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Firefox Set Free in IceWeasel

GNU  to the rescue.

GNU, which is a recursive acronym that stands for GNU is Not Unix, first set out in 1984 to develop a Unix-like operating system as Free Software.

It is now gearing up to provide a "free" version of Mozilla's (not-so-free) Firefox browser. The GNU version is called IceWeasel and is part of the GNUzilla effort from GNU. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is the principal sponsor of the GNU Project.

IceWeasel is essentially Firefox stripped of the Firefox name and logo. According to IceWeasel developers, the browser also includes some additional privacy protection features. One of those features is the blocking of cookies that come from zero-size images.

The IceWeasel browser is particularly significant now that Mozilla is cracking down on Linux distributions such as Debian.

The Debian GNU/Linux distribution adheres to a strict definition of what is Free Software and considers Mozilla's Firefox logo trademark to be non-free and as such does not include the logo with its distribution. Mozilla has taken issue with Debian's non-compliance with Mozilla's usage policies and has also stipulated that Debian developers submit patches made to Debian's Firefox packages to Mozilla first for approval.

One possible outcome is that Debian developers just rename Firefox to something else. Another possibility is that they just use GNU's IceWeasel.

Debian developers are now helping out in the IceWeasel effort.

"Yes, they have contacted us recently to help with all the work that should be done to finally have a release," IceWeasel developer Giuseppe Scrivano told internetnews.com. "As you can see, the Firefox repository is huge and it is very difficult to keep trace of their changes. We still need more people to assist us in this phase, there are many files that should be checked manually."

Scrivano noted that the goal is to keep IceWeasel updated against Mozilla Firefox builds. In so doing the project hopes to always provide a secure and not outdated browser.

"Our main goal is to have a completely free browser which uses only free plugins and suggest users to use them. IceWeasel developer Giuseppe Scrivano told internetnews.com. "There is no need to use proprietary software when there is a free alternative and even in that case it would be great to start to develop it."

A Mozilla spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.