Tag Archives: Mozilla

Leave DRM out of Mozilla – open letter to Andreas Gal

Just as Defective By Design encourages anyone who likes the internet and the open web to do, I have emailed Andreas Gal (CTO at Mozilla) to present my views on why EME/DRM should not be implemented into Mozilla products:

Hello Andreas,

I’m an avid Mozilla (Firefox, Thunderbird and recently also Firefox OS) user, using both your original versions and on some machines the differently branded products like Iceweasel and Icedove. Thanks to the free and open nature of Mozilla, many volunteers can deliver quality applications on platforms which are not in Mozilla’s primary interest to maintain.

However, when I first read about the W3C seriously thinking about standardising proprietary mechanisms (i.e. EME, Encrypted Media Extensions) into the open web me and many others felt it was kind of the beginning of the end of a free and open era of technology. Even my less technically skilled friends have cried out in fear when it was clear that their ‘Ctrl+S’ feature (or right-click and “Save link as”) would likely disappear in the future.

For the reason we who criticize Digital Restrictions Management do it so strongly is not only about standing up against major, monopolistic players like Adobe and Netflix. Our criticism doesn’t stop at whether platform independence should be encouraged (will the proprietary mechanisms ever run on the same wide variety of platforms as Mozilla’s software?). We also wish for
Mozilla to stand with us in this fight against decreased control of software and hardware.

When data and algorithms which pass through a machine cannot be controlled, inspected and debugged properly by its administrative user – and a software we’ve learned to love and trust lets this happen right under our noses – why should we continue to have faith in its developer? Despite whatever “sandboxes” these black boxes are contained within, since they act only as makeup on a pig.

I believe this is a turning point for Mozilla. The trust you have gained from being the best, most open and free solution for
web and email usage (and development!) over time is at a risk. I still believe you are going to do what’s best for the open
nature of the internet and the users who have put their faith in you.

Thank you,
Mikael Nordfeldth
GNU social developer
XMPP/email: mmn@hethane.se

Signed with my OpenPGP key 0xB52E9B31.

Ideological choices fuel the free software movement

Slashdot reported a long time ago from no-room-at-the-ecosystem dept. something which I’d usually just entitle “brainaids”.

“Mozilla has decided to stop development of a version of its Firefox mobile Web browser for phones running Windows Mobile. The reason is that Microsoft has closed the door to native applications on smartphones running its new Windows Phone 7 Series software. More reasoning can be found in a blog post by Stuart Parmenter, director of Mobile Engineering at Mozilla.”

Unfortunately most people seem to think that battery power, ease of use and stability are irrelevant. Or they don’t actually want something mobile but rather a cool gadget. This causes people to buy unstable, unusable and/or incredibly restricted phones from these three categories:

  • Apple iPhone
  • Random Google Android mobile
  • Random Windows 7 mobile

Despite high price-tags none of these choices are good, mostly due to their respective operating systems. All of these phones market themselves to be “powerful” and probably “versatile” and maybe even “usable”. Though none of them – of course – market the restrictions implied.

Apple iPhone

A cool, sleek interface. In these days a nice piece of hardware too. Probably easy to sell, because you have the backing of an “app store” and also the “cool factor” which means everyone has it and everyone is talking about it.

The downsides are: To legally distribute software for use on the iPhone, you need Apple’s approval. This approval implies that you accept Apple as a benevolent God who – when feeling the urge – can shut down software on your phone that you legally bought. The software approval thing also means that anything anyone does better than Apple will not be accepted into the App Store. Geez.

Android phones

None of these phones are other than slow and unstable when it comes to using then. Besides this the software distribution is messy and difficult to overview. There is no immediate logic in which Android version runs what software and on which phone.

My personal reason for disliking it is purely ideological. Marketing says it’s “open”, promotes “open source” and whatever. However, the platform doesn’t appeal to open source software and everything has to be written very specifically for the Android phone. Porting software is apparently not as simple as one could’ve hoped.

Lately Oraclesince the Sun acquiry, have been yelling that Google infringe patents and copyright. This because Google has their own Java virtual machine for the Android phones. The patent issue itself isn’t troublesome, I think it’s worse that Google didn’t just run Linux straight-up on their otherwise capable platforms.

Windows 7 phones

No one buys these for themselves… They’re probably just bought through companies who offer them to suffering employees. Same thing here applies as with Apple: Both companies are evil.

Latest news are that (as mentioned above) Windows 7 mobiles won’t allow native applications. This system of signed applications opens up for a system of Apple-like dictatorial “blessed apps”. It also obviously disables development by homebrew hackers.

The sum of it all

Besides this I recently saw an article on Australia planning to ban certain iPhone apps. Something which is only possible if there is a single, signed software repository (Apple) – or just an architecture which requires signed executables (Microsoft). This mere concept of centralistic control defies how the Internet happens.

Consider your everyday tasks which are either of private concern, some sort of communication or information access. These routines are all possible to do using libre (free) software. The Free software is in no way under usage control of neither private companies, your neighbor nor any governmental censorship bureau.

With libre licensing:
You control your device and software.
No one else can interfere.

The Nokia N900, runs the GNU/Linux operating system. This reflects the “ideological choice” of this post’s subject, the choice to run Free software. What is essential is the ability to share and – especially – modify the source code. Even if you won’t do it yourself.

Free software in practice disables an external dictatorship over the software your machine runs. This comes from the fact that any developer, through international copyright, is given the legal right to modify and distribute changes. This also means that even if all the world’s developers suddenly disappeared the current version would still be shared in a fine, working condition.

This causes the direct opposite evolution compared to proprietary (closed source) software companies who offer you only one choice – the latest version. They need you to update to increase the revenue while Free software is only interested in functionality and effectiveness. This is most noticable when an already fine, working proprietary software gets a new version: the update will most certainly include bloat and/or new restrictions.

This post not only encourages your informed choice for smartphones – a major business which fuels proprietary software. It is meant to persuade you to use Free software to the greatest extent possible. You’re probably already using OpenOffice or Mozilla Firefox – which is great because every single replaced software counts. If you like those, your next step may be Ubuntu – to replace the entire operating system.

Feel free to contact a local computer nerd for guidance.