Just a quick ramble.

People seem to be freaking out over the recent brouhaha in Mozilla Foundation. Brendan Eich is an otherwise smart guy, managed to kick ass by leading the Firefox Javascript engine development and in general made it Not Suck®, and recently got promoted to the foundation CEO post. Which was all kinds of awkward, because he's been supporting the tragical California Proposition 8 and other glorious boneheaded efforts from the anti-LGBT buffoons.

Well, at least he's realising that he's in charge of an ideological organisation and that that sort of garbage has no place in Mozilla. But I think I'm a little bit taken back by all this - the best I can say is that he really needs to prove he means business. Merely reiterating Mozilla's own stated goals means nothing in itself.

But this is all besides the point. What I'm more concerned about is the fact that people are freaking out over this and are looking to boycott Mozilla and are wanting to switch browsers.

Which is totally counterproductive.

Why? Firefox is an open source project.

The whole point of Free and Open Source movement is that it separates the software and technology from the politics and organisations that surrounds them.

I could understand boycotting Mozilla if Firefox were a proprietary project, because in that case, Firefox would be wholly controlled by Mozilla and would be at all times controlled by their whims. Imagine for a second that Eich went totally nuts and ordered people to add filters that block people from accessing pro-LGBT pages, or diverted PayPal donations from them to anti-LGBT causes. If Mozilla were a proprietary project, yes, we'd be screwed and there would be every reason to switch to products that don't do that.

But Firefox is open source. Even if Mozilla Foundation did that sort of nutty evil things, people outside the foundation can spot them and remove them. And all is good.

Debian, which is one of the prominent organisations what comes to defining what Free and Open Source software actually is, defined their Free Software Guidelines a long time ago, which ended up being instrumental when the term "open source" was being defined. And one of the thought experiments that Debian uses for determining if software is free is the "tentacles of evil" test. What if software developer gets employed by an evil organisation? Can they totally break the software and bring misery to the users? In that situation, the outside developers should be able to continue development of the software based on either a modified version of the existing software or the last known clean version.

So is that happening here? It's not yet even happening. Obviously, it's good that people called out Eich. It's good that the rest of the Mozilla Foundation isn't tolerating this stuff either. And we sure can hope that this stuff will end up being good.

Incidentally, I'm typing this blog post in Iceweasel. Iceweasel is actually a real example of the end result of "tentacles of evil": Mozilla Foundation had a rather annoying policy or two that had actual direct effects on other people's ability to use the software - namely, no one else was allowed to use the trademarks and logos if they distributed modified versions of Firefox. Debian developers said "fine, we'll make a version of Firefox that's got a funny name, but it's still basically the exact same browser".

So in summary: I believe things will be just fine. And even if they will not, thanks to the open source licencing, people still have the full right to pick up their ball (a curled up fox in this particular case) and go elsewhere and keep having fun and awesome time. I believe the rest of the Mozilla Foundation has the power from keeping themselves from falling apart over this and stop the nonsense. But even if they don't, we can still count on other people who are determined to keep this software going 'til the foreseeable future.