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Fox Wars: Debian vs. Mozilla

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Would you believe that two open-source powers are battling over the Firefox Fox logo? Well, believe it.

Mozilla Corp. is insisting that when a Linux distributor includes its own variation of the popular web-browser, Firefox, with its operating system, it must pass any customized code by Mozilla before using its Firefox name or Fox logo.

This is pretty straightforward. Mozilla owns the trademark on the name and logo, so they need to protect it. The company also needs to make sure that when someone clicks on "Firefox," they're running Mozilla-approved Firefox. After all, if something goes wrong with Firefox, Mozilla's programmers want to know that something went wrong with their code rather than someone else's patch.

Debian doesn't see it this way.

Full Story.

Further from the mainstream

This seems to be another example of developers and others deciding that it's easier to beat Debian than join it. :waves:

It's hard work enough leaving the mainstream to use Linux and other open source software without leaving the open source mainstream.

Far out.

For seekers only

Imagine other open-source apps doing this

From the Mozilla Trademark Policy:

Serious Modifications

Those taking full advantage of the open-source nature of Mozilla's products and making significant functional changes may not redistribute the fruits of their labor under any Mozilla trademark. For example, it would be inappropriate for them to say "based on Mozilla Firefox". Instead, in the interest of complete accuracy, they should describe their executables as "based on Mozilla technology", or "incorporating Mozilla source code." They should also change the name of the executable so as to reduce the chance that a user of the modified software will be misled into believing it to be a native Mozilla product.

There are two problems Debian has with Firefox. First, its logo isn't free software as defined by the Debian Free Software Guidelines. So, it's shipped with a modified logo. Mozilla doesn't approve. They say, ship it with the original logo, or don't call it Firefox. Apparently, that's a "serious modification."

Second, Mozilla demands that Debian submit any and all patches made to the source provided by Mozilla for prior approval. Apparently, Debian's patches amount to more "serious modifications" (at least in the eyes of the Mozilla people).

Now, imagine that every open-source app made the same demands. Want to call it The GIMP? Use our new copyrighted logo and pass your patches through us. How about AbiWord? Pan? You can see how there'd be a real mess if everyone took the same attitude that Mozilla's taking.

I'm not saying Mozilla doesn't have the right to defend its trademarks. However, it does seem to be taking a line that is definitely not in the spirit of the open source community here.

><)))°> Debian/Kanotix:

re: Imagine...

Yes, how dare the Mozilla Foundation after providing untold man-hours and real hard-dollars developing (and supporting) one of the more successful open-source projects declare that they want to keep QC in-house.

To top it off, they have the audacity to demand that their effort is marketed by having uniform branding.

Gosh, you'd think they were trying to present a professional and polished application to the world instead of the normal half-assed, eternally half-finished, ill-supported, ego-centric driven, garage band-esque app that the other 95% of the open source projects do.

Indeed, when your for-profit

Indeed, when your for-profit corporation's making millions of dollars in revenue based on the hard work of all those non-paid coders, it sure is important to protect that revenue-producing asset. What's a for-profit subsidiary (Mozilla, Corp.) of a non-profit organization (Mozilla Foundation) going to do with all that money, anyway? Why not hire some lawyers?

Seriously, I can understand Mozilla's position. I can understand Debian's position. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much compromising going on. I'd prefer to see both parties work together to reach an amicable solution.

Ultimately, Firefox is open-source, so Debian can take the code and release it under another name. Despite what the Mozilla guy said, it's not like they change it a whole lot.

(By the way, if you're tired of being stuck with those crappy "95% of the open source projects," there is this other operating system called "Windows" you might be interested in.)
><)))°> Debian/Kanotix:

Why keep the patches?

I can see both arguments. The flaw in Debian's stand is that if Debian has genuine improvements to make, they should go upstream to Mozilla anyway.

Arguing about whether a logo is free software seems like a silly way to waste everyone's time.

For seekers only

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