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Not all Firefox/IceCat addons are free software

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Sante Caserio
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:45 pm    Post subject: Not all Firefox/IceCat addons are free software Reply with quote

Many Firefox addons (extensions and themes) are not Free Software. They have the following problems:

- Some of them have not a licence. The author may think that they are public domain because he did not include a license, but this is wrong. If copyrights are not explicitly granted to the user by the owner through a free software license, they belong to the owner. So, legally this is to be considered proprietary software, even if I think that most of the addons authors don't know that.
- Some addons have a license written by the author and it is not free, because it does not grant some rights to the user.
-Some themes are Free Software, but they emulate the GUIs of proprietary softwares like Micro$hit Window$ and MacOS.

A new page has been added in the official GNU IceCat's website explaining why not all addons can't be considered Free Software and listing some (not all) IceCat/Firefox free addons. If you use some non-free extensions, you may consider contacting the addon author about this problem.


I can't include the url (antispam features).
If you are interested, please search "GNU IceCat" with Google, click on the first result and then click on the "Free Addons" link.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is the URL:


Of course I did not use Google to find this. (:

We are aware of this problem and also the issues with Mozilla's policies.

We talked about addons last night and the plan is to either deploy GNU IceCat/Zilla or have our own custom spin. Anyway, Trademark stuff should be replaced and it should not lead the user to Mozilla's addons and plugins pages.
Further we are planning to create packages of free plugins, so the user can get them from the repositories and doesn't need to go to Mozilla's sites at all.
This list is very helpful to make this happen. Thanks a lot for the info!


PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with IceCat is that it's not a patch of Firefox, so it's a bit harder to work with. I've been working on trying to do an IceCat spin.
Sante Caserio
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't understad: where is the problem in including IceCat? It's mantained by GNU. gNewSense uses it.

But I'm not telling you should use it, I'm just asking for my curiosity :)

Anyway, you are totally right about Google. Sorry about that!

PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Point me to an RPM or SRPM of it and it will be included tomorrow.
Saint of Killers
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm more a fan of Iceweasel myself. It even looks great, and prefer the name and av to the firefox stuff. :)
Sante Caserio
PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that the name and the logo are the only differences between IceWeasel and IceCat :)

but... I don't know if IceWeasel installs non-free plugins. IceCat doesn't.

PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From my understanding, the only difference between IceWeasel and Firefox is the name and logo, from which there is no improvement over Blag's compile of Firefox. With some more tweaking we should be able to get rid of nonfree plugin suggestions, I know on Ubuntu, it will suggest both Flash and Gnash, while normally Firefox will just suggest Flash.

IceCat on the other hand is a modification of the Firefox code to remove nonfree stuff and increase user privacy.

Again, my only issue with IceCat is that they modify the code rather than release it as patches to the Firefox code. This means if the IceCat developer fell into a hole somewhere, releases new security updates would become improbable. The philosophy of Fedora/Redhat is pristine source + patches. This is what has enabled me to release new rpms of core BLAG files that jebba special brewed, even though I couldn't recode it myself.

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