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Firefox To Be Renamed In Debian 625

Posted by kdawson
from the browser-formerly-known-as dept.
Viraptor writes, "Debian is ready to change the name of Firefox in its distributions, beginning with Etch. They say it can be done within a week. The reasons stem from Mozilla's recent insistence on trademark fidelity and its preferences regarding Firefox patches. Debian doesn't want to accept the original trademarked fox & globe logo; they don't see it as really 'free' to use. On the other hand, Mozilla doesn't want Firefox distributed under that name if it lacks the logo. Mozilla also wants Debian patches to be submitted to them before distribution, and claims that's what others (Red Hat and Novell) are already doing. But some believe development and releases will slow down if distribution-specific patches have to be checked and accepted first. We will surely see more clashes between copyright claims and 'really free' distros such as Debian. Ubuntu is also asking similar questions." No word yet what the new name will be or what the logo will look like.
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Firefox To Be Renamed In Debian

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  • Well, then: (Score:5, Informative)

    by A beautiful mind (821714) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:18PM (#16259011)
    Word [wikipedia.org].
    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:29PM (#16259115)
      Or they could use a different logo/name combo that is quite similar to the original - how about FireFoxy [vegard2.no].
      • Funny and disturbing at the same time.

        The artist needs to get out more!

      • And I guess Foxy is in the eye of the beholder : http://firefoxy.vegard2.no/firefoxy_045_cosplay_76 8x1024.html [vegard2.no]
      • by maximusind (893564) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @01:01PM (#16259375)
        That is probably the gayest thing I've ever seen. And I've seen two dudes fucking, too.
      • FreeFox (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mcvos (645701) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @01:38PM (#16259713)
        Or they could use a different logo/name combo that is quite similar to the original

        I prefer FreeFox. Still very recognisable, while at the same time rubbing it in that Firefox is not truly free.

        • Re:FreeFox (Score:5, Insightful)

          by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Saturday September 30, 2006 @04:23PM (#16260945) Homepage

          Firefox is free, however it's trademark protected and that means you can't both hack it to pieces and use the Firefox name+brand. That's entirely reasonable - if I took Debian, changed things randomly that broke it in obscure ways then shipped it as Debian using the Debian logo of course they'd be pissed off too.

          And for those who are wondering, yes, this is exactly what happened. The tensions between the Mozilla team and Debian have been around for ages, this is not news, but it got a lot worse lately. Firefox is getting larger and the quality of the brand matters a lot more, meanwhile, the Debian guys were taking Firefox and making massive changes to it. For instance I've seen persistent reports from many different people that the Ubuntu Firefox is much slower than the official build. The last time I came across this issue, it was because Debian had completely forked the XULRunner platform - some guy felt it was "too Windows-like" and that "the UNIX way was superior". So, day was night and night was day and the XUL platform Mozilla wanted to push was already incompatible and forked. The developers who had designed this platform were understandably angry and now Debian has got what it deserves.

          Anyway, none of this really matters. Debian is non-existant on the desktop and has an atrocious brand. Meanwhile Firefox has a very strong brand. One of the reasons Fedora et al ship Firefox and not the GNOMEified Epiphany equivalent is because customers know the Firefox name and want it, and don't know the Epiphany name. On the desktop Debian vs Firefox is no contest.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by zsau (266209)
            I don't think Debian is in competition with anyone, least of all Firefox. As far as I can tell, Debian does things because Debian alone considers them to be better. No-one seriously interested in Debian will think it doesn't come with a Firefox-equivalent browser just because it doesn't come with a browser named Firefox: this sort of thing will be clearly mentioned, and in any case, unlike on Windows it's easy to find and run all the Web Browsers on Debian so you'll be able to tell what you want (tho, perso
          • The confusion is similar to other Linux-based distros, only manifesting more strongly in this case:

            What is the OS and what are the "Extra apps"?

            Does this mean Firefox is part and parcel of the OS, and if so then why is the whole domain of GUI stuff treated as extras? If not, then why the urgent need to impose their tweaks on those programs?

            I keep getting the impression they don't want to have a clear policy on desktop use, reworking applications, trademarks, etc, so they just switch between different attitu
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by trifish (826353)
        Or they could use a different logo/name combo that is quite similar to the original

        Or, they couldn't. Trademark law forbids not only names that are the same but also "quite similar" to a trademark.
    • Re:Well, then: (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rlbond86 (874974) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:25PM (#16260057)
      Just more proof that some Linux users are far too elitist. Who cares if the firefox logo is trademarked? Now we'll have two distros of firefox. This is what I hate about open source. Too many daughter projects spin off the main one and the original project becomes less focused.

      Way to go, Debian.

      • by psamuels (64397) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:54PM (#16260267) Homepage
        Just more proof that some Linux users are far too elitist. Who cares if the firefox logo is trademarked?

        We don't, particularly — the trademark isn't the problem. What we care about is that it also has a copyright license that does not allow any derivative works. So, you can't start with a Firefox logo image, pull up your favorite image editor and hack it into something new and interesting — say, for example, an icon set for a desktop theme.

        Debian takes the right to modify software very seriously. And yes, that includes images shipped with software.

        It is possible to trademark an image yet still allow derivative works to be created from it. Mozilla Corp, unfortunately, chose not to do this.

        • by aziegler (201013) <halostatue@@@gmail...com> on Saturday September 30, 2006 @04:27PM (#16260965) Homepage
          Debian takes that right very seriously, and it has the right; Mozilla doesn't have a problem with that. However, their unmodified images are part of the branding, and the use of the name with the logo is mandatory as part of the branding. Mozilla's lawyers indicated to them (by my reading of the original thread) that while they *could* trademark the Firefox logo and make it under a modifications-allowed license, they would greatly risk their ability to police and enforce the Firefox logo as a trademark. Similarly, Debian's patches are of questionable quality and necessity and allowing the use of the "Firefox" name with these questionably patched versions would potentially damage the quality of the Firefox mark.

          Debian just can't expect to get a free ride for doing a half-job. Or even, as the case appears to be, a quarter-job.

          As has been pointed out: Debian takes its image and mark very seriously, too. Why the bitching by Debian supporters when they have to make changes for the very sort of thing that they do themselves?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Marcion (876801)
      I think "Web Browser" would be the way forward. After all, everything gets renamed in Gnome menus anyway.
  • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:19PM (#16259021) Homepage
    Will Debian stop using the Linux trademark as well?
    • by KFW (3689) * on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:24PM (#16259069)
      Agreed. I find it ironic that Debian also has restrictions on their copyrighted logos. See: http://www.debian.org/logos/ [debian.org]

      /K
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ByTor-2112 (313205)
        Hah.

        Although Debian can be obtained for free and will always remain that way, events such as the problem with the ownership of the term Linux have shown that Debian needs to protect its property from any use which could hurt its reputation.


        Just s/Debian/Mozilla and you have the exact reason the Mozilla people are protecting their image. For shame, Debian.
      • by Mistshadow2k4 (748958) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @01:22PM (#16259547) Journal
        Exactly. Don't get me wrong, I love Debian, but I've sen them do the same thing more than once. Remeber ProgenyDebian? Can't recall what it's called now. More recently there was GenieOS [toluenterprises.com], originally called DebianPure. And if I'm not mistaken, there was something about another project using Debian's genie logo; I'm surprised they haven't decided that GenieOS's genie logo is too similar to theirs as well. They've got no room to be griping if they do.
      • by ISayWeOnlyToBePolite (721679) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @01:28PM (#16259619)
        Well since you didn't quote the restrictions on the image used by amongst others slashdot, here it is:

        This logo or a modified version may be used by anyone to refer to the Debian project, but does not indicate endorsement by the project.

        Fairly liberal I'd say, and if you care to contrast with Mozilla's trademark policy [mozilla.org] it makes a world of difference.
        • Selective quoting (Score:4, Interesting)

          by KFW (3689) * on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:11PM (#16259949)
          But that isn't all that is on the page. How about at the top:
           
          Although Debian can be obtained for free and will always remain that way, events such as the problem with the ownership of the term "Linux" have shown that Debian needs to protect its property from any use which could hurt its reputation.

            Or (regarding the Debian Official Use Logo):
           
          This logo may only be used if ... official approval is given by Debian for its use in this purpose.
          It would seem that Debian recognizes that the use of trademarks is important to protecting the reputation of a project, and may even require approval in some cases. So why should they expect FireFox to be any different?
          /K
          • Re:Selective quoting (Score:5, Informative)

            by masklinn (823351) <slashdot,org&masklinn,net> on Saturday September 30, 2006 @04:26PM (#16260961)

            So why should they expect FireFox to be any different?

            They don't, part of Debian's build process for Firefox strips the logo (and some other things, anything considered "non-free" actually). They had striked a deal with some Mozilla spokeperson some time ago about that, and were allowed to use the Firefox name without the Firefox logo (the Mozilla branding usually requires you to have them together, and probably imposes some other things, if you want to use the Mozilla Firefox brand), but it looks like that policy has changed and they can't anymore.

            Which means that now they can either include the logo (which they can't, since it's non-free, unless they move Fx to non-free packages) or stop using the name.

            They picked the later.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 30, 2006 @01:34PM (#16259661)
        Wow... This has to be one of the most misleading and uninformative comments I've read on Slashdot in a long while. (And that's saying something!)

        If you had actually taken the time to read the page you linked, you'd notice that Debian has TWO logos to explicitly prevent situations like the one that Mozilla is creating.

        From the page that YOU linked:
        Debian has decided to create two logos: one logo is for official Debian use; the other logo falls under an open use type license.


        So what, exactly, is your problem with Debian's logo situation?
    • by Justin205 (662116) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:24PM (#16259071) Homepage
      The difference is that the Linux trademark is much more free to be used than the Firefox trademark. Read Mozilla's trademark policy [mozilla.org] and you might see some of why Debian has a problem.

      And of course, the Linux kernel does not, and never has, required patches to be submitted before they're used. Distros like Gentoo maintain a set of their own patches for the Linux kernel, with no problems. Debian also has their own kernel patches, last I checked.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by On Lawn (1073)
        Distros like Gentoo maintain a set of their own patches for the Linux kernel

        The gentoo kernel which has the patches is different than the linux kernel.

        * sys-kernel/gentoo-sources
        Latest version available: 2.6.17-r7
        Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
        Size of files: 40,538 kB
        Homepage: http://dev.gentoo.org/~dsd/genpatches [gentoo.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Will Debian stop using the Linux trademark as well?

      If Linus tells them that he doesn't want them to use his trademark in relation to their modified version of the kernel then yes, they will stop using the trademark. What would you suggest instead, fight it out in court?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by JimDaGeek (983925)
      Yup. The Debian people are becoming idiots. Just switch to Ubuntu and say goodbye to Debian. Debian moves too slow to be useful anymore. I hope all the sane Debian people move over to Ubuntu.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:21PM (#16259037)
    Irefox.
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:22PM (#16259047) Homepage Journal
    Firesomething [mozilla.org] is an extension that keeps changing the name you see. It's for people who aren't willing to wait for the regular changes like m/b->Phoenix->Firebird->Mozilla Firebird->Firefox->whatever Debian calls it.
    • by cp.tar (871488)

      Thank you. You saved me the trouble of linking it myself.

      BTW, my current window is named Mozilla Fireoriole. I prefer the A.C.M.E. prefix myself, but can't be bothered to actually completely remove Mozilla. It just doesn't seem right.

  • FireBollox (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HermanAB (661181) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:23PM (#16259051)
    This is no big deal. My Mandriva install has a blue earth for a FF logo. Changing the branding in Debian will be easy and the only losers will be the Mozilla corporate moguls. Even the FF project won't lose anything.
    • Re:FireBollox (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rhavenn (97211) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:32PM (#16259139)
      No, Firefox is finally getting some name recognition and when people install Ubuntu or whatever they will be looking for "FireFox" and not whatever name Debian comes up with. It's a "brand". Linux splinters everytime someone has a little tiff and people wonder why there is no marketshare. The brand gets so splintered that any newb trying to figure out what to run is totally lost and yes, the Linux community needs newbs.

      Debian really needs to get the stick out of their ass. It's a great server distro, but if they want any sort of desktop marketshare then they have to change. Ubuntu better tell Debian to shove it and include the logo and Firefox as Moz wants them too otherwise you're just going to confuse people. Not everyone wants to read Wiki's and forums to figure out that the browser they have is indeed Firefox.

      In addition, so Debian starts patching and they start breaking extensions. Hmmm...people get pissed and stop using the browser and then stop using Debian cause the browser sucks.

      • Re:FireBollox (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Randle_Revar (229304) <kelly.clowers@gmail.com> on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:58PM (#16259343) Homepage Journal
        You have it backwards. Mozilla is the one being unresonable here. Other open source projects have trademarks but they don't insist that Debian must use a different name because they have custom patches.
        • But they should! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:53PM (#16260261) Homepage
          A trademark MUST stand for something other than "Well, we started with this but hacked the hell out of it so it's something completely different now." Mozilla is NOT being unreasonable. The other projects which let people misuse their trademarks are risking the loss of enforcibility of their trademark.

          Yes, this is an issue that the open source world has not thought very deeply about yet.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        How can Debian just start using the logo? Even if the logo were DFSG compliant, Debian would still be required to submit every patch that they make, including critical security fixes, to the Mozilla Foundation for an approval process before being allowed to distribute them. Due to Debian's stability requirements, fixes are backported for old versions of Firefox which are no longer maintained by Mozilla. But the Mozilla Foundation has stated that they don't care about this, and even suggested that Debian sta
      • by vadim_t (324782)
        So use Ubuntu then.

        Debian's dedicated to the Free Software ideology, not to capitalism.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by NDPTAL85 (260093)
          You are missing the point. Debian's dedication to ANYTHING won't matter if no one runs it. The desire to see Linux gain marketshare isn't just about making capitalist profits. Its to make sure open source software in general thrives instead of mererely survives in a murky backwater where largely no one knows about it.
    • My browser has a nice little blue globe too [kde.org]. There are too many alternative to keep track of.

  • new logo (Score:5, Funny)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:23PM (#16259063)
    Maybe it'll be a blue world or circle, with 'Internet' in the name somewhere, and perhaps, as its used to explore the wonders of the internet, add the word 'Explorer' to it perhaps.

    I can't see that catching on though, they'll call it WaterVole or something equally stupid :)
  • Didn't Prince try this in the 90's?
    • by Dausha (546002) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @01:49PM (#16259827) Homepage
      "Didn't Prince try this in the 90's?"

      That was just Prince wanting to release albums but not owning his own stage name. Apparently, his earlier contract included the stage name. The contract must have been for albums and term of years, so that when the albums were out he could contract elsewhere, but he couldn't take his name with him.

      Or, I suppose you could say that "Prince" was his slave name.
  • Nerds arguing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Valacosa (863657) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:29PM (#16259107)
    I'm sure that most of you would agree, there's nothing worse than being forced to watch two nerds argue. They can yell at each other about the most trivial of details, and neither one will budge. It's kind of like elk.

    Watching open source development is like watching 50,000 nerds argue.
  • by BHearsum (325814) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:29PM (#16259113) Homepage
    Here is a link to the thread on debian's bugzilla:
    http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=3 54622 [debian.org]

    The trademark problems discussed make the issue pretty clear.
    • by OverlordQ (264228) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @06:46PM (#16261839) Journal
      hese are
      the conditions you need to get on board with:

      - All changes the distributor wishes to make to the source code must be
      provided as discrete patches, along with a description of why the change
      is required
      - Releases are expected to be based on the CVS tag and/or source tarball
      for the release version, plus approved patches.
      - build configurations should also be submitted for approval.
      - The logo and the trademark are required to be used together.


      To me #1 and #3 are blatant restrictions on the freedom of using firefox, so I can agree with Debian's stance of calling it something else.
  • Stakes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drooling-dog (189103) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:31PM (#16259129)
    Someone once said that academic politics is so fierce precisely because the stakes are so low. Maybe that applies in this case as well...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      the stakes are so low

      Actually, it's because Firefox is arguably the most popular and most visible Open Source product (practically all current Linux machines have Firefox installed, and a sizable number of Windows and Mac machines do too). You don't see this discussion about the GIMP, Apache, even Emacs, because the user base is smaller and is familiar enough with the product and where it comes from that branding isn't an issue.
    • Mmmmm, stakes.....
  • Submitting patches (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:31PM (#16259131)
    Mozilla also wants Debian patches to be submitted to them before distribution, and claims that's what others (Red Hat and Novell) are already doing.

    This is only the case if the Firefox trademark will be used. Now that Debian is changing the name, they don't need to have their patches vetted.

    There's been complaints for years and years at Mozilla over the dubious quality of some of the Debian patches, not to mention the very large amount of them (Debian users have a hard time getting support in the Mozilla IRC channels because there's a thousand and one new weird issues that are unique to Debian), and that's directly helped shape the policy that the trademarks can only be used with unaltered products, or with the alterations directly vetted. This is not unreasonable. The actual code is still completely free and available for everyone to do with as they please - it's purely the Firefox branding (and its meaning as a high-quality product) that's being protected here.

    Read the Mozilla Trademark Policy [mozilla.org].

    • by BeeBeard (999187) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @01:01PM (#16259381)
      Thank you for helping to clear that up. I followed a link in another post where the essence of the argument over the issue was supposedly located, and it ended up being page after unreadable page of typical Debian infighting.

      Debian's problem has always been that its handlers place users and the usability of their distribution far below very petty internal arguments intended to frame the distro as some sort of legal pioneer (Debian Linux vs. Debian GNU/Linux "controversy" anyone?). It's a huge turnoff to the non-zealots among us, and certainly makes for bad PR.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vadim_t (324782)
        So pick another distro.

        Seriously, Debian is the THE zealot distro. They obsess about Free Software. If that's not your thing, go with something else, plenty alternatives around.
        • Thank you... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by msimm (580077)
          There is one for everyone. Debians developers don't have to be developing for *you*. Just like you have (a whole lot of) choices as to which distro suits you best.

          Don't like the hard-line approach but want to get gritty: try Gentoo. Don't like their politics; Linux From Scratch. Want something immediate and usable? Redhat. Suse. Mandrake (I just can say Mandriva with a straight face). Linspire (from the founder of mp3.com!). Or even Ubuntu, although I don't know how close they are to the core Debian crew
      • by fv (95460) * <fyodor@insecure.org> on Saturday September 30, 2006 @03:06PM (#16260351) Homepage
        Debian's problem has always been that its handlers place users and the usability of their distribution far below very petty internal arguments intended to frame the distro as some sort of legal pioneer

        Debian did not choose this battle. They have been distributing Firefox for years in the same way they distribute other open source software. It was Mozilla who forced the issue by threatening legal action [debian.org] if Debian doesn't change the name or start submitting all patches (even security patches) to Mozilla for permission before they are applied. Mike Conner of Mozilla says "you should consider this, as I previously said, notice that your usage of the trademark is not permitted in this way, and we are expecting a resolution. If your choice is to cease usage of the trademark rather than bend the [Debian Free Software Guidelines] a little, that is your decision to make."

        Debian asked "could we at least get a stay of execution? Etch is going into deep freeze in less than a month. Would it be possible to resolve this after the release?" and Mozilla responded that "If we were forced to revoke your permission to use the trademark, freeze state would not matter, you would be required to change all affected packages as soon as possible. Its not a nice thing to do, but we would do it if necessary, and we have done so before."

        Many legal squabbles are instigated by Debian, but this isn't one of them. Mozilla has forced the issue. Linux Weekly News wrote a good summary of the situation. [lwn.net]

        -Fyodor
        Insecure.Org [insecure.org]

        • by Josh Triplett (874994) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @04:24PM (#16260953) Homepage
          Debian did not choose this battle. They have been distributing Firefox for years in the same way they distribute other open source software. It was Mozilla who forced the issue by threatening legal action if Debian doesn't change the name or start submitting all patches (even security patches) to Mozilla for permission before they are applied. Mike Conner of Mozilla says "you should consider this, as I previously said, notice that your usage of the trademark is not permitted in this way, and we are expecting a resolution. If your choice is to cease usage of the trademark rather than bend the [Debian Free Software Guidelines] a little, that is your decision to make."

          Not only that, but that statement directly revoked the previous standing agreement Debian had with Gervase Markham from Mozilla, which essentially said that Mozilla trusted Debian's (generally conservative) judgement on patches. With this pointed out, Mike Connor confirmed that Gervase did indeed make that agreement, and that Mozilla wished to revoke it.

          I understand the Mozilla Foundation/Corporation's issue here, and they certainly have the right to defend their trademarks; that defense itself doesn't necessarily go against Free Software principles. As I understand it, Debian doesn't have any problem with the *trademarks* on the software, because a big build switch exists to turn them on and off; however, Debian *does* have a problem with the non-free copyright license on the images, and thus doesn't use them.

          The other problem lies in the fact that Mozilla doesn't really care about the quality of Debian's patches, as much as about getting everyone to use the official releases, regardless of distro policy. They don't like Debian backporting security fixes to 1.0 rather than upgrading people to 1.5, or backporting fixes to 1.5 rather than using Mozilla's (large) point releases; Debian has a "no new upstream versions" policy for stable releases, to avoid breaking things, and many people who run Debian stable rely on that policy.
  • by CTho9305 (264265) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:34PM (#16259161) Homepage
    The reasons stem from Mozilla's recent insistence on trademark fidelity and its preferences regarding Firefox patches. Debian doesn't want to accept the original trademarked fox & globe logo; they don't see it as really 'free' to use. On the other hand, Mozilla doesn't want Firefox distributed under that name if it lacks the logo.

    The problem with allowing the name and logo to be separated is that it damages the brand identity - people might wonder whether this "Firefox" with one logo is really the same as a "Firefox" with a different logo, or people might think the unofficial logo is the official one (which would clearly harm the brand - consider Firefox t-shirts and the logo).

    Mozilla also wants Debian patches to be submitted to them before distribution, and claims that's what others (Red Hat and Novell) are already doing. But some believe development and releases will slow down if distribution-specific patches have to be checked and accepted first.

    Both sides have a point. Often, problems that users encounter with "Firefox" in distributions turn out to be a result of the questionable downstream modifications [burntelectrons.org] the distro maintainers added. Do you really think Mozilla would be worried and spending their time on these kinds of issues if there wasn't a good chance that people would associate Mozilla Firefox with low quality due to distro modifications? If there was no risk of damaging the brand, it would certainly be better for everyone to use the same logo and name.

    From the distro's point of view, of course it's annoying to have to get approval on all patch sets. However, there is generally a long time between releases anyway (especially Debian's releases ;)), and so long as the distro's patch set doesn't change between security releases, no additional review is required (as I understand it) for the security updates, so this really shouldn't be a problem there.

    We will surely see more clashes between copyright claims and 'really free' distros such as Debian. Ubuntu is also asking similar questions.

    One irony of the situation is that Debian itself has the same problem with their branding: if you modify the distribution, you can't call it Debian any more. It's an unfortunate issue that if you want to have a useful (i.e. recognizable and trusted) brand, you can't allow people to ship their own derivatives of your product while using your branding.

    Allowing users of your product complete freedom is a nice ideal, but it's not possible to do under the current laws unless you place no value on branding.
    • by Noksagt (69097) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @01:18PM (#16259511) Homepage
      I disagree. This issue started as a copyright issue, which was never resolved. Debian is NOT able to use the COPYRIGHTed image of the logo. MozCo didn't grant them permission to use it (which is why it wasn't used by Gentoo or many other distributions for a long time) & the license would run contrary to DFSG anyway. Trademark was not an issue--Debian was allowed to use the trademark (as was Gentoo and as were other distros).

      It is only now, that Mozilla has changed the way they police and grand permission for their trademark, that the trademark has become an issue. Other distros have been able to get trademark permission. There is no way for Debian to get this same permission while that image remains under a non-permissive copyright & while it remains a term for trademark use.
      The problem with allowing the name and logo to be separated is that it damages the brand identity
      This is really ridiculous--brandnames and logos are separated ALL the time.
      Often, problems that users encounter with "Firefox" in distributions turn out to be a result of the questionable downstream modifications the distro maintainers added.
      No other F/OSS software package seems to have an insurmountable problem with this. They don't even have major problems with Gentoo & the strange CFLAGS or compiler arguments that some users of that distro use. Bugs are typically reported to the distro. If it is an upstream probelm, they'll hear about it.
      From the distro's point of view, of course it's annoying to have to get approval on all patch sets. However, there is generally a long time between releases anyway (especially Debian's releases ;)), and so long as the distro's patch set doesn't change between security releases, no additional review is required (as I understand it) for the security updates, so this really shouldn't be a problem there.
      It is more than "annoying." It is dangerous. Distros should NOT have to wait for approval for patching security bugs. This isn't just theoretical--Debian does backport fixes to versions of Firefox that Mozilla stopped maintaining. While there is some time between releases, the package repositories get updated all the time.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        This is really ridiculous--brandnames and logos are separated ALL the time.

        Erm, no they aren't. Many, many companies use logos that are simultaneously their brand names.

        No other F/OSS software package seems to have an insurmountable problem with this. They don't even have major problems with Gentoo & the strange CFLAGS or compiler arguments that some users of that distro use.

        That is completely wrong. Many projects have big issues with "questionable downstream modifications". I spent several years

  • You can read the discussion in the bug report [debian.org].

    I'm not a Debian user & do use many Mozilla products, but I think MozCo could have handled this better.

    The logo is under a non-permissive copyright, which Debian objects to & which Mozilla has always defended from others using in "non-official" builds (including in Gentoo and the "optimized" builds for Windows and Mac by fans in the forums). These builds used a generic logo (the blue globe of the official logo, but without the orange firefox) or made th
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CTho9305 (264265)
      No, as I understand it, the problem is really trademark-related. Debian has HUGE patches that are of questionable quality, and the Mozilla Corporation is worried people will assume the flaky browser shipped by Debian represents the quality of Firefox. If you've never looked at a distro's patch sets, you really should - it's frightening - MUCH more than just a few lines of code or build config changes to put libraries in specific places. That the logo is under a different copyright licenses is more of a s
  • ...what was it that allowed Microsoft to win out over the various waring Unix operating systems a few years ago?

    Oh, yes, I remember, they couldn't work together to provide a unified user experience, each wanted to be distinct and make stuff different just for the sake of being different.

    There seems to be a general forgetting of who the real enemy is.

    • There seems to be a general forgetting of who the real enemy is.


      Perhaps because "winning" in certain ways is not really winning. Unseating Microsoft is not a particularly good goal. Making better software is.

  • by mad.frog (525085) <stevenNO@SPAMcrinklink.com> on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:42PM (#16259225)
    After all, if there's an enemy to the FOSS movement, it's *definitely* the Mozilla Foundation...
  • by Noksagt (69097) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:50PM (#16259281) Homepage
    Why is this only happening with Firefox? Why not Thunderbird or the other Mozilla products which are in Debian's package repository? Why not the "Mozilla" name, itself?
  • by JimDaGeek (983925) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @01:18PM (#16259513)
    The Firefox logo/trademark is important. Firefox has 10%+ of browser share now. That wasn't very easy to get. More and more non-techies are now familiar with Mozilla and/or Firefox and the logo. My father-in-law and wife are not technical, however both prefer Firefox now. One calls it Mozilla the other calls is "the fox", however both know what icon to click if I place it on their desktop.

    The people of Debian are being stupid. The Firefox logo is an important logo and should be kept. Debian protects their trademark(s), why shouldn't Mozilla? I use Ubuntu over Debian, I just hope Ubuntu doesn't follow this stupid example of Debian. Mark S. seems to have his head on straight and since he is a business man I would think he understands the importance of a trademark.

    It is not like Mozilla is trying to lock up the code and make everything proprietary. They just put a lot of effort into getting their name _and_ logo known and want to keep it that way.
    • by jesterzog (189797) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @03:12PM (#16260403) Homepage Journal

      The Firefox logo/trademark is important. Firefox has 10%+ of browser share now. That wasn't very easy to get. [.....] The people of Debian are being stupid. The Firefox logo is an important logo and should be kept. Debian protects their trademark(s), why shouldn't Mozilla?

      Isn't that exactly what's happening here? Debian's acknowledging that the Firefox trademark is protected, and therefore preparing to change the name in Debian. I'm sure there are people involved in Debian who'd like to keep the Firefox name, but unless it can be done within the terms of Debian's main goals, it's not going to happen.

      That said, why should Debian be bending over backwards and sacrificing how it does things so a single package (out of thousands) can keep up its perceived market-share, as you seem to imply in your post? People such as yourself might care about Firefox's market-share, but this has nothing to do wiht Debian. Besides, who cares if Debian people are being stupid? It's their right to govern their distribution as they see fit [debian.org], and if this bothers people outside, such as Firefox users who don't want to see their perceived market share diminish, then it's their problem more than Debian's.

      I know it's not just you, but your post is an example of what seems to be a huge misunderstanding everywhere that the open source "community" is some kind of big organisation with common goals. It's not -- it's a vast collection of people who share and use each other's source code through the application of open source licenses. What people use it for and who uses it is up to the people involved. Personally I like this, and I prefer it hugely over proprietary vendors arguing with and paying millions of dollars to each other to decide who can see what, what works where, and how broken something will be when it's released. Trying to imply that there's a massive open source organisation, though, and that everyone has the unified goal of having OSS take over servers and desktops and whatever else it takes to get noticed, is ridiculous.

      It's Firefox that's clamping on the restrictions here, and rightly so for their own interests since Firefox wants to associate its name with a level of quality that it has control over. Fair enough, but if the Debian developers decide that Firefox's interests are incompatible with their main distribution goals, they're completely within their rights to do this. Any "loss in perceived market-share" is entirely because the Firefox team hasn't done everything necessary to cater to what its users require.

  • by Noksagt (69097) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @01:51PM (#16259847) Homepage
    Mozilla still has a draft policy [mozilla.org] allowing people to name modified versions of "Mozilla Firefox" as "Firefox Community Edition." What happened to this? Many distributors have been following this. Why can't Debian use the name "Firefox Community Edition, Debian" as the new name fro their browser? Or will Mozilla be going after all of the other distributors they had previously granter permission to as well?

    Note also that the "community editions" also forbade use of the official logo!
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:10PM (#16259943)
    "But some believe development and releases will slow down if distribution-specific patches have to be checked and accepted first."

    Yes, we certainly wouldn't want Debian Stable's release frequency to slow down any further than it already is.
  • by EdMcMan (70171) <moo.slashdot2.z.edmcman@xoxy.net> on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:43PM (#16260179) Homepage Journal
    I think Debian made a terrible mistake when they decided that more than source code had to be free. Sure, it's nice to have great principles like that, but it's better to have a usable distribution.

    I've been a Debian supporter for a long time, but when Firefox is no longer called Firefox I will no longer be a supporter. With the more practical Ubuntu around, it's not a hard decision to make.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by psamuels (64397)

      I think Debian made a terrible mistake when they decided that more than source code had to be free. Sure, it's nice to have great principles like that, but it's better to have a usable distribution.

      People keep bringing this up, and what it boils down to is the assertion that, while certain freedoms are important for source code, those same freedoms aren't important for other types of digital content. I've tried for years to get people to explain what principles would make this valid — why certain

  • by Ryan Amos (16972) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @04:14PM (#16260865)
    It's great that they're all about open source and "freeness," but at this point Debian is more of a political statement than a user-focused distribution. Not exactly something I want to use.
  • by adrianmonk (890071) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @05:03PM (#16261243)

    Well, there's Firefox, and fire is one of the four elements (fire, water, earth, and air), and of course a fox is a type of canid. So, the logic choices are obviously:

    • Earthwolf
    • Waterjackal
    • Airhyena

    Well, I guess those aren't the only permutations. There is also Airwolf, but unless the Debian people are really into bad 1980's television shows about helicopters...

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