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IBM Makes Firefox Its Corporate Browser 152

Posted by kdawson
from the good-thing-orange-goes-with-blue dept.
e9th writes "Ars Technica reports that IBM has adopted Firefox as its company-wide browser. Firefox will be installed on all new employee computers, and all 400,000 employees will be encouraged to use it. Speaking of encouraging Firefox use, IBM VP Bob Sutor blogs: 'We will continue to strongly encourage our vendors who have browser-based software to fully support Firefox.' I hope this means that if IBM can't navigate a vendor's site with Firefox, they'll just look elsewhere."
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IBM Makes Firefox Its Corporate Browser

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:41AM (#32772350) Journal

    I hope this means that if IBM can't navigate a vendor's site with Firefox, they'll just look elsewhere.

    Oh, I couldn't care less about that. Let me explain "What freedom means to me." My company has more than a few apps that kept us on IE6 for the longest time. Why did they select IE6? Well, at the time, Internet Exploder was the only browser that allowed them to maintain strict policies and security settings across the company. It's still one of their big selling points [microsoft.com] that they have "slipstream installation" and "Group policy enhancements (total of 1,500, with 140 new in Internet Explorer 8)." Well, now that IBM has developed the Client Customization Kit [google.com] and maybe -- just maybe -- they can get it to a point where an administrator can control proxy and policy settings in Firefox from one central IT position. It's this. It's this concept that is the answer to my question why I'm still developing to support the browser from hell. And I know I'm not alone.

    So I'm adding one marble to the 'like' side of the scales of IBM (which they'll need a lot more of to tilt it back to even). I hope to see some serious support come out of this for FF's CCK.

    • by Krneki (1192201) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:56AM (#32772532)
      This is why I encourage the use of Google Chrome in our company . It has this neat feature to use IE settings.

      &#168;P.S: I'm a Firefox fanboy.
      • I've been pushing Chrome to all our users too. It seems to run a lot cleaner and I have fewer problems with the users that have jumped on the Chrome bandwagon.

        Personally I only use Firefox when I need firebug to debug Javascript and I only use IE for a small handful of sites that intentionally block Chrome. As a developer I've realized if I code to Chrome I have almost no issues with IE or Firefox.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Its great news that they have decided to go with Firefox, which will probably become a good example for other organizations who are sitting on fence. The blog also mentions that they will encourage their partners and customers to use it.

      Kudos to Firefox and thanks to IBM, I can use arguments like "If IBM can go for it, why can't you?"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      At the place in which I work everyone is supposed to use IE. It has all these policies, lock downs, etc. For example they disabled tabbed browsing (???) . So instead I use Firefox or Opera. I don't have adminstrative rights, so I installed them in my personal directory and run them from there.
      What is the point of strict browser management? Shouldn't security be managed via the network?

    • IBM offers a fully supported open client based on Linux. The Red Hat and Ubuntu versions are very mature, but there is also support for other distros. There is even a Mac client. While it isn't widely used yet, an IBMer can perform their job using it. Using Firefox and Symphony (IBM remix of OO.org) is just common sense, when you have 100K employees.
      • I use the for-Debian "open client." It's actually pretty good and generally has pretty good support, etc. I have Chrome, Firefox, and Opera all installed, too. Most IBM sites work with all of them... actually, it's mostly embedded hardware stuff that doesn't work with certain browsers.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:41AM (#32773204)

      The Client Customization Kit has a URL of http://code.google.com/p/ff-cckwizard/ ? I'm so not looking forward to forwarding that to my boss :-s

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JamesP (688957)

      Except if you have your security customer-side, you're doing it wrong.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      You can already do that all. If you could not this is not a failing of firefox but of you.

    • I have been using group policy to manage firefox (especially proxy settings) since about 2004 on several hundred machines.

      it is not built into the product, true, but still, search google for Firefox ADM templates.

      Its really not hard at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    to go Blue itself.
  • And will they please release the management utilities via open source? K THX BYE
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:49AM (#32772462) Journal

      And will they please release the management utilities via open source?

      From the article

      A number of third-party tools have been developed over the years to simplify certain aspects of organization-wide Firefox roll-outs. One of those tools is the Client Customization Kit [google.com] (CCK), which was developed by Firefox modification consultant Michael Kaply while he was employed by IBM. Kaply still actively maintains the tool and released an updated version [kaply.com] for Firefox 3.6 in March. IBM is using it alongside other tools to ensure that its Firefox adoption plan goes smoothly.

      IBM already has developed the initial version. CCK is currently Mozilla Public License 1.1 [mozilla.org] and I have not seen any notice that they're changing that so your question is answered.

      K THX BYE

      Anytime, brah.

  • by GIL_Dude (850471) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:56AM (#32772534) Homepage
    FTA:

    IBM plans to roll it out to employees on new computers and will encourage its staff of 400,000 to use it on their existing systems.

    Sounds like this will be a slow adoption if they are only setting it as the default browser on new computer systems and simply "encouraging" their installed base to use it. It probably does make sense to go slow like this with it, but it doesn't make for a sensational headline to say "IBM to slowly roll out firefox as the default browser as they replace hardware; encourages existing users to use firefox too".
    Anyway, hopefully this does result in more robust corporate deployment tools for firefox as IBM spends more on it. Because frankly the ability to deploy and manage it in a large corporate environment now pretty much sucks compared to Internet Explorer. That corporate manageability is really the only thing that has been missing from firefox.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      That corporate manageability is really the only thing that has been missing from firefox.

      Conversley, that's really the only thing that IE6 has going for it. There needs to be a little balance in priorities.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:15AM (#32772810)

      FTA:

      IBM plans to roll it out to employees on new computers and will encourage its staff of 400,000 to use it on their existing systems.

      Sounds like this will be a slow adoption if they are only setting it as the default browser on new computer systems and simply "encouraging" their installed base to use it. It probably does make sense to go slow like this with it, but it doesn't make for a sensational headline to say "IBM to slowly roll out firefox as the default browser as they replace hardware; encourages existing users to use firefox too".

      As an IBM employee I can say that the Firefox install was recently pushed as a required update to existing machines, so not only new machines will be receiving it.

      • by delinear (991444)
        Well that's good to hear, although it being pushed as a required update doesn't necessarily follow that people will switch to it if they're used to their IE while ever there's a choice (and I'm loathe to say that there shouldn't be a choice because that's what got us into a mess in the first place, but I hope they do enough internally to make it an informed choice).
    • In today's enterprises, hardware is cycled pretty fast. 3 years is pretty common I believe. In that large enterprise anything but a hardware rate adoption would murder the IT staff.
    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Sounds like this will be a slow adoption if they are only setting it as the default browser on new computer systems and simply "encouraging" their installed base to use it.

      True; they should do this the normal corporate way: disable IE and only reenable it for the whiners.

    • by Rexdude (747457)
      I've been working for IBM since 2007. When I first joined, I figured I'd have to use IE again for the intranet as had been the case with my earlier workplaces. It was then that I received a newsletter from the IT helpdesk informing us that Firefox 2.x something was now available on the internal software catalog, and that we should use it. Since then, I've never had to go back to IE for anything within the IBM intranet- everything just works fine with Firefox.
  • Bad news for banks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by assertation (1255714) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:59AM (#32772582)

    This is bad news for banks and other big orgs that dodge supporting browsers other than IE giving the "cover story" that other browsers are wildcards in term of security.

    People will ask if IBM can do it, why can't they.

    I guess the admins of such orgs could always say
    "Well, we do not have the resources of an IT company giant"

    Yet, with all of those employees, going to all of those sites......

    • by nawitus (1621237)
      There are still banks that only support IE? I don't remember seeing an IE-only site for years.
      • I share your surprise, but there was an article about such a bank on /. just the other day

        • by tepples (727027)
          That article was about Chase going IE/Firefox/Safari only, not IE only. It means Chrome and Opera users have to install Firefox, and set-top device uses have to buy a PC.
  • by assertation (1255714) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:06AM (#32772688)

    Notice that IBM is not going with Chrome, though it is a faster and better browser for the moment.

    IMHO that is partly because Google could become competition in other IT areas for IBM. Who wants the competitions browser, on their machines, possibly spying on them?

    Even aside from that, though Google has been more responsive ( & apologetic ) than Facebook, they have been (rightfully) censured for making things public that people always felt would be private ( and without notice).

    In that regards, they are in same category of trust as Facebook ( low trust ).

    I asked a Chrome enthusiast coworker if Facebook made a web browser, would he use it.

    His answer. "HELL NO!".

    I think it would take a lot of big organizations and many regular people to trust Google to provide software on their desktop that doesn't snoop on them.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:35AM (#32773118)
      Chrome isn't a better browser, it is faster at the moment, but it uses a lot of memory and isn't mature at this point. It's mostly fast by virtue of not having all the features that have made the competition somewhat bloated. But rest assured that Google realizes this and is in the process of larding it up.

      Being fast is one thing, but it's really pointless when it's spying on you and makes it a headache to use sites because it randomly refuses to show images without explanation. I have a sneaking suspicion that, that whole spying things probably has something to do with it not being chosen.
      • by pr0nbot (313417) on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:42AM (#32774146)

        In my job I use the various browsers to varying degrees.

        However, for my own use, I stick to Mozilla for ideological reasons: Firefox is their raison d'etre. They have a vested interest in keeping the web open and standards-based.

        Apple and Google might someday decide that it's not worth developing their browser any further, or decide that it should really be a vehicle to promote their core services (media sales, QuickTime, ads, analytics etc) to the detriment of the user. I think it's revealing that neither Apple nor Google chose to invest in Mozilla instead of going it on their own - either it's impossible to work with the Mozilla folks, or they wanted to retain control, in which case you have to ask why.

        Nevertheless, it's good for everyone that there's a bit of competition, so use what you like!

        • by dangitman (862676)

          I think it's revealing that neither Apple nor Google chose to invest in Mozilla instead of going it on their own

          It is very revealing. It reveals how the Firefox engine is a piece of shit. It's so fucking slow, and fast becoming the IE of non-IE browsers. WebKit is obviously superior.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Mad Merlin (837387)

          I think it's revealing that neither Apple nor Google chose to invest in Mozilla instead of going it on their own...

          Except they didn't go it on their own. Apple forked KHTML [wikipedia.org] into Webkit because KHTML was (and is) a substantially cleaner codebase than Gecko was (and is). Similarly, Google just forked Webkit instead of Gecko.

      • but it's really pointless when it's spying on

        Then go into tools and uncheck the 3 "please spy on me and give me goodies" boxes, and stop whining about it. This isnt rocket science, the instructions for disabling the "spying things" are posted in EVERY one of these discussions, and are simple enough for a 6 year old.

        I know im being naieve here, but can this stupid FUD rumor just die? Chrome is NOT hard to make as "privacy safe" as any other browser, and unlike many others, is actually open source.

        • LordLimeCat;

          You are writing about other people being naive, but have you considered that not all of the "spying" issues in Chrome are have visible controls for the users to turn off by their choice?

          Yes, the browser is open source but maybe the people examining the source code make mistakes, miss things or have a vested interest in not telling everyone.

          Maybe Google has two sets of source code. One the publish and one with "spying" stuff in it they use to make binaries.

          Google Buzz has already proven that Goo

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by LordLimecat (1103839)

            but have you considered that not all of the "spying" issues in Chrome are have visible controls for the users to turn off by their choice?

            Except chromium is open source, and SEVERAL people (including myself) have audited Chrome to verify this. One poster mentioned that he ran it through a sniffing proxy for several days with no extra data. There are TONS of tools out there to verify what Chrome sends to Google; Sysinternals has FileMon and ProcExp which show you everything you need to know about what Chrome does, and Wireshark shows you all data that it sends.

            The problem is its all to easy to throw out such accusations with NO proof or s

    • by quanticle (843097) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:41AM (#32773184) Homepage

      Notice that IBM is not going with Chrome, though it is a faster and better browser for the moment.

      Well, there's also the fact that Chrome is only a year or so old. Firefox, in all its iterations, has been around for almost six years. Which one do you trust more?

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Technically much longer even, since firefox is based on mozilla, which is based on netscape, which is based on mosaic...

    • Facebook is held together with baling wire and duct tape. From a technical standpoint, Facebook is very poor quality Just count how many times any query times out per day.

      I wouldn't use a facebook-built browser not because of privacy concerns, but because there's no way it would perform well. Just look at Facebook performance. That should speak to their technical competence.
    • by s4nt (613785) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:30PM (#32775044) Homepage

      Notice that IBM is not going with Chrome, though it is a faster and better browser for the moment.

      As stated before, IBM wants to build a stable linux environment to eventually replace windows internally, and the chrome port for linux sucks ATM.

      Also, IBM started testing Firefox for internal use for over 4 years now, when chrome didn't even exist.

      That is why they went with Firefox.

      • by oakgrove (845019)

        the chrome port for linux sucks ATM.

        This is not true in the slightest. I'm posting this in Chrome on Ubuntu 9.10 and Chrome is excellent in every practical way. It's fast, stable, full-featured, well integrated... I'm not sure what else you want before you can say it doesn't "suck".

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        The chrome linux port actually appears to be a focus for google thanks to their work on chromeos and android...
        The firefox linux version on the other hand appears to be an afterthought, and tends to be considerably slower than the windows version on the same hardware (to the extent that running the linux version under wine can be faster than the native version).

      • by JAlexoi (1085785)
        Testing? There has been a special IBM Firefox build for over 4 years now. And actual, usable set of plugins for internal use.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      IMHO that is partly because Google could become competition in other IT areas for IBM. Who wants the competitions browser, on their machines, possibly spying on them?

      Google has long been in competition with IBM in a variety of areas. Their appliances are direct competition for some of IBM's smaller offerings. and of course don't forget Google's cloud offerings, which more or less compete with owning your own cluster, which is one of the few places IBM is competitive on a price:performance basis.

    • by BZ (40346)

      > though it is a faster and better browser for the moment.

      It's not better if you happen to be blind or have other accessibility needs. Webkit's accessibility support, and therefore Chrome's is a long ways behind Gecko or Trident. Just one example of cases where Webkit's just incomplete compared to the competition (along with handling of CSS selectors and some other things along those lines).

      Given the number of employees involved, I would be very surprised if at least some of them didn't need decent scr

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      And yet they are and have been using windows, from a much longer standing and traditionally more dangerous competitor than google...

      Mostly the choice to go with firefox will be down to maturity, firefox is a tried and tested platform at this point while chrome is relatively new.

  • I'm a strong supporter of web standards (a real one, unlike Steve). But this?

    I hope this means that if IBM can't navigate a vendor's site with Firefox, they'll just look elsewhere.

    The fact that a company employed wrong web designers/programmers doesn't mean it's not good in what *it* does (save if what they do are websites, of course).

    • by bsDaemon (87307)

      It also doesn't really take into account the fact that most of the companies that supply a company like IBM are not the type of companies that "end users" would be buying from directly. I mean, how many of us are in the market for chip fabrication equipment or something of that nature? There might be some spill-over effect, but just going by the statement in the summary, I fail to see how it would be of any benefit to us for IBM to take that stance.

      • > I fail to see how it would be of any benefit to us for IBM to take that
        > stance.

        Most of IBM's suppliers probably contract out their Web site. The more often such contractors hear "Our site is broken. It doesn't work with Firefox. Fix it. Now." the better.

        Better yet, of course, would be an IBM boycott of all-Flash sites.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I fail to see how it would be of any benefit to us for IBM to take that stance.

        Regardless of if end users have to use a site, other vendors will, and that affects what browsers are in use at those other vendors. It also determines what Web development skills, developers, and tools benefit most moving forward. Companies being pressured to spend money and comply with standards or lose deals will suddenly care about standards, which means their Web developers will and their tool providers will. So now you have more Web development tools and developers who make standards compliant sites a

    • > The fact that a company employed wrong web designers/programmers doesn't
      > mean it's not good in what *it* does

      One of the things that a company does is support its products. These days that usually involves their Web site. If that's broken so is their support. Now, maybe your company's products and/or prices are so much better than those of your competition that you can afford to inconvenience your customers. Most companies, however, have competitors that are pretty damn close to them in all objec

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:41AM (#32773186)

      I'm a strong supporter of web standards (a real one, unlike Steve).

      Yeah, that will boost your credibility.

      I hope this means that if IBM can't navigate a vendor's site with Firefox, they'll just look elsewhere.

      The fact that a company employed wrong web designers/programmers doesn't mean it's not good in what *it* does (save if what they do are websites, of course).

      That's completely true, but not really relevant. You see, doing business means being good at working with others. Standards are a big part of that. If you have to go out of your way to do business with someone, like if they refuse to be paid in US dollars and will only accept canned tuna fish as payment, well, they have to be a whole lot better for you to go out of your way. Normally, who cares? I mean really, if some company wants to make it hard to do business with them, well that sucks and we move on.

      The difference here is "embrace, extend, extinguish". It was Microsoft's largely successful plan to break and fragment the Web itself to make it harder for companies to write cross platform solutions and to, in turn, use anything other than Windows. Because a monopolist specifically went out and leveraged their monopoly to encourage the bad behavior on the part of people who make Web sites, we all have a vested interest in correcting that market damage and allowing the state of the art to progress at a normal rate again. To continue with the analogy, imagine if the RIAA had required all purchases of music to be paid for with canned tuna fish for many years, then finally lost in court and now we're in the situation where many record stores don't even have cash registers, but just special canned tuna counting machines. A big player in the market encouraging a move back to normalcy, while the record stores still are being pressured to only take tuna fish, is then important to all of us.

      Now I recognize my example was downright silly. That was by design. I'm trying to explain the concepts involved, divorced from any real situation so everyone can see why it is important in principal. Then, if necessary, we can have a discussion about how the principal applies in this case. This isn't about punishing companies with IE only Web sites. It's about pressuring them to correct our broken market. That they have to suffer for what has happened is just one more piece of damage to be laid at MS's feet.

    • by quanticle (843097)

      At the same time, you have to recognize that the major historical reason to use IE is that one needed it in order to navigate necessary sites. The more that pressure that large companies can bring to bear on vendors to make their sites work across multiple browsers, the better off we all are.

  • Tell the vendors. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:11AM (#32772754) Homepage

    > I hope this means that if IBM can't navigate a vendor's site with Firefox,
    > they'll just look elsewhere.

    I hope this means that if IBM can't navigate a vendor's site with Firefox they'll tell the vendor why he is losing the sale.

    Buyer: "I tried to check on your Web site as you suggested but it doesn't seem to work with Firefox." Salesman: "Oh, yes. We only support IE." Buyer: "Get back to me when you've fixed your site."

  • It is good news that IBM is doing this, No if they will just write their own applications to work on Firefox better, I will be really happy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by djtwo (925751)
      Ironically just before I read this, I got a "You must use IE6 or later message" using one of IBM's SPSS products
  • by ageoffri (723674) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:42AM (#32773206)
    As an IBM'er who has run Firefox for years as my primary browser I can tell you that a large number of web based tools just don't work with anything but IE. Maybe some parts of IBM can get away with only using IE, but in ITD we just can't. Even the corporate education site works better in IE and pretty much everyone has to use it several times a year.

    What we are really seeing here IMHO is an internal political battle that has spilled outside the corporate structure. One exec has decided to stake his name on adopting Firefox and will blame the every development group that only supports IE when this fails.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > and will blame the every development group that only supports IE when this fails.

      And the exec will be right. There's no excuse for churning out IE only shit any more. A dev coding IE only is either a) lazy or b) incompetent.

      • by Squib (124309)

        You have to consider the fact that internal IBMers are still required to use internal mainframe software for some accounts. Because they're ingrained in the process. A lot of the philosophy is "if it ain't broke [obviously], don't fix it"

        IIRC, every internal system comes with Firefox on it, or has it pushed via the IBM Standard Software Installer [ISSI], so it's not like people don't have the browser. It's just a matter of whether or not you have the resources to retrofit older processes to be Firefox-compl

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          You have to consider the fact that internal IBMers are still required to use internal mainframe software for some accounts. Because they're ingrained in the process. A lot of the philosophy is "if it ain't broke [obviously], don't fix it"

          I don't know what it looks like now but when I was at Tivoli the official IBM way to access trouble tickets was with a screen-scraper than only ran on OS/2, but it always lagged behind RETAIN so you'd have to fire up tn3270 or whatever and access RETAIN manually to execute certain functions. I used to run a little cheat sheet intranet page to explain to Tivoli support how to use RETAIN when you had to mess with an APAR. Man, I hated all those stupid acronyms.

      • I use FF almost exclusively, especially for the convenience and security provided by its rich set of addons. Not a web designer to any small degree, I don't understand why FF cannot render many sites, like Netflix, correctly. In the case of Netflix I wonder if this is a Netflix problem or Firefox fail. (FF cannot display the delete icon on the Netflix Queue page when the DVD/Bluray drop-down box appears on the same line.)

        Certainly Netflix should make their site compatible with FF; but this problem has pe
    • Education is a crusty old app that has way more problems than working only in IE, but what other products are you working with that won't work with FireFox? Surely there will be an exception for those who's customers require the use of non-FireFox compatible software.

    • by BShive (573771)

      Also an IBM'er and you're probably right. They've been moving towards FF for years, but there are still some internal sites that have trouble with it. Microsoft Office is also slowly getting the boot in favor of Lotus Symphony.

    • One exec has decided to stake his name on adopting Firefox and will blame the every development group that only supports IE when this fails.

      I fail to see why this is a bad thing.

  • Just like any other OSS technology, when IBM adopts it for internal use, they will alter it and end up selling back to businesses, in bloated, constant maintenance form.

    Just look at Notes, Unix, Java, Linux, Informix. They "reinvented them" into the IBM ecosystem, reengineered them with IBM parts and they all ended up being bloat ware versions needing IBM consultants to maintain them. Eclipse is useful, but still an over bloated "framework".

    Just sayin.... Firefox has a good chance now of having the sa
  • by Trip6 (1184883) on Friday July 02, 2010 @01:17PM (#32775972)

    It would be bulletproof...

  • Firefox is our company-wide browser as well. Well, at least on the the Linux machines the programmers use.

    However, it is only Firefox 2.0.

    Some are able to run 3.0. Firefox 3.5 and 3.6 won't run on any Linux machine installed here. Programmers do not have sufficient access to install the necessary libraries (e.g. libpangocairo) required by newer versions.

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      You don't need root to install libraries, put them in a dir and set the LD_LIBRARY_PATH variable to point to it...

      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        Will that work also for upgrading GTK+, glib, and dbus? And under Redhat 9?

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          If you can get all those libs compiled under rh9 sure...
          It's possible to build a whole userland from libc up within your own homedir without root, the only requirement is that the version of libc be compiled for your kernel version or earlier (which generally means you cant just tar up the libs from a newer distro).

  • if they will first remember to fix the various internal and third party sites that didn't work with Firefox (as late as mid 2009) this could be good. Even if they make firefox default, and install it in lots of places, it's moot if you still need to use IE for certain sites. My 'favorites' were ones which were actually just running javascript / java applets and nothing else which had absolutely no reason to be restricted to windows but had browser agent checks abound in them..

    Yes you can change the browse

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