I’ve had this argument many times with Justin… defining what exactly makes something open-source.
He is confident in telling me that Firefox is not open-source, and (as I understand it) he believes this because the Mozilla Organization, which controls the source code for Firefox, does not easily allow people to contribute code. They keep a tight grip on who was their bits put into Firefox. And while it is true that there are pieces in Firefox that you cannot use elsewhere (branding elements, graphics, etc.) I still believe that Firefox is open-source due to the fact that it uses the Mozilla Public License which is considered an open-source license by the Open Source Initiative.
I asked the question on Pownce recently, Is the Firefox web browser open-source?
And I think it’s a question that most people who have a basic understanding of the term “open-source” would answer “yes” to, but… Is that the case?
I thought maybe searching for “firefox is not open source” would unveil some great conspiracy I was not aware of, but no such luck.
Personally, I don’t think allowing people to contribute code is a requirement of open-source. It may be an important component of community and “open-ness” but accepting someone else’s code into your project does not seem to be a requirement. Providing the source code, and allowing people to modify and use that source code does seem to be a requirement, and though I’ve always downloaded binaries, I just downloaded the source code to Firefox.
So what is the scoop here? Is Firefox open-source?