06.06.09

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Does Microsoft Moonlight Do to Firefox What Microsoft Does to Firefox?

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 6:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Microsoft Moonlight is said to have just landed automatically on Mozilla Firefox, without its user’s consent

LAST NIGHT I came across a very curious post from Sinister Midget, a regular in USENET’s Linux advocacy newsgroup where I post. He wrote: “when I tried to install it I was informed a mono file was installed that blocked it. And I found it as it said. Not sure how that got in there because I specifically removed everything mono-related once already.

“This morning I found silverlight installed on Firefox. I never installed it. I never authorized installation of it. But when I looked I found the moonlight-plugin was installed. I dumped it.

“This morning I found silverlight installed on Firefox. I never installed it. I never authorized installation of it. But when I looked I found the moonlight-plugin was installed. I dumped it.”
      –Sinister Midget
“Both of these things bother me. I know I wasn’t careless about letting just any old crap install. Perhaps one might slip by me when I needed to have something else installed if it was a dependency. But two of them? And when I removed them neither told me they required the removal of anything else!

“This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this happen either. When I had Eeebuntu installed I marked some packages for removal. When I added others to be installed, those packages marked for removal would drop from the list. When I selected them again, they didn’t claim they needed to uninstall other things, nor did they deselect the items I’d chosen for installation.

“I let that last one slide, figuring it for a bug. I didn’t report it since they were rapidly working to get Eeebuntu 3.0 out and I planned on reporting it if I saw it again in that. But I went to Ubuntu 9.04 instead, and this morning was the first sign that something wasn’t right. Tonight was the second.

“Now I’m thinking it’s time to revisit what I’m going to run on the netbook. I was considering Mint 7 anyway (I have Mint 6 on the desktop and never saw this sort of thing happen). But I think I should give the Ubuntu people an opportunity to help me figure this out or explain why this is happening before I just abandon it.”

The principal question worth asking is this: “how (and why) did Moonlight make it into Firefox in the first place?”

Only about a week ago we found Microsoft shoving its agenda down the throats of Firefox users. It added a plug-in to someone else’s software (Mozilla) without asking for permission [1, 2].

So who is responsible for installing the trouble which is Microsoft Moonlight (already forbidden by Red Hat) inside Firefox without users’ explicit consent? It is more likely to be the distributor than the owners of Moonlight (Microsoft and Novell). Would Novell ever stoop to this? Not likely because it probably hasn’t the power. But as Dr. Oliver Diedrich points out in his good analysis at The H, Novell has been facing an identity crisis it still cannot resolve.

Although it has been one of Novell’s success stories, the company has none-the-less remained circumspect about committing to Linux.

[...]

Clearly Novell doesn’t yet really believe that you can earn money with open source; it appears to be afraid of opening up its own products and prefers to rely on traditional proprietary software.

Moonlight with codecs is proprietary software and it truly shows that Novell does not care. See for example:

  1. Novell Promotes ASP.NET, Demotes OpenSUSE
  2. Novell Recommends the IE Browser
  3. Novell Serenades to Microsoft in Novell.com
  4. Novell Supports Microsoft ActiveX, Leaves Windows Open for Hijackers

Can anyone reproduce the aforementioned experience of spontaneous Moonlight installations?

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2 Comments

  1. aikiwolfie said,

    June 6, 2009 at 9:24 am

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    I’m running Ubuntu 9.04 with Firefox and I’ve never known this to happen.

  2. The Mad Hatter said,

    June 6, 2009 at 10:22 am

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    Moon OS 2 (based on Ubuntu 8.04 LTS), and it hasn’t happened here.

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