Firefox: Foiled by FEMA

One of the many advantages of Firefox, the better Web browser, is that it’s available for Windows, Macs, and Linux, which makes it essential for people like me who use several different operating systems.

One of the advantages of Linux is that its flexible license and modular nature allow people to create “live CDs“: an entire system on a burned disc, allowing users to run programs without any installing (KNOPPIX being the most famous example.)

A few Linux nerds took both these ideas and created a special Katrina “web kiosk” LiveCD. It’s a slick idea: get people to donate old PCs, hook them up to the internet, and just slide in the disc for a full-fledged Web browser. Since it all runs off the CD, there’s no need even for a hard drive, and even slow computers should work fine. Plus, the Linux license places no restriction on how many copies you make, so as soon as you get a donation, that computer is just a CD-R away from going online. (Contrast this with MS Windows, which requires license keys, “product activation”, “Genuine Advantage” validation — not to mention money.)

Yep, the Linux+Firefox combination seems like a good fit for this need — and in fact, the first center is already online. So what’s not to love?

Well, er, that would be FEMA. Seems the online form to register for disaster assistance is limited to Internet Explorer 6 (Win) only. This bone-headed move (almost certainly due to stupid use of JavaScript) means that while hurricane victims will be able to e-mail their friends and loved ones, they can forget about communicating with their government’s relief agency.

Another excellent decision by the team under the leadership of a fired former director of the International Arabian Horse Association.

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