (forget dist-upgrade) and using apt-listbugs you should be fine and using bleeding edge software (I upgraded to KDE 3.5.5 some days ago, and guess when it was released).

    Debian has solutions for almost everything, you just have to learn.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:30PM (#16415111)
    You may want to hit yourself with the cluestick. It's not that they don't want the logo changed (they don't). It's that they don't want the logo or name used on anything that hasn't been vetted by Mozilla - so no security updates for you unless they come from Mozilla. This is particularly a problem if a distribution wants to support older versions of the program by backporting fixes rather than updating the package. Other distributions will have to deal with this problem too if Mozilla doesn't change their stance; Debian is just the first to face it.
  • What the DFSG says (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:32PM (#16415133) Homepage Journal
    DFSG #4 explicitly says that an Open Source license can require you to change the name if you modify the product.

    That said, a well-designed trademark policy (like Debian's) provides a mark that they explicitly recommend that you to use if you modify the product, which does not throw their own branding out the window. The Mozilla.com people simply haven't thought that through sufficiently.

    Bruce

  • by krmt (91422) <therefrmhere@yaC ... minus physicist> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:42PM (#16415247) Homepage
    Trademark law requires that the name be different enough to not cause confusion. As a result, FreeFox or FireFaux or any of the other similar ones might cause problems and just result in Debian having to rename it yet again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:52PM (#16415363)
    Oh, wait!

    1) I've made this "humping weasel" logo (see https://wiki.ubuntu.com/IceWeaselIcon [ubuntu.com] ) and I'm not involved in the development of Debian, Ubuntu, Firefox or IceWeasel in any kind.
    2) This logo is NOT the official logo of IceWeasel! It is still up for discussion what the logo will look like.
    3) There is NO political statement intended. This logo was made "just for fun". It is based on the original, not animated and completely inoffensive logo of Mark Riedesel (see the wiki).

    So, don't blame the people behind Debian, Ubuntu or IceWeasel. They are simply not involved in the creation of this "funny" logo. Blame me instead. Thanks.
  • by alexhs (877055) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:01PM (#16415489) Homepage Journal
    Except trolls nobody seems to disagree with you in that thread (when I started writing this post), so i feel I need to explain why you arguments are bogus instead of modding you down.

    Since every package modifies the base system, the only way to prove that a package will work is to test it against every possible package configuration available!

    Each package is independant with others except with its own dependencies. Those dependencies happen to be linear : for P packages, nP total dependencies, with n an integer independant of the number of packages. It's the job of a Debian package maintainer to check the dependencies are fulfilled and working : each maintener just needs to check n dependencies. That's part of the job people are doing to move a new version of a package from sid (unstable) to testing. I will add that chain of dependencies are irrelevant : if A needs B and B needs C, maintainer of A checks his program working against B, while it's the duty of the maintainer of B to check his program works with C. The only cross-dependancies are for kernel-mode code, that is only drivers.

    In fact it's better than the windows "DLL hell", because the state of the system is known (for a Debian stable for exemple), while on MS Windows... Your program has been developped and tested for DirectX 8, will it work with DirectX 9 ? No way to know what the state of the user's system will be (and no developper includes DirectX as a static dependency, it isn't even possible). It's no wonder that most OSes are using repositories (Linux, BSD, QNX, BeOS with software wallet, that one being somewhat different IIRC).

    any software that's not in the repository is not well supported by the packaging system.

    You seem to ignore that there isn't a single central repository. Want Opera browser ? Just add http://deb.opera.com/opera/ [opera.com] in your repositories list, and you get the official binary matching your version of Debian, checked against it.

    If something is not clear, feel free to ask for details.
  • by Natasha (31280) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:37PM (#16415859)
    *doh* You're right. I didn't even think about plugins and sure enough, I've got a plugin that turns submit buttons yellow if the form is secure. Since that's the only issue I've found while using Firefox so I don't see what Mozilla could be complaining about.
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:08PM (#16416317) Homepage Journal
    Oh.

    Unfortunately, Bon Echo and Deer Park are version names. We need non-version-dependent stable branding that unifies modified versions and the official firefox into a consistent branding program. The Official Debian CD (really the only place Debian uses their official-use logo) and their unofficial-use logo seem to do this well.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:47PM (#16416859)
    I am moving away because if the slow as balls release cycles.


    This is a feature. A slow release cycle is a benefit in many environments - a high-end teaching environment, for example, absolutely can not be deploying a functionality-changing upgrade more than once a year, because you'll screw over all the work currently in progress if you do it in the middle of the academic year. A lot of businesses also need to keep disruption to a minimum, which means infrequent upgrades - any high end sysadmin will tell you that "upgrade" is synonymous with "downtime and more trouble tickets than usual". A distribution which forces you to upgrade often in order to maintain support is entirely inappropriate in such an environment.

    You are obviously not the target audience. Please hurry up and use something else so that we don't have to listen to you gripe about it any more. If you're using the wrong tool for the job then that's your own fault. (Quite what job requires using only software that is less than 6 months old is unclear, but I'll just assume that you do have a reason and aren't simply crazy)
  • Re:Seamonkey (Score:5, Informative)

    by zsau (266209) <slashdot@[ ]cart ... t ['the' in gap]> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:04PM (#16417721) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the Debian version of Firefox contains various patches which the Mozilla people aren't happy about (including security patches--Debian wants to keep versions in Debian/Stable secure, but Mozilla wants everyone to use the latest version). Iceweasel is a fork that doesn't intend to diverge very far from the original codebase, but a fork it is nonetheless.
  • Re:Seamonkey (Score:5, Informative)

    by Arker (91948) on Friday October 13, 2006 @05:32AM (#16420727) Homepage
    It's a little more than that. Debian maintains a stable branch, and when firefox (or any other app) releases a new version, debian stable sticks with the old one, but backports any security and stability work. This appears to be what the mozilla folks have a problem with - when they release a new version they want everyone to move to it. Debian just doesn't work that way though. They maintain their stable version independently, and do a damn good job of it - security work gets backported, but new features (statistically suspect to introduce new issues that won't be discovered or fixed for awhile) don't. Mozilla says they can't use the name and logo, so they're going to call it iceweasel now. But other than that, it's really a continuation of what they've *always* done with this and every other upstream package. You can call it a fork if you want, but if it's a fork it's a parrallel fork and it's not starting now, it's been going for many years.
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Friday October 13, 2006 @04:44PM (#16429869) Homepage Journal
    Oh, gee, Russ. It might be helpful if you were to actually provide some evidence to refute what I said, instead of just abuse. I know you call yourself "the angry economist", but it really seems that you're just angry.

    Actually, I have this from Pixar's head attorney, Larry Sonsini, some years ago. At the time, we were considering how much we needed to enforce the "Renderman" mark.

    But I looked at 14 USC 1064 (3), which says you can lose your trademark if:

    (3) At any time if the registered mark becomes the generic name for the goods or services, or a portion thereof, for which it is registered, or is functional, or has been abandoned, or its registration was obtained fraudulently or contrary to the provisions of section 4 or of subsection (a), (b), or (c) of section 2 for a registration under this Act, or contrary to similar prohibitory provisions of such said prior Acts for a registration under such Acts, or if the registered mark is being used by, or with the permission of, the registrant so as to misrepresent the source of the goods or services on or in connection with which the mark is used.

    If the registered mark becomes the generic name for less than all of the goods or services for which it is registered, a petition to cancel the registration for only those goods or services may be filed.

    A registered mark shall not be deemed to be the generic name of goods or services solely because such mark is also used as a name of or to identify a unique product or service.

    The primary significance of the registered mark to the relevant public rather than purchaser motivation shall be the test for determining whether the registered mark has become the generic name of goods or services on or in connection with which it has been used.

    And then 45 USC 1127 (way down the page, not sure of the paragraph numbering)
    Abandonment of mark.

    A mark shall be deemed to be "abandoned" if either of the following occurs:

    (1) When its use has been discontinued with intent not to resume such use. Intent not to resume may be inferred from circumstances. Nonuse for 3 consecutive years shall be prima facie evidence of abandonment. "Use" of a mark means the bona fide use of such mark made in the ordinary course of trade, and not made merely to reserve a right in a mark.

    (2) When any course of conduct of the owner, including acts of omission as well as commission, causes the mark to become the generic name for the goods or services on or in connection with which it is used or otherwise to lose its significance as a mark. Purchaser motivation shall not be a test for determining abandonment under this paragraph.

    This was on the web for you to look up.

    Bruce

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