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I used Mozilla Firefox in Windows, and now I'm using Iceweasel in Debian 6. Is there any difference to the two programs? What are the advantages and disadvantages to each program? Which one seems better?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 17 down vote accepted

It's the same thing. See wikipedia. Basically, you are not allowed to re-compile the source code and still call it Firefox for trademark reasons.

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Trademark reasons, not copyright. Mozilla own the Firefox trademark and have several restrictions on the use of the trademark by third-parties. The restrictions are generally quite reasonable and understandable, but conflict with the needs of distributions (incl. Debian) to update and patch the code themselves. – cas Jul 29 '12 at 2:57
I would just like to leave the comment that the goals and policies of the debian project are just as reasonable and understandable as the mozilla foundation's restrictions on their trademark. Neither party had unreasonable policies, yet there still seems to be a great amount of misunderstanding surrounding the issue. It was nothing more than a simple conflict that needed to be worked around to the satisfaction of both parties. – umeboshi Feb 3 at 20:29
But why is name "Firefox" still used, e.g. in Ubuntu? Does it mean that Debian security patches (which, from the wiki page, seems to be the deal breaker) don't make it to the Ubuntu package repositories? – andrybak Nov 3 at 19:21

There is no difference it is basically just a different name due to trademark issues - see the origins of the dispute.

However Firefox is provided by Mozilla whereas Iceweasel is provided by Debian.

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Ice isn't fire, and weasels aren't foxes, but IceWeasels and Firefoxen are the same thing. Apparently it's IceCat now. Also be on the lookout for Icedove, Iceape, and Iceowl.

Debian refused to use Firefox's logo because it is not free (as in speech, not as in beer), and in turn Mozilla said that they can't call it Firefox if they're going to use their own (non-Mozilla-approved) logo, so they called it IceWeasel.

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According to the IceCat Wikipedia page, IceCat is actually GNU IceCat, and is distributed by the GNU Project. Debian's version is still referred to as IceWeasel. Just wanted to clarify, based on your "Apparently it's IceCat now" statement :-) – ND Geek Aug 2 '12 at 17:11
Great, it has 3 names? :( Thanks for the heads up. – wjl Aug 2 '12 at 20:50
Actually there is also an Abrowser – xuhdev May 6 at 9:16

While this question has been asked long back, things might have changed since then.

Is there any advantage of using Iceweasel and Firefox?
Is there any difference to the two programs?
What are the advantages and disadvantages to each program?
  • Firefox is provided by Mozilla. Iceweasel is provided by the Linux distribution that offers it (debian*). If you have a distribution that has Iceweasel, then Firefox maynot be present in its repos and installing Firefox on such distro needed to be done manually by downloading binary from Mozilla. In such a case, Updates for Iceweasel are provided automatically by distro whereas U need to update Firefox manually. Considering Security Updates for browser really important, this matters. Iceweasel is the winner.
  • The current Iceweasel is based on Firefox Extended Support Release. Meaning that Feature Updates aren't available until they are well tested. Only Security Updates are deployed. Even before when there is no Firefox Esr, feature updates of Firefox didn't make it to Iceweasel. Organisations that use Iceweasel are benefitted by this. And recently Firefox has got many unnecessary additions like Pocket, Hello. Iceweasel also removes all of these.
  • Mozilla will not allow the changed Firefox code to be compiled and released under the same brand name. Its reasonable. Hence Iceweasel came out with a different logo. But basically its Firefox with more stability and unnecessary components removed.

Which one seems better?

Its a personal choice. If u need stability and not concerned about new features then Iceweasel is the choice. If not, U may use Firefox.

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Reportedly, Iceweasel and other variants generally are behind in versions compared to Firefox. That's a red flag for me. I tried to use Iceweasel to log into my credit union. Finally, it loaded--it took several minutes, even, though. (I proved surprised when it actually succeeded.)

Possibly a better solution exists: Some time ago, someone wrote some scripts to induce (more accurately, to "deceive") problem sites into "believing" that Iceweasel actually is from XP! It required changing to an enabled user--"on the fly"--just for such special situations!

I'd like to use Iceweasel: It must be kept up to date, though--otherwise, I just can't trust it. I believe that it lacks integrity: Recently, I couldn't kill the browser and also couldn't log out cleanly, either: I had to reset. FF likely would have performed better.

(A similar situation exists with clamtk--the current version of clamtk must be downloaded separately, from That's easy enough: But, why?! That's another issue, of course....)

I'm thus going to in order to obtain Firefox. I'll keep Iceweasel on, though: After all, it's the distro's official browser. I desire for it to succeed better.

Really, though, petty squabbling over logos, branding, and idiot legal manueuvering is just slapping the faces of so many who benefit the community so greatly! Fiefdoms:They weaken a community greatly and tarnish its ideals. Unfortunately, these great "code-wizards" merely are human and actually prove to be from earth, after all!

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They aren't "behind in version", they are based on the Extended Support Release. The current version (38.2.1 - released 28 August 2015 ) was released one day after the Firefox ESR release (27 August 2015). – Thomas Weinbrenner Aug 30 at 12:58

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