GNU IceCat

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GNU IceCat
GNU IceCat new-tab page
Developer(s)GNUzilla team, GNU Project
Stable release(s) [±]
78.10.1 (9 May 2021; 40 days ago (2021-05-09)[1]) [±]
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
  • Gecko
Edit this at Wikidata
Operating system
TypeWeb browser and Internet suite
LicenseMPL 2.0 (browser)[2]
GNU GPLv3 (scripts that make IceCat from Mozilla Firefox)[2]

GNU IceCat, formerly known as GNU IceWeasel,[3] is a completely Free and Open Source version of the Mozilla Firefox web browser distributed by the GNU Project. It is compatible with Linux, Windows, Android and macOS.[4]

IceCat is released as a part of GNUzilla, GNU's rebranding of a code base that used to be the Mozilla Application Suite. As an internet suite, GNUzilla also includes a mail & newsgroup program and an HTML composer.

Mozilla produces free and open-source software, but the binaries include trademarked artwork. The GNU Project attempts to keep IceCat in synchronization with upstream development of Firefox (long-term support versions) while removing all trademarked artwork and non-free add-ons. It also maintains a large list of free software plugins. In addition, it includes several security features not found in the mainline Firefox browser.


Origins of the name

The Mozilla Corporation owns the trademark to the Firefox name and denies the use of the name "Firefox" to unofficial builds that fall outside certain guidelines.[5] Unless distributions use the binary files supplied by Mozilla, fall within the stated guidelines, or else have special permission, they must compile the Firefox source with a compile-time option enabled that creates binaries without the official branding of Firefox and related artwork, using either the built-in free artwork, or artwork provided at compile time.[5]

This policy led to a long debate within the Debian Project in 2004 and 2005. During this debate, the name "Iceweasel" was coined to refer to rebranded versions of Firefox. The first known use of the name in this context is by Nathanael Nerode,[6] in reply to Eric Dorland's suggestion of "Icerabbit".[7] It was intended as a parody of "Firefox."[8] Iceweasel was subsequently used as the example name for a rebranded Firefox in the Mozilla Trademark Policy,[5] and became the most commonly used name for a hypothetical rebranded version of Firefox. By January 1, 2005, rebranding was being referred to as the "Iceweasel route".[9]

In August 2005,[10] the Gnuzilla project adopted the GNU IceWeasel name for a rebranded distribution of Firefox that made no references to nonfree plugins.[10]

The term "ice weasel" appeared earlier in a line which cartoonist Matt Groening fictionally attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche: "Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come."[11]

Debian was originally given permission to use the trademarks, and adopted the Firefox name.[12] However, because the artwork in Firefox had a proprietary copyright license at the time, which was not compatible with the Debian Free Software Guidelines, the substituted logo had to remain.[13] In 2006, Mozilla withdrew their permission for Debian to use the Firefox name due to significant changes to the browser that Mozilla deemed outside the boundaries of its policy, changes which Debian felt were important enough to keep, and Debian revived the Iceweasel name in its place.

Subsequently, on 23 September 2007, one of the developers of the GNU IceWeasel package announced that the name would be changed to GNU IceCat from IceWeasel in the next release, so as to avoid confusion with Debian's separately maintained, unrelated rebranding of Firefox.[3] The name change took place as planned and IceCat is the current name.[8]

IceCat was ported to the Firefox 3 codebase during Google Summer of Code of 2008.[14][15][better source needed]

Version history

Version (non-patch only) Version Firefox & Gecko Release date Major changes
3-g1 3.0 July 2008 Differences from Firefox: to neutralize the functions of spyware sites, made into a separate extension.
3.0.1-g1 3.0.1 27 July 2008 Support function X-geometry[16]
3.5 3.5 12 July 2009[17]
3.6.16 3.6.16 24 March 2011[18]
4.0 4.0 11 April 2011[19]
5.0 5.0 27 June 2011[20]
6.0 6.0 18 August 2011[21]
7.0 7.0 2 October 2011[22]
9.0.1 9.0.1 28 December 2011[23]
10.0 10.0 11 February 2012[24]
13.0.1 13.0.1 12 July 2012[25]
14.0 14.0 21 August 2012[26]
17.0.1 17.0.1 1 December 2012[27]
24.0 24.0 16 October 2013[28]
52.1.0 52.1.0 5 May 2017[29]
52.3.0 52.3.0 1 September 2017[30]
52.6.0 52.6.0 25 February 2018[31]
60.3.0 60.3.0 9 November 2018
60.7.0 60.7.0 2 June 2019[32]


GNU IceCat is available as a free download for the IA-32, x86 64, and PowerPC architectures. Both binaries and source are available, though the current build is available only for Linux. Some distributions offer binary and source packages through their repositories, such as Trisquel,[33]Parabola GNU/Linux-libre[34] and Fedora.[35]

IceCat is also available for macOS 10.4 and higher. Any Mac user with these versions of macOS can install IceCat through Fink. For the Mac, it is available for both IA-32 & PowerPC architectures.

Unofficial builds are available for Windows (Vista or newer) and Android (2.3 or newer).[4]

Additional security features

IceCat includes additional security features, such as the option to block third party zero-length image files resulting in third-party cookies, also known as web bugs[8] (This feature is available in Firefox 1.0, 1.5, and 3.0, but the UI option was absent on 2.0).[8] GNU IceCat also provides warnings for URL redirection.[8]

In version 3.0.2-g1, the certificate of a certificate authority has been added to the list of trusted root certificates. Concern about that decision has been raised in a discussion on the savannah-hackers-public mailing list.[36]

The GNU LibreJS extension detects and blocks non-free non-trivial JavaScript.[37]

IceCat also has functionality to set a different user agent string each for different domains in about:config. For example, setting a mobile user agent string for a desired DNS domain would make it possible to view the mobile version of a website on a desktop operating system.[38]


Gnuzilla was available under the MPL/GPL/LGPL tri-license that Mozilla used for source code. Unlike Mozilla, IceCat's default icons are under the same tri-license.

See also


  1. ^ "GNU IceCat Version History". Chocolatey Software. 9 May 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b "COPYING". Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b Berry, Karl (23 September 2007). "Ice Weasel". bug-gnuzilla (Mailing list). Retrieved 9 December 2008.
  4. ^ a b Rodriguez, Ruben (9 March 2015). "IceCat 31.5.0 release". GNUzilla.
  5. ^ a b c "Mozilla Trademark Policy".
  6. ^ Nerode, Nathanael (27 February 2004). "Mozilla Firefox's icon and trademark". debian-legal (Mailing list). Retrieved 9 December 2008.
  7. ^ Dorland, Eric (27 December 2004). "Mozilla Firefox's icon and trademark". debian-devel (Mailing list). Retrieved 9 December 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Gnuzilla Homepage". Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  9. ^ Aelwyn, Joel (1 January 2005). "Mozilla and Trademarks". debian-legal (Mailing list). Retrieved 9 December 2008.
  10. ^ a b "Gnuzilla/IceWeasel Project Application".
  11. ^ Groening, Matt (1986). Love Is Hell. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-394-74454-3.
  12. ^ Markham, Gervase (14 July 2005). "Ongoing Firefox (and Thunderbird) Trademark problems". debian-devel (Mailing list). Retrieved 9 December 2008.
  13. ^ Markham, Gervase (19 June 2005). "Firefox/Thunderbird trademarks: a proposal". debian-devel (Mailing list). Retrieved 9 December 2008.
  14. ^ "Summer of Code project suggestions for GNU". Retrieved 13 April 2008.
  15. ^ "Google Code - Summer of Code - Application Information". Archived from the original on 21 June 2008. Retrieved 7 August 2008.
  16. ^ Giuseppe Scrivano. (27 July 2008). "GNU IceCat 3.0.1-g1". Archived from the original on 2012-03-02. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
  17. ^ Index of /gnu/gnuzilla/3.5
  18. ^ GNU IceCat 3.6.16 released.
  19. ^ GNU IceCat 4.0 released
  20. ^ GNU IceCat 5.0 released
  21. ^ GNU IceCat 6.0 released
  22. ^ GNU IceCat 7.0 released
  23. ^ GNU IceCat 9.0.1 released
  24. ^ GNU IceCat 10.0 released
  25. ^ GNU IceCat 13.0.1 released
  26. ^ GNU IceCat 14.0 released
  27. ^ GNU IceCat 17.0.1 released
  28. ^ Loic J. Duros (16 October 2013). "GNU IceCat 24.0 released!". Bug-gnuzilla (Mailing list). Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  29. ^ Ruben Rodriguez (5 May 2017). "IceCat 52.1.0 release". Bug-gnuzilla (Mailing list). Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  30. ^ "IceCat 52.3.0 release". Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  31. ^ "IceCat 52.6.0 release". Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  32. ^ "IceCat 60.7.0 Release". info-gnu mailing list archive. 2 June 2019. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  33. ^ "Trisquel - Details of package icecat in belenos". Archived from the original on 18 February 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  34. ^ "Parabola GNU/Linux-libre - icecat 45.7.0_gnu1-1 (x86_64)". Retrieved 13 Mar 2017.
  35. ^ "rpms/icecat". Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  36. ^ Berry, Karl (7 October 2008). "CAcert, GNU IceCat, and savannah". savannah-hackers-public (Mailing list). Retrieved 9 December 2008.
  37. ^ "LibreJS - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation". Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  38. ^ "Browser detection using the user agent". MDN Web Docs. Retrieved 2020-01-25.

External links

Edited: 2021-06-18 12:38:34