Not Any Browser (was: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3)

Frank Heckenbach frank at
Fri Sep 29 05:34:35 UTC 2006

Alfred M. Szmidt wrote:

>    >    (d) And even this one, in some forms, is not really free as
>    >        MJR has reminded us. (According to RMS in
>    >,
>    >        "To use Firefox as free software, you have to build it
>    >        yourself from the source code."
>    > 
>    > What he means is that the binaries as distributed by Mozilla are
>    > not-free (they include a non-free bug reporting tool).  Ututo-e
>    > for example contains a Firefox, you don't need to compile that
>    > your self.
>    Even assuming that build is really free (which would contradict
>    RMS's statement, when read strictly, but I can't comment on it
>    myself ATM);
> I don't see why it would.

He said you *have* to build it from source, without mentioning the
possibility of getting a version built from source via other routes.
This might imply that such distribution is illegal (as would be the
case, e.g., with a GPL program requiring a non-GPL-compatible
library; you can build it and use it yourself, but you can't
distribute the binary at all). As I said, this is reading the
statement strictly, but considering that RMS is not entirely
unfamiliar with such fine distinctions, one could come to this

> One of the many reasons why GNUzilla and IceWeasel exists,
>  That page also briefly explains the
> other problems with Firefox (even if you compile it from source, it
> can install non-free plugins).

It's good they exist, but it's not really a reason for the web site
requiring Firefox. In fact, if this requirement was because of
freedom (and not accidental due to the site's implementation, as I
suppose), they would probably require IceWeasel right away (or some
other free browser).

Ward Vandewege wrote:

> For the record, I've tested:
>   Firefox
>   Konqueror
>   Safari (on OS X)
> All of these browsers work.

Nobody doubts that these browsers work (-; you know, in a discussion
with Alfred M. Szmidt you have to be very careful about your choice
of words), but the comments page doesn't. I just tried with
Konqueror (as installed in Knoppix 4.0.2) -- it shows the colours,
but when I press "c" after marking some text, nothing happens. MJR
has reported that it doesn't even work with Firefox when changing
the name string.


Frank Heckenbach, f.heckenbach at
GnuPG and PGP keys: (7977168E)

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