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Mozilla The Internet

Mozilla Foundation in More Development Trouble 348

Posted by samzenpus
from the who-will-get-the-kids dept.
sebFlyte writes "After the reports of problems with Firefox' development earlier this week there are now rumblings about more serious problems with the Mozilla Suite. Some developers want to spin the suite out as a community project that the foundation has no responsibility for, and others want to create a Firefox Foundation to deal with the success of the standalone browser."
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Mozilla Foundation in More Development Trouble

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  • pointless? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dhbiker (863466) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:46AM (#11898859) Homepage
    wouldn't it be foolish to create a firefox foundation when so much of the firefox code comes from the mozilla suite (and vice versa to some extent)?
    • Re:pointless? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LurkerXXX (667952) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:56AM (#11898951)
      Since when has that stopped the open source community from forking code? It happens all the time. Most of the time it IS foolish and useless. Occasionally some good comes from the split. Like evolution, it's all a crapshoot.
      • Re:pointless? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by owlstead (636356)
        For evolution to work, you need enough specimen (and a sufficient environment). If all specimen are bad, the entire species dies out. In other words, you need enough splits, and enough good developers for each split. And there must be a sufficient userbase to test out these splits. I wonder if this is the case with firefox.
        • Frankly, it's doubtful. I think the split is a bad idea.

          If anything, I wish someone would start fresh, because although it is 'lighter' than Netscape, it's still a friggin pig on my system when I look at the amount of memory it uses. I dont' know if it is the gecko engine or what, but something is a RAM hog and I'd like to see a fresh start from a clean slate rather than just a fork from the current codebase.

          Unfortunately, you and I don't get to vote on it. Only the people donating their time to progr

    • Re:pointless? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:24AM (#11899218) Homepage
      More to the point, the Mozilla foundation is dealing with a whole bunch of products from the original Mozilla suite (Thunderbird, Firefox, Sunbird, and others). What would be the point of pulling Firefox away from that?

      It seems like the Mozilla Foundation made a decision that they preferred the Firefox development model. Firefox, Thunderbird, and Sunbird are set to be the *new* Mozilla suite, and the old one is in maintenance mode. It seems like this is comparable to people complaining that Microsoft isn't putting enough development into Windows 3.1.... Well, yeah, it's the old product that they've discontinued.

      Now, it's all open source, so if someone wants to work on it, go ahead. But why people are trying to convince the Mozilla foundation to offload their new, exciting, successful, popular line-up of software and head back to what's become a bit of a dead-end, I don't know.

    • Re:pointless? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ubergrendle (531719) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:25AM (#11899239) Journal
      Proving once again that the Open Source community continues to be its own worst enemy. There's alot of pig-headed "If you don't play by ~my~ rules I'm taking my toys and going home!" attitude. I suspect its an artifact of the enterprenurial spirit that leads people to contribute to open source in the first place. And because the code is open, anyone can do this. Its the nature of the environment.

      Unfortunately, a serious break with Mozilla at this point will INSTANTLY cripple Firefox adoption across enterprise organisations. Now not only do you have to pick a browser (or browser suite) to standardize upon, now you have to pick the flavour of that suite. IT managers (or CIOs) have to bet twice -- once that Firefox will continue to be an optimum choice down the road, and a second time that you chose the right 'branch'.

      Microsoft, IBM, Google win their audience over by representing consistency. Here's a quick example: think of McDonalds -- poor quality food, but consistent in quality. People 99% of the time will go with what they know, rather than gamble on the family-run restaurant across the street, even though the family-run restaurant might represent a great hidden and unknown deal.
      • Re:pointless? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by starwed (735423) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @11:18AM (#11899894)
        Lets be clear on the actual discussions taking place here...
        1. MoFo doesn't want to have to fully support two differant projects; they don't have the resources to do that. So it's proposed that there won't be a 1.8 final release, as that would take a lot of QA work and entail still more work later on to keep up with security patches.
        2. Obviously some people don't like this. Oddly enough most of them are users of the suite.
        3. Several [xulplanet.com] developers [glazman.org] have stated [steelgryphon.com] that mofo shouldn't continue suite releases, at least not in the same way. None of them have suggested spinning firefox off into a seperate foundation.
        4. Slashdot has posted an inflammatory article about the issue; very few people commenting have bothered to go to the primary sources to see whats going on. (Surprise! :))
      • People 99% of the time will go with what they know, rather than gamble on the family-run restaurant across the street, even though the family-run restaurant might represent a great hidden and unknown deal.

        Amen brother, I recently came to this realization when a great coffee house opened in my office complex, but workers still went to starbucks and never even tried the place. The owner even told me that if someone came in and told them I sent them shed give them a free drink. I've told several of my cowork
  • by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:47AM (#11898868) Homepage Journal
    FOSS is great. They can do any or all of the above. I could fork my own version of Mozilla or Firefox right now if I felt that my development process was superior to that of the existing community. I dont see why there is such a big debate here. Do it, see how many developers flow to each side, work from there.
    • by Phil John (576633)
      Whilst the Devs are busy arguing, Microsoft is busy inventing their next browser-os tie in (After receiving carte-blanche from the US Bush/Cheney regime).

      There was an episode of nip/tuck last season that had the partners wanting to split the business up after an altrication, as the "divorce" attorney pointed out, when something like that happens cusomters don't know who to turn to, they get confused and more often than not switch to the competition.

      Now, the customers are PHB's thinking about maybe doing
      • by selectspec (74651) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:25AM (#11899238)
        ...after receiving carte-blanche from the US Bush/Cheney regime...

        I'd just like to point out for the record that Microsoft employees contribute more to the Democratic party than any other company in the United States and that the Microsoft itself has made only negligible political contributions to both parties. Bill Gates is certainly no conservative.

        The idea that the Bush/Cheney regime as you call it should be determining whether a browser should be embedded into an OS is rediculous. The last thing we want is our elected officials telling us how to package and sell our software. Let's press them on software patents, not bundling issues.

        • ...but before the current government came into power the previous administration was all for kicking microsoft into the middle of next week, when it came time to aportion punishment all MS got was a slap on the wrist.

          I don't doubt that Bill Gates is no conservative but the conservative government in place currently has been more than kind to Microsoft, which is not that unfathomable as they do bring a hell of a lot of money into the US.

          But all of that doesn't detract from the fact that if mozilla become
          • The Clinton administration desprately wanted to to settle the case as well, but never came to an agreement that the states and MS found acceptable.

            Rather than get angry at politicians, look to the appeals court which overrulled Jackson and found there was no merit to the charge that IE was "tied" to Windows. In otherwords, sticking IE into Windows was legal, and MS couldn't be punished for it, regardless of the administration in power.

            Back on topic, AOL/Netscape walked away with $750 Million of Microsoft'
      • by DogDude (805747)
        Now, the customers are PHB's thinking about maybe doing an enterprise deployment of firefox. But, they will now be worried that if the foundation that backs it splits up, there will be no further development and it will stagnate. You and I both that's not true, but PHB's aren't like you or I, they don't possess common sense, they are like scared springboks being chased by an ,in this case imaginary, lion.

        Oh right. Open Source projects never die. I forgot. Hell, the Netscape browser died on the vine j
      • Look, I had an all-Compaq shop pre-HP/Compaq merger. I hated Dell because I found their support lacking and loved Compaq, but I LOATHED HP gear. What did I do during the merger? Well, I was so distraught with our options in Windows land, that we finally started experimenting with Mac desktops and other options and made changes.

        It wasn't dumb, it wasn't short sighted, my vendor was going through an upheavel and I didn't know what to do, so it was time to evaluate everything.

        If I adopt Firefox (which I'm
    • CVS politics (Score:5, Interesting)

      by r00t (33219) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:15AM (#11899137) Journal
      Big projects using CVS somehow all wind up with
      with nasty politics. This is because CVS commit
      rights give a very visible rank to some people.
      It only gets worse if you add "core" membership.

      Linus keeps things fuzzy. The innermost circle
      of developers is poorly defined. This lets
      everyone think they are "in" or "out" as best
      suits their personality.

      I've seen the problem on wikis too, with admin
      rights. Giving out explicit rank is dumb.

  • Meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:47AM (#11898876) Homepage Journal
    Some developers want to spin the suite out as a community project that the foundation has no responsibility for, and others want to create a Firefox Foundation to deal with the success of the standalone browser.

    Or maybe... they could just leave it where it is? Is the Mozilla Foundation really all THAT bad? While I'm sure that everyone has reasons for their position, this smacks of a variation of "Not Invented Here Syndrome".
    • Re:Meh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CTho9305 (264265) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:10AM (#11899096) Homepage
      It's not that the Mozilla Foundation is evil - there are a few issues here. First, they aren't saying much. Pretty much everything we [mozilla.org] hear is coming from only Asa Dotzler [slashdot.org], not official statements by MoFo. Second, the Mozilla Foundation does have limited resources - the points people are making about two products being difficult are valid. Marketing is another big issue. It would be in the Mozilla Foundation's best interest to present ONE front: the aviary products (Firefox, Thunderbird).

      I don't think NIH is the big problem - the problem is that while Firefox could have been just the browser portion of the suite, it isn't. It looks and feels different. The people who like the suite like the look and feel of it. Switching to Firefox means giving up a mature, stable, familiar user interface for something different that changes a lot with every 0.1 release (for example, Firefox 1.1 will have a completely rewritten preferences panel).

      One of the major concerns right now of developers interested in SeaMonkey is the development process currently used for the aviary products: gigantic patches are included without any review, and often with very little testing. Regressions are found by users, and they file bugs which get fixed. However, the lack of review still allows much lower-quality code to enter the source. Between the landing of the patch and fixing of regressions, nightly builds (which developers work from) are often in very bad (unusable) shape.

      The SeaMonkey front-end currently requires not one, but TWO reviews of all code. Does this slow the pace of development? Yes. It's extremely difficult to thoroughly review the bigger patches (doubling a patch length probably quadruples the work), but it maintains high code quality, and minimizes the introduction of new bugs. It helps that the SeaMonkey front-end is already mature, because less development needs to happen.

      In theory, the Mozilla project was supposed to offer a cross-platform application development toolkit. This toolkit would be maintained, and an application written for it should work properly on future versions of the toolkit. This would offer a way to easily save Mozilla: port it over to this toolkit (which is just a modified version of what it uses right now, minus thorough code review). However, there is doubt among the developers that the Mozilla Foundation will actually keep this toolkit in usable shape - the track record of Firefox developers has been "change what we want when we want to", which would mean any application using this toolkit would need frequent updates. Porting the suite to a toolkit like this would mean we get all of the downsides (less code review), plus extra maintenance work required.

      Basically, I think most of the suite developers just want their favorite browser not to die, and not to be based on shoddy code.
      • by cshark (673578)
        The toolkit already exists, and has for at least a couple of years. I've seen it refered to as Gecko Run Time, and XPCOM (which I believe is one of it's core componants). They're documented well, but may be out of date. I haven't checked on it in awhile. About a year ago, we were talking about porting Shorthand over to XPCOM and GRE because it already had the complete API set (shut up I know) we needed. There aren't many apps that I know of that are written for the Moz tool kit, but there are a few. It's no
      • ...that the Mozilla suite code is of higher security than Firefox, then I will dump Firefox like a hot potato and never look back.

        For the same reason that I use OpenBSD, I would avoid a risky browser.

        I was not aware of the difference in auditing between the two applications. What should I know?

  • Instability (Score:5, Informative)

    by canofbutter (843238) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:48AM (#11898880)
    I see this sort of instability as only hurting the cause. It will show the general public and/or typical PHBs that closed source software is better because the companies/foundations making it are more stable. Mozilla really needs to try to keep it together.
  • Helpful news? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by n0dalus (807994) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:49AM (#11898902) Journal
    This must be the third article about Firefox/Mozilla development process problems this week.
    Aren't these kinds of problems going on with most projects, including proprietry software projects?
    I can't help but feel as though people are just trying to run a smear campaign against the Mozilla Corporation.
    • Mod Parent up (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rider_prider (698555) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:56AM (#11898958)
      I would if I had mod points. This is healthy open discussion about the future of an open source project. I seem to remember the original developers of what became Firefox started that project because they were unhappy with the direction of the mozilla browser at the time. This is not instability or trouble, it is part of the evolutionary process of open software...
    • by thirteenVA (759860) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:09AM (#11899085)
      Of course it is, but slashdot brings drama to those with no lives.
    • Aren't these kinds of problems going on with most projects, including proprietry software projects?

      No. That's the benefit of proprietary software. One entity owns it and controls it. If somebody wants to do their own version of proprietary software, they'll be prompty sued and shut down. There is no code forking in proprietary software. If there is, then the project manager/owner is generally promptly canned. Hence, there's ONE recent version of IE, ONE of Quickbooks, ONE of just about every propri
  • Sheesh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:50AM (#11898908) Homepage Journal
    The article is headlined "Mozilla's future under debate"

    How the hell did "under debate" become "More Development Trouble" in the /. headline.

    (Answer : someone high up at OSDL clear believes "scandal-mongering = advertising revenue")
    • If said advertising revenue is supposed to come from Firefox users, then tough luck, most of them already have Adblock up, running and happily removing ads.

      Maybe the gloating IE users are the targeted audience. Although, this being /., I'd be very surprised if their numbers would be significant.
    • Re:Sheesh... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *
      (Answer : someone high up at OSDL clear believes "scandal-mongering = advertising revenue")

      And they probably got 8 ad impressions from you on the way to this comment. ;)
    • someone high up at OSDL clear believes "scandal-mongering = advertising revenue"

      Considering that article headlines come from the article submitter (the rank and file), I find your claim of high-level scandal-mongering to be, well... scandal-mongering!
    • ...I don't know why, but this "scandal-mongering" (along with dupes) has become more of a problem on /. this past year.

      That's sad, because one of the things that marked /. when I first saw it was the factualness of the articles (*this point does apply to comments). This watering-down makes it ever more sleazy like the regular newspapers. :(
    • Thanks all. I know have my answer (and it's
      "Time on the Deep Space Radio Network is bastard expensive"
    • Re:Sheesh... (Score:4, Informative)

      by innate (472375) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @11:40AM (#11900119)
      OSDL [osdl.org] doesn't sell advertising, and isn't related to Slashdot or OSTG [ostg.com].
  • by AHarrison (778175) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:51AM (#11898910)
    In a time when the open source community needs solidarity, one of the largest and most popular organizations is spreading itself too thin to the point of breaking.
  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jaeger (2722) * on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:53AM (#11898928) Homepage

    I've been using Mozilla, in some capacity or another, for almost six years, and it's been the only browser I've used (on purpose) for at least five years. So I was confused when Firefox showed up on the scene and suddenly attracted attention. What is it that makes Firefox better than Mozilla? Firefox has tabbed browsing, and pop-up blocking, and all that, but Mozilla did it all two years ago.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tweek (18111)
      You have to understand the Mozilla mindset on development.

      Mozilla suite is the reference platform. Pure and simple. It was intended for people to spin off thier own projects.

      Firefox, Thunderbird and Sunbird are all spinoffs from the mozilla code base. Sunbird was actually the result of a bunch of work done by OEone, IIRC.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:12AM (#11899109) Homepage
      As far as I know...
      • Firefox is faster- I haven't tried it in a while, but at least a couple years ago, when I made the switch, Firefox loaded faster, and seemed generally more lightweight
      • Firefox is prettier- totally a matter of opinion, but it seems to be the majority opinion that Firefox has a better interface all around
      • Firefox's Extensions- I'm not a developer, but people seem to think that Firefox's extension system is easier, more flexible, and generally better than any means to alter/add-on to the Mozilla suite. (don't know much about it though)
      • the Mozilla suite seemed stagnant- this is an issue of perception, but I've talked to a number of people that thought the Mozilla suite has a clunky interface from 10-15 years ago (it still looked like Netscape 4). The mere appearance of 'newness' was enough to get some people excited. Along these lines, the Firefox people have done a better job of making Firefox look native on various operating systems
      • breaking Mozilla suit up made sense for development- eh, it's arguable, but many people seem to believe that breaking the suite up into its components (browser, e-mail, calendar, chat, composer, etc.) would make it possible for each individual component to progress faster. Besides giving people the ability to pick and choose the components they wanted, and increasing the efficiency of the resources used by not including components that people weren't going to use, there's the idea that breaking some of the interdependencies between components will allow developers to do, for each component, what is best and will make the most sense, without needing to worry as much about the effect on other components. The rapid progress of both Firefox and Thunderbird seems to indicate that there's something to it.
      So that's what I can think of off hand. Personally, I'm not sure why a web browser ever had a e-mail program and HTML editor and chat all built into it anyway. Sure, make a suite, distribute them all together, but why make them all part of the same program?
      • I've talked to a number of people that thought the Mozilla suite has a clunky interface from 10-15 years ago (it still looked like Netscape 4).

        Why the MoFo continues to ship Mozilla with the horribly outdated and Netscape-ish default theme boggles the mind. The Modern theme is better, but still not nearly as nice looking as the Firefox default.

        That said, there are a couple of reasons (besides the default theme) for which I prefer Firefox:

        • The browser seems to load faster
        • Browser extensions are handled
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

      by edwdig (47888) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:24AM (#11899227)
      Here's the differences:

      Firefox starts up slightly faster.

      The Firefox UI has a lot of features removed. The idea was to make the core browser "simple" and allow it to be customized via extensions.

      Firefox generally used IE's UI as its model, whereas Mozilla used Netscape 4.x as its model.

      Once the browser is loaded, rendering and speed wise they're the same. Benchmarks recently posted on Slashdot showed that the 1.8 versions of the suite were significantly faster than Firefox (based on 1.7). The next Firefox release should gain those improvements.

      If you use FireFox and Thunderbird, you end up with higher memory usage as you get two copies of the Mozilla core loaded, whereas with the Suite you only have one copy loaded. This problem gets worse if you also use the standalone Composer or Calendar.

      The biggest difference is to get a change done in the Mozilla UI, you have to get a large group of people to agree. Firefox has about 2 people who decide on the UI, so its easier to get changes done there.

      Really, the biggest difference in Firefox is it shuts up the people who want to be able to download just a browser without the other stuff, but who also refuse to use the Mozilla net installer. If you used the Suite's net installer, you've always been able to tell it not to download the extra junk, but there's a large portion of people that liked to ignore the net installer and then bitch about being forced to download and install the parts they don't want.
      • Actually that review where Mozilla and Firefox and several others were tested; Mozilla was faster. Moz 1.7.3 (with some backports patched I think) and Firefox 1.0 and they take the same time to load on my Linux box.
      • I just have a comment on the memory usage issue. MoFo is moving the apps to a shared GRE with either FF 1.5 or 2. It's part of the whole XULRunner thing. That should result in a much smaller memory footprint for the combined apps as most of the code will be shared read only pages in memory. This will also make mozilla based apps easier to write and integrate. It's interesting that the Firefox development originally moved away from the integration, but now they're reincorporating it in a more structured
      • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nine-times (778537)
        If you use FireFox and Thunderbird, you end up with higher memory usage as you get two copies of the Mozilla core loaded, whereas with the Suite you only have one copy loaded. This problem gets worse if you also use the standalone Composer or Calendar.

        But why would I want an IRC client built in to my browser anyhow? I mean sure, I could also build an office suite, photo-management software, an MP3 player, a DVD player, scanner software, a Pac-man game, and everything other app I could possibly want into t

        • I mean sure, I could also build an office suite, photo-management software, an MP3 player, a DVD player, scanner software, a Pac-man game, and everything other app I could possibly want into the same executable, and if I ran all of them at once, it might be a more efficient use of memory resources

          A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, someone invented the concept of shared libraries. Just about every popular operating system supports this concept readily today. Are you really telling me that Firefox

          • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Informative)

            by edwdig (47888)
            No, FireFox and Thunderbird don't share the same libraries. The code is just coupled too tightly for the libraries to really be seperated out. Mozilla.org has had seperating the libraries on their todo list for years. The target date has always been "6-12 months from now", but it's simply not a priority and doesn't look like it'll happen anytime soon.
    • What is it that makes Firefox better than Mozilla?

      Firefox is popular and Mozilla isn't.

      Mozilla Appsuite and it's Netscape variant has been around about 5 years now and it's never gotten above 1% marketshare as far as I know, despite a fair amount of promotion. The program is obviously disliked by users because there's been millions and millions of downloads that haven't "converted" in the browser stats.

      Since Firefox hit 1.0, it's been nothing but going up -- about 5-6% now and 10-15% is certainly reali
  • by gpinzone (531794) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:53AM (#11898932) Homepage Journal
    If GBrowser is for real, why couldn't Google essentially take over by forking eithe Mozilla or firefox (or both)? They could become the effective owners of the software. Would that be considered good or evil?
    • by kevin_conaway (585204) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:02AM (#11899020) Homepage
      Neither, they aren't doing it. Google is a SEARCH company. Every single one of their ventures have been search related. I believe they hired Ben from Mozilla because he was the UI nazi that made Firefox the success that it is, not because they want to fork a browser.
    • "Would that be considered good or evil?"

      Neither... it would be considered STUPID. If google wants to invest money and manpower to mozilla, they should do just that... contribute resources directly to the mozilla project. If google creates their own fork of the mozilla product line we wind up with yet another browser and another opportunity for 'interpretation' of standards.

      I'd much rather see them back the mozilla foundation rather than do their own browser. Remeber... just because it comes from goo
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:54AM (#11898938)
    Well I hope they don't lose any momentum because I just started doing Firefox development for some financial services companies. However, my perception is that development is much more difficult than it needs to be. In order to do anything significant, you have to get the entire tree and program in C++ with many different layers in between. I just think that the development doesn't feel like it's a "platform" you're developing on. The development SDK should be more like a development "kit". I know it hasn't stopped thousands of extensions from being written, but perhaps there could be more significant applications written otherwise.
  • Maybe... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thirteenVA (759860) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:01AM (#11899006)
    Maybe they should shit-can the Mozilla suite and concentrate all efforts on their most successful products... Firefox, and Thunderbird. Considering the huge success of Firefox as a stand alone browser and thunderbird as an email client. I see no point in keeping the mozilla suite around any longer.

    From a marketing perspective they've already put all their eggs in the firefox basket...

    Even netscape wants to ride the firefox wave to success with the release of the Netscape 8 browser.
    • I see no point in keeping the mozilla suite around any longer.
      I still prefer Mozilla over Firefox, mainly because Mozilla has configuration options I miss in Firefox.
      • about:config

        How hard is that?
        • Interesting.
          1. It hadn't occurred to me that Firefox has more preferences than are accessible from the Preferences dialog. "How hard is that?": obviously, harder than it needs to be.
          2. How to change the "Animated images should loop" isn't abvious when I look at the about:config in Mozilla. Searching for 'animate', 'loop', 'GIF' all yield 0 results. "How hard is that?": obviously, harder than it needs to be.
    • Re:Maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CTho9305 (264265) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:25AM (#11899244) Homepage
      It's trickier than that. A lot of developers like the suite much more than Firefox. Some core devs have suggested they might stop working on Gecko if the suite dies. The Mozilla suite is basically in the opposite situation of Firefox: Firefox has LOTS of users and apparently way too few developers; Mozilla has LOTS of developers and not as many users. Killing the suite doesn't mean all of those developers would jump ship to Firefox. I personally don't like Firefox, so I write code for Mozilla. If it comes down to "Firefox or else", there's a good chance I'd find something else to do with my time.
    • That's kind of what they're doing [mozilla.org]. Not 'shit-caning' the suite, but according to their development pages, Seamonkey (the suite) is continuing to be maintained with security updates, but the stand-alone apps are the focus of the active development.

      Not that I'm an insider and know for myself. I only know what publicly available on their website.

  • Redesign Mozilla? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by orb_fan (677056) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:04AM (#11899047)

    Why not make Mozilla a container app for firefox and thunderbird? FF and TB would basically be plugins for Mozilla. That way you have a single code base for the browser and mail app. Adding the calendar to Mozilla would then be easy, you just load the plugin.

    Imagine being able to open your email on new tab in the mozilla window?

    • You just described what Mozilla either 1.5 or 1.6 was essentially supposed to be. Then the devs decided Firefox and Thunderbird weren't ready, and it got pushed back. I haven't kept up with whether there are still any plans to do so.
  • STFU & GBTW (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bersl2 (689221) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:05AM (#11899054) Journal
    I know they're trying to tweak every possible thing to grow as fast as possible, but this is just pointless. Nothing is ostensibly broken at this point, so why fix it when it may not be there?

    Unless there's some creative differences happening that are only now coming to the surface, leave it alone, your organizational model is fine.
    • GBTW?

      George Bush - Time Warner?

      That could be even more interesting than their last merger. Be careful though ... this is how rumors get started.
  • Growing pains (Score:2, Interesting)

    by YesIAmTheMan (838766)
    The MoFo is merely experiencing some growing pains that come along with supporting a newfound success. The more popular something becomes, the more people want to change it and ride the wave. I think Mozilla should stick to their current development policy, but they've got to get rid of Seamonkey at some point. Firefox and Thunderbird (and soon, Sunbird) are going to do for Mozilla what Seamonkey should have done: getting the technology into users' hands.
  • Recipe for disaster...

    Mix one part success
    With two parts confusion

    Bake for a few months, and see what FireFox's market share is.
  • Weird... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bahamat (187909) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:12AM (#11899110) Homepage
    Some developers want to spin the suite out as a community project that the foundation has no responsibility for


    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the Mozilla Foundation formed because Netscape/AOL wanted Mozilla to become a community project that the corporation has no responsibility for?

    If the Mozilla Foundation has no responsibility for the Mozilla codebase, just what is the point of their existence?

    I say desolve the foundation permanently. Give project leaders direct control over their codebases. Fear will keep the users in line! Fear of this battlesta-- . . . no, wait, I mean Microsoft, fear of Microsoft.

    Seriously though, if the Mozilla Foundation doesn't want control/responsibility of the Mozilla codebase they should just simply disband and give the code back to the community. Someone will pick it up.
    • Re:Weird... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CTho9305 (264265)
      The issue here is that the Foundation organizes releases, and deals with marketing. It seems that they only have resources to organize releases for one product, and don't want to send conflicting marketing messages with 2 products. The Foundation appears to be picking the aviary products (Firefox, Thunderbird) over Mozilla (which makes sense, given userbase numbers).

      Many developers strongly prefer the suite - not all are interested in contributing to Firefox. If the Mozilla Foundation wants to kill off
  • I think a split off would be a good thing to happen, sometimes as products grow they need to be focused on independently. Firefox gets the product to the people, and it will funnel some users back to the mozilla project. Splitting it off doesn't mean there wouldn't be communication between the two projects, just more focus. This is similar to when apple made a hardware unit to focus on the ipod. S'all good in da hood.
  • Forking - the best way to kill a community project. Just ask anyone working in a multi-distro Linux environment...
  • by bmetz (523) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:17AM (#11899151) Homepage
    Sounds like a debate, which is what organizations do. They debate strategic moves. Saying they are having "problems" implies something else entirely.
  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rpdillon (715137) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:17AM (#11899157) Homepage
    People in a team having differeent ideas for the future of a project != "in trouble".

    "Google is in trouble - some employee want to bring Google News out of Beta, while others do not."
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:27AM (#11899263)
    Is the Licence so restricted? Can't anyone who would like to just fork the project?

    It's open source people, this is how it works when heavy problems show up:

    1) Gee cool project. I like the tool .

    2) Gosh, I miss foo in this. But I guess someone would need to implement bar before that could work.

    3)
    - "Hey folks, I've done this patch. Could you check it out, merge it in and may I join the devteam?"
    - "No. You stink. We don't want you. You know to much, and besides: I'm the big guru around here. Go away."
    - "Ok. Sorry for wasting your time."

    4) sf.net/my/.makeNewProject( my tool );

    Or did I miss something here?
    • That's exactly how it works from the DEVELOPER end. From the USER end it works like this:

      1. Cool tool. And it's free? Sure, I'll play with it for a while.

      2. I've been using it for a while. No big problems that I can see. Maybe I should consider deploying this at work.

      3. Oh, wait, it's splitting into 5 versions, and they're each a bit different? How do I know which one to go with? Which one will survive and which ones will die off?

      4. Hell, there's just too much risk. I'll just stick with the
  • Why Firefox? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gvc (167165) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:32AM (#11899314)
    I'm a Luddite when it comes to Firefox. I don't really understand why it was created, notwithstanding that I've been told several times that if I had any savvy at all I would find the reasons apparent, as everybody else does.

    I see it as brand-name dilution. I was an early Mozilla evangelist. Now all the people I converted from the dark side are terribly confused and groaning "Do I have to change again?" You mean I have to replace Mozilla browser/mail by 2 different programs? "It's almost the same only better - I'll help you convert" doesn't play very well as an answer.

    I have no ready solution, now that Firefox has established a beach head (IMO, due to surrendipity and marketing rather than inherent superiority). I suppose I'll have to try my best to convince the disciples that they should change horses yet again.
  • I'd always assumed that there was a libGecko, libXUL , libMozMail etc. that Seamonkey, Thunderbird and Firefox all used to avoid duplicating effort. That doesn't seem to be the case, however (from my understanding now, anyway): they all seem to use their own, slightly different components.

    Wouldn't it be a good idea to just split out as much of the common functionality between the various Mozillas. The "Firefox team" becomes basically a browser UI team, for example.

    That way, if the libGecko people need to
  • by Isldeur (125133) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:41AM (#11899418)

    I don't know about the rest of you people but I still use Mozilla as my 3rd browser behind konqueror and firefox.

    I'm sure other people have found similar things. It remains the only browser that opens most of those silly Javascript sub-windows. I can only imagine the other browsers don't do this because the javascript is some broken hack - but whether it is or isn't, sometimes you just need to open these things.

  • by guanxi (216397) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:43AM (#11899446)
    If they abandoned Mozilla Suite and its users, how do I know they won't abandon the current Firefox or Thunderbird apps?

    That's the question every business will ask before adopting any other Moz app, if Mozilla Foundation abandons the Mozilla Suite. In fact, some will ask it about any FOSS product. That particular FUD already exists; this move would reinforce it.

    It might seem unlikely that Firefox would be abandoned, but what happens to 1.0 when FF 2.0 comes out? Support and maintenance for old products is essential for any business customer; upgrading can be very expensive (deploying across thousands of computers, modifying any integrated software, etc) and often doesn't help the business' bottom line. IBM supports products forever, it seems; Microsoft supported Windows 98 until (last year?). The Linux 2.4 kernal is certainly maintaned; what about 2.2? IBM's name is behind Linux, anyway.

    MoFo would look like an unreliable vendor with a good product. I posted in Slashdot previously that they aren't really community driven, which isn't necessarily a bad thing -- it's just different. It appears they may not be customer driven, either. What's driving MoFo?

  • by drjimmy42 (744688)
    Wasn't there a /. article a few weeks ago about how elite the firefox devs were and how they wouldn't tell anyone how to be part if the "inner circle" because figuring it out was part of the secret handshake bull$#!+. And now they are running out of people with no community support? Hmm, I wonder why. Am I reading that wrong or are they getting what they asked for?
  • "Nothing succeeds like success... but then again, nothing fails like success either".

    Why does it appear exceptionally difficult for IT companies to navigate the dangers that come with success?
  • Tricky Business (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CarlinWithers (861335)

    If any browser is ever going to overthrow IE, it's going to need the support of a large number of people. Firefox has made a quick shoe-in, and this hasn't happened since the Iron Curtain went down with the Windows 95 IE tie-in. I think as geeks we need to get over our petty differences, and support Firefox even if it isn't our favorite. If Firefox is wildly successful, that doesn't mean you can't still use Mozilla yourself.

    What we need to do is allow Windows users to experience a change in web-browser

  • by gothzilla (676407) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @11:10AM (#11899790)
    I remember reading JWZ's blog back in the Netscape days. I remember one entry in particular where he noted that Netscape had changed. It used to be full of people who wanted to help create a great company. It turned into a place full of people who just wanted to work for a great company. The people who live to help create get replaced by those who want to ride on their coat-tails. This happens when businesses become successful. Everything changes. Like the band that was good friends and partied together every night. They get signed, shit gets serious, and suddenly they're fighting and arguing about things till they break up and go their separate ways.

    From an old post in his blog:
    What is most amazing about this is not the event itself, but rather, what it indicates: Netscape has gone from ``hot young world-changing startup'' to Apple levels of unadulterated uselessness in fewer than four years, and with fewer than 3,000 employees.

    But I guess Netscape has always done everything faster and bigger. Including burning out.

    It's too bad it had to end with a whimper instead of a bang. Netscape used to be something wonderful.

    The thing that hurts about this is that I was here when Netscape was just a bunch of creative people working together to make something great. Now it's a faceless corporation like all other faceless corporations, terrified that it might accidentally offend someone. But yes, all big corporations are like that: it's just that I was here to watch this one fall.


    Perhaps the same fate awaits Mozilla. Hopefully not, but when your product becomes as successful as Mozilla and Firefox have, things do change and change is inevitable. It all comes down to how the people involved with the projects handle the change.

    Mozilla did rise from the ashes of Netscape though. Hopefully some of the original Netscape people are still around to help lead Mozilla in the right direction, using their experience from the crashing and burning of Netscape in the late 90's.

    JWZ's rantings can be found at http://www.jwz.org/gruntle/ [jwz.org]
  • by kjj (32549) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @11:21AM (#11899924)
    Here [eweek.com] is an article at EWeek about some of the problems with FF 1.0.1 update and the need for a better update system and more servers. He also mentions the problems with reviewers, but the update problems are far worse in the near term. The fact that the update.mozilla.org is very slow to update extensions was a bad sign. Of course extensions are non-critical compared to the browser itself. Now it looks like browser updates are handled the same way. I had much the same experience on my laptop as the author of the article. First it took forever for the update to appear. When it finally did show up the update system pushed out a completely new installer file, and messed up the installed program list with two install enteries linking to the same program. When Firefox went from 1.0PR to 1.0 it was handled much better. Only some files needed updating, it was not a complete reinstall. I believe that much of the criticism is valid and not just anti-Firefox FUD. Encourging more external contribution and finding more reviewers, as well as defining the relationship between the Firefox and Mozilla suite developers are longer term issues that need to be addressed, but better managment of the update system is something that is more pressing and is having a negative impact on users today.
  • by CyNRG (176230) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @12:53PM (#11901121)
    Got Success?

    Engage ego warp drive.

    You Mozilla guys might as well go to work for Microsoft now and get it over with.
  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @01:00PM (#11901226)
    When the Firefox idea of separate apps arrived, I didn't get goodness. It just seemed like a sop to Windows users who were used to having IE and Outlook slightly separated in Windows. Putting everything together seems better. Their usability is all interrelated anyway, so why not? You can still use another html editor or email client or whatever if you want. I want to drag and drop URLs seamlessly back and forth between email, browser, and composer. It is great to have everything quickly launch together and be available with a click.

    If the future is to have the suite split up, then at least there should be uniform hooks that will allow any conforming app to interface with the others, as the suite allows now. If not, we have lost something.
  • Community (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 10, 2005 @01:17PM (#11901578)
    Developer's are often their own worst enemies, throwing a hissy fit every time things aren't going smoothly. It generates lots of useless emails and /. posts, but rarely does much good.

    Mozilla and Firefox are not two separate entities, they are just two flavors of the same brand ice-cream. One can live without the other, but they are stronger together. If they separate, only the competition will benefit.

    I'm fairly confident that many in the Mozilla/Firefox community know this and are not going to let some whiney volunteers cause a rift. Its natural for there to be problems in the community and for people to voice their discontent, but that doesn't mean the project is in jeopardy. It just forces people to look at what their doing and decide if there really is a problem that needs to be addressed. This is what helps community/volunteer-based development thrive after all, the constant reflection and criticism of the project that drives developers to do their utmost.
  • by heroine (1220) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @02:16PM (#11902411) Homepage
    If you give away your source code and promote the open source aspect of it, you need to live with the fact that you're not going to be in charge of it. The only way to own it is to release only binaries and write all the supporting libraries from scratch so you're not restricted by the GPL.

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