We Need Firefox Inside!

Upgrade browser message from Hotmail
Upgrade browser message from Hotmail

How do I convince these sites that I do use Firefox? It gets called something else because of some stupid reasons, but it is really Firefox and nothing else. Every time I visit hotmail or orkut or some site which thinks that it is doing something so special that it needs to warn users about their browsers, these messages that make a mockery of my setup.

I can blame Mozilla for enforcing the trademark issues, or the Linux distribution I use to not comply with Mozilla’s trademark issues, or these sites for ignoring this issue altogether and pestering the user. Whoever gets blamed, the big loss here is for open source. I know the reasons, and I know the hacks, but the average Joe doesn’t. Not only do messages like these confuse the user, they also pose open source as another legal hell, as worse as the proprietary world.

I am the wrong person to interpret the legal language and understand reasons behind it, but I know for sure that if we want to promote open source to the common man issues like these should be avoided. At least recompilation of the source code should not inflect such penalties on the user. One of the solutions I can think of is to consider Firefox as a family of these browsers. User-agent is used to not only identify the browser but to also make assumptions about its capabilities. So use a common user-agent string, which need not be Firefox, across these browsers and use the official and unofficial branding everywhere else. We need Firefox Inside!

But I am sure better solutions can be found and users can be relieved of this pain. Else, more such forks from more such open source applications will only drive the common man away from open source.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Jonathan said:

    The user agent family is really an excellent idea. I think overall it would be better if websites could stop using these silly browser compatibility checks and just write proper code. What’s even more annoying is when I’m actually using Firefox, but the website only supports it on Windows and Mac but not Linux. That’s a bunch of crap.

  2. Lorelle said:

    I’m so with you on this, my friend. It really sucks. I face this crap all the time and I just wish that they would get their acts together.

    What I also hate are all the “Best Viewed by Internet Explorer…” on websites or other such clutter or guidelines. Design a web page so it can be viewed all all, without special software or limitations. Let’s expand your rant as far as possible. 😀

  3. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Thanks Jonthan, Lorelle. I think expanding rants is good, because it helps us find overlaps across them. Web by nature is agnostic of platform and tools. So any such affiliation goes against the nature. In fact, I think that a web site that puts these restrictions are closer to the desktop applications than the Web.

  4. Is Web The Default Development Platform? | iface thoughts said:

    […] versions, they also have a dependency on other desktop-installed software like a Flash plugin. Many refuse to work even if you are using a capable browser with a different name. These are the exact problems that […]

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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