Six weeks ago, RMS emailed the Foundation to politely point out that the builds of Firefox we ship are not Free-as-in-speech. He’s quite correct in this assertion. We ship Talkback, a non-free crash-reporting tool, and there are also some provisions in the Firefox EULA which he suggested are non-Free as well, such as the restriction on removing the trademarks, and the requirement to follow US export regulations.
(I should point out at this juncture that the Firefox source code, as pulled and built from CVS, is Free, although it may be subject to restrictions until you remove any Mozilla Foundation trademarks. I’m looking for help to make it easier for people to avoid being subject to even those restrictions.)
We discussed the issues by email for a while, but other priorities intervened and not much progress was made. So, I went up to RMS after his talk at FOSDEM to apologise for the delay. He said (perhaps understandably) that he was tired of waiting, and planned to use FOSDEM to recruit some developers to make free binary builds, and release them under a different name.
So, on the Sunday during the Q&A in the Mozilla developer room, RMS asked someone to read out a short statement to that effect, asking people to email him if they were interested in helping make such builds. Having heard it, I responded by explaining the situation to the room, as outlined in this blog post.
The Foundation does hope to make Free binary builds available, with no Talkback, and a different EULA. Such builds would not be promoted by us, but anyone could point at their FTP directory and say “those builds are Free”. However our build engineer (Chase Phillips) is utterly exhausted after all the work necessary to get 1.0.1 off the ground, and is taking some time off. When he returns and things calm down, we hope to find time to make this happen.