Finally, some sense

The Firefox EULA debacle is over. While this is nice, especially because they retracted, there are several things at stake here.

  • Something is obviously fishy in all this. On one hand, Mark Shuttleworth claims:
    Mozilla Corp asked that (the EULA) be added in order for (Ubuntu) to continue to call the browser Firefox.
    On the other hand, Mozilla claims all over the place that the EULA text was a mistake. Couldn’t they think more about what they’re demanding from distributors before asking them stupid things ?
  • It’s not the first time Mozilla approaches a distro to ask them to comply to new demands, and create a controversy, a burden or a real PITA. What is going to come next ?
  • From my bug reporter point of view, the way Mozilla handled it can be seen like this: when the Debian nutcases complain about the EULA being shown in “Open Source builds”, it’s not a problem, and the EULA is actually necessary. When bad press comes about the same EULA because the big player that Ubuntu is starts rebelling, it becomes an important mistake. I just hope this feeling is wrong.

Update: there is a nice article on the EULA issue on Groklaw.

2008-09-16 21:25:30+0900

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8 Responses to “Finally, some sense”

  1. Miriam Ruiz Says:

    Just from the outside, I have the same feeling as you do. In their discussion with Debian Mozilla had Ubuntu by their side supporting them so they could make Debian seem the bad one. That way they both got an increase in popularity at the expense of Debian. I guess the situation suited both of them then, but in this case a fight between them is absolutely counterproductive for both, so they reached an agreement quite quickly. It’s probably not any kind of conspiration but just plain negligence, anyway, I guess.

    Greetings, Miry

  2. Peter De Wachter Says:

    You say Ubuntu started rebelling, but that’s not quite right. Ubuntu users started rebelling. I think you’re conflating Canonical-the-company and the user community of Ubuntu-the-software.

    Canonical didn’t rebel: they accepted Mozilla’s demands, they uploaded a package with the EULA nag screen, and Mark argued in favor of the EULA. It’s the Ubuntu users that rebelled.

    And, well, I think Mozilla management cares about users but not about free software. So DFSG complaints from Debian maintainers are easy to ignore, but angry users on Launchpad are a problem. (In this case, I think Mozilla honestly believed people wouldn’t mind the nag screen. After all, no Windows user cares. And they were not entirely wrong: both on Launchpad and on Slashdot many people argued for Mozilla.)

    So, what to learn from this? You probably would have had better luck if you’d uploaded iceweasel with the EULA intact and let our users do the arguing. We try to hide upstream’s problems from our users. but that’s a double-edged sword.

  3. MJ Ray Says:

    I share the suspicion about the way the debian project is ignored but the ubuntu developers are listened to. Mozilla seem to care more about their branding than friendly volunteers.

  4. Erik J Says:

    You all seem very offended by this, but Debian wasn’t only complaining about the EULA and perhaps these other things were the problem?

    The OpenSSL debacle proves there is something important about branding.

  5. Marius Gedminas Says:

    There’s no contradiction: Mozilla claims all over the place that the EULA text was a mistake. AFAIU they want the EULA to be shown, just with a different text than the one they initially used.

    I personally abhor nag screens. While it gave me a nice and fuzzy feel to see a click-through GPL text on a Windows machine when installing something (Cygwin?), I’d rather that custom never makes it into the Linux world, no matter what the actual licence text says. Give me a discrete link on the default Firefox start page, like Fedora did, but nothing more.

  6. glandium Says:

    Marius: Take a look at the bug resolution : they did exactly what I asked for originally, i.e. disable the EULA on unbranded builds.

  7. Miriam Ruiz Says:

    Erik: I don’t think that a single case of a big debacle among the big number of successful patches applied to other Debian packages proves anything. As big as the issue was, and being really important to find a way to prevent something like that from happening again, it’s not statistically significant and thus proves nothing.

  8. Mike Hommey: Finally, some sense : Dragonfly Networks Says:

    […] Planet Debian: Mike Hommey: Finally, some sense […]