April 14, 2011

A Free Open Source Software Browser By Any Other Name

After reading the Opera browser's End User License Agreement (EULA), I came across a most unusual entry. It is somewhat disconcerting to read Opera's EULA where it states in §3.1 under, " LICENSE RESTRICTIONS AND THIRD-PARTY SOFTWARE," that the "user shall not and shall not allow any third party to... reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble, or otherwise attempt to derive the source code for the Software." This does not sound at all like a FOSS browser or one which should be embraced by the FOSS community.

According to the Open Source Initiative, the Opera browser does not quality as an Open Source project as it fails to meet their second criteria, namely, providing the source code for use by others. This same source code access acts as a precondition for the Free Software Definition's freedom 1. In the words of the Free Software Foundation, freedom 1 encompasses "The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish." Whether one adheres to a Free Software, Open Source or Free Open Source Software philosophy, one can agree that Opera is not conducive to the spread of an open Internet.

In a marketplace of ideas, there is no reason to create a monopoly on information. In my opinion, Opera seeks to do this by way of their EULA. In terms of Free Open Source Software web browsers, I recommend Mozilla Firefox, GNU IceCat, Epiphany,  as well as Uzbl (I will experiment with this FOSS browser and report on it soon).

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