What's the big deal about the Firefox EULA?

Summary:A number of people seem to have their knickers in a twist over Mozilla's requirements to display the Firefox EULA when the program is launched the first time in Ubuntu. What's the big deal, exactly?

A number of people seem to have their knickers in a twist over Mozilla's requirements to display the Firefox EULA when the program is launched the first time in Ubuntu. What's the big deal, exactly?

The big fuss comes over the realization that Firefox 3.0 will be displaying a EULA and requiring users to agree to it before using Firefox the first time in the upcoming release of Ubuntu. We've already been displaying the EULA in openSUSE since the 11.0 release, but it seems to have caught the attention of the tech press after it appeared on Slashdot that some testers are finding it offensive.

I had a "wow, what's that about?" moment the first time I was prompted with the EULA too, but I can't really can't see roasting the Moz folks over this. If memory serves, Firefox isn't the first FOSS application to display a clickthru license. Others have done it using the GPL, just to make users aware of the license. It's possible to do away with this by shipping a build of Firefox without the branding, as Debian does with Iceweasel, but I'm betting that the majority of users are looking for Firefox by name.

But, really -- it's the content of the EULA and not the display requirement that should be the real focus here. As far as I can tell, most of the users shouting about the EULA haven't bothered to read the terms, only to act on the shock of seeing an application display a EULA on a free desktop. (I took the time to skim the EULA today, and I don't see anything objectionable about it.)

I've pinged Chris Blizzard, Mozilla's director of evangelism,  about this, and he says that the Moz folks are working on putting forward some information on why they decided they needed to do this.

While this isn't a practice I want to see become widespread, I hope reason will prevail. At worst, it's a temporary annoyance, as far as I can tell. It displays once, you click "accept" (or don't) and it goes away. What's the big deal?

What do you think? Is displaying the EULA going too far?

Topics: Browser

About

Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier is the community manager for openSUSE, a community Linux distro sponsored by Novell. Prior to joining Novell, Brockmeier worked as a technology journalist primarily covering the Linux and FOSS beat, and wrote for a number of publications, such as Linux Magazine, Linux.com, Sys Admin, UnixReview.com, IBM developer... Full Bio

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