State Dept. Workers Beg for Firefox. Response: "Nothing is Free"


next you'll want Chrome!

Is browser freedom for State Department wage slaves too much to ask? Check out this laugh-a-minute exchange from a State "town hall meeting" featuring Sec. Hillary Clinton, undersecretary for management Patrick Kennedy, and Firefox-deprived worker bee Jim Finkle.

Finkle: Can you please let the staff use an alternative Web browser called Firefox? I just—(applause)—I just moved to the State Department from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and was surprised that State doesn't use this browser. It was approved for the entire intelligence community, so I don't understand why State can't use it. It's a much safer program. Thank you. (Applause.)

Clinton: Well, apparently, there's a lot of support for this suggestion. (Laughter.) I don't know the answer. Pat, do you know the answer? (Laughter.)

Kennedy: The answer is, at the moment, it's an expense question. We can—

Finkle: It's free. (Laughter.)

Kennedy: Nothing is free.

Apparently Hillary Clinton's department (perhaps alone in Obama's cabinet) has internalized the lesson that there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Kenendy's right, as CNET points out, that it wouldn't be totally free to deploy Firefox at State. But surely it would be cheaper than maintaining Internet Explorer in the long run. More secure, too. Can you imagine the nerd agony over there? 

Reason geeks adopted Firefox in 2004—the day after version 1.0 was released.


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  1. I use Firefox at home and at work.

  2. Wait a minute!! “Nothing is free”?? This guy is a Democrat, right? Isn’t it sacrilege for a Dem to say stuff like that? BTW, I keep looking for my bill from Mozilla, but I can’t seem to find it.

  3. That pic is just too much. I’ll be back in a while.

  4. robc got me on Firefox as a way to block commenters on H&R. I never looked back.

  5. Kennedy: Nothing is free.

    he’s just warning us of the boss’ intentions. can’t make the plan any clearer.

  6. Will no one rid us of these troublesome Kennedys?

  7. So just who has been cashing my $19.99 per month Firefox subscription checks?

  8. Oh goody. Now we taxpayers get to fund a 15 million dollar Firefox Feasibility Study.

  9. So just who has been cashing my $19.99 per month Firefox subscription checks?

    These guys. Sorry you had to find out about your dyslexia this way.

  10. Pussies! I started using Firefox at 0.6 when it was called Phoenix, even before it was called Firebird. It totally blew but was still better than IE.

  11. Can you imagine the nerd agony over there?

    There are nerds at State? I thought they were all moneyed, preppy, Ivy-League dolts with no concept of how the world works.

  12. They have free healthcare in Canada and Europe.

  13. What a hideous picture.

  14. “These guys. Sorry you had to find out about your dyslexia this way.”

    I stopped reading the link at “Nacoochee.” I was hoping that my money at least went to a super secret Soviet fighter that responds to thinking in Russian.

  15. Pfft, that’s nothing. My company still forces us use to exclusively use and develop web apps for IE 6.

  16. Ugh, me no type well.

  17. Are Opera, Chrome, and Safari also “approved for the entire intelligence community”? (I’d likely take any of them over Firefox.)

  18. Jordan do you work for the military too?

  19. Close. A defense contractor…

  20. Let me guess something about Finkle. Ten years ago, he was saying that Linux would “take over the desktop in five years”. Let me also guess something about Finkle: He still thinks it’s…’about the browser’.

    Can I use a Magnavox TV to watch the news instead of this Phillips?

    Sorry, no matter which TV you use, you’re still stuck with Wolf Blitzer.

  21. I’d be willing to wager that neither Hill nor the Kennedy spawn knew what Firefox was..

  22. Meh, they should all switch to Debian and use Iceweasel. The animated logo is perfect for the State Dept.

  23. Are these the same people who laughed at McCain for not knowing how to use email?

  24. Wait. I think I smell some hypocrisy and self contradiction here.

    So these guys (the Democrats and Obama administration) say that nothing is free (when applied to internet browsers) but are offering us “free” healthcare, college and all sorts of other stuff.

  25. My company still forces us use to exclusively use and develop web apps for IE 6.

    Same here, well except for the “use” part. I develop for IE6 but I otherwise I use what I damn well want, which is Firefox on Windows, and Safari on Mac at home.

    PS. Anyone use or develop for IE7 or 8? I’ve only opened it by mistake a couple times, was disturbed by the mess, and closed it right away.

  26. In fairness, the full quotation is actually more reasonable. “Nothing is free” was only the first sentence of a several-paragraphs-long reply, in which he states that support/IT maintenance of two separate systems in a large organization is not free.

    I do agree with the other commenters that “Nothing is free” is something the administration certainly needs to keep in mind, though….

  27. nice post..
    The best place for the best ENTERTAINMENT

  28. Technically Finkle didn’t say “it’s free”

    That was me.
    I wouldn’t even mind having to use IE so much if it wasn’t IE6, which is what we are still stuck with here at state. I understand the importance of having a browser without security flaws so that it can keep government secrets safe, we do deal with classified materials here, after all, and I know that having to secure two browsers would be more difficult and costly than one (we can’t really drop IE because we use outlook and other microsoft products that rely on it being there, plus we develop in house programs to work with it)

    I think that what is more important than having firefox is having an IT system that can pump out a patched and safe version of Internet Explorer that can keep government secrets safe faster than Microsoft can come out with a new browser, since we /may/ be implimenting IE 7 later this year, but don’t know how long it will take to get 8 out. Maybe we’ll have 8 when 10 comes out…

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