So now Firefox 2.0 is finished and I’m talking about a brand new web browser iceweasel? And.. is it better than firefox, internet explorer, opera, konqueror, … ?
There is an easy answer. It’s not really. Because iceweasel is “just” a fork of the current version of firefox (plus some patches). So don’t be afraid if your linux distribution wants to remove your beloved firefox.
Now some people may ask, why a fork? Whats the problem with firefox? Here is a good lengthy explanation. For a short description of the problem, read ahead.
Debian is known for a strict compliance to it’s own rules. These rules assure that Debian will stay a truly free distribution. This means everybody can take it an modify it in any way (of course you have to contribute back your modifications). Debian has a need to patch firefox, because firefox bugs are only patched by mozilla in following higher versions. Like a bug in 1.5 is only resolved in 2.0 . This was not sufficiend for Debian’s stable rules and so they patched the 1.5 version themselves.
But this was not fine with the mozilla corporation which doesn’t allow a modified firefox version to be named firefox and containing the original logo.
So there are two conflicting policies. Both are reasonable ones for the organisations. So debian started the iceweasel fork and just use this one. I think this is a good way to satisfy both sides.