Shuttleworth Weighs in in IceWeasel

As you may have heard recently, Debian has a problem with Firefox due to the fact that the artwork is not released under a free license. This is an extension of problems they’ve had with GNU’s documentation and the clause that allows some parts to remain uneditable. So Debian has forked Firefox into IceWeasel. The engine and core program are the same, only the artwork is different.

This has caused a lot of name-calling back and forth between the two camps. Mark Shuttleworth, who’s Ubuntu is based in Debian, posted a reconcilatory post today whereby he called on both sides to respectfully disagree.

Both groups really, genuinely mean well. I know this because I’ve spent some time working with both of them. Both care deeply about free software and both want to see the world improved through the wide availability of high quality software that comes with the right to change it. So it is a little frustrating to see this level of public tension between two groups that have come to represent, each in their own way, something iconic about free software.

First, let me say that both groups are being entirely reasonable about their positions. Debian has every right to insist that it have the freedom to ship the package in the form that it deems most appropriate for its users, and Mozilla has every right to protect its trademarks.

Spoken as a true businessman/mediator.

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