Why Firefox 3.0.5 does not have the EULA anymore.

Firefox 3.0.5 About rights

Just noticed Firefox updated to 3.0.5 on my Windows Vista installation. It consists of mainly stability improvements and security issues fixed. After the update installed, I saw an infobar appear right under the tabs which told me to check out my rights. Unluckily, I couldn’t capture that, and have been unable to make it reappear, but it’s interesting none the less, to read what the about:rights page has to say.


About Your Rights

Mozilla Firefox is free and open source software, built by a community of thousands from all over the world. There are a few things you should know:

*   Firefox is made available to you under the terms of the Mozilla Public License. This means you may use, copy and distribute Firefox to others.  You are also welcome to modify the source code of Firefox as you want to meet your needs. The Mozilla Public License also gives you the right to distribute your modified versions.

*   Mozilla does not grant you any rights to the Mozilla and Firefox trademarks or logos. Additional information on Trademarks may be found here.

*   Privacy policies for Mozilla’s products may be found here.

*   Firefox also offers optional web site information services, such as the SafeBrowsing service; however, we cannot guarantee they are 100% accurate or error-free. More details, including information on how to disable the services, can be found in the service terms.

So, I did a little googling around and got to this kev’s blog. I couldn’t find much information about Kev, apart from that he’s a part of Mozilla. His latest blog post says:

Just a reminder that with the release today of Firefox 3.0.5, we’re no longer displaying a EULA on install, and the Mac DMG files will not display the EULA on mounting. (yay!) Instead, we’ll be displaying an infobar that makes people aware of the about:rights text, which outlines how Firefox is licensed, the first time Firefox 3.0.5 (and later) is run.

Basically, this means that you won’t have an interesting and lengthy EULA to read ( yeah right! ) and also wont have to blindly click on the ‘I agree’ button during Firefox installation. This is effective from Firefox 3.0.5. So all this is good, but why remove the EULA? Isn’t software supposed to come with one? A little more Googling around told me the reason.

Ubuntu ships with Firefox preinstalled, so they aren’t shown the EULA. The second reason is that it’s open source. That’s right. Many open source advocates, including Ubuntu did not like Firefox having the EULA. According to them it’s a free and open source software and not liable for any harm it does to your computer, to keep up with the open source spirit. That’s one wild spirit! So, now Firefox shows you a summary of what the EULA would tell you during the installation. It links to the privacy policy, trademark policy, Mozilla Public License and service terms.

I feel that the infobar, along with the summary, is a better way to notify users of their rights over the software they use than the old EULA, since almost no one reads it, and just clicks I agree, to proceed. Also, in the about:rights page, Mozilla very clearly states that it is a free and open source software, which wasn’t very obvious in the previous EULA and installation.