IceCat browser says it offers additional privacy and security features. The wikipedia says:

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 CAcert.org, a certificate authority, has been added to the list of trusted root certificates. Concern[according to whom?] about that decision has been raised in a discussion on the savannah-hackers-public mailing list.[23]

The GNU LibreJS extension detects and blocks nonfree nontrivial JavaScript.

IceCat also has functionaity to set a different user agent string each for different domains in about:config. For example, setting a non-mobile user agent string for a desired domain would make it possible in Android to visit a non-mobile version of a website.

But if I disable LibreJS (since it breaks on a lot of websites), would there still be any benefit to using IceCat over other browsers? ie, SeaMonkey or Firefox with adBlock plus+noscript?

  • Every feature that you listed and didn't disable would still be available. – Stephane Aug 30 '16 at 6:23

I think this is rather subjective, you pick a browser that you like. If security is important to you, do everything you can and know to keep that sense of secuirty. If IceCat works, then go with IceCat.

Whether IceCat/IceWeasel really is better (more secure, guarding privacy) is difficult to prove. Browsers can be tweaked anyway you like, and extensions or plugins change behavior drastically. I am sure you can create a similar setup to how IceCat is configured by default, which for example FireFox.

To answer your question, and like I said, this is rather personal, but I don't think IceCat will give you any benefit, or you must really like free software. To support my point:

  1. IceCat is always a few steps behind FireFox. This is not per se a security problem, but it takes a few update cycles for (HTML5) features to roll in.
  2. In my experience, FireFox is somewhat faster and the lastest versions are much better with memory management.
  3. Additional security features have been backported to FireFox as well, such as zero-images.
  4. The internal certificate store seems neat, and from a distance it may give the impression security is taken serious. However in practice it can bite you back. I've had numerous reports of invalid certificates while other browsers (which trust on the OS) worked fine.

IceCat and Firefox are not as close as, say Chromium and Google Chrome. There is much more that seperates the two (extensions, layouts, settings..). If it were up to me, I'd go with FireFox and whatever plugin(s) providing additional features.

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