by Daniel Pimentel — Wed 01 January 2014
GNUzilla is the GNU version of the Mozilla suite, and 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. Also their trademark license restricts distribution in several ways incompatible with freedom 0.
Privacy protection features
- Https-Everywhere: Extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.
- SpyBlock: Blocks privacy trackers while in normal browsing mode, and all third party requests when in private browsing mode. Based on Adblock Plus.
- AboutIceCat: Adds a custom 'about:icecat' homepage with links to information about the free software and privacy features in IceCat, and checkboxes to enable and disable the ones more prone to break websites.
- Fingerprinting countermeasures: Fingerprinting is a series of techniques allowing to uniquely identify a browser based on specific characterisics of that particular instance (like what fonts are available in that machine). Unlike cookies the user cannot opt-out of being tracked this way, so the browser has to avoid giving away that kind of hints.
Origin of the nameThe name “IceCat” was coined to show our relationship to the Mozilla Firefox browser. Ice isn't Fire and a Cat isn't a Fox, so it is clearly a different package (we don't want Mozilla blamed for our mistakes, nor cause confusion with their trademarks), but is equally clearly intimately related (of course nearly all of the work comes from the Mozilla foundation effort, so we want to give credit).