IceCat with Flash

If you’re going to install some fancy graphical web browser, chances are the first plugin you’re going to install with be the Flash plugin so you can view porn videos at youtube.

Unless your fancy graphical web browser is IceCat:

GNU IceCat is the GNU version of the Firefox browser. Its main advantage is an ethical one: it is entirely free software. While the Firefox source code from the Mozilla project is free software, they distribute and recommend non-free software as plug-ins and addons.

Lets be specific here: IceCat isn’t a home-brew Firefox lookalike. It is forked from the Firefox source code.

And the reason for diluting the Firefox marketshare? So that you won’t be offered plugins you can’t obtain source code for (their use of “free” relates to source-code availability, not cost).

Well, at least you won’t be offered them after you’ve configured it correctly:

GNUzilla runs its own plugin finder service at gnuzilla.gnu.org. To specify this at runtime, visit the url about:config in your browser, find the pfs.datasource.url attribute, and change the host to gnuzilla.gnu.org. Also change the protocol from https to http, if necessary. Be careful not to change the rest of the string (after the first single /).

Be sure the plugin.default_plugin_disabled attribute is set to false.

Ahh, the sweet, sweet, power of GNU configuration.

So, uhm, it appears the default of this not-Firefox browser is … to use Firefox’s plugin service. Well. Minor detail.

So … Flash. Obviously, one of the most widely used browser plugins around. What’s the “free” one like? Hop on over to the free plugin list. Search for Flash. Yep, you’ll find a couple of entries.

FlashBlock Disables Flash’s autoplay. MPL 1.1/ GPL 2.0/ LGPL 2.1 License only written on site; based on the Flash-Click-to-View XBL stylesheet
FlashGot A mass downloader with browser integration for many popular download managers. GPLv2 License is provided by a license file.

Hrm. That’s not quite – and by not quite, I mean kind of exactly the opposite of – what we were looking for.

But never fear. You can quite easily use Flash with IceCat (after all, it’s just Firefox). If you Google for IceCat Flash Plugin, you’ll find plenty of blogs providing advice on how to enable it. Like this one.

Which begs the question … Why are people running IceFox in the first place if they have no objection to using commercial closed-source licenses?

And since you have to manually configure IceCat not to show you FireFox’s potentially closed-source plugins, what exactly is IceCat other than a spiteful lunge at Mozilla by the FSF?

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