XML News from Friday, October 13, 2006

The Gnu Project has released IceWeasel, a Linux browser based on Firefox that is more free than Firefox. There's also Gnuzilla, a Gnu version of the whole Mozilla suite. The differences freedom wise between Gnuzilla/IceWeasel on the one hand and Mozilla/Firefox on the other are pretty trivial, and have been widely discussed elsewhere. They remind me of the Star Trek Enterprise episode where a planet gets destroyed over the question of whether God created the universe in nine days or ten. What hasn't been mentioned is that IceWeseal is making some security improvements I've been hoping Firefox would make for years. Specifically,

  1. Some sites refer to zero-size images on other hosts to keep track of cookies. When IceWeasel detects this mechanism it blocks cookies from the site hosting the zero-length image file. (It is possible to re-enable such a site by removing it from the blocked hosts list.)
  2. Other sites rewrite the host name in links redirecting the user to another site, mainly to "spy" on clicks. When this behavior is detected, IceWeasel shows a message alerting the user.

Freedom issues aside, that's reason enough alone to switch to IceWeasel.

One final note: while I do appreciate humor in the jab at Mozilla implies by the name IceWeasel, I suspect it will just turn off regular users. Why not call this something a little less negative like IceMink or IceFerret? The proposed logos are great though, and could do for Firefox what Tux did for Linux.