Great post on the Debian/Firefox spork
I think its important to focus on the key fact that regardless of who did what, and who said what, there are fundamental conflicts between 100% free-as-in-freedom software and the need for trademarks to protect users. The logo itself is no more encumbered than the trademark, and any lack of freedom for the icon is identical to the lack of free for the trademark. Neither is allowed to be used for derived marks or logos, and neither is licensed or would likely ever be licensed in such a way as to comply with the DFSG, since that would effectively nullify the mark’s value . Anything else really doesn’t matter, since we fundamentally disagree on what side of that coin is more important. Patch approvals and working within the system and seemingly misinterpreted email threads are not relevant in the end, since both sides were never in any sort of solid agreement. 
Does the issue of trademarks absolutely require forking? Absolutely not, Debian could simply specify alternate branding to comply with the DFSG, and still work with the rest of the mozilla.org community to maintain and improve the apps they’re shipping. I would personally be glad to work with them, despite some public perceptions that I’m some freedom-hating corporate tyrant. There are of course some tensions that predate any discussion of trademarks (even when I started working on Mozilla as a volunteer, three and a half years ago, Debian builds were explicitly unsupported because of incompatibilities across the board). I don’t think those tensions are insurmountable, and I don’t think there’s a real benefit to forking, but ultimately the Mozilla codebase is free and people can do what they want with it, as other Firefox-based browsers such as Flock and Netscape 8 have done before, and I’m sure others will do in the future.
I’ll admit that sometimes we’re hard to work with, and sometimes reviews get bogged down. It happens, and it sucks, but we only have a couple dozen paid developers at MoCo, with a handful more scattered across IBM, Red Hat, Novell, and others, so sometimes things get overlooked for a while. That said, if there are roadblocks to working together technically, venting on blogs doesn’t help either side. Open communication and understanding of what each side are trying to achieve will help, especially better communication from downstream developers as to what really matters to them. I’ve been working with Red Hat and Ubuntu lately, and its helped me gain an understanding of what hurts and what helps when it comes to Linux. Hopefully we’ll figure out better ways of working with distros and with the community to make the Linux experience better, and the process more appropriate to what Linux is giving and getting.
- If anyone wanted to build a Firefox browser, they could just use Debian’s source tarball, and claim derivative licensing, and shazam.
- People keeping linking to Gerv’s post to debian-legal as some sort of agreement, when it was clearly a proposal that he admittedly wasn’t sure was in line with MoFo. I can’t see how anyone reading the whole email would have concluded differently.