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JWZ Resignation (Part 2) 164

HyPeR_aCtIvE writes "JWZ has posted a lengthy dissertation on why he has resigned from mozilla.org. It's on his own website."
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JWZ Resignation (Part 2)

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Especially one who works for a big company. If he wants true frustration, try being a software (or hardware) project manager for a defense contractor. That is the ultimate frustration (specs changing every month, classified information, the good ol' USDOD not knowing what it wants, but expects it in 6 months, etc.).

    JWZ is still young and he will learn patience (he'll have to). He probably just isn't the "corporate type," which is typical of programmers. Maybe a better calling for him would be the official spokesman for the Free Software Foundation. He is far more articulate and personable than the guy doing that job now.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    > The Linux kiddies are fond to point out that with open source, you can
    > modify and hack your own software. I've always wondered if the people
    > from whose mouths I hear this actually do so.

    I do. And I send my hacks back to the maintainer(s) for inclusion in
    the source tree. Sometimes they're even accepted! :-) (Those who
    don't even bother with so much as a reply never hear from me again.
    Yes, there are those like that out there :-(. And I frequently abandon
    even the use of their projects thereafter.)

    > I have the suspicion that many of the new open source users (Linux in
    > particular) are just glamor-users, out to prove how elite they are, but
    > not too interested in really contributing anything besides advocacy.

    So? I hope they enjoy my efforts.

    > Maybe Mozilla proves this point. Maybe when the going gets tough, the
    > zealots blame MS or end-users or anything else besides real effort.

    Hmmm... I don't think so. I believe that what has happened here is
    that many who might otherwise have considered diving-in might be a bit
    reluctant due to the size and complexity of the project. I know that's
    one thing that's holding me back from seriously considering it. Not-
    to-mention that I've already got my fingers into a couple of other
    projects, am thinking about starting a third, and have a Real Job as

    But I'm toying with the idea nonetheless. Maybe once I get a new
    system in here and have some disk space to play with :-).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A project flounders for the better part of 6 months, then proceeds toward success at a less than expected rate for the remainder of a year, and the project manager just gives up?

    Has this guy ever had a real job? These are issues that real life project managers deal with every day. Just because the job at hand isn't going to turn into the proverbial "Genesis Project", and be completed TOMORROW is no reason to give up.

    This does not exhibit the markings of a HEROIC failure.
  • What does a guy like jwz do for a followup, anyway? I mean, what could he possibly do that would be as rewarding as those first few years at netscape?

    Perhaps he has a large enough amassed fortune to live the work-free, hack-for-fun life for a while?

  • I hate to say this, but he is right in some

    Netscape was a very good browser some time ago,
    but nowadays microsoft internet explorer is
    already better in some parts (and i HATE
    internet explorer).

    Netscape does not even complete CSS 1 completely,
    let alone CSS 2. The CSS support of IE is
    far superiour, and i would like to see the
    same CSS support Netscape really soon. All
    the interesting parts of CSS are not supported
    by Netscape. Take a look for example on
    freshmeat.net. The boxes with border effect
    had to be done by putting one table into
    another. With full CSS support, one table
    would be enough, as you can specify all the
    needed parameters. I have this o'reilly book
    DHTML - the definitive reference, and at
    least on every second CSS tag i can read
    NN (netscape navigator): n/a. I like Netscape
    very much for it very good scripting support
    (Javascript and IE? forget it), but it will
    sooner or later loose my support, if they will
    not followup the development soon.

    In the good old days Netscape was the first to support new technologies, nowadays is the last, if ever. I'm not happy about this.
  • It also should be noted that a lot of projects that are famous now, passed a time in their life when some basic things were in the process of being designed and redesigned, documentation written, code debugged, etc. Remember Gimp 0.54 and for how long it was the only semi-usable version? NCSA httpd and a-patchy Apache? Early versions of BSD (and impact of corporations' politics on them), then later non-so-painless history of 4.4BSD Lite derivatives?

    jwz probably could be better encouraging patience, not demonstrating the lack of it.

  • Hehe. I'm glad to see you took so much interest in my post to generate such a long reply. However, I'm not associated with Microsoft. You can easily review the many, many posts I've made on slashdot by checking my user profile. You can also review the 2000 newsgroup postings I've made at DejaNews. And you can look at my home page. I'm easily to research and I doubt you'll come to the conclusion I'm a Microsoft shill. I don't think they are the evil empire though. An internet dominated by Netscape or any other proprietary software company would be just as bad as one dominated by Microsoft.
  • Netscape pretty much introduced me to the real Internet...been using it since 1.22 (even tho it was also responsible for introducing me to massive amounts of alcohol...one can only take a finite amount of "I can't get onto my Netscape" when you work tech support at an ISPwhile sober).

    JWZ: best of luck man...I enjoy your site...keep us updated :).

  • mozilla was alive and healthy. I've used the Windows version quite a bit... never tried the Linux version (been too busy with other Linux things) and I think it has tremendous potential. I sit here expecting mozilla on my desktop by June - I don't care if it has no mail, newsgroups, composer etc... JUST GIVE ME A BROWSER. We can talk about additional features after that. Has Netscape put the ixnae on releasing it before it has all the bloat of the Netscape 4.5 browser?

    So... what's the major problem? I'd have to agree with another poster that it is LACK OF COMMUNICATION - and that is no pun. Communication of project status, calls for participation, and interim releases via Freshmeat were not forthcoming and regular. In other words, The Mozilla Project has not sufficiently involved the community but has remained aloof and secretive. No wonder participation is not high.

    If you ask me, the whole thing reeks of politics. I'll bet that Netscape didn't want any bad press over the troubles they were having so they didn't call for help. How utterly sad. Why would a guy like JWZ quit a project that he cares so much about? Politics! Too many chiefs and not enough indians. FIX IT!

  • The differences between open licences are mostly minor. If I'm working on a program I have the source for, I mostly don't even look at the licence when deciding whether to make a change to it; I just make the change and send it to the author.

    My rule: The licence doesn't matter unless

    1) It stops me from doing something I want to do
    2) I see commercial use for my code and don't want it to happen w/o permission and payment

    Now, whether jwz's retirement proves that is a veeery different matter -- it's just a demonstration that issues other than a licence can cause a project's death. Making other inferrences is sloppy reasoning.

    And licences can matter. Software under a licence requiring that the maintainer OK all changes is effectively dead when that one man disappears, and prevents others from Doing Their Own Thing (which may be cool). Software under a closed licence where code only goes out to folks who request it from the maintainer/author... well, that's a whole different discussion.

    Pardon the rambling. It's morning, after all.
  • Posted by Mike@ABC:

    Well, let me ask you this: do you want to make fun stuff just for yourselves, or do you want to use that fun stuff to help improve the computing lives of less-clueful end users? If the latter, then you need someone who can speak to the clueless and get them to understand.
  • Posted by shaver@netscape.com:

    My point is that Linus releasedLinux source long before it was a fully-functional OS. As with GNOME. Likely, as with KDE.

    The first code that Mozilla released _did_ compile. We went to such lengths as having outside people bring their machines on campus to make sure that Real People could build and run the browser.

    There are many times when Mozilla doesn't compile, but you can always pull from a known-good date stamp or use one of the monthly (now more frequent) tarballs. There are times when GNOME and KDE don't compile either, I'm sure, but nobody waves CatB in their faces -- why is that?

    I'm not saying that our development practices are perfect, by any means, and I fret over a horked tree as much as the next guy, but I'm not sure your criticisms are grounded in fact.

  • Posted by shaver@netscape.com:

    Curious. As I recall, Linux also broke rule #1, so maybe it's not such a great rule?

    As far as whether Netscape should have waited until there was a fully-formed product to release, I think it has no-win written all over it. If we'd waited until whenever to release a fully-formed browser, then at the point of release we'd have had 100% Netscape hackers, 0% others. And yet people are lamenting the fact that we're currently 90% Netscape and 10% others, or however you choose to pick the numbers.

    What to do?
  • The Linux kiddies are fond to point out that with open source, you can modify and hack your own software. I've always wondered if the people from whose mouths I hear this actually do so.

    I don't have any Linux (kernel) examples, but I have two small examples of the useful hackability of open source. I had an old binary of ezppp-1.0B9 that I've relied on for dialing my ISP; I've grown quite attached to it, since I'm extremely clueless in setting up PPP using other tools. The binary stopped working when I upgraded to RH5.2 (SIGSEGV!), but I had the old source, though I'd never used it before.

    It didn't compile, so I was screwed, since there was no newer version of the source. The problem turned out to be a matter of the syntax of one line of code - my guess is that it compiled properly with the (earlier) version of Qt that existed when it was written, but maybe a slight tweak in the Qt API since then made it necessary to change that one line of ezppp code. The first reference implementation of MPEG-4 audio that I used didn't seem to have Linux in mind (later versions were Linux-friendly); I had to tweak some of the headers (e.g. #define PI atan(1.0) * 4.0 and some other minor things, IIRC). I was really eager to have a "look" at VQF and AAC, but would not have had the chance to do so (on Linux, my OS of choice) had I not had the code. So having the source can be a necessary thing. No, I didn't hack it into something new and wonderful to give to the world; I merely had the chance to make a couple of pieces of important (to me) software compile properly on a platform for which it was not designed.


  • I always had my doubts about how the mozilla situation would develop...
    Let's not forget that it has never been done!
    The Cathedral & Bazaar thing, and all other Open Source examples are based on projects that started and grew as open source.
    That's much different from someone throwing forth a few million line of code and expectthe community to be able to pick that up.
    At least now we know that if BillG would open his sources, it wouldn't matter much.

    AshNazg Durbatuluk
  • > That leaves Richard Stallman debating whether
    > Linux needs a GNU tacked on in front of it.
    Heh...rather than doing what he does best: write code.

    In all honesty though, the people who would serve best as [advocates|proponents|evangelists] aren't welcomed with open arms by the programmers (see discussion RE: ESR quitting), and the programmers typically are poor in the advocacy realms.

    Perhaps it would be best for OpenSource to lose the spotlight for a little while. Then again, if it does, we'll probably be hearing more "Whatever happened to..." questions like with so many other technologies (especially those at odds with Microsoft). That doesn't mean the movement's dead, but at the same time, it means loss of mindshare, which makes adoption of the technologies and ideas more difficult. Somebody needs to step up to the plate, but it doesn't do any good if the home team won't support that person.

  • "Hell, you might not even need a true code hacker for it -- someone like CmdrTaco is great at expressing the Open Source ideas to the public."

    Um, this slashdot system seems like one heck of a computer program, if you ask me. Try customizing your home page. It's great.

    What's even more impressive to me is the fact that he managed to write most of it in perl.

    Phil Fraering "Humans. Go Fig." - Rita
  • Netscape will always be known for something that microcrap cannot.... It's coders.. Does anyone have the slightest clue who the coders behind IE are? No.. (at least I don't)..
    Netscape had personality... with heros such as jwz.... And their homepages were online to look though to see what they do in their spare time (The aluminum can bridge for example)

    Even though I go between windows and linux on a daily basis, I still use Netscape.... I even install Win98 without IE4.. because I believe in the values Netscape had (has?). It's good vs. evil... netscape vs. microsoft.

    About the Open Source thing:
    I'm sure more people will contribute once mozilla is out.. It's very hard to contribute when things are changing on a daily basis.... I've been following it for quite sometime.. When they were using the old codebase.. it was almost ready to release when they canned it to go to the raptor engine...

    I still have faith that netscape can pull this off.... I hope other do to.

    my $cents = .02;
  • Wasn't there something like a "mnemonic" out there
    for a while?

    And what *is* happening to arena lately?

    Yeah. Browsers and office suits should be next
    projects after desktops
  • I think his point is valid. What features, reliability, or performance does gdb have over a commercial compiler? Your average open source project is nothing more than an attempt to clone and make free something that was innovated by your traditional proprietary company.

    You have no clue. First gcc is a very good C compiler, it's C++ frontend is worse but latest incarnation egcs is going to change this.

    gcc is unique in one regard it runs on dozens of plattforms and supports even more plattforms as cross compiler.

    Cygnus is making some dough by adding embedded processors as backends - latest prominent deal is the Playstation 2 chip, where gcc is the compiler of the development kit.

    I worked on a client/server application where we had NT, Solaris and Sun clients, Solaris and Sun servers. It was a major relief to use Emacs as IDE on all plattforms, to use gcc/g++/g77/egcs for compilation and gdb for debugging.

  • The mozilla.org people could recruit many helpers now who don't want to let the project die.

    I hope they publish some introduction/state of the nation report to make entry easy.

  • I am about to coin a new law:

    Anyone in the free software/open source/your descriptive tag here community who is referred to by initials only. has an outsize ego.

    I read "JWZ"'s post and why is he resigning. I wish him only the best. His role in creating the Mozilla project is enough of an accomplishment to make him worthy of entering the free software hall of fame.

    But enough with the ego, guys. "Le project c'est moi" is the exact opposite of what the free software movement is all about. It's about community and sharing. No one individual, not even Linus Torvalds is irreplaceable. If anyone goes away, many more will come in his/her (we need more of these) place, of equal talent, to carry on.

    I've worked in corporate environments, so I certainly understand Mr. Z's frustrations, and his fear of working under AOL. So as a personal decision, I'm sure he did the right thing. But then he made the egotistical mistake of confusing his own personal feelings, hurts and needs as somehow being identical with those of the project he helped create.

    As a potential USER of Mozilla, sure I'm frustrated that it's not there yet. But as an owner of a development company which lives and dies with Internet standards, I am thrilled by the quite brave decision of Mozilla to go with standards instead of continuing down the dead end path it started. Moreover, that decision is in the best interest of the free software community at large, since ultimately open standards are what will preserve and protect our freedom.

    So we have to wait a few more months. Big deal. In the end of the day, the new lean, mean, standards-based Mozilla will blow away IE and be the tool we are all waiting for. To call Mozilla a failure, is a very short sighted comment, related to ego issues and not to reality.
  • Bandwidth just wasn't the problem. Once you have pulled the SeaMonkey tree, updating your tree two or three times a week takes only about 15 minutes over a 33.6k modem.

  • I'd guess not. His work on Mozilla.org was as evangalist, not as a programmer. Check Bonsai, but I don't think he's checked in code for a long time.

  • I think it's typical of the mentality of a founder-esque employee who in unable to grow with the company. Throughout our industry, you'll find many, many examples of people who were "there in the beginning" who are unable to make the shift as a company becomes successful.

    I don't know if it's neccessarily "bad" though. Some people simply work better in that startup environment and perhaps that's where they're best at. From what I've read about the first year of Netscape, it was a really tight-knit family with incredible accomplishments. That's a tough act to follow or even the recapture and I think for some people, whether they would admit it or not, that period is the "win". After that, it's a case of "Where do you go when you're at the top?"

    For many people, it's difficult, if not impossible to realize they need to accept the reset button and discover their next big goal.
  • The thing that puzzles me is that he doesn't say a word about Sun Microsystems. Exactly how things will shake out with the Alliance isn't clear to any of us at Sun or Netscape yet, and the cross-company meetings just barely started, so I can only assume that he made up his mind to leave a long time ago, and didn't care what the future with Sun might bring: he was just bummed out that the early days of Netscape are gone.

    I sort of understand and I sort of don't. I know what it's like to be burnt out, but this is right on the cusp of major changes.

    Of course, his vesting party was a long time ago now, so I would presume that he is now financially independent, and therefore, why work for someone else at all, if it's not rewarding every day? I guess I would have left a while ago, if I were in his shoes.

  • JWZ can not be alone in his feelings of frustration with the mozilla project. I feel some of the same frustrations, but as someone who tried to help contribute at the very start, but was turned off by the absolute jungle of code that was first release, not as an insider. However, beyond that, there is a more important question.

    Where next? If we resign ourselves to the idea that Mozilla as a project is heading down hill and that Netscape the Browser is heading toward insignificance, where does that leave the nerd community, those of us (the majority of slashdotters) who don't use a platform that IE is available on, and wouldn't use IE for moral reasons anyway? Where do we go?

    Honestly, this can do one of two things for the Mozilla Project. You can take it as a stab in the heart, a loss of a major resource, and proof positive that you're in trouble. Or, you can take it as a sign that the project needs to be reinvigorated, that everyone should take a couple of days off and find that spirit that made Netscape such a cool company and a terrific product. That's really what JWZ misses, the spirit of a company on the move, on the cutting edge, the urgency of getting a good product out.

    Open source or almost open source projects can fail, but seeing as how the nerd community has very few other options, this one needs to be a success.

    Andrew Gardner
  • Too bad Jamie had to leave. It was the right decision for him.

    Various commenters pointed out that Open Source doesn't work so well if you release non-working code with a real steep learning curve. They are right. So, here's proof that we can't pull a rabbit out of a hat.



  • HTTP/1.1 200 OK
    Date: Sat, 03 Apr 1999 10:40:21 GMT
    Server: Apache/1.3.4 (Unix)
    Last-modified: Wed, 02 Sep 1998 08:47:24 GMT
    Etag: "10cb20a-10aa-35ed061c"
    Accept-ranges: bytes
    Content-length: 4266
    Connection: close
    Content-type: text/html
    (HEAD for www.jwz.org)
  • oh, so in order for the "bazaar" to be successful, first I have to most of the heavy lifting and then give the code away for free to the rest of the world.

    Not exactly, but you should have something that compiles, runs, and does something useful. It doesn't necesarily have to have every feature, or even be completely bug free. If you don't have something that runs minimally it is real hard to spark enough interest to gain critical mass and have the open source project take off. That bare minimum should not be heavy lifting by any stretch of the imagination.
  • Remember a couple days ago when we saw that article on Linus going to Russia to work on the E2K?

    Or was that another damn april fool's article?

  • We all have such high hopes for Mozilla, it is so depressing to hear that so few outside people have picked it up. We keep hearing from the press about how mozilla is "on track" and now this. One gets the impression that the whole project has been a disaster.

    Unfortunately, jwz is right. Netscape has become huge, greedy and unweildly. The management is making stupid decisions (like the effort poured into 4.5). Big companies are just that. Obcessed with the bottom line, they get too fat and conservative, and finally, paralysis sets in.

    Perhaps it is for the best, but one cannnot be but saddened, as when your two best friends start hating each other.

  • One important fact about open source projects: the ones people use most get the most code attention.

    Once Mozilla gets a product out the door that works well enough to replace the old Netscape 4.x browsers, then I expect the developer group to grow explosively. This is when we will see for real if it is going to sink or swim.
  • by jra ( 5600 )
    > jwz is one of the few latter-day saints to
    > become known by their initials. i mean, you
    > know, GLS, RMS, ESR, ETC.


    Who's that?

  • that just shows how little you know about mozilla. IE5's CSS1 is sorely lacking compared to the m3 build. And it actually supports the w3c DOM unlike IE
  • hey I'm not dead. I started my site almost when the mozilla code was first released and I'm still kicking at http://members.xoom.com/mozilla5
  • JWZ had an extremely long, stormy history with Netscape and the browser, and has been reportedly unhappy for a long time as well. He is absolutly right about Mozilla STILL being primarily a Netscape product, with Netscape engineers doing a lot of the development.

    However, maybe this could be a developer wake up call for more 'outside' people to start contributing more to the Mozilla project.

    It's unfortunate that JWZ is throwing the baby (mozilla) out with the bathwater (AOL), and can't find it possible to donate some of his time to it's further development. That is what Open Source is all about, right?

  • Mozilla is definately a baby, granted a rather slow moving, awkward one at the moment.

    And there are always POTENTIAL babies, you just have to work at them... ;)

  • I think his problem is there is no baby.
  • A sad day! Probably long overdue. He stuck it out in an otherwise unbearable atmosphere. Believe me I am no stranger to this type of atmosphere. It's like slowly sucking your soul from you. It would have been kinder to have laid-him off originally. jwz is one of Mozilla's founding fathers and Netscapes actions up to and including AOL's take over must have been like a stab in the heart. Has anyone forgotten AOL and what it stands for. It has been an industry byword and an abomination. Is it now legit now that it has taken
    over Netscape. I hope no one expects continued cutting-edge releases because Netscape exists no more. I would not doubt if Sun starts taking it over as a result of their recent liason with AOL.
  • Like IE4.0, IE5.0 is quite buggy. Granted, it's less buggy than NS4.5, and faster than NS4.5, but I still think aheitner is right when he said "they're on an unstable beta of ver5". When I'm forced to use Windows, I'll stick to IE 4.01, at least until a less-beta version of IE5 (i.e. 5.01 or 5.0 SP1 or whatever) comes out.
  • For those who don't know the background, astroturfing refers to an attempt to use paid help to fake grassroots support for something (e.g. a bill in congress). Microsoft was caught in the act preparing for an astroturf campaign to help them against the DOJ. The plan was to pay people to write letters-to-the-editor, put posts in newsgroups, and so on. All the letters and posts would be written so as to appear to come from an individual, i.e. a concerned member of the public, but they would always follow a script designed to push the Microsoft agenda. The controversy may have subsided, but there is ample evidence that the astroturf continued.

    With JWZ'z resignation, Microsoft can smell blood, and you can bet your last dollar that they have moved quickly to figure out how to turn it to their advantage. After all, the Netscape browser is one of the greatest impediments to MS expanding their OS monopoly to the Internet (others include Linux, Apache, and Java). As long as there is a viable browser on the market besides IE, it prevents MS from playing with the web standards. This is a greater danger than anything they could do to Linux, because an OS runs independently, while the web lives or dies on standards. If MS could manage to become the leader in the browser market, they could do what they have always done--implement complex, hidden, and quickly-changing standards that no one else can follow. It would become almost impossible to avoid using IE, at least part of the time, in order to access the web. And, to keep up with the changes, we would be forced to pay, and pay, and pay for the "upgrades" (whether to IE or Windows).

    The biggest victory MS could have would be if they could get people (users and developers) to lose confidence in Netscape, and especially in the open source version, Mozilla. Remember that OS/2 didn't lose to Windows for technically reasons--it lost through lack of support by IBM, which was a direct result of loss of confidence by IBM management. IBM lost because the were foolich enough to listen to the barrage of MS-sponsered articles and editorials, with their constant message: "Of course it's inevitable that Windows will take over".

    Consider the above post in this light, and what do we see? It has all the earmarks of MS propaganda. It does not really discuss JWZ's resignation. It doesn't talk about how we can move forward to ensure the success of Mozilla, or some other good standards-supporting browser. The only purpose of this post seems to be to support the MS message: "It is time to give up on this Netscape foolishness. Though you may not like it, IE is inevitable".

    All I can say is, don't fall for this. As tragic as JWZ's resignation may be, it is not the end of the world--Internet standards will survive as long as we keep up our confidence. We need to, and will, do whatever it takes, whether that is supporting AOL's Communicator, Mozilla, Forkzilla, Opera, the KDE File Manager (try it), or some completely new alternative.
  • Okay, I've re-read the original post again, and maybe Aaron is too disrespectful of Microsoft for his post to be real astroturf (No, wait--thats just what they want us to think! Bwahahaha :^). Aaron's post, however, is not helping the cause.

    First, Aaron's description of Netscape's early days is a mischaracterization, at best.

    Second, while Netscape did tend to add their own html extensions, as far as I can tell it was always done to add new capabilities. This is a far cry from many of Microsoft's extensions, some of which seem mainly intended to break Netscape.

    Third, even if Netscape did extend standards in the past, the current AOL/Netscape/Mozilla efforts seem to be strongly supportive of standards.

    And last, I had a serious problem with the phrase "Microsoft dominated web". If ever there was a lie that MS wanted us to believe, this is it. MS is not even close to dominating the web, but if we keep repeating that phrase long enough, it will become a reality.

    My warning about MS astroturf is still valid. If you look further up among the posts, and look over the last couple of weeks of Slashdot (since about the time of Ed Muth's anti-Linux comments), I think you will find dozens of candidates. Just--be careful. Question everything you read, and always check it against your knowledge of the facts. Don't let your opinions be formed for you.
  • You forgot to mention that Microsoft is being taken to court for their Mosaic license. Do you think MS knew that they were going to be giving IE away when they licensed Mosaic for a percentage of revenue, rather than a fixed price? Can you say "negotiating in bad faith"?
  • Full story [news.com]

    "They've both done really excellent work in getting Mozilla where it is now. But Mozilla is bigger than Netscape, and it's certainly bigger than two or three people. Obviously it's a negative thing for us to have these two leave, but it's not fatal for us at all."

  • >JWZ had an extremely long, stormy history with Netscape and the browser, and has been reportedly unhappy
    >for a long time as well. He is absolutly right about Mozilla STILL being primarily a Netscape product, with
    >Netscape engineers doing a lot of the development.
    >However, maybe this could be a developer wake up call for more 'outside' people to start contributing more to
    >the Mozilla project.

    I wonder if there are any more outside people available to contribute to Mozilla.

    I was looking for some code to build on for a browser for the Palm Pilot, & happened to look at the ftp site for Arena -- development on that Open Source browser came to a halt at about the time Mozilla went Open Source. All the other people interested in browser hacking apparently either have their own projects (e.g. Lynx) or do it for a living on a proprietary product (e.g. Opera).

    And to contribute to a software package that interprets & renders HTTP/XML/CSS/etc. is not something that anyone with a few programming classes can slide into & begin to code for. I'm learning that there is a steep learning curve to it.

  • This really strikes me as infantile.

    A year ago, Jamie said that if Mozilla fails, Open Source will fail - in approximately those words. Now, on the one-year anniversary bash he organized, he steps out and accuses Mozilla.org of failing, and ditches the effort - and expects everyone to keep on partyin' hard at some dive in San Fransisco celebrating what he just told them wasn't worthy of their praise.

    He's driving a bullet into his own effort and giving up, walking away. I just lost nearly all my respect for this man.
  • unix in general needs a good browser. oh and there's BeOS and MacOS too, though Cyberdog still has a big fanbase on the latter.

    right now my job pretty much revolves around using a three-tier app (problem tracking db), using java servlets to access a db backend, and the front-end is web-based and HEAVILY javascripted. Despite that, it still feels like loading web pages, taking around 3-5 seconds to flip between summary, problem description, ticket lists, open filters/queries, and so on. It really sucks. If we had a browser that supported DOM, we could just rewrite the HTML in the page on the fly and it would redisplay itself without having to do all this load/refresh/redraw crap. Perhaps it can be done now with layers, but last I looked at the code to write and display them dynamically like that, I ran screaming.

    And I DON'T want to do it in JavaScript, which has become a crawling horror and the best (or worst) language joke this side of INTERCAL. This language has astonishing concepts like having THREE equality operators that use = signs. There's =, ==, and now ===, the last being an operator like `eq' in lisp. Can you say unreadable? To top off this insanity, a literal false is false in an identity test as in "if (x)"), but an object declared Boolean and given a false value has a TRUE value in identity tests, meaning "if (x)" and "if (x == true)" return DIFFERENT RESULTS. Changing the version attribute in the script tag changes this behavior. God forbid you'd ever mix them.

    IE at least allows one to escape from this monstrous insanity by using other languages to manipulate its object model, INCLUDING perl and python. With Netscape, I'm stuck with this phenomenal idiocy.
  • > the Linux kiddies are fond to point out that with open source, you can modify and hack your own software.

    This is a straw man. Everyone knows that most linux users can't make a major contribution to kernel developement. The advantage of OSS is that you have peer-reviewed code, ie somebody else can , and will look at the code.

    The problem with Mozilla ( AS JWZ STATES ) is that the OS developement model can not save a project that is already dead. Moreover, you had better have a useful codebase before you open up. It's not enough to say "hey, let's start an open source project together and write something new". Then the developers can add bugfixes and patches on top of an already functional codebase. This is how the linux kernel started ( it worked before he pulled in outsiders ) and the fact that you need something working from day 1 escaped Mozilla's founders.

  • Performance? My proprietary compiler beats GCC hands down every day in speed of code produce and speed at which code is produced.

    Your proprietry compiler is not as portable as GCC (-; So I guess GCC has an advantage in the feature battle.

    Your average open source project is nothing more than an attempt to clone and make free something that was innovated by your traditional proprietary company.

    Huh ? well it depends on what you mean by "innovated". Many OSS projects are "clones", but there are several that aren't, and some of these offer more functionality than many closed source products. (sendmail, perl, Apache, X11, kerberos ) . And even the "clones" ( such as GIMP ) add features of their own.

  • "Compete only on price, not features" ... ?

    How about reliability ? performance ? On these points, OSS such as apache, linux, FreeBSD, and postgreSQL soundly whip their MS alternatives.

    By the way, now that you mention features ... Linux kills NT server for server finctionality.


  • > Without mozzila, wich browser do we turn to? Mozzila was maybe the only one with it's code open.

    There are other open source browsers in development, although as far as I can tell none are as far along as mozilla. Mnemonic [mnemonic.org] seems to be the one that is moving the quickest. Their site also has a page [mnemonic.org] listing some other alternatives, both available and developing.

    Arguably it would be better to concentrate all efforts on a single best candidate, and no doubt JWZ was hoping Mozilla would be that candidate. It seems another key incredient of an OSS project's success is a single, concentrated development effort.

  • Maybe now he'll really create Intertwingle [mozilla.org]. As much as I respect what he did at Mosaic/Netscape/Mozilla, my favorite JWZ creation has always been BBDB.
  • "I saw Satan laughing with delight
    the day the music died."
    -Don McLean

    Bill Gates and His Minions must be loving all this. ("We will bury them with their own confusion.")

  • "Bugzilla" is not a snide name for Mozilla, it is the name of the but reporting tool created for the Mozilla project. Bugzilla is open source and RH happens to be using it.
  • Far more than 30 people outside Netscape have contributed small fixes and such. The 30 figure refers to major submissions and active on-going development.
  • (and 30 is probably someone's wild-assed guess at that).
  • I didn't mean he wouldn't leave Netscape, I meant he didn't say he wouldn't stop working on Mozilla as a non-employee hacker. Then, alas, I went back and reread, and found this:
    The Mozilla project has become too depressing, and too painful, for me to continue working on. I wanted Mozilla to become something that it has not, and I am tired of fighting and waiting to make it so. I have felt very ineffectual, and that's just not a good feeling.
    I misread that while I was still on only my second cup of coffee. Sorry. Even sorrier for Moz'.
  • He never said he wouldn't continue to work on Mozilla. It is, after all, an Open Source project badly in need of non-Netscape contributors!
  • I've attempted to contribute to this project, but it is hard to even get off the ground with the source code.

    1) If I do a cvs update -Pd, I get ALL of the source code from the cvs server...ARRRGH.

    2) The makefiles are misformed rather often, meaning that make clean does not work.

    3) It keeps creating a new mozilla directory..why would I ever want to do the cvs update from outside the mozilla directory?

    The viewer is nice and quick now, but I've stopped
    doing daily builds of the code because I'm tired of all the update hassles.

  • Seems more stable to me. "Active Desktop" hasn't crashed once on me since it's release, which was a daily problem on this hairball NT box here.
  • Throughout our industry, you'll find many, many examples of people who were "there in the beginning" who are unable to make the shift as a company becomes successful.

    Except, that it's arguable whether Netscape has been successful, or if they have been riding the success of the early versions.

    He points this out when he says that Netscape doesn't have the managerial or engineering talent to pull it off. And if you look at it, it seems reasonable - they've bombed in the server market (hope Sun can help there), and they turned their flagship product into such a POS that they've had to start over from scratch. Not even to mention all the crazy half-done products they started to only later drop.

    I wish Netscape a lot of luck, because they're looking like they need it.

  • Either way, the horse is dead and ends up as glue. I fail to see your point.

    How about, "You favorite horse, one you raised from birth, is being sold by your father to be used as glue. Would you drive out to the badlands in the middle of the night and set it free to run with the wild horses, never to see it again, or would you let your father sell it?".

    jwz raised the horse, put a bullet in it, then bitched that it was going to end up as glue. Whatever. The guy isn't into OS, he isn't into money, he's into jwz and jwz alone. So what if a few bridges get burnt on the way? We'll always have jwz.

  • I wonder how long ESR will keep pointing to the Mozilla effort as a big success; specifically, one he helped bring about.

    From this angle, it looks like a big tits-up to me... maybe he should stop doing so many 'favors' for us :-P.

  • ummm....not to burst your bubble, but just because someone doesn't contribute to linux doesn't mean that they're a "glamour user". you seem to be assuming that everyone who uses linux is either a programmer or a posing leech.

    this sort of misses the point: operating systems aren't written *for* programmers; they're written *by* programmers. they're used by programmers, sysadmins, and joe schmoes.

    -k. ^-^
  • Erica T. Cromwell.

    *phhht*. Philistines.
  • jwz isn't exactly *my* age, he's actually prolly a good bit older than i am. as a matter of fact, he may not even be *that* much younger than the other guy, for all i know.

    he sure *seems* a helluva lot younger, tho.

    -k. ^-^
  • Besides the flaws with Mozilla development
    that other people have pointed out, the
    slow going of the project may be the result
    of NPL. While being a "open source" license
    it gives Netscape a priviledged position,
    hence people were and are cautious about
    contributing to the project. One has to wonder
    how much development their code would get if
    it were released under pure BSD license.
    But even with all of the above, the project
    IS coming together and IS NOT dead. When the
    going gets tough, the development goes slower,
    that's all.
  • Given Mozilla's choice of GTK for toolkit, it would be reasonable
    to expect it's integration with Gnome, as a kind of KFM on steroids,
    if it were released under GPL.
    That would certainly boost outside (non-Netscape) efforts, perhaps
    to a point where GNU would adopt it as one of its projects,
    eliminating any perception of Netscape control, at which point
    a lot more people would feel comfortable contributing to the project.
    My guess is that people are comfortable with GPL or BSD licenses
    but other licenses which do not have as much history or appear
    slanted toward one company generate uncertainty and doubt
    (usually not fear), no matter how open those other licenses are.
  • It is practically impossible to make a web browser truly open source today. There are too many (arguably) necessary components to the browser that are proprietary, like the Java.

    A agree with the Anonymous Coward that posted "Bob Lisbonne needs to go". That is so true. Netscape is down, but not necessarily out if they would get rid of that guy.

    It is ironic that on mozilla.org there is a link to "The Cathedral & Bazaar" when the Mozilla project does not even fit the model. It is also ironic that Jamie Zawinski resigns on the date of the projects anniversary.

    I wish this was another April fools day article.

    Zawinski defiantly has valid reasons for his resignation, however I wish he had not thrown in the towel. It is only through perseverance that our dreams are achieved.

    Mozilla would or will pick up momentum when the open source community that wishes to contribute to it has some source code that is both comprehensive and can be compiled. To gain momentum the project can not afford to lose valuable people and the intellectual fuel it needs to accelerate to a completed product.

    There are some very insightful views by Zawinski on his web site www.jwz.org moreover the page censor.html is defiantly worth taking the time to read. Spend some time on this guys web site!

    AOL is an evil empire, along with Micro$oft. Are they in bed together or competing against each other? I would say both. Their shared vision is the all mighty dollar and they play by the rules Zawinski describes in the page aol.html and censor.html

    I foresee an Internet dominated by AOL and modeled on a Micro$oft architecture with AOL rules and censorship running all Micro$oft products as the future... This is not my vision, I hate this vision, maybe it is a nightmare I am having.

    Will AOL use Netscape in version 5? I don't understand the relationship with MSIE bonded AOL version 4 and what the company plans on doing with Netscape.

  • Did you just ignore the part where he wrote "a lot of open source software can only compete on price, not features"? He said "a lot". Not all.

    How about reliability? I can think of a lot of drivers for Win that are more reliable than linux drivers. There are a lot of CD player programs for Windows that are more stable than their open source counterparts.

    Performance? My proprietary compiler beats GCC hands down every day in speed of code produce and speed at which code is produced.

    I think his point is valid. What features, reliability, or performance does gdb have over a commercial compiler? Your average open source project is nothing more than an attempt to clone and make free something that was innovated by your traditional proprietary company.

    Besides, why are you comparing open source software to only MS alternatives? Do you actually think postgreSQL outperforms or is more reliable than my Oracle database?
  • Has this guy ever had a real job?

    I thought one of the points that the FSF often makes is that programmers love their jobs so much they don't need to be paid so much for them. If you don't love your job why should you stick with it? To prove to someone else that you can do it? Why let yourself be a slave to other people's opinions if you don't have to?

    I think he's right. It's been a year and they don't have jack (= a shipping product) to show for it. I'm sure he has better things to do with his time.
  • It's unfortunate that NS didn't learn all it could from CatB. ESR is rather frank about the fact that to successfully go open source, you have to have some working, usable, useful source to open first. I've seen a lot of new projects and single-person projects that I've heard one announcement from and then disappear. Granted, many of these are near-clones of other applications, but NS wasn't. But from what I've seen, people contribute most to something when they're using an app, see a feature missing or a bug, and do something about it b/c it will *add* to the pleasure/utility of using the program. (E.g. adding session logging to GAIM.) Asking people, "Hey, won't you write our program for us?" just isn't going to work very well.

    I hope NS realizes this, and soon. It looks as though they're taking the "Mozilla is not Netscape" bromide in their own way: that they don't need to take it as seriously as a "real" product--the "magic pixie dust of open source" that JWZ mentioned. As it stands, Gecko is pretty much all they've shown to the public, and though it does the tests nicely, it's actually slower at web surfing (at least in my experience). Meanwhile, IE5 is getting good reviews, and all the press is noting the lack of significant progress with Mozilla.

    Before anyone flames me, I want to thank everyone who has been hacking the browser. It sounds like you've gotten the short end of the stick in many ways. If NS goes down in flames (or quietly dies), then at least we'll have *something* to use.

    It sounds like JWZ made the right decision. I hope Netscape listens to him and releases the Communicator code. It may be their only chance.
  • Linus is really not going to Russia :-)
  • It's a shame to see JWZ leaving Mozilla. I really admire what he's done over the past year (and before when he was preaching to the execs to make this happen). I wish him all the luck.

    However, I think what he posted was unprofessional. It was incredibly negative, loaded with resignation. When you become a powerful influence over a body of people you need to be able to put personal feelings by the wayside instead of airing them out at inopportune times.

    There are a lot of people that look to him for leadership, so what do you think their reaction is going to be to this? Do you think this boosts moral among the fantastic programmers working on next generation of Navigator? I mean if someone with all his ability is giving up, what the hell kind of message is that conveying to the other guys and gals in the trenches crunching out the code?

    He should have been more consciencious with his departing explaination to try to not convey too much negativity. Wait until someone else has filled his shoes and garner the support of the Mozilla team before releasing something like this. If he really cared he would try to make the transition smoother for the next guy or gal taking his place. What he's done seems rather selfish. He expected too much, too soon, with market pressure bearing down and he got let down. So he's giving up.

    God, I hate that phrase.

    His leaving is the best for him and Mozilla. If he kept with the project, feeling like he does, he would probably be more of a hinderance than a help.

    This doesn't only apply to JWZ, but to our other leaders (yeah, they don't like being called that but they are in a fashion) in the OSS community. They need to think first about what the impact will be when their negative writings wash over those of us who look to them for inspiration, knowing that we'll never be as great as they are. JWZ has more talent in his pinky-tip than I'll ever have.

    This should also be a wake-up call! Those of us not doing their part should go over to Mozilla.org and lend a hand. If you can't code, run the builds and report bugs. I believe Netscape will overcome this hurdle, but they need support.

    Anyway, again I wish nothing but good luck, and happiness to JWZ. Good luck to him!
  • Even though I go between windows and linux on a daily basis, I still use Netscape.... I even install Win98 without IE4.. because I believe in the values Netscape had (has?). It's good vs. evil... netscape vs. microsoft.

    What if there is no good? What if it's just evil vs. Evil?

  • Your favorite horse, one you raised from birth, is being sold by your father to be used as glue. Would you shoot it in the head or let your father sell it?
  • I totally agree. Perhaps this is part of the reason that I do everything I can any more NOT to program.

    I used to love it. I could whip out stuff sooo fast and squash bugs even faster.

    But the higher ups just never got it where I work.

    Some of my favorite stories about where I work:

    1-I write this kickass GUI. I place all the controls about where they are, start hooking them up, and get the main functionality in there. I send it around to let folks see what a cool product it is going to be. I ask for responses to get some input on how it works and what needs to be changed. What does the BIG BOSS(TM) send back to me? "The labels on two controls do not line up." Pardon me? That is piddly ass shit. I wanna know what you think of how it is working!

    B) We go to this meeting and have the BIG BOSS(TM) meet with us. We tell him about our thoughts on this program we are writing. We ask him "what do you want this to do?" He tells us that there are three things this program has to do: A) It has to be fast B) It has to be accurate C) It has to look good. What kind of help is that?!?!? Isn't that our goals 99% of the time? What was bad is everyone except me starts writing these idiotic comments down on their paper. I got fed up and said "No duh! We want to know what you want this to do! We don't want givens!"

    I am still at the same shithole place. The attitude from the higher ups is still the same. I swear my life feels like a Dilbert comic strip 99% of the time. I have pretty much given up trying to change things for the better and having them shot down all the time. I have good ideas, but nobody will act on them. To be honest, I am about ready to grab ahold of the source code and flee this place and roll my own system.

  • Linux 2.2 is more than a million lines of source, too.
  • I really liked what he said about AOHell:

    "AOL is about centralization and control of content. Everything that is good about the Internet, everything that differentiates it from television, is about empowerment of the individual."

    When people like Jamie no longer want to work there what's the point? You might as well be Microserfs. Big Business does nothing but KILL the creative spirit. Money and Creativity DON'T MIX !!

    Thank you for all your years of effort Jamie. At least you tried to change the world. That's more than most of the morons online can ever say. You may not have won - but you showed it was possible!
    The statement below is true.
  • however, maybe it's a good thing:

    a) maybe jwz can get out there and do something he really enjoys now, which might be good for all of us :), and

    b) maybe this will act as a wakeup call. with jwz gone, mozilla can go one of two ways: either somebody's gonna do *something*, or it's gonna die.

    c) maybe all of us losers with delusions of grandeur will go download the tarball again...

    so, i personally wanna wish jwz good luck.

    These are the same types of things that initially went through my head, so I'll probably just end up repeating them.

    I agree that if he feels miserable there, he should leave and find a project that will help him reclaim his happiness. However, to the company or project that loses him, yes, they may very well be able to recover and even to continue building on the work that has already been done and to make it a huge success - but his departure is still a big loss for them.

    For Open Source, however, it may be a milestone of sorts; this seems to be the first case of a change in leadership occurring in a major Open Source project. Granted, it's a position that's funded by a large corporation, but as jwz pointed out when AOL bought Netscape, no matter what happens, the source is out there. As long as someone, somewhere, steps up, an Open Source project cannot die.

    On a side note, I don't believe he listed negative sentiments towards AOL as one of his "reason/excuses." Despite his repeated assurances that Mozilla is not AOL, I think that the buyout hurt Mozilla tremendously.
  • does this mean that he won't be at the dot party?

    The dot party was last night. That was when he announced his resignation. Bet that had to suck though. But why else don't you think we didn't see his reason for resignation till today (he announced it last night). He probably spent the rest of the night getting really plastered, I know I would have.

  • While Mr. Zawinksi liked the early days of Netscape and the way they "changed the world", I find those early days among the most repugnant in the software industry. Netscape took a university developed browser - Mosaic - and applied a Microsoft embrace and extend philosophy to marketing it. I won't even go into the origins of Netscape. I've read a lot of stuff about how Marc Andreesen supposedly hijacked the Mosaic project and stuff. I don't know if it's true, and I don't care. What matters is that Netscape attempted to make the web proprietary with their Netscape only tags. In effect, they tried to do for browsers what Microsoft has done for so many other ways. And they succeeded at first, with 80+% of the browser market. Had they not underestimated Microsoft, I wonder what the web would be today? Might we all be paying the "Netscape toll" on the internet? Who knows. In a way, the relentless drive by Micrsoft to defeat Netscape brought about a lot of good things for net, most importantly open standards. (Where we go from here in a Microsoft dominated web is a different story).

    While Netscape did do a good thing by releasing their browser source code as free software, I still don't think the company changed much. I do hear from people inside Netscape that they where genuinely exicited about the source code release and weren't just doing it as a cynical last desperate ploy to stave off extinction. I'll take them at their word. Nevertheless, at the same time Netscape was releasing its browser source code, it was also attempting to (in the opinion of many people) hijack the DNS standard with their "smart browsing" feature that redirected certain keywords to sites of Netscape's choice, not necessarily the DNS name holder. I guess not much has changed for them.

    So I'm thankful that Netscape released their browser code as free software, I'm sufficiently unhappy with their behavior as a company that I am not sorry to see them pass into oblivion.

  • Just wanted to comment on some of your comments. ;)

    When Andreesen left to form (what became) Netscape, I believe he paid $100,000 for the code he took with him. So, who's more to blame, the school for selling the code, or him for buying it? I don't know. I suppose it depends on your personal viewpoint. Note that I"m not aware if he only licensed the code (leaving it still available for others to use) or bought it outright.

    And while you are correct that about the Netscape only tags, there is another side to that story as well (one I have heard many times from my wife, who does web development). The tags they put in defined capabilities that at the time didn't exist. So a case could be made that Netscape didn't want to wait for the traditional standards process to define that functionality; they wanted to give it to their customers right away. Also, AFAIK, all of their tags were well documented and all other browser makers were free to implement them (as Microsoft did in IE). It wasn't quite 'embrace and extend' in the way that Microsoft practices it.

    This isn't to say anything you said is wrong, but I do think that there is another side to the story and the reality of the situation was not quite as bleak as you made it out to be.

    Feel free to correct any factual errors I may have made, though. ;)

  • Posted by Mike@ABC:

    Jamie was great. Bright guy, very honest, very forthright. It was refreshing to have somebody like that to talk to about Mozilla.org and Netscape. It'll be a shame to see him go.

    I've noticed a trend lately. Eric Raymond wants his life back. Jamie is leaving Mozilla. Linus will certainly be focusing more and more on Transmeta (read his Linux Magazine interview). That leaves Richard Stallman debating whether Linux needs a GNU tacked on in front of it.

    It would be nice if somebody could step up and assume some of these leadership roles. ESR is right -- you need some advocacy. Somebody has to translate the Open Source ideals into English so that the masses can grok it and get on board. Hell, you might not even need a true code hacker for it -- someone like CmdrTaco is great at expressing the Open Source ideas to the public.

    But more than that, every single person who believes in Open Source needs to stand up and support it in any way they can. Can you hack code? Then surf over to Mozilla, download some code, and contribute. Go to a Linux kernel ftp site and download that. Hell, start your own damn Open Source project! But get involved...that's the key.

    And those of us who can't hack code (like myself), but still really like this whole crazy Open Source thing, can contribute by talking with others, evangelizing, and getting the rest of the world excited about it.

    These defections aren't good. It's up to the community to make sure enough people can step up and carry on the good fight.

    Again, this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.
  • Those are characteristics of server-side attributes, not the client-side which is what the whole Mozilla project is geared toward.

    I think it's illustrative of the battle that projects based in Open Source need to fight in order to play ball in the client market. Here we have a perfect example of an end-user project that has accomplished nearly nothing since it's inception.

    Server platforms and apps are run by technically competent people who can comprehend and perhaps even enjoy command-lines and no GUI (I'll certainly raise my hand). And hell, if leaving out the fluff results in a more robust product, that's what you want in a server anyay. However, you're not going to find that kind of attraction from the unwashed masses who want to read e-mail and browse the web and perhaps write the occasional letter. It's a ball-busting exercise to write those kind of applications and if it ain't "right" few will use it. And if nobody is going to use it, what's the point?

    I don't think the problem is unsolvable but it will be difficult. I feel it's a point that most Open Source advocates seem to miss or choose to ignore when it comes to considering the client market.
  • Granted I am not familiar with Mozilla, but the impression I had was it was going decently well. Certainly when you combine the state of the Gecko engine and the features (eg. "What's Related, etc) that NetscapeComm proper has been adding in the 4.5x navigator series, it's debatable whether IE is really ahead (they're on an unstable beta of ver5 as well). As b'sides which, IE always pisses the hell out of me -- never can tell what it's doing or what progress it's made.

    But the issues Mozilla.org has had seem to be core ones to software projects, especially commercial ones, and issues i've thought about a bit. The mistake was releasing the previous Navigator4 codebase at all. It was too crufty. A million lines they tell me. Gee whiz, that's amazing. No wonder it sucks.

    Let me tell you something -- Microsoft doesn't write bad software 'cos they don't have good programmers, or intentionally. They do it for beaurocratic reasons. It's pretty much impossible to manage something that big in that environment, where individual teams write small chunks without considering the rest of the project. The result is slow, impenetrable cruft.

    Projects like GNOME and KDE avoid this -- people work on individual modules _based_ around a core design, and with that Invisible Hand of massive public testing and fixes that keeps things more-or-less in line.

    Mozilla was reaching that point.

    I think it's really a shame JWZ gave up.

    It may be a lesson on the wisdom of releasing commercial products as OS projects: don't bother if they suck.

    I work for a 6 person company on a 40-50k line project, which is rewritten piece by piece relatively frequently. I didn't realize how lucky I am.
  • These notices about JWZ's resignation come with too much of a note of sadness. Yes, it is a sad day for Netscape. But Netscape has had many sad days, long before AOL acquired it or Mozilla was released as an open source product.

    This is, however, a decidedly Good Thing for JWZ himself. The two articles about his resignation are him at his best. JWZ is a person very in-touch with reality. He knows the company structure, but is still very much aware of human dignity and the Right Things (which tend to get lost in such a structure as a company).

    This is an incredibly talented person. If his talents are wasted at Netscape (and there's no reason to believe they aren't), then we should be short of thrilled to see him leave. Goodness only knows what such a man could do for the Internet, computers, or the world.

    The revolution never dies -- it lives in the hearts of those that seek greater.

    -- Stargazer
  • In the print version of _Triumph_of_The_Nerds_, Robert Cringely posits the following metaphor that often echoes my experience; a company's growth is like an invasion.

    The first wave of people are commandoes, doing whatever they can to acquire a beach-head, with very little beaurocratic (sp?) overhead, running fast and loose to do whatever is needed to establish themselves.

    In the next step, the workers are more like soldiers, still working to expand market share and maintain what they have, but less chaotically than before, and it's vital to maintain what territory you already have.

    At some point (if the previous stages succeeded), the potential for growth is curtailed, so the company is more like a police force, just maintaining order and making sure that no problems develop.

    Commandoes, soldiers, and cops are very different kinds of jobs, and almost no one doesn't have a preference as to the kind of work they prefer. I also expect that the preference changes over time. When you're young and don't have mortgage payments or a spouse who'd like you around, being a commando is very fun, very exciting. Get a family and other responsibilities, and the long work hours and worries about where the next sale will come from lose their charm.

    It may seem sad to some (particularly when you're young) that both companies and people change their ways over time, but they're both really acting according to what's appropriate for them at that point in their lives. I'm recently married and working at a startup (http://www.perspecta.com/), and as one of my married co-workers said to me, "When you have two major responsibilities, you feel like you aren't doing either well." That's exactly how i feel some days, but i love what we're doing here too much to give it up just yet. But i'm also working hard not to blow my marriage; no amount of stock options or killer code would make up for doing that.

    So it's not surprising that company founders leave when the company gets big; commandos aren't happy in a squad car, pulling people over for busted tailights. But it's also unrealistic to think that this is a failing of Netscape; it's VERY hard to maintain that startup fever (though sometimes possible, with skunkworks and small spun-off companies.)


    We don't need no indirection
    We don't need no flow control
    No data typing or declarations
    Did you leave the lists alone?
    Hey! Hacker! Leave those lists alone!
    Chorus: All in all, it's just a pure-LISP function call. (Repeat)
    --"Another Glitch in the Call" (to the tune of a Pink Floyd song)
  • You raise some good points. The best open source apps are usually the servers. Rarely do the GUI end-user OSS products come close to commercial products. The only conspicuous exception I have seen is GIMP.

    However, this does not mean that Open and closed source cannot co-exist. Software which everyone requires ( such as an operating system ) makes a very good candidate for an open source project. Software that is only used by a small niche market ( eg video editing software ) is a much less viable candidate for an OSS project.

    In conclusion, I think that the core parts of the linux OS already prove that open source is very good for some things. In other areas ( eg desktop environments ) , the jury is still out ... And in some areas, such as those involving fairly specialised products, it seems less plausible that OSS will knock closed source from its position. Indeed, the only decent word processors today that run on linux are closed source.

    If you read Cowpland's ( Corel's CEO's ) comments, he discusses these issues. And his arguments are pretty solid. A system based on open source, suplemented by closed source apps is viable. But I don't believe in this vision of an open source "utopia"

  • JWZ laid down a kind of challenge to you, didn't he, Mozilla? He said you had failed. Your own leader, and he said you failed. What are you gonna do now?

    I see two choices.

    One, you can ignore him. Maybe Jamie was impatient; maybe, as he said, his own goals were unrealistic. Do you believe in the course you're on? Are you mature enough, collectively, not to get impatient -- to stay the course and see your product through to the end? Do you have confidence in your vision, and in the plan you've chosen to realize that vision? If so, then you won't let Jamie's departure distract you too much from the task at hand.

    Two, you can listen to Jamie. You can reexamine your goals and your plan. Was your vision the right one? Was Jamie's vision the right one? Or maybe the vision was right, but the plan has led you astray... or bogged you down. Perhaps you need to focus on different goals: more frequent smaller releases instead of less frequent larger ones. Maybe you need to look at what can be removed (for now) from the project rather than what can be added.

    Either way, I urge you to make your choice, make it now, and get on with things. I for one believe in the Mozilla project and its vision; I'd be working on it myself if not for other commitments. I want you to succeed, and I hope you succeed soon before AOL pulls the plug.

    Don't let the loss of your evangelist distract you unnecessarily. Get on without one if you can, or promote a new one if someone steps up. But above all, please focus like the proverbial laser beam on your goals. Mozilla still has a chance to Win Big, and many of us are counting on you. Go get 'em!


  • IE 5 has been released, and it's heckava lot faster and more stable than Netscape 4.5 on Windows32.

    If you've got your nose in Linux or another Unix all day, you may well think "Oh, Netscape 4.5 isn't *that* bad", but it really is a big stinky dog compared to what you can get on Windows, esp. with IE.

    As far as Netscape not being that far behind, maybe that's true for lowest-common-denominator Internet browsing, but for the really interactive CSS/DHTML stuff that you can get away with on an Intranet (where you can develop for one client), IE is way ahead.

    Std Disclaimer: Sure IE has proprietary features, but so is any feature of Netscape/Moziila that no other browser has. At one time frames and tables were a proprietary Netscape feature.

  • Jamie hit the nail on the head with his second
    reason for Mozilla's problems: It violated one
    of the most important requirements of Open-Source
    projects by not releasing a usable product.

    Remember how much Linux .98 sucked? I do. But
    it was able to suck because it existed. Mozilla
    didn't suck. It didn't even exist. It was
    unusable from the start and the few pathetic
    "releases" that did appear were hardly usable at

    Why are so many people willing to contribute to
    open source projects? To get work done! They
    need a certain tool, so they pick one. When they
    find a problem or a missing feature, they correct
    it. The important thing is to have Open-Source
    projects be useful from the start.

    Release early and often. This is what has made
    Linux so successful. It may not have have been
    great from the start, but the people using it
    improved this or that and their improvements were
    given back to the community regularly. This
    created a truly superior product.

    It is sad, too, for the Mozilla project that
    Jamie has gone. However, as someone said, it is
    better for all in the long term. Jamie can get
    working on something better and Mozilla will
    either get a shot in the arm or a kick in the
    head (which it gets doesn't really matter at this
    point). Mozilla probably triggered much of the
    Open-Source publicity of the last year, but
    without a usable product, it's worth nothing.

    I applaud Jamie for all he's done in the past (I
    still use that PostScript tape label thing), for
    trying to make Mozilla what it could have been,
    and wish him the best in the future. I hope he
    doesn't wait long to give his next gift to our
  • For as long as I remember, I have wanted a small, fast and reliable browser. No bloatware, e-mail, instant messenger or anything. Just a small browser that would get the work done and still leave plenty of free memory. I had and still have high hopes for Mozilla.

    A web browser doesn't need an e-mail client. And it definitely doesn't need an operating system like Win98. It's just an application. So just focus on getting a stable browser the size of Opera done and everybody will be happy.

    What is important in Mozilla is:
    - small size
    - fast
    - standards compliant

    Even if it takes two years to get there, it's something worth making. IE fails in each and every of those and won't ever make it.

    What we have to remember is that Open Source should not compete against Microsoft. We are serving different customers. I'm using Linux because it's so stable, fast and runs on virtually anything. I also love the freedom and the values of Open Source.

    What will happen during the next few years? Windows 2000 will ship requiring a horrible amount of memory and having way too many bugs. It's a huge code base and made in a lot of hurry. If you think that Netscape had problems, then consider the chore to port that stuff to Merced. Not to mention that they also have to port Win98.

    OTOH Linux will get easier to use, more applications and Wine will be able to run Win32 apps. There will be a small and fast Mozilla, office apps from several vendors and great e-mail clients. Add to that speed and reliability.

    What is the difference between Mozilla and IE? It's exactly the same as between Linux and Windows. One is made to be as good as possible and the other one is made to gain power and money. Making decisions based on money works only for a while but you mostly create problems. You never create anything that will last. Keep believing in good quality and you'll always beat the opponents.

  • It sounds like he was a little burned out, it happens to the best of us. A change of scenery is the best fix for him.

    I'm also not so sure what all the depression is over with mozilla. I keep hearing that it is a failure and I don't think that is the case. When Netscape released the source code I know more than a few of us had these delusions about integrating a browser in to our various projects or changing a few lines of code to make mozilla better but they didn't give us a good workable code base and it wasn't modular in that way. Mozilla has come a long way since then. I still think that it is kind of difficult to work with mozilla right now, the nspr libs didn't install correctly on my machine and the configure script didn't work right... Just little things like that can be discouraging.

    Now that mozilla is taking a more component oriented approach and we've got more wide usage of CORBA I think things are pretty exciting, as soon as mozilla can view and create HTML (xml) without crashing and can install easily I think interest will start to increase.

  • by gavinhall ( 33 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @07:49PM (#1952334)
    Posted by shaver@netscape.com:

    I guess I'm the person to respond to this, because reporters keep calling me to ask if I'm the Jamie replacement. I guess I am, as much as anyone is; I've been with mozilla.org since pretty much day one, and I was the ``virtual jwz'' when he was on sabbatical. So just pretend it's a really, really long sabbatical or something.

    First, I'll do the eulogy thing: we will certainly miss Jamie -- I think any organization except the Vatican would mourn his departure from their ranks. He did some great work here at Netscape and mozilla.org, and he was (usually) a pleasure to work with. Thanks for all the fish.

    As for the issues at hand, I think I agree mostly with Jamie on the facts of the case, but my conclusions sometimes differ meaningfully: I, too wish we'd shipped a browser already, and a great one at that. But I think that the switch to the NGLayout/Gecko engine is a great example of how the mozilla.org project is a success: it was the best way to get a browser that matched the demands of our users, and I'm not sure that Netscape would have done The Right Thing before the advent of mozilla.org. Also, as Jamie himself points out, it did help us recruit more developers, which is always a win.

    The balance of Netscape vs. non-Netscape developers doesn't bother me as much as it seems to bother Jamie. When we started, there were zero external developers in any form, and there are now many (34 non-netscape.com people have commit privileges on the mozilla.org CVS tree, and many more contribute patches for others to commit), and I think that matters more than the comparison to the large number of developers that Netscape pays.

    What does the future hold? Well, our work towards 5.0 continues apace, so we'll still be trying to help our existing developers and recruit new ones. We'll be finishing up our efforts to make some of the Mozilla code available under the GPL as well (the JavaScript engine, in this case), to broaden our ``technology reach''.

    People have asked if we have a plan for attracting more developers, and I think that the best answer is ``ship a beta''. When we get onto hackers' desktops, we have a much better shot at getting into their hearts and minds, too. In the nearer term, we just need to weather the storm of reporters and pundits, and concentrate on getting our jobs done. We'll make Jamie proud yet.

  • by doomy ( 7461 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @09:31AM (#1952335) Homepage Journal
    Since it's the 2nd of April, I'm assuming that this is not yet another april fool's day slashdot news item

    I've participated in a few opensource projects and helped code a few functional utlities that still helps a lot of people all around the world. When Netscape announced the release of Mozilla code, I was one of many to logon to their site and download the tar ball, but alas, it was too hard to decypher. I went through the code for 1 week (a lot longer than most people did). I couldnt figure out 75% of the things in there. So I gave up. (And I guess that is what happend to all the others out there)

    Initially when netscape announced the release of mozilla, there were dozens of web sites, hundreds of mailing lists, just devoated to the discussion of what should be in mozilla. Over the past year, these web sites and lists just died away one by one. I guess what most people did not release was, that what mozilla needed was not new functionally, but... stablility, at a good speed. It did not need be a front end to your kitchen skin (should see some of the suggestions made on wishlists) it just needed to fetch a web page and display complying with most statndard as possible.

    Then there are those who bitched about mozilla, from the start to the end (i guess when jwz leaves, it might as well be the end). I don't think bitching about the code would have helped making it more stable and fast. Helping the coders, coding it your self and replacing those netscape coders should have been the first thing we should have done. As jwz stated, most people thought netscape still owned mozilla and had full control over mozilla (this was inforced by the inital netscape/mozilla licence,) on that.. i belive mozilla would have been better accepted if it was released as BSD or GPL/LGPL.. most coders were weary of this and stayed away from mozilla just cause of that fact alone... and then there were those who, like me, waited for others to go ahead and do something to the code, test it, pinch it.. see if it bites.. (would a dead beast bite?)

    Best jwz quote : I must say, though, that it feels good to be resigning from AOL instead of resigning from Netscape

    PS: oops posted it in the wrong place :)
  • by miscellaneous ( 14183 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @09:07AM (#1952336) Homepage
    jwz is one of the few latter-day saints to become known by their initials. i mean, you know GLS, RMS, ESR, ETC., but it's pretty kewl when someone your age is an undeniable net.god. (also, he's much less insane than the *other* TLA that worked on (l)emacs). so, it's undeniably sad to see him go.

    it's also ironic to see this happen at a time when mozilla.org was finally producing a product that was starting to look like an early version of a real contender, rather than a cobbled-together POS.

    however, maybe it's a good thing:

    a) maybe jwz can get out there and do something he really enjoys now, which might be good for all of us :), and

    b) maybe this will act as a wakeup call. with jwz gone, mozilla can go one of two ways: either somebody's gonna do *something*, or it's gonna die.

    c) maybe all of us losers with delusions of grandeur will go download the tarball again...

    so, i personally wanna wish jwz good luck.

    -k. ^-^
  • by irh ( 27628 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @10:40AM (#1952337) Homepage
    This is indeed a tragedy, but frankly it does not surprise me.

    I've been lurking around the mozilla mailing lists (mirrored in the mozilla newsgroups) and the mozilla.org website basically since they were created. Watching the dynamic of the mozilla communication mechanism over the period of a year, a number of things became unsettling. (I've only ever lurked, primarily because I'm not a sophisticated programmer, and I would have little to offer either the mozilla or linux kernel mailing lists. The development processes in both fascinate me, however.)

    First, it amazes me that anyone in the Mozilla project was able to communicate with another at all. From the moment the mozilla mailing lists were created and mirrored, it was apparent that 80-90% of the mail/posts were, and would -always- be, irrelevant fluff. The primary reason for this is that while the Netscape 4.5 support newsgroups were not public - available only through nsnews.netscape.com, the mozilla newsgroups were public, and contained those compelling words "netscape", "misc" and "mail-news". From the perspective of a user with little knowledge of the significance of the word "mozilla", there was no reason to think that the most obvious place to ask Communicator questions.

    The result was/is that despite the good efforts of Dan Mosedale and Jim Cape (each of whom made valiant strides to keep the mailing list topical), the vast majority of discussion was/is about 3.0, 4.0x and 4.5 problems. Combined with another 10% of posts of the "I want my 5.0 and I want it NOW!" variety, and a further 5% of the "Now that I can order you, I demand the following 50 stupid features that I have no idea how to program myself" variety, the mozilla mailing list, to the best of my observation, became a completely inhospitable place to have useful techinical discussions such as are seen almost exclusively - by contrast - in the Linux kernel mailing list. The latter, despite the fact that its content is usually way beyond this law student, is a pleasure to read. The Mozilla list is not.

    I will leave remarks about the daunting complexity of the source as a major factor to jwz and other programmers/contributors. I'm simply not qualified. But another result is that because most of the contributors (as pointed out by jwz) were still Netscape employees, communication via the mailing list for the purposes of solving localized problems was (I assume) unnecessary.

    I must, therefore, put a caveat on jwz's "fishbowl" analogy. These are two huge disincentives to communicating publicly about the source tree, and the lack of consistent communication on the nitty-gritty details of development may have played its part in the failure of the mozilla project to capture the imagination - and effort - of the programming community.

    Aside from that caveat, though, jwz commented that such outside observation, combined with mozilla's independence, motivated the project to redesign the layout engine, and thus the UI, from scratch. It is unfortunate that the choice to rebuild a project thoughtfully and correctly, at the obvious cost of time, is considered a 'failure', or even a bad thing. Yes, some idiots have complained and threatened that if "Netscape doesn't come up with my browser now, I swear I'll move to IE5", not understanding that (a) the development regime has changed radically, (b) the project was rebuilt, (c) it's better to ship the right thing "late" - inasmuch as there is any such thing as 'late' in an open source project - than the wrong thing when users demand it.

    For someone who has lurked and gained some familiarity with the dynamics of the project and the cast of characters, none of these conditions indicate 'failure' to me. It is unfortunate that jwz does, but he'd probably know better than I.
  • by Frank Hecker ( 1123 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @05:07PM (#1952338) Homepage
    It might be a good idea to review things as they stand today, as well as a little bit of history. Some points to remember:

    First, the Mozilla effort goes on: AOL is still funding development, non-AOL developers are active as well, the project is continuing to release "milestone" releases which you can try out, and this will culminate later this year in beta releases of Communicator 5.0 and then a final release, all based on the open Mozilla source code. This has been the case all along, and remains the case.

    Next, in the Mozilla project there was a fundamental trade-off: build and release a product based on the existing in-progress 5.0 code base ("Mozilla Classic") or rearchitect the product to make it more standards compliant (i.e., use the new layout code being developed), more extensible, more open (e.g., use something other than Motif), and so on. In particular, many people complained vociferously that Mozilla/5.0 needed to have 100% standards compliance for HTML 4.0, CSS1, etc. Thus the decision was made (way back in October 1998) to rearchitect the product, use the new layout engine, use GTK+ instead of Motif, etc.

    Most people on /. and elsewhere seemed to agree with that decision at the time, and would presumably still agree with it. However from Jamie's point of view it presumably would have been a better plan to go ahead and ship as early as possible even given the downsides. (Also, Jamie saw no reason to ditch Motif for GTK.) That's something about which reasonable people can disagree, but I don't buy the assertion that by taking the extra time to make a better product the Mozilla project has therefore "failed".

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun