10 Years Later – Mozilla And Debian No Longer Have A Branding Dispute

Debian users will soon rejoin a large horde of Internet users by using a branded Mozilla Firefox once again.

Mar 15, 2016News
Debian & Mozilla dispute is over

Both Mozilla and Debian recently acknowledged that an ancient bug from 2006 – requiring Debian to change the name of the browser being shipped by them –  no longer valid.

The bug, reported by Mozilla’s Mike Connor on Mon, 27 Feb 2006, was referring to the fact that Firefox (the name) as well as the logo are both equally protected and controlled by Mozilla’s trademark policy and legal requirements.

Since Debian’s Firefox package maintainers were issuing bug-fixes / patches along their distributed version of Firefox they were therefore violating these requirements.

Nevertheless, a new page is about to be turned shortly as Debian developers already announced that:

Debian stable will receive Firefox ESR after Iceweasel/Firefox ESR38 is end-of-lifed, in about 3 months.

So What’s Changed?

Apparently, a newly found mechanism of solving issues and disputes in the Open Source ecosystem without taking those to court has been discovered.

Simply wait on the issue to become irrelevant.

Of course, that one above is just joking. However the real reason behind the change is probably due to both parties maturing a lot since the issue got open and due to good will on both sides to have the issue resolved.

Debian on their part, seeks to ease some of the efforts being made by maintainers who now have to deal with the rapid pace of developments Firefox is seeing.

And also, reduce the confusion for new users who aren’t quite familiar with Iceweasel as they are with the name and logo of Firefox.

On Mozilla’s end is probably the desire to expose their (branded) browser to a large crowd as possible and perhaps also gain from the quantity and quality of Debian maintainers commits.


In a broader view, Debian’s joining the browser masses is yet another move falling in line with their decision of switching the default init system to same one used by the majority of popular Linux distributions recently.

Whether this indicates a trend of “going with the flow” or that Debian has become more connected to the majority of its user-base is yet too soon to say.