Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Netscape The Internet

AOL Considers Ending Mozilla? 347

Wonko42 writes "Netscape is thinking twice about continuing to use as the main tool to develop Communicator, and well they should. The project has received very little support from the open-source community, and the delays have been astronomical. While Netscape isn't sure that they could undo the open-source status of the browser, they're considering their options carefully. Also, according to the article, Communicator 5.0 is set to ship in December. "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AOL Considers Ending Mozilla?

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I hope to hell Netscape gets its act together, the only reason I use them is because thats all linux supports, I am sorry but ie5, is by far superior..
  • by Anonymous Coward
    With all due respect to the Mozilla project we need more than just netscape as a alternative to ie which will never come to linux. I have used lynx, amaya, and several other browsers and none come close to offering what the average user needs. Netscape has been disapointting (sp?) since post 3.x and is large and slow. I even think at this point with a few added features the browser in kfm could be better. December is a long way away in internet time and I am still stuck with a ok browser at best when using netscape. At this point i would even pay for opera if it were available for linux although i shudder at paying for what should be included for free in a distro. Bottom line is you may say code it yourself but i can't and won't but i and others still deserve a fast lightweight reliable browser to use on linux.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The reason it looks to everyone like it's not going anywhere is because they essentially started over. They had to take a crappy design and crappy code and fish what could be salvaged from it, then rewrite a major portion of it.

    The reason it doesn't look like a successful open-source project is because it didn't start off as a functioning piece of software.

    I predict that once it becomes stable enough to d/l, compile, run, there will be a massive influx of suggestions, patches, assistance and all sorts of code improvements from people who are willing to take a look at the 30 lines of code that affect the particular piece they don't like and fix/change it. There are *not* a lot of people who are willing to look at 30,000 lines of code and fix them up before it will compile just so they can then decide whether or not it does what they want it to do and if they can fix it up to make it so.

    Once 5.0 is released, I'll bet that development pace will not only increase, but quickly surpass that of IE.

    If they decide to make a 5.0 version and then pull the code, they will have lost the market entirely and handed over the keys to the Web to Micros~1.
  • I've seen numerous skilled programmers where I work fumbling around trying to get CVS to work on the client side. It isn't too much of a reach for me to visualize it being far more complicated on the server side.

    You can't hire a bunch of hobos in a bazaar to perform the kind of craftsmanship that went into producing the cathedrals of Europe.

    The whole Cathedral/Bazaar thing is starting to seem like a bunch of neoPagan hooey.
  • The second article on [] says:

    Mozilla's Future Uncertain
    Wednesday June 30th, 1999

    Benj, Ben Marklein, Geoff Elliott and J.R. have some distressing news. Apparently Sun is considering changes to Mozilla's licensing model, because in the words of Alan Baratz of Javasoft, "I'm not sure is working all that well."

    Alan actually mentions the possibility of moving Mozilla to the Java community licensing model, as if it would be a better option. I think that they should seriously consider every other option first. And then reconsider them again.

    UPDATE: Apparently AOL has nothing to do with the comments made by Javasoft's Alan Baratz.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Every article that quotes your Open Source Fuhrer ESR usually contains the following disclaimer:

    "Eric S. Raymond, the author of The Cathedral and the Bazaar, was one of the major
    influences behind Netscape deciding to distribute the source code for Communicator under the open-source model."

    Time to rephrase that:

    "Eric S. Raymond, the nitwit who excreted The Cathedral and the Bazaar, was one of the major causes for Netscape gambling away their majority market share and finally going belly up by letting a bunch of drooling monkeys mess with the source code for Communicator."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As someone who writes a lot of code and works on a lot of things that someone needs to implement for a major web client, making the source code to Mozilla available looked like a really good thing. I'd be more than happy to implement some very useful things if they'd take the code.

    HOWEVER, when the NPL came out, my interest level went to zero. Mozilla is "Open Source." Mozilla is NOT, in my opinion, "Free Software." Either the BSD license or the GPL would have been fine, but the NPL and its "you have to give us everything you do, but we don't have to give anything back" attitude scared me. A lot.

    I am not interested in doing other people's jobs for them. Especially companies like Netscape and AOL that have plenty of money (at the least, several orders of magnitude more money than I do). If I'm doing this stuff in my spare time and giving it away, then giving all these special extra licensing rights to some large rich companies does not sit well with me.

    I know a lot of other people who looked at this issue and came to the same conclusion. If it were truly free software, we'd contribute code. Good code, too. But the NPL looked way too much like a one way sort of freedom to encourage us to contribute.

    I think that the single most clever thing that the guys could do right now is to make Mozilla really be GPL. If there are IP issues with other companies, get rid of the code and make the rest GPL.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My complaint about Bill Gates
    I feel I must assert my freedom to comment on an important public issue that Bill Gates has thrust into the vortex of public comment. Let us note first of all that compared to these jealous vermin, every pimp is a man of honor. When we discuss, openly and candidly, a vision for a harmonious, multiracial society, we are not only threading our way through a maze of competing interests; we are weaving the very pattern of our social fabric. It makes perfect sense that he doesn't want me to fight to the end for our ideas and ideals. It is unclear whether this is because some of his reinterpretations of historic events raise important questions about future social interactions and their relationship to civil liberties, because he works from the false assumption that most people actually want nasty boeotians to progressively enlarge and increasingly centralize the means of oppression, exploitation, violence, and destruction, or a combination of the two. According to the laws of probability, what our nation needs is more respect for the law, not less.

    What is often overlooked, however, is that Bill just keeps on saying, "I don't give a [expletive deleted] about you. I just want to encourage a deadly acceptance of intolerance." The only way I can possibly forgive him is if he tells the truth and makes restitution. The same poisonous spirit that infects frightful insipid jerks also pollutes Bill's thinking. Bill's co-conspirators are unified under a common goal. That goal is to let us know exactly what our attitudes should be towards various types of people and behavior. For those of you who don't know, to forestall Bill's oppressive agendas, it would be immensely helpful to have more people understand that Bill can't see beyond his own neurotic concerns. The truth hurts, doesn't it, Bill?

    By the same token, poison is countered only by an antidote. No group has done so much to fortify a social correctness that restricts experience and defines success with narrow boundaries as his accomplices. Bill reminds me of the thief who cries "Stop, thief!" to distract attention from his thievery. His perceptions of a vast conspiracy lead him to inappropriate assessments of even the most innocent interactions with fork-tongued fault-finders.

    Now, more than ever, we must see through the haze of propagandism. Bill must believe that if he doesn't treat people like yawping ragamuffins, he'll have led a meaningless life, to put it mildly. Sure, some of his litanies are valid, but that's not the point. Will his wicked cult followers lead to the destruction of the human race? Only time will tell. You are, I'm sure, well aware that opposing his clueless rantings actively and earnestly is the moral duty of every good human being. But did you know that juxtaposed to this is the idea that we should give him a taste of his own medicine?

    I am not in any way placing the blame on Bill for insolent scientists who turn positions of leadership into positions of complacency. That notwithstanding, Bill is still culpable for plotting to transmogrify society's petty gripes and irrational fears into "issues" to be catered to. While these incidents may seem minor, it breaks my heart and fills my chest with agonizing pain when I see him make corporatism socially acceptable. Notice the stupid tendency of his memoranda.

    Easy as it may seem to pronounce the truth and renounce the lies, it is far more difficult to drive off and disperse the contumelious saboteurs who let advanced weaponry fall into the hands of pompous braggarts. Just don't expect consistency from a man who is utterly and certainly two-faced. Bill is not above the law. This is not rhetoric. This is reality.

    If truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, then feelings of inferiority are characteristic of combative misfits. Every time he tries, Bill gets increasingly successful in his attempts to deploy enormous resources in a war of attrition against helpless citizens. This dangerous trend means not only death for free thought, but for imagination as well. I, for one, have the following to say to the assertion that it's okay for him to indulge his every whim and lust without regard for anyone else or for society as a whole: Baloney!

    Until we criticize his assertions publically for their formalistic categories, their spurious claims of neutrality, and their blindness to the abuse of private power, he will continue to incite an atmosphere of violence and endangerment toward the good men, women, and children of this state, at least insofar as this essay is concerned. Our conception of parasitism still remains a good deal less clear than we would wish. And if that seems like a modest claim, I disagree. It's the most radical claim of all.

    Why do we put up with Bill? Voyeurism is the last refuge of the nettlesome. Since their emergence on the stage of history, the worst sorts of sinful schemers there are have been a parasitic growth on the stem of true citizens. At this point, all I can do is repeat a line from my previous letter: "Bill is deeply involved emotionally in his attack on truth and reality". We have come full-circle.

    We need to stand up for our rights. Then again, that notion has been popular for as long as teetotalism has existed. It would be more productive for Bill to take a more diplomatic and conciliatory approach, and that's one reason why I'm writing this letter. True, his death squads employ carefully-developed psychological techniques to pooh-pooh the reams of solid evidence pointing to the existence and operation of a grotty coterie of defeatism, but according to the dictionary, "Bill-ism" is "any of a set of arguments that create an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment". If there's a rule, and he keeps making exceptions to that rule, then what good is the rule? As stated earlier, he carries nothing but hatred and destruction in his heart. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it true that Bill is not interested in a true and honest improvement of social conditions, but rather in a way to scorn and abjure reason?

  • "But lynx is good enough for everything anyway, dunno why I need a 'better' browser"

    Can you look at porn in lynx? 'Nuff said.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    dont know who left the gate on the idiot farm (tm) open, but some seem to have escaped.
    moderation rules:
    1. anything that disrespects mozilla is automatically -1
    2. anything that disrespects linux is automatically -1
    3. anything that remotely advocates an alternative browser (lynx, say) is automatically -1.

    grow up, kiddies.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, it would make sense that the changelog lists less than 50% external checkins, since you need CVS access to checkin, and most external people submit their code to those with access instead of bothering with getting CVS access themselves.

    Also, speaking as someone who haven't yet contributed code, but which will, I think you'll see a stead increase in external Mozilla developers. I'm technical director in the company I work for, and we are on the verge of hiring two people to work full time working on Mozilla. Mostly on issues that we need, but lots of that will be of interest to others as well, and of course all of it will be released publicly.

    But these things take time. How many people contributed to Linux in it's first year? It's second?

    It takes time for the project to mature enough, and it takes time for lots of people before they are familiar enough with the code to start submitting fixes (I've spent LOTS of time with the code regularly since the initial release, and only now I'm starting to get familiar enough with it).

  • No, Mr. frobozz (you stole my name!) I disagree.

    It doesn't say anything about Open Source movement at all, but it speaks volumes about the commercial 'commitment' to open source. AOL/Netscape completely missed the point...they didn't understand at all how an open source project works. They expected miracles from day one, and only succeeded in creating animosity. Now that things are finally starting to happen, they want to pull the plug.

    Worse, they are considering yanking the source. Now, I'm not sure if they can actually do this or not, but if they succeed, they will have eliminated themselves from the entire Linux/OSS marketplace in one fell swoop. The community won't support this kind of stupidity. I've been skeptical of Netscape for quite some time, and I've been watching their open source experiment with interest. I don't believe Netscape has had the corporate culture to tolerate such a paradigm shift for a long time, if ever. Netscape has -never- been open...they refused to play by the standards right from the start, and this wouldn't be the first time that Netscape has pulled the switcheroo with licensing agreements (anyone remember the big license change between the 1.0 betas and the 1.0 release of Navigator?).

    And does ANYONE trust AOL? From day one on the internet AOL has defined the entire concept of cluelessness and mismanagement. There are a LOT of horror stories from former AOL members about how they were continually billed even after cancelling the service. AOL is a big monster that is swallowing whatever they can...anyone remember ANS.NET? GNN? Webcrawler? AOL doesn't care about quality. EVERYTHING they have touched has dropped in quality by orders of magnitude.

    Even though it's not high-profile, there are a number of free web browsers out there in development: Konquerer/KFM, Mnemonic (yes, it is still alive), and I believe there's even a Gnome web browser in the works. BeOS comes with a surprisingly good and FAST web browser out of the box.

    Anyway, that's my 0x02..

    --An anonymous Frobozz.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 30, 1999 @12:15PM (#1824273)
    That fact is, developing a valid and correct CSS browser is a very complicated feat that is not easily distributed amongst thousands of developers like Linux.

    Expecting an army of OSS programmers to rescue Netscape was wishful thinking. Netscape was a poorly managed company and their development continues to be poorly managed. I mean, they *JUST* instituted milestones a few months ago. And they introduced and reintroduced several designs at the last minute (communicator, vs apprunner, vs XUL)

    Slashdot users might have a hard time believing this but not all problems are horizontally scalable. (I say this because Beowulf rears its head way too much)

    For instance, as mentioned, a team of chess players don't play better than a single one. A million OSS programmers are not neccessarily better than a team of 5 dedicated ones.

    Linux can easily be decomposed into thousands of independent modules and utilities which can be maintained separately. But a rendering engine is a highly interdependent piece of code with a combinatorial explosion of use cases, where any change propagates throughout the entire system and requires reunderstanding how the flow works.
    Thus, if an outside developer patches some code, understanding what the patch did may require a lot of work in and of itself. Just like understanding why a chess move was made by someone may be very difficult and affect your game plan well into the future.

    Most Linux code isn't this complex and I would say that the most successful browser projects have been produced by highly cohesive small teams working together (ala Opera)

    What does this mean? I believe the biggest contribution the OSS community can make to Mozilla is testing and feedback. I believe it is futile for them to get involved trying to develop the core display engine.

    Oh, and before someone chimes and in and points to compilers like GCC as an example of complex software in the OSS community, keep in mind that compilers are taught as a standard course for CS students and there are well known textbooks on how to produce compilers (Dragon Book). On the other hand, rendering engines are not taught as part of any standard curriculum and there is little literature on the subject, so most people have to reinvent them.

    When Mozilla does get released, I believe the OSS community will produce one thing more than anything else: Thousands of useless themes and graphic variations of the interface ala Desktop Themes, Winamp Skins, etc.

    Conclusion: There are some problems that DON'T work very well with an army of people contributing to them, and in fact work better when a small closeknit team of competent people TUNE OUT everywhere, hole up in a garage, and pound it out. After its done, it can be released as OSS and let the legions of lemmings pound out bugs and contribute to featuritis.

    The lack of huge well-produced office applications, games, and browsers from the OSS community, and the proliferation of small, simple, command line utilities and applets is a testament to the fact that OSS doesn't handle intrinsically complex (those architectures which cannot be decomposed) applications very well.

  • Shaver requested:

    good, concrete suggestions on what would make you want to contribute are always welcome.

    I'm not likely to even attempt to become a core Netscape/Mozilla/Gecko developer, since I've got too many other things on my plate. However, I (and I assume there are many many others like me) would be eager to contribute little things here and there, assuming certain things are the case.

    First, it would need to be at the point where I can use the program regularly. As the milestones go by, this is becoming true for more and more people. This also explains why the number of contributors is increasing. So far, so good.

    Second, the program would have to be imperfect in my eyes. Any contributions I (and people like me) are likely to make are the itch scratching type. Since perfection is essentially impossible in a large project, that one should be easy to cover.

    Third, the code would have to be fairly easy to grok. If I have to spend a week narrowing down the location of the feature I want to tweak to be spread amongst twenty files of spaghetti code, I'm going to do something else instead. I have not looked closely at the Mozilla code, but if, as you say, a significant portion of bug reports come with patches, this is not likely to be a problem.

    Lastly, there has to be an easy way for me to get contributions to the project. As long as bugzilla [] stays up and used, that's covered quite well.

    So basically, it looks like the Mozilla project is doing all the right stuff from my viewpoint. It's just a matter of time, time to get it closer to feature complete, and time spent using Mozilla by busy but well-wishing programmers like me. I think you will see the number of auxilliary developers grow very quickly over the rest of the year, and even faster next year.

    As for getting more core developers, someone else would have to answer that.
  • by jeremie ( 257 ) on Wednesday June 30, 1999 @11:57AM (#1824275) Homepage
    Beware, the story above is MAJOR FUD!

    Anyone even remotely involved in the Mozilla project knows that what is claimed above is completly untrue.

    Everyone is quick to dismiss Mozilla as a failure because of the lack of outside involvement and time it's taken, but that is so so untrue. The reasons for this are simple and have nothing to do with the viability of the project, in fact, they prove how viable of a project it is!

    Mozilla has taken so long because less than a year ago they basically decided to throw everything away and START OVER, yes, that's right, start pretty much from scratch. This means completly redesigning the entire architecture and reimplimenting it according to those new designs. The fact that they have a usable browser that is quickly approaching completion in less than a year is nearly HEROIC!

    The reason for the dearth of outside involvement is fairly simple to explain... it's complex, it's a rapidly moving target, and everyone who can help others jump in are too busy to do so. Very very few people could just download the source for this beast and be able to start hacking it, and even if they could, it's likely to change in a week or two.

    Mozilla is an amazing and incredibly successful project. The tools available at and the modularity of the design are simply generations above and beyond any other open project ever attempted. In time everyone will start to see this, go check it out now and start getting involved now before the wave!

  • I have M7 open right now, and I can say without a doubt that Mozilla is making very nice progress. By M8 or M9 I will be tempted to use it as my only browser.

    As has been said by many others here, good portable software takes time. OSS helped the Mozilla team decide to do the right thing--they rebuilt the software on a solid foundation.

    1. If Sun needs a failure to learn from, Java development is far better candidate than Mozilla -- there is STILL no usable (not crashing like mad) release, standards STILL are in flux, and licensing is STILL ridiculous.
    2. Mozilla is too large to become usable in such a short time -- development can't be done at the pace, Netscape hoped for, and they need much more patience than they show. Initial release had a lot of messy code, and a lot of stuff had to be cleaned up. The relatively small number of outside developers is perfectly normal when cleanup/redesign is being performed, so I don't see it as a failure technically -- it's still at the early stage of development, and if Netscape/AOL will have more patience, inevitable will happen, and high-quality product will be developed.
  • The reporter, Paul Festa has repeatedly written stories which attempt to cast 'Net companies, and more specifically Netscape and the Mozilla project in a bad light.

    Granted, being a Netscape employee I may have a bias but he's not willing to engage in email debates, and I for one have begun to discount or take with a jumbo-sized salt lick anything he writes.

    I wouldn't doubt for a second he's reading this, waiting for some juicy nugget he can twist into another slash piece.

    I also doubt if he'll ever try (as some other intrepid better clued 'Net journalists do) to post or otherwise defend his writings here.

    Oh, and I 100% agree that Alan Baratzs' statements frankly are *at this time* really not a basis for concern. Sun is probably just really miffed over their (media driven) perceived loss of control over Java.

  • 4) Why are Slashdotters so quick to take this misquoted story as gospel?

    Wait, that one's easy to answer...

    Yup, and the answer is fear. This is what people feared would happen back when AOL took over Netscape. If people fear something will happen, they usually believe news of the event, even if totally false. Makes for pleasant surprises when the news is proved false:).
  • Actually, my subject line was a bit too broad there. Intrinsically complex tools which could be broken down into simpler ones are bad (less parallelizable, as you mentioned; less maintainable; etc).

    A great many tasks can be done by combining (relatively) small, simple programs; Indeed, Mozilla need not be as complex as it is. If Mozilla used protocol and parsing libraries available elsewhere (not that I'm advocating that it switch now) rather than including them in its main source tree, it would be that much easier to understand. If it decided on ONE cross-platform widget set made by someone else (not part of the source tree) and stayed there rather than trying to do its own front-end, it would be that much simpler. If it called 3rd-party mail and news software rather than trying to be everything to everyone, it would be that much simpler.

    Indeed, the core Mozilla code could consist of little more than a rendering engine with an interface and hooks going out to plugins providing Java, image decoding and whatever other functionality is desired. This would be a Good Thing, lending itself to the kind of parallelization you discuss (look at The Gimp).

    Sadly, Mozilla hasn't taken this route.

  • I don't know about you, but if I can't use Mozilla, I'll not be improving it; Lots of other people have said the same.

    This provides justification for ESR's observation that an open source program should be released in a functioning state if it is to be well-received. Do you seriously think that had I not read CAtB I'd be hacking on Mozilla right now?
  • What open source projects do you contribute to? Which ones have a small enough codebase and narrow enough platform to suit you?

    (Note that I'm not the original poster... indeed, disagree with him quite strongly about cross-platform support being a turnoff).

    It's not about the codebase being small -- it's about the design being well-documented and easily understandable and extendable. Some time ago I wrote a w840 driver for the linux kernel (Donald Becker has since written his own, which actually works). I had absolutely no trouble doing so because, as large as the kernel may have been, it was simple to pick out the right part of the codebase, understand the relevant functions and interfaces, and plug in my file.

    GTK is another example of a fairly complex program with readable, simple-to-modify code (I've never had cause to mess with it, but have poked around a bit while debugging a GTK-using application). The GIMP, with its plugin architecture, is even better -- almost all of the functions could be debugged or extended without touching anything but the code in its own directory which extended the remainder of the program in a well-defined way. At worst, I'd have to make my own plugin... hardly a difficult task.

    By contrast, I poked around Mozilla a bit shortly after its release trying to add the ability to only show images coming from the same server as the html file. After spending a few hours trying to make out the project's design, I gave up (vowing to return later, after the project was nearer completion... since, however, I've picked up new projects of my own).

    Don't consider this a complaint as much as an explanation. All the large projects I've done design on (all 1 of them) have been very easily divided into small, simple segments which could be isolated from each other; The failure of Mozilla to be so divided (something which could well have been unavoidable -- I'm not trying to disparage anyone's work) is what accounts for my failure to participate and perhaps that of others.

    Extending Mozilla is all well and good (certainly useful), but it doesn't go far enough. What can be extended through the new plugin API? (Yes, I know how to add new hooks to it now... but that involves understanding the code's design; I just want a list of the hooks presently available). If a clearly defined list exists, put it up somewhere in plain view.

    As an example... where's the layout engine documentation? "Layout and Layers" under the "technical documentation" page is mighty sparse. If this could be improved to at least the quality of the Imagelib docs, life would be much better.

    To end the rambling and get back to my point... It's not about overall size, but division and documentation. Get these right the first time, and far more people will participate.

  • Yes, I know (and knew) that Java, the network protocols and the image formats are plugins, and wasn't questioning the others. Mozilla is still a whole lot more than a rendering engine with an interface and a bunch of hooks. These plugins are part of the source tree... looking at my complete post, you'll note that what I was advocating as was use of stuff developed by a 3rd parties wherever possible (having the mail and news apps not even included, for instance). Were GTK the chosen widget set (yes, its non-Unix ports would need a bit of work), all Mozilla users (not just the Unix ones) would benefit when I worked on it. Same for libxml and other libraries used widely outside the Mozilla project. If Mozilla has its own PNG decoder, that does me little good when I use a different one, and it does Mozilla little good when I include it. Am I being a bit more clear about what I mean here?
  • Yes, I know (and knew) that Java, the network protocols and the image formats are plugins, and wasn't questioning the others. Mozilla is still a whole lot more than a rendering engine with an interface and a bunch of hooks. These plugins are part of the source tree... looking at my complete post, you'll note that what I was advocating was use of stuff developed by a 3rd parties wherever possible (having the mail and news apps not even included, for instance).

    Were GTK the chosen widget set (yes, its non-Unix ports would need a bit of work), all Mozilla users (not just the Unix ones) would benefit when I worked on it. Same for libxml and other libraries used widely outside the Mozilla project. If Mozilla has its own PNG decoder, that does me little good when I use a different one, and it does Mozilla little good when I include it.

    Am I being a bit more clear about what I mean here?

  • case you've checked the Preferences menu.
  • Rereading my original post, I realize I misspoke myself. My other followups should clarify what I meant to say.

    This is, however, less a matter of having done no research than foot-in-mouth disease.

    (Btw... Java-as-a-plugin is done through a Java-specific interface, no? It looked that way last time I poked at it... ah, well).
  • It's "pretty usable", yes (though it wasn't when I first tried). If I were trying to work with Mozilla right now, my complaints would not be about stability but documentation.

    Either way, my present interests lie elsewhere... My post was about defending ESR, rather than denigrating Mozilla.
  • Thanks for the education.

    I still have some reservations regarding the quality of documentation, but it's now reduced to that.
  • Another problem with the released code was that they had to strip out a lot of stuff. They had to strip out all security code because of export law. And, they had to strip out anything that was the result of an NDA. I don't know how much code was stripped out, but I wouldn't be surprised if they had to strip lines of code from all over, instead of just removing modules.
  • Posted by The Mongolian Barbecue:

    If MS wins and IE takes over the browser market, we are in big trouble. We have seen how MS can use their OS and Office monopoly to control the industry. But until now, they have never had a real monopoly on part of the www.

    But if they get IE to hold most of the market, they can "embrace and extend" apache, and by extension linux, out of the market. Now granted, the DOJ would probably rip them a new one, or try, if they did this, but in the meantime...
  • Posted by

    The release notes usually list new things in a given milestone that you should check, but there's lots of simple stuff too: browse your favourite sites, tell us if (ok, when =) ) it crashes. Try to send/read mail, submit forms, resize quickly while crossing your toes and winking, etc. (The provided binaries should bloody well have debug information; if they don't, we have done a bad thing and you should rub my nose in it [mailto]).

    And when you find a bug -- or think you've found a bug -- check out the bug writing guidelines [] for more information on how to report a good bug.

    To report a bug in the bug writing guidelines, mail the authors listed at the top of the page. =)

  • Posted by

    Actually, when Netscape made a non-working product Open Source, they weren't surprised that nobody wanted to fix it. Netscape didn't want to fix it either, which is why they told their engineers to work on fresh code. (And if you think that was a mistake, you can always pull the MozillaClassic code and work on it. Surprisingly, few do!)

    If you'd taken the time to actually read the article, Bruce, you'd see that neither Netscape nor AOL nor Mozilla have said anything about a change in development model. Seems a bit premature to be deconstructing our demise, doesn't it? You could at least wait until it happens. (Maybe you were fooled by the original headline of the article, which had ``AOL mulls'' rather than ``Sun mulls''. Still, you should read for content.)

    Why do we have to go through this ``Mozilla is dead'' dance every two weeks when someone new wants their name in the press? Can't they pick on gmake or XFree86 for a change? =)

    (Sorry if I seem a bit short; it's been a long enough week without this.)

  • Posted by

    Indeed, the core Mozilla code could consist of little more than a rendering engine with an interface and hooks going out to plugins providing Java, image decoding and whatever other functionality is desired.

    Sadly, Mozilla hasn't taken this route.

    Happily, Mozilla has taken that route. Java? It's a plugin (OJI). Image decoding? All formats are plugins (,,, etc.). Network protocols? They're all plugins. Bookmarks? You guessed it! Mail and news support. C'mon -- everyone together now: pluggable! Un-pluggable! Re-cross-counter-hyper-pluggable! Editor? Character set converters? History? Cookie and pref editing? Find dialog? You see where I'm going here. (Mozilla puts the ``plug'' in ``pluggable'', or something like that.)

    (I find it a little annoying when people make pronouncements about the architecture when they apparently haven't done research. Take a'll like it!)

  • Posted by

    (This is the short version of my licensing rant, because I'm tired. Come to OLS [] and you can hear the whole thing.)

    If you'd rather contribute your code under a BSD license, you're in luck. The MPL is basically a file-granularity BSD license, sans advertising clause. Because of that granularity, new code you write in new files can be MPL'd, though changes you make the NPL'd code will still be under the NPL. This means that you could add mynewcoolthing.c under the MPL, and NSCP/AOL would have no special rights to it. And we at Mozilla would happily take that new file into the CVS tree and cherish it greatly.

    I understand that people don't like the NPL-takeback clause very much; I'm not a big fan either -- though I understand the reasons for them, and they are good reasons, covered at length in the mozilla.license newsgroup -- and I'm lobbying gently to have more new code be written that is MPL'd rather than NPL'd. We'll see how much progress I can make. (Probably not much before 5.0 ships, perhaps more after.)

    As far as whether it's Free Software, both the NPL and MPL were deemed to meet the DFSG, which was then the canonical metric for such things. I'm sorry it's not free enough for you, and I do sympathize with your concerns, but there aren't a lot of other options, unfortunately.

    (Note: IANAL, though I was involved in the NPL design discussions pretty much from the start. I'll see if I can get some legal type to follow up, but I'm not confident that I can.)

  • Posted by The Devout Capitalist:

    There are over a hundred comments about open source. Very few talk about the business issues from Alan Baratz's perception. I've heard Alan speak several times, in public and in private, about Netscape and Java before the Sun-Netscape Alliance. The concern is simple:

    Enterprises must be able to deploy current Java 2 applets.

    Only Java applets written to support the ancient 1.0.2 version can be reliably deployed on the Internet; and this hurts the Java cause. So far, Sun's attempts to aid its screaming customers have included the HotJava Browser [], the Java Plug In [], the Personal Application Browser [], the compliance lawsuit with Microsoft, collaboration attempts, and prayers. Now with the alliance, Alan sees a chance to make a world class browser that will power the next wave of the Java movement, and he is willing to pay for it. As Mozilla hasn't provided the browser, the field is open to new approaches. I expect Alan would pay $75 million to fix this problem this calendar year.

    Please remember that this discussion is about money.
  • by gavinhall ( 33 ) on Wednesday June 30, 1999 @12:32PM (#1824297)
    Posted by

    Mozilla's cross-platform story is one of the strongest parts of our charter, right up there with commitment to open source and a love of sugar. You'll have a hard time finding anyone to apologize for it. (And it does go beyond Unix, Windows and Mac: BeOS, OS/2 and QNX are well-represented.)

    The vast majority of the Mozilla code is cross-platform, with per-platform differences abstracted under NSPR, widget and gfx code. What were you trying to work on that was in platform-specific code?

    If you have a patch that you want to put in, and you don't have the ability to test it on other platforms, please send it along. File a bug [] describing what you're fixing, and attach the patch to the bug. Look in the owners list [] and send your patch to the owners of the affected module(s). If you do that and aren't happy with the results, please mail me [mailto].

    Lots of people manage to work successfully without direct access to the other platforms; I don't have Windows installed here either, and I do just fine. We can find you ``platform buddies'' to help you check your code on other platforms, if need be.

    What open source projects do you contribute to? Which ones have a small enough codebase and narrow enough platform focus to suit you?

  • by gavinhall ( 33 ) on Wednesday June 30, 1999 @01:11PM (#1824298)
    Posted by

    I keep hearing in articles and here on slashdot that Mozilla doesn't have any external developers, and I'm starting to wonder where it comes from. There are 53 developers outside with direct checkin privileges to the CVS tree as of last Tuesday. I sure hope they -- and people like Chris Nelson and L. David Baron and Jeremy Lea and Bert Drehuis[*] who don't have CVS access but do contribute in very real ways via patches and quality bug reports and advice -- don't take offense at this denigration of their efforts. (Even Mr. Baratz's own developers are working on Mozilla -- the Blackwood team are working on OJI and XPCOMJava connection technology.)

    [*] And others whose names elude me, in my slightly adrenalized state. Apologies to the dozens I've forgotten, I really do love you all.

    In addition to these major players, more than two thousand (2337 as of right now) bugs have been reported by people not at Netscape and subsequently resolved. (Many of those bug reports have patches attached by the reporter or other ``external'' contributors, but I can't pull those stats up right now.)

    How many ``external developers'' is enough? If Netscape suddenly fired 2/3 of their Mozilla developers -- taking them down to about 35 -- would Mozilla all of the sudden be a greater success? (``But Ironhead, most of the developers work for Netscape!'') Literally every week, more developers apply for CVS access and get accounts to check into the tree -- we've more than doubled in the last few months. I can't speak for Netscape/AOL's HR policy, but if they start hiring at that rate I'll be really surprised.

    What needs to happen to get more people involved? Answers like ``I feel like Netscape's pawn'' and ``the code is so big, it makes me afraid'' don't help me -- I'm not going to get rid of Netscape's developers, and I'm not going to throw out code -- but good, concrete suggestions on what would make you want to contribute are always welcome.

    As a minor point of fact, nobody at Netscape, AOL or Mozilla has said anything about making Mozilla's development less open, and I can honestly tell you that this press release is the first thing I've heard about anything of that nature. It wouldn't surprise me a lot to discover that Mr. Baratz was talking out of an orifice that wasn't his mouth. (His left ear, of course.)

  • by gavinhall ( 33 ) on Wednesday June 30, 1999 @04:45PM (#1824299)
    Posted by

    (You're making a lot of often-made objections, which is actually sort of handy: I can get my responses to all of them in one place.) That the plugins are part of the source tree is not a very damning observation, I don't think. Some build mechanics to permit you to build ONLY select portions of the code would be a nice addition, I agree, but it hasn't been a priority so far. We're taking patches, of course, and people have been discussing a SeaMonkeyBase CVS tag that would allow you to pull without the optional componentry. FWIW, the GIMP source tree [] also contains a fair number of plugins. (The Linux kernel is even more similar to Mozilla in this area, in that it contains various optional modular bits scattered all over the source tree.)

    As far as using third-party components:

    • Using GTK on non-Unix platforms was something that even the GTK authors counselled against. Making GTK work on the Mac would be a difficult and time consuming thing, and then you get to the best part: GTK widgets aren't suitable for our HTML-display purposes. You can't do all sorts of things that you need for HTML4, like partial opacity, and there isn't complete Unicode support (a major requirement, which is coming in GTK 1.3, too late for our 5.0 plans). So we really had no choice but to render our own widgets. Sorry, but there was lots of discussion about this in the newsgroups months ago, and that's how it turned out.
    • Using libxml isn't really an option at this point, but we _do_ use an external XML parser: expat existed before Mozilla, and is being used by other projects.
    • Um, pal, we do use the system libgif and libpng, if they're of the appropriate version:
      [shaver@loonie:components]$ ldd => /usr/lib/ (0x4000b000)
      Again -- research! =) And the JPEG library in Mozilla is actually owned partially by Tom Lane of JPEG Group fame, so if you send patches to the canonical libjpeg people, even those without an appropriate version will be able to take advantage of them. (Similarly with libpng and libgif, I believe.)
    • There are no cross-platform graphical mail/news readers that I know of, and besides -- you can implement the required interfaces (not many: just a mailto: handler and some logic to get yourself in the menus) and have it call out to mutt or Eudora(tm) or whatever turns you on. (As an aside, you could do that in later 4.0x/4.5 incarnations as well. There's sample code on that shows how.) Netscape decided that they wanted to spend resources on developing a cross-platform, standards-based, etc., etc., mail/news client, so they did that.
    So, I'm glad we think alike: using suitable existing alternatives is a great thing. But where they're not suitable, we make our own. Not a lot of choice there.

    Now, your objection to having a mail/news client at all is a bit troublesome: are you saying that it was a failure of Mozilla that Netscape wanted a mail/news client that was cross-platform and tightly integrated, etc.? Perhaps you'd have had them work on other things, but then perhaps Netscape would rather have had you hacking on Mozilla for the past year, rather than whatever it is you were doing instead.

    As far as ``a Java-specific-interface'', I'll agree that OJI is designed to allow pluggable JVMs, yes. I'm not sure why that's bad; the network protocol API is designed to allow plugging network protocols in as well: that's how those things are designed. There are a lot of rather generic and flexible interfaces in the Mozilla client, though -- what would you like to plug in that you can't? We'll almost always take patches to add better modularity.

    (Lots of people will say ``you should be doing this instead of that'', but then...they can't help do that because they don't have the time. Kinda frustrating. At the end of the day, the person writing the code makes the call, though Mozilla exerts influence where it can to make sure that the right thing for the code wins the day. If you've got strong opinions about things, come to the Mozilla newsgroups and share them. It's getting late in the game for major design shifts, but there's still time to make your voice heard in many areas. C'mon out!)

  • I think you are right, and it makes me think that there may be additional factors that helped to fuel jamie's exodous...

    You should, of course, feel free to armchair-psychoanalyze me to your heart's content, and to assume that the ~4,000 words I wrote about my reasons for leaving Netscape [] and AOL [] aren't true, or aren't complete, or whatever. But think about it: I quit. I have nothing to hide, and no reason to tell you anything other than the truth.

    In my estimation (and this is of course something on which reasonable people can reasonably disagree) the project was going nowhere. But more importantly, it was no longer any fun. Both because the project itself was moving at a snail's pace, and because Netscape is a lousy place to work now.

    After having worked on Mozilla for just over five years, the last year and a half of which was at, I quit. Does that make me a ``quitter''? Sure. But how many of you have contributed even 1% of that amount of time or effort to the project? That makes you something quite a bit less than a quitter, doesn't it? Like... irrelevant.

    (And for that matter, how many of you have worked on the same project for five years, or even at the same company? That's pretty rare in this industry too, you know.)

    There is nothing in my resignation letters that is factually inaccurate, and those of you who imply otherwise don't know what you're talking about. (Have you even read them?) It may be that the Mozilla project is going to succeed despite all of its very real problems, and really, nothing would make me happier (because I don't want to end up using MSIE either.) I hope it's so. But I decided that if it was going to happen, it was going to have to happen without me, because I was done.

    Why do you ankle-biters have such a problem with people making their own decisions about their own lives? I (and others) gave you much and owe you nothing. Deal with it.

  • When the spokesman for a project leaves and rips it apart, that's all the media needs to make a field day out of it. We're still constantly seeing stories about how Mozilla is a "failure" because of the way you departed.

    So what, I should have said ``everything is going just great, I'm leaving for personal reasons unrelated to the project''? That would have been a lie. And frankly, I think it would have been unfair to the people still working on the project, too, who were in need of a wake-up call. Keep in mind that I didn't say ``the project is dead, you should all go home.'' I said ``the project is broken in these N different ways, for these reasons. You should fix them, but I'm not going to. Good luck.''

    No one interviews the hundreds of people who disagree with you and are excited by Mozilla's progress.

    Then get out there and make them interview you! I did it, and you can too. It's not that hard.

  • by Wastl ( 809 )
    Well, at least Netscape can definatley take X with it if it crashes. Happens about once a week for me (while Netscape itself crashes 4-5 times a day, sometimes it is reproducable for certain websites and can be avoided be switching of Java or JavaScript).

  • >I don't know about you, but if I can't use Mozilla, I'll not be improving it; Lots of other people have said the same.

    Well. What are you using...? It's a pretty usable browser now(much better than Nav 4.x IMHO) and you can get binaries for a couple of platforms that allow you to try it out. Building is a piece of cake and doesn't even take that long(comparable with GCC or the Linux kernel).

    If you aren't doing it now when will you?
  • I'm involved in the effort to provide MathML support in Mozilla. This involves a deep an meaningful interaction with the Mozilla Layout Engine. I've been hacking and poking at the layout engine for a month or so now(I don't have much spare time) and it's really not that tough. I managed to figure out the basic interaction of content v's frames in a few hours...a few questions to the layout newgroup sorted a couple of misconceptions I had in no time.

    It's a big bit of OO software but nothing that should scare any moderately experienced programmer. The average Perl hacking slashdotter will have trouble though...but that is the same regardless of the project.

    I have to say that the Netscape guys have been incredibly helpful... Guy's like Eric Krock(Navigator head honcho) and Rick Gessner (layout god) have bent over backwards to help out an unblock problem areas...even for my own minor project. Real pros.

    I suspect that the reason that there *appears* to be little 3rd part involvement is because of the size of the Netscape effort. They have 100 guys working on the project full time... it's tough for part time people to show up as having contributed as much.... that's not to say that non-Netscape people aren't providing critical parts of the system (James Clark and Davin Baron take a bow please ;).
  • I guess for Sun, Mozilla development "not going very well" means that it's not going ahead under their dodgy "community" licence scheme and being manipulable by their upper management who want more people to massage their over inflated egos.

    In terms of an Open Source project Mozilla is working very well...lots of contriubtion by non-Netscape people(growing by the day) and a workable bit of software.

    In terms of a Netscape project Mozilla is working very well. Stong product coming together mostly on schedule, strong standards complicance, light years ahead of the "competition" in every respect, etc, etc.

    Besides it's been a week or two since a Sun/AOL story did the rounds...they need to give their PR people something to do.
  • Oh, and before someone chimes and in and points to compilers like GCC as an example of complex software in the OSS community, keep in mind that compilers are taught as a standard course for CS students and there are well known textbooks on how to produce compilers (Dragon Book).

    How about Emacs?

    Really, I think people are jumping to too many conclusions on the basis of one project which has not *failed*, but has just dragged on a bit.

    There are many, many problems that occurred in the Mozilla project which either could not be helped, needed solutions that make things better in the long run, or were a result of bad coordination/management.

    Junking the rendering engine, for instance, occurred a ways into the project, and definitely delayed the release of usable code, but in the long run, will be much better for all, and easier to maintain. That's what Open Source is all about; it does things *right*, not necessarily *fast* (and here I'm talking about initial development, not bugfixing, which is fast).

    I really don't think anyone should be drawing conclusions about Open Source at large from the difficulties of *one* project. If we were to see a number of these, perhaps we should look at that, but one example is insufficient, especially considering the circumstances.


  • I think you are right, and it makes me think that there may be additional factors that helped to fuel jamie's exodous: perhaps that there were enough architectural changes to make it so that he was no longer the one who was most-familiar with the code and/or gui toolkit. I think he would have a tough time not being alpha geek. That kind of thing often comes with the territory of being immensely talented.

    I'm confident about mozilla; the milestones have been going by at a nice clip. I'm impressed by what I see, and know that I'll be using it soon. And, yes, the increased feedback from use will make a lot of difference.

  • Of course I don't need your permission to psychoanalyze you, but I thank you for it anyway. I'm intrigued that you assume that I think your letter was not truthful. Rather, I assume that you are an honest individual. My hypothesis was that your reasons were not complete. That's a different matter. Comments?
  • >Now, your objection to having a mail/news client at all is a bit troublesome: are you saying that it was a failure of Mozilla that Netscape wanted a mail/news client that was cross-platform and tightly integrated, etc.?

    My perception is that Mozilla's primary goal at this point should be to get a working browser out. Many (most?) people already have e-mail clients they like, and apparently only a smallish fraction of internet users read news. Mozilla's primary impact, therefore, is probably going to be as a browser. So if putting more people on the browser and fewer on the news and mail stuff gets us that browser earlier and news and mail stuff later, it seems to me this would be a preferable situation to just about all concerned. And they'd get the OSS contribution all the sooner.

    Now perhaps I misunderstand the goals of those paying the salaries of the 100 Mozilla developers. If so, then ignore the above.
  • I kind of wonder if this says anything negative about the ability of the open source movement to develop large applications... kind of worrisome...

    I think it shows that just making a project open source doesn't guarantee success. Linux is a success because it has attracted talented people, and it's rewarding enough to them that they stick around. I suspect that whatever Linus is working on at Transmeta will be a success as well, despite the fact that it's not open source.

    No process or development method can replace real skill and talent.


  • According to what I've read before... moderators ARE "us". As users post messages that are recognized as being usefull, they gain moderator status. They then blow their moderator points on whatever they see fit and fall back into the nameless masses that are the unpriviliged users. They then have a chance to be called to service again as their posts receive attention.

    Pretty close to my understanding, though take out the "useful" part. I've been a moderator once, and don't think I've ever been scored up for a post. The ingredients for moderatorship are regular reading, not a new user, don't post lots of scored-down stuff, and "willing to moderate" in the user preferences.

    Here's the official explanation [].
  • Sounds like you're slingin' alot of bull cookies there pardner.
    Opening Mozilla didn't slow it down. Netscape spending the first six months of what should have been Mozilla development time trying to sqeeze communicator 4.5 out the door instead is what slowed Mozilla down. Mozilla has been public just over a year, it should be done by now but its about six months late, Netscape wasted six months screwing around with communicator - you do the math.
    Your claim that setting up public CVS and other support systems cost netscape six months of development is total nonsense. Are we supposed to believe that dozens of skilled programmers lost six full months of good coding time to setting up a couple of web servers?!? Please.
  • Let's hope doesn't consider dropping after a year or even worse "undoing" some of its current traits.
  • The original delay is _not_ due to being run badly, but two other factors:

    1) The original decission to base the free 5.0 release on the old code.

    2) Netscape's decision to release a (non-free) 4.5 based on the old code.

    Since they changed to the new code base the code has been progressing smoothly, with milestones being meet within a week.

    Also, while one cannot expect significant outside contributions before one has working code to show, they have already received contributions such as ports to "minor" platforms and translations to tons of languages, as well as a continues stream og bug reports and fixes, especially for partability.

    However, the major affect at this point of going open source, is on the quality of the design. Since they went Open Source they have made all the right technical decissions. Close adherence to standards, no more proprietary Netscape extensions, clear and documented API's between components, use of standard and open tools wherever possible. Netscape 4.x is something a good engineer would be ashamed of, 5.0 will be something he can be proud of. I'm not sure how much of this is due to outside input, and how much is simply due to the process being open for everybody to see.

    It seems to me that the Sun/Java guy is only attacking Mozilla because it works so well compared to the failed attempt to sell their own Java development as being some bastardization of open. The dangerous thing is that the AOL suits may not be able to see that the Mozilla project is working very well _now_, and buy into his lies.
  • JWZ is a great hacker and has an intriguing personality, but he is not a good designer, nor a good project leader.

    People worship him because of his personality and because of his programming skills, but everything he says shouldn't be taken as gospel. has, as far as I can see, been running better and more smoothly since he left, even if (or maybe because of) it no longer is personified by a strong and very visible personality.
  • Worrisome, yes, but mainly because Baratz' attack is so FUD'dy. It seems now that they partly own the "tree", "they" want to lock out the small guys from profiting from the code. And I'm not speaking about financial profits! Sun's idea of a community is nothing else as slaves working quietly for them; just as with Java, they want to control everything related to it. And now with Mozilla? Please, get your hands off that, manager-head. It's a sad thing how few people could change licensing of a magnificent project, I hope it turns out impossible if even someone else takes it seriously.

    These cries about Mozilla's failing are really only disgusting; the development model works. As others said too, their progress is perceived slowly, but only because it's not an evolutionary progress from the last Netscape code base, but instead the "redo everything correctly" way; opening up to the public might not be fully successful, but I think it improved the developer's communication enormously. Just think of the development tools they had published, tinderbox, bonsai, bugzilla are still mightily useful and they really help the developers work.

    Now contrast this with the "Community" licensing, and development model for Jini/Java. Do they help communication? No, they just help making sure you know their rules. It's still basically a large cathedral, surrounded by small shops connected to the cathedral, and rarely communicating with eachother. Sounds perfect for the control freak, but it's the kind of development that's being shown to not scale with other commercial software. If you are not free to restructure the communication, and you can't take the code for your purposes (i.e. fairly, abiding to share it), it won't scale.

    And yes, Mozilla is really needed as a real, hardcore, full-featured, top-notch browser, fully opened up to cope with the future. Thinking about a future where core technologies are controlled, and licensed (financially) from central organizations controlling the given stuff makes me vomit. And that's just because Baratz and a few thinks it will pay them better? The conspiracy theorist in me says when "they" get this done, a few months later they become managers/presidents at another Big Company to further work on their own wealth. There's nothing more bitter than news like that, rumours about closing a good, important, open project. Make it not happen, please.

  • How can MSIE "win" on the Linux, FreeBSD, OS/2, BeOS, or the other dozen or so platforms that it doesn't even EXIST on?

    Mozilla created a code base which is portable, and while MSIE may well end up winning in the Windows world (big surprise there given the fact that it's bundled a/o required with almost all of MS's other products), there are lots of people on whom it will make very little impression.

    -Rich (OS/2, Linux, BeOS, Mac, NT, Solaris, FreeBSD, and OS2200 user in Bloomington MN)
  • I believe this falls under the planned category: oc/www/index.html

  • Then again, I had access to a Solaris machine.

    Still, saying "it didn't even compile" is misleading.
  • I suspect
    that Linux will not see another cool browser for years to come, while
    windows IE will evolve many times over and over in the next two years.
    W2K is an example of a brand new IE!

    Erm, how many things can you add to a Web browser? Personally, I think that the ideal Web browser would be released as an embeddable HTML-rendering widget so silly people who think that you need a mailreader and a video player in your Web browser can attach those and the rest of us can have a Web browser that uses standard UNIX conventions (like using the local mail transport and the user's mail program)

    Oh, and it would have to be free software and un-crufty, so IE doesn't count :-)

    But lynx is good enough for everything anyway, dunno why I need a 'better' browser :-)

    Anyway, I said one year ago that will not bring anything to
    market in a reasonable time frame and I was right then and I?m still right
    about that.

    Are you going to give references or just claim precognitive abilities? This also depends on your definition of a 'reasonable time frame'. Linux and NT took around five years to get to a useful state, and at Microsoft you folks consider browsers to be operating systems so why not give Mozilla a little more time? :-)

    It took MS less than 6 months to develop IE and less than 3
    months to bring out IE 5.0.

    Oh, my. Can I have their time machine? :-)

    Seriously, IE was useless for the first few revisions. Mozilla is a lot farther along than IE was at the same point, I suspect.

    So if Open Source development of web
    browsers is better, then why is there not a fully functional web browser
    that supports all the possible web content that IE supports?

    "all the possible web content" can be a pretty slippery phrase. Of course, there aren't really any good free web browsers at the moment.

    Hmmm maybe lack of manpower, no incentive ($$$)

    Well, right now Mozilla is, as far as I know, pretty much a Netscape project funded by Netscape and manned by Netscape developers. Probably the reason is that the design is too monolithic and un-Unixy to attract outside developers. But so far all the programmers are being paid and I believe there are a lot of them.

    Even were it like most free software projects, that doesn't necessarily mean it would automatically be 'better' than other browsers, but it would probably acheive parity. The only person I know of who's spouting that "Free Software is always technically better" nonsense is ESR. (and maybe his disciples, why is it that the disciples are always more annoying than the master..?)

    I suspect that the real reason is that most free software programmers aren't particularly interested in web browsers, especially ones designed the way the Netscape browsers are. I wouldn't mind working on one, but I don't see it as being a particularly imperative issue. (maybe if I could be convinced that it WASN'T going to go the 500-zillion-extra-features-and-tie-ins route, that those would be left to third parties if they really had to be made. Scheme extensibility, like in the Gimp :-) )

    But then, why am I wasting my time replying to such an obvious troll..?

  • by BadlandZ ( 1725 ) on Wednesday June 30, 1999 @12:17PM (#1824321) Journal
    "Everyone is quick to dismiss Mozilla as a failure because of the lack of outside involvement and time it's taken, but that is so so untrue."

    "Mozilla is an amazing and incredibly successful project."

    If your soo sure, how do you explain this []

    I am all for open source, but when someone like AOL want's to exploite it for thier own profit or dump it, which would you really rather they did?

  • Also, slightly off topic, but I worry that Open Source development will slow down drastically if there is a lot of Open Source projects. Actually, I suspect the more there are the better, for two reasons: First, because more projects will draw in more people (and get them indoctrinated/educated). Second, because open source projects, by definition, can share code between themselves. For example, I worked briefly on mozilla last year, and while my code never made it in (it was for Windows FE toolbar stuff that got completely chucked), I learned a lot of stuff that I've been able to apply in other net projects. The more projects there are, and the more code sharing, then the more eyeballs there will be on the internal libraries and the OS itelf, which means better performance, fewer bugs, more features... :-)
  • This has no bearing on the ability of the free
    software community to develop large applications.
    If Mozilla had been free from the start, it would
    be in much better shape, most likely. As it is,
    Mozilla was a closed application that had been
    developed in-house for years, and probably not
    always with the intention of releasing the source.
    Postfix would be a more reasonable example (though
    the MTA world is decidedly simpler than the
    web browser world and it's not an end user app).
    Kevin Doherty
  • The MS trial is about over. I wonder if this news story has been designed to influence just what kind of punishment that MS gets. I wouldn't worry about the project REALLY getting dropped... I just thing they wanted to give the judge something to think about.
  • Quite frankly, I don't understand why Jwz has to explain anything to anyone. It was his decision, and if he wanted to buy a blind camel, it's his decision, and nothing can stop him. And he shouldn't have to explain his morals and every move towards doing it.
  • If they would use a KDE fe alongside the GTK fe, the user/developer base would double.

    Depends what you mean by a KDE FE. If you mean rewrite the FE in Qt, then I'd tell you to stop wasting your time. On the other hand, keeping it Gtk, and supplying KDE hints (as I believe Star Office, which is written in Motif, does) would be a big win...

  • I'm glad to see someone from Netscape speaking up in this. There's a lot of bad words flying around in spite of the great job everyone involved is doing. Mozilla is a fantastic piece of software. The milestone releases are fairly stable, even if a lot of the features are disabled. Even daily CVS pulls tend to work, although anyone thinking they want to try should be warned that at least the Linux build has system requirements (that I never did track down) that aren't picked up by the configure script. I've had good luck with clean RedHat 5.2 installs with the most recent Gnome.

    Mozilla is an extremely complicated piece of software, but not unmanageably so. My guess is most of the people who say its too complicated to jump into haven't been trained in development on such a large scale. (Trained in that its really not something so easily picked up on the fly... good team programming skills tend to be taught IMHO)

    But there is a LOT that people who can't jump in and contribute patches can do. Any bonehead can easily pull a tree and build it, at least under Unix. Follow the directions on the site, but in a nutshell this is all it takes, once you're logged into the cvs server:

    cvs -z3 checkout mozilla/
    cd mozilla
    gmake -f

    Not too hard huh? The new configure/ stuff they've got in there handles keeping the tree in sync (most of the time), and handling the configure and build process.

    Do that. Run it. If it craps out, fire up gdb, so a stack dump and figure out where it crapped out. You might not be able to figure out exactly why, but a stack dump and a description of what you're doing goes a long way towards having other people know what happened. Bugzilla is a nice system -- its very easy to submit bugs and search for current ones. If you can't find the one you posted, then stick it there. E-mail a patch if you think you know what was wrong. No one is gonna yell at you if its not.

    Personally, I've done a lot of builds, spent a lot of time tracking down wierd dependancies on the four Linux systems I've had bad luck building it on. I'd like to think some of that work has helped, I've noticed the issues slowly being fixed, so I think they have. Just testing it is a big help by anyone.

    I've thought about jumping in and helping, but it IS complex. And with the necko code being switched in, and some of the other big branches that have been dumped into the tree lately, I can't figure out which end is up right now... :)

    If you haven't seen Mozilla yet, its worth the download of one of the milestone builds. The page rendering is SO much better than any other browser I've seen. It just looks fantastic, and is FAST even with all the debugging code in there.

    I hope AOL doesn't make a real mistake and end this when its making such progress!

  • by tjansen ( 2845 ) on Wednesday June 30, 1999 @12:09PM (#1824329) Homepage
    It has always been very hard to support Mozilla.
    1. There is a huge codebase, and understanding the Mozilla code enough to make any significant changes is quite hard for someone who does not work on Mozilla fulltime, even with Gecko and without all the legacy code
    2. They support 3 platforms (Unix, Windows and Mac) and many Unix hackers, for example, dont want to care for Windows stuff. That's why the majority of contributors work on Windows.
    3. They have very strict guidelines for commiting into the CVS. Before you commit anything you have to check that it doesnt break on any platform. This is understandable for a commercial project, but makes it even harder to work on it. I, for example, cannot contribute to Mozilla because I dont have Windows installed, and I am not going to change that.

    Maybe it would be good when AOL stops Mozilla. Because that would certainly mean that a lot of Linux/Unix-based volunteers would start developing their own Mozilla, based on the current sources, and give up all the Windows and Mac stuff. Then I would seriously consider to contribute. But I will never ever work with the Win32 API. I tried it once, and it so unbelievable ugly... under no circumstances.
  • I keep hearing in articles and here on slashdot that Mozilla doesn't have any external developers, and I'm starting to wonder where it comes from.

    That has been my impression since the release of the source code, and it is based mainly on reading the mozilla newgroups (primarily unix and builds), and the occasional checkin log.

    There are 53 developers outside with direct checkin privileges to the CVS tree as of last Tuesday

    But in the last month there have been only twelve checkins by outside developers to the HEAD branch of SeaMonkey. Most of those twelve names I've seen: blizzard is working on the xlib port, zuperdee on motif, pav on gtk, locka on ActiveX, and three guys are working on some photon widget (Star Trek?) thingy. I believe you, but I can't find even a baker's dozen.

    What needs to happen to get more people involved?

    FWIW, the time I've spent working on mozilla, which mostly just consists of just building it, I've thought was well worth it. Learning about how a big project is managed is intriguing, and I've often lamented other projects not following the same model (tinderbox!).

    But I've been reluctant to submit bug reports because I'm usually confused about whether what I'm seeing is a result of a real problem or a work in progress.

    Other than that, the only thing holding me back is the C++, which I'm not really proficient at (Ok, I suck).

  • As I've learned in my years of programming[egads, did I say that? :-) ], sometimes the time and effort involved in deciphering existing code is better spent rewriting the code from scratch.

    I suspect that if a group got together and started to hack out a "truly" open-source browser, where the public peer review starts at the beginning instead of at version 4.x, that something useable would result in fairly short time.

  • If you sum up all those very specialized lists, that gives a rather good figure (and things often "gets done" outside of newsgroups and mailing lists anyway, whereas public forums are where wishes belongs best). So ?
  • I am very disappointed with what has come out of the Mozilla project, as no doubt many people are. I've download milestone 7 for the Mac, and frankly I don't know what the h*ll they're doing over there at The revamped interface is *again* stupid, but I guess they have to keep up with the strange tradition of completely changing the way Netscape's browser looks at every major release.

    Netscape, with intelligence, could have released version 4.9, addressing long-standing and requested issues such as the ability to resume downloads and improved stability, and *then* screwed everything up. It is always possible to continue work on a major revamp while continuing to spruce up the older major release with minor updates. This keeps customers "into" Netscape. Instead, we've had absolute nothing come out of Netscape in eons, and that means the only way to get a decent browser is to use IE. Add to this the fact that, oddly enough, IE is probably one of the nicest apps ever built by Microsoft - uncharacteristically intelligent, simple, fast and full-featured without too much bulk (and then there's the price). Netscape might have had a chance had IE turned out to be a piece of garbage like Windows itself, or MS Office. Instead, Netscape's browser is the one that's overly-complex, and rapidly falling behind.

    My 2 cents.
  • Sorry, Mike, I did get taken in by the "AOL" mention. However, given that Sun is in some sort of partnership with AOL and Netscape, I'm a bit worried - I guess you can see why.



  • Folks,

    The source of this story isn't connected with AOL or Netscape at all. Like many others, I got taken in by this story, posted a knee-jerk reaction, and made a bit of an ass of myself as a result. Sorry Mozilla and Netscape.

    Ignore the story, it's from someone at Sun who I'm told is more than a bit of a turkey, isn't connected with decision-making at AOL and Netscape, and spoke out of place. Hopefully someone at Sun will have a quiet talk with him.



  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Wednesday June 30, 1999 @12:52PM (#1824336) Homepage Journal
    This is a publicity ploy. Netscape made a non-working product Open Source and then wondered why nobody wanted to fix it for them. Now that the Mozilla product is close to being finished and actually attractive for a contributor to work on, they'll put it under the Sun Community Source License and then will claim that the SCSL made a big difference and is superior to the Open Source model. But had that broken software been released under the SCSL rather than the NPL in the first place, it would have gotten the same big yawn from the free software community.

    Netscape can stop making contributions of Open Source code, but they can not take back what they've already contributed. Open Source developers will continue to use that, and will place their contributions under the MPL, preventing Netscape from reselling them under another license. The result will be an Open Source browser that competes with Netscape's own product.


    Bruce Perens

  • It was really Netscape really that opened my eyes for Open Source and not Linux. Before I just thought Linux was a good OS, but couldn't really compete with Microsoft. Then shortly after the Netscape announcement Linux started to conquer the media and world. Linux would have done it anyway but Mozilla did speed up things a lot.

    I still think that Mozilla could be a success if they just managed to release the product. Then a community outside the Netscape employees could be built. In the beginning, development would of course rapidly drop but slowly it would start up again, hopefully as a part of both GNOME and KDE. But the browser must be released first!

    (If I had only some influence, I would tell them to drop the news and mail client and the Composer)

    I must say that I also is disappointed with both the KDE and GNOME communities. They should have embraced Mozilla early. I mean, no one can honestly say that the browsing capabilities of KDE is good?

    But I also blame (and jwz for being such a quitter). I helped out in the beginning, but felt to be out in the cold with their great code drop of the old layout engine. I know that they finally decided to pay for old sins, but how do they think developers will react to their constant incompatible changes?
  • Gee I thought IE sucked...maybe it's because IE is ugly and it has a bug which causes it to neglect to display graphics on my WinNT box. So I downloaded Netscape and it's better looking, easier to use and about the same speed.

    In my heart I feel that you have no idea what you're talking about. However logically I know that this all comes down to personal preferance and luck - you should try to keep those straight.
  • that sounds very cool... i don't usually use cvs - i tend to get tarballs... but to be able to have the tree of code all branched out and color coordinated and to be able to graphically zoom from a tree branch directory/file view to a line of code view would be cool... are you sure similar things dont already exist?

    Marques Johansson
  • Damn!!! you folks biting today? maybe it is in the stars that everyone is pissed or has had a bad day - or maybe netscape / mozilla is a touchy subject....Can't we all just get along?

    Personally I find that mozilla is doing great for what it is - even for what it is not yet... it is aimed at the right direction and is definetly growing in leaps and bounds..

    several months ago i tryed mozilla and it would not compile... a bit later i tryed it and it was so basic as to be useless...

    recently (m6) it is fast to startup, has many features, and is just as flashy as ns4.5 or ie5... the only flaws that i currently see are part of any growing program and i am sure that they will be banged out so that by this time next year mozilla will be the unquestioned leader of linux desktop web browsers...

    (kde/gnome browsers are still weak - staroffice is kinda cool but closed, amaya is SLOW to render.. emacs, eh? lynx rox... telnet hostname 80 seems to work well)

    Marques Johansson

  • No, AC, everyone at MS is looking for a big open source disaster. Unfortunately, it isn't going to happen.

  • Uhh, what does the Internet have to do with OSS?

    There are companies making money with Open Source and it hasn't killed Linux.

    If you're gonna say something, then have some sort of backing behind it.
  • What about Perl? It is licensed under both the GPL and artistic licenses? And what about PHP? It uses the GPL and a seperate proprietary.
  • I'd say that it's premature to be writing off Mozilla at this point. They're still making noticable progress, and I've been keeping a relatively close eye on the project; a lot of the developers are still Netscape engineers, but there have been and continue to be some very important contributions by outsiders. Moreover, even with the revised milestones, we're still looking good for December.

    The key here is to get a more or less stable, usable product out. Most causual hackers are going to want something that they can add on to incrementally, and having to engage in massive debugging gets in the way of that. I think that's one of the things that's turned off a lot of potential developers.

    Unfortunately, because of the size of the product, it's not really that easy to pick a subset of the functionality, clean that up and release it. Given the product, I'm really not sure that they have much choice but to try and make it spring from the head of Zeus fully formed.

    One of the major delaying factors, too, was that the realization that the thing needed more or less rewriting from scratch came so late in the game. It wasn't that long ago that they were still trying to kluge around the Mozilla Classic tree.

    In fact, I think the existing codebase is going to be an issue in a lot of cases where a propreitary package is open-sourced.

    With some notable exceptions (i.e. massive, mission-critical efforts like Oracle or IBM's database products), closed-source software as a whole tends to be extremely poorly engineered in comparison to most of the open-sourced software I've seen, no matter whether it's written by Mentor Graphics or Netscape or Microsoft or some 14-year-old kid writing shareware. These monolithic kluges are not only badly engineered, they make it extremely difficult for "casual developers" to get involved if the source is ever opened. Open Source development thrives on lightweight, modular designs.

    So, more often than not, the new core developers end up with the old codebase dangling from their collective neck like a bloody albatross. It's happened to the Mozilla people, and it's happened to me...

    Enter MegaZeux, a considerably more advanced clone of Epic Megagames' first product, ZZT. The original author abandoned it about '95 or '96, and being somewhat of a fan of the software, I campeigned for it to be released under the GPL. I finally got my wish.

    I and a handfull of other people spent the next eight months (or perhaps even a little longer than that) trying to coerce the old DOS codebase into something cleaner and more portable (even for DOS; it was beginning to suffer majorly from realmode limitations, and we wanted a 32-bit protected mode port). The code still gives me nightmares. I finally gave up on it late this April.

    So, now I'm rewriting the thing from scratch. (I suppose I should point out that the release of the original source wasn't a total waste, as it's not only been an invaluable reference for me, some of the other members of the development team have been adding minor features to the original codebase, which still builds only in Turbo C++)

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's probably unrealistic to expect newly released proprietary source to be useful for anything beyond reference and scaffolding.

    If the codebase actually proves usable, that's great, but I don't think we should launch into these things with the expectation that we won't have to rewrite it all anyway. I think that expectation has been the cause of much of the dissillusionment surrounding Mozilla.

    [ n.b. Mozilla has other problems too, ranging from poor management to funky licencing; I just don't think they're as major as most people seem to think ]

    that's my $0.02.

    P.S. If anyone reading this is interested in the sort of retro-gaming stuff like MegaZeux for Linux (the primary target platform of my rewrite), drop me a line after appropriately de-spamming my email. Or drop by [] if you're just idly curious about the whole thing.
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 )
    I'm sure microsoft PR is going to have a field-day with this. "See, See! proof that open source doesn't work", they'll all cry in unison.

    It'll get finished. Planning what may very well be the most important piece of software most users will run on their system takes time.

    In the meantime.. brace yourselves for the FUD-slinging.

  • by BrerBear ( 8338 ) on Wednesday June 30, 1999 @12:13PM (#1824364)
    This story is really fishy...

    I've got some questions about this story:

    1) Why is a statement made by Alan Baratz of _SUN_ given weight about the future of Mozilla, which is owned by AOL?!? Some context, please?

    I know Sun and AOL have an alliance going to bring Java to Netscape 5.0 and other deals, but since when does Baratz have any say in Mozilla?

    My suspicion is that the reporter blew it. Someone probably asked Baratz about the strengths of the Java Community Process, his speciality, and he compared it to Mozilla. Reporter misinterprets the quotes which, when reread don't seem to apply to Mozilla anyways. Netscape rep denies the whole thing to boot.

    2) Where's the "astronomical delays" that the story link is supposed to be referring to? Mozilla made a hard, but ultimately correct decision to completely rearchitect the whole product from the ground up last year in order to be more modular and support more standards. They're meeting their publicly posted milestones. The nightly builds work well and are making visible progress. Why the FUD even in the story posting?

    3) Why do people keep claiming there aren't outside contributors when I see their contributions in the checkin logs every day?

    4) Why are Slashdotters so quick to take this misquoted story as gospel?

    Wait, that one's easy to answer...
  • I'm glad you're quite satisfied with the elegance of the Mozilla architecture. Yet another ringing endorsement of "software engineering", which so far has only succeeded in making projects late.

    I guess it depends on what you call "elegance". For me, "elegant" code is primarily code that is cleanly organized and cleanly written. This pays off in spades when you have to revise the code - maintaining bad code is Not Fun (I've had to do it).

  • Open source projects generally need a coherent, functional software framework in place before outside developers can contribute. Before that framework is in place, most contributions to the source simply require too much communication between the core development team and outside developers. And, in fact, most open source software projects start with a dedicated, small team in academia or industry developing the core of some major software project.

    Mozilla's core development isn't quite finished yet. Even so, the open source machinery has already started working. Prerelease versions of Mozilla have been converted to widgets in GTK and Java, parts of the code are being used as parts of other projects, etc.

    By keeping Mozilla open, AOL/Netscape continues to be the standards setter when it comes to what browsers are expected to do. Making Mozilla proprietary now would accomplish little (would they try to make licensing revenues from it?), and lose a lot of opportunities for influencing the future of the web.

    Looking from the outside and experimenting with the occasional beta release, Mozilla looks like it's on-track to me. Once a beta release is out, more outside, open-source contributions will start happening. I hope AOL has the courage to stay the course.

  • Actually, the mozilla project is not only an inherently complex project, it's a cross-api project. That's probably what really hurt it. Yes, the core rendering part is pretty complex, but the user interface part isn't. The real thing that prevented a lot of people from jumping in on mozilla was the significant level of abstraction involved.

    The abiword project is similar, and I've given up on trying to work on that, as well. Whenever you try to be cross-api, you just end up inventing your own api and implementing it twice. So joining the mozilla project isn't a matter of working on a browser, it's a matter of working on a browser/operating system combo. And as soon as tracing a function becomes a matter of working through levels of abstraction, it raises the difficulty signifcantly.

    That's why single-api projects do much better than cross-api projects, you don't end up building a new api at the same time. Look at the gimp and gtk.

    They really both started to blossom when they were split off from each other.

    The mozilla project is really a whole bunch of projects, and as such could benefit from the open source style, as I think to some degree it is doing. However, the mozilla project was attacked in the wrong manner. They didn't release working code, and only just now are starting to really get working code. You can only really bugfix and contribute small pieces to working code. Devling in and building it up to a working condition is the job of the core developers.

    Anyhow, the open source development model would work and at some point will work for mozilla, it just has high entry points.

    Ah, anyhow, you don't get it. Open source doesn't produce small, dinky projects or work poorly for big projects, it just needs, like any project, a decent project coordinator. Those projects which flourish are those wihch have a good project coordinator, when you get down to it. I'm not even sure that the mozilla people had a project coordinator. They seem to be getting their act at least somewhat together, though.

    Probably their biggest problem, which they will always have, is that they are a seriously cross-platform project. That keeps them from actually becoming part of any community, and that's a lot of what open source is about. If every part of code has to be implementable on windows as well as on unix, that just really makes working on the project much less feasable. I don't know windows, and don't want to.

    That's also hurt the abisourse people- there are features that they couldn't use because they aren't on windows. I don't want to do even as much windows programming as requires knowing what can't be done on windows. So I'm not really contributing. That's probably mozilla's biggest problem. It's too schitsophrenic (sp?) to ever be done really well, though the mozilla people do seem to be pulling it off, slowly but surely. That's the part that really surprises me.
  • In his speech, Alan Baratz (of Sun) implies they're considering moving Mozilla to something like the Sun Community Process... To see what the Java community thinks of the SCP, check out this article [] on

    The Sun Community Process has been very little use to anyone, even Sun, because Sun is mainly ignoring the Community. I certainly hope AOL isn't dumb enough to do this to Mozilla. As one poster on the Javalobby article points out, Mozilla is actually not doing that badly, outside of the press...
  • Shaver,
    Just wanted to say that I (and I'm sure others) appreciate your taking the time to explain all this and all the work you've done. It's been very informative, and Mozilla is a very impressive project. The code's still a bit daunting, but I'm testing the waters of bug-reporting.

    Thanks (didn't want it to seem like everyone's against you)
  • by umoto ( 19193 ) on Wednesday June 30, 1999 @12:03PM (#1824410) Homepage
    It would be interesting to find out just how much the open source community has contributed to Mozilla. A /. poll would be good, I think... ask "how involved are you in the Mozilla project?"

    I, like so many others, downloaded via CVS the whole seamonkey tree and tried to find my way through it. It was just so massive! For a week I did a "cvs update" every day and I noticed so many files were in motion that I couldn't tell what wasn't being worked on.

    This may sound naive, but I think the primary reason Mozilla hasn't received much attention from open source developers is because there isn't a simple, graphical "map" that shows the progress of each section of code. I hope you can understand what I have in mind--it would look very similar to a real map but would be colored according to how much work needs to be done in each area. The areas would be zoomable to the point where if a developer wants to fix a specific bug, he just zooms in to the specific function.

    I'm a developer who has precious little time yet has a lot of interest in seeing Mozilla completed under the current licensing model. Would you folks think this idea is worth the effort?
  • by Mr T ( 21709 ) on Wednesday June 30, 1999 @12:17PM (#1824419) Homepage
    This is terrible news, even if it is just a rumor. I hope it isn't true because mozilla is finally starting to take an interesting shape.

    This should be a learning experience though. I don't think it is an opensource flaw so much as a netscape or mozilla flaw.

    • It's been mentioned before, but it wouldn't compile at first. That is and was frustrating. Something that impresses me with most OSS/Free software is the remarkable clean build process. Mozilla didn't have that for a long time. I was very amped to start making tweaks but I didn't have the time to figure it all out, I just wanted "configure;make" like most other projects have. Maybe that was a poor expectation on my part, but I don't think so.
    • Mozilla quickly splintered into countless groups and projects. The ports were easy enough to sort out but some of the other projects really confused me at the time. Again, maybe I had poor expectations but I've got a full time job and at best mozilla was going to be a spare time activity for me, I wasn't really motivated to figure out what was what and since I couldn't readily compile a lot of code...
    • There were radical design shifts, I'm not sure where this came from. I agree with it and I think most of the community likes the idea of a mozilla component being available and componentizing the product but this is radically different from what they put out. Clear leadership is needed for that. I still don't know who's baby it is. I still don't know which baby it is that I want to jump in with, or are they not splintered any more? I've got things I would still like to do, I'd love to see GNOME and KDE components made out of it.. I kind of think Netscape had hoped to open it up and the world would just sort of know what to do and in 3 months there would be this radically different product. The code didn't compile and we were heading off into the night on a runaway train.
    • Netscape really cut it loose after a short time, am I the only one who thinks Communcator 5 is going to be very different from mozilla? After it got off to a slow start, reading the newsgroups and listening to the "leaders" made it sound like the project was just floundering. I never felt like netscape was in on the project. I felt like they didn't see what they wanted in a few weeks and then bailed.
    • Then the PR fizzled. Mozilla now is looking impressive. It's looking like a product, it's still rough and there is a lot of work to be done but there are areas to work on and things to improve and ideas to incorporate. I think a lot of us have dismissed it by now though. Some how the PR machine needs to generate that excitement again. We need some goals and some plans and wishlists, what are we aiming at, what needs aren't we filling? How can it be better? Someone will have to fork the code when mozilla get's to m8 or m9 and start working on a "new project" it will start to take off more then.
    • The need isn't there. NS has been working very nicely for me. If I was browserless I'd be more inclined to perform miracles to make mozilla happen. At this point it's just a war of virtue. NS gave their code away and won my heart over, I had no problem using communicator because netscape "did the good thing"
    I hope ESR makes some addendums to C&B, I also hope that the mozilla projects continues on. I think it is finally on a good track, it just needs to pick up some passengers and gain some speed.
  • It has seemed kind of obvious that this hammer was going to come down, it was just a matter of when.

    Netscape has posted a very good example of how not to run an open source project though, which should prevent others from making their mistakes in the future, which is a good thing. i.e. don't just throw a bunch of stuff out there and expect people to run with it, having some goals before the project was 6 months old may have been nice too.

    In retrospect it is obvious that opening up Navagator was a last ditch hail-mary desparation shot of Netscapes to regain some of the momentum that it lost to MS...
  • Sheesh... if ie5 wasn't a superior browser at this point I would really doubt the ability of the MS coders ( which I don't ). MS has a distinct advantage over the folks at Netscape. THEY HAVE THE CODE TO THE OS THEY ARE DEVELOPING ON! They know all there is to know about Wxx and Win NT. If you don't think that's an advantage then you have never done any real-world coding.

    Let me give you an example: One of the windows developers for the company I work for spent a couple days trying to find out why his code was doing something bizzare.(He has access to all the recent NT resource stuff, all current documentation) He finally kludged it and got it to work. He posted a lengthy message to several newsgroups asking if anyone had the same experience or could offer any advice. A few days after posting he got a reply from a microsoft employeee ( A fairly high level, long time engineer) who told him that what he found was indeed a bug in the software. However the bug had remained since Win 2.0 for *backwards compatibilty* In other words if they fixed the bug it would break a lot of pre-existing software.

    While it was nice of this person to be honost and up front about it, it didn't replace the wasted time of one of our best coders.

    If you don't think MS engineers have an advantage over non MS engineers you are not grounded in reality.
  • Just rename Mozilla 5.0 to Mozilla 2000.
  • Sorry, I've already posted way too many times today so I'll try to quiet down tomorrow.

    So who's fault is this? Why does the "Open Source model" (TM) get blamed for this? Open Source developers did not develop the original crufty code that was discarded.

    Furthermore, no one seems to take into account the cross-platform nature of Mozilla. This is basically several projects -- Mac/Windows/Linux. If they only concentrated on a single platform, would progress come faster?

    Also, the "lack of response from the Open Source community" line is growing tiresome. Let's add up the number of man-hours contributed by Open Source developers to Mozilla. How much would it cost to hire programmers for the same amount of time? As great as an Open Source browser is for the community, perhaps many developers see AOL as the chief beneficiary. Can Open Source developers be blamed for not wanting to further AOL's plans for world domination?
  • As far as I understand the license, yes, you can. From the Netscape Public Licence []:

    6.2. Effect of New Versions.
    Once Covered Code has been published under a particular version of the License, You may always continue to use it under the terms of that version. You may also choose to use such Covered Code under the terms of any subsequent version of the License published by Netscape. No one other than Netscape has the right to modify the terms applicable to Covered Code created under this License.

    This means, or should mean, that if AOL wants to pull the plug, they can do so by keeping for themselves all the code they develop from now on. But the code already released can always be used in the terms of NPL 1.0.

    I believe that, if shuts down, the development of the browser can continue elsewhere. Sure, won't be the same code used by "Netscape Communicator 7.532", but I don't think anyone cares about that.

    Oh, and IANAL etc.

  • We don't care who you are. Even if it's an untraceable handle it's more respected so that people know who they're speaking to even if they can never identify them in real space. It shows that you intend to carry on a conversation that is more coherent by being able to identify you. If we can recognize the handle then we know that we don't have to repeat statements already posted.

    And for the AC-kneejerkers:
    The cyberpunk:cyberpunk thing with NYTimes' login is to prevent marketroids from filling our inboxes with crap and all the rest of the tracking shit going on.

    This does not work:
    AC - says blah
    Registered - says blah my ass
    AC - says blah (could be completely different)

    This is ridiculous:

    AC - says blah
    AC - says uber blah
    AC - says blah to all o' yas

    This works:
    X - says blah
    Y - says nope mister
    Z - says i agree and...
    Y - bull
    Z - that's not what I meant

  • by nevets ( 39138 ) on Wednesday June 30, 1999 @12:01PM (#1824456) Homepage Journal
    Netscape thought that they could go open source and suddenly get all the benefits of the Open Source Society. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.

    For people to support something that is Open Source, and do it for free, they must enjoy the work. If you don't make it enjoyable, then the people won't do it. There are lots of other Open Source projects that I want to work on and Mozilla is near the bottom of that list. I rather work on the Linux kernel or XFree86 or GTK+ or another project. Others may feel differently about this but only if they like to work on Mozilla.

    I didn't join the Mozilla development so I don't know how enjoyable it was/is. Also, it takes time. Before you can help out, you need to know the system. Once you get a standard set of people who know the system, then improvements/bug fixes/ enhancements will come quickly. But you can't just release something Open Source and see the effect immediately.

    Also, slightly off topic, but I worry that Open Source development will slow down drastically if there is a lot of Open Source projects. This will spread out the resources (people) and then the development slows down. The advantage of Open Source is that it is easier to work with something that is not a total black box. This is only true if you are a programmer and can understand the code. But that takes time as stated above.

    I think that Netscape/AOL should give Mozilla more time, or at least keep it going. This way you can get a good set of developers. Also give some sort of compensation for those who submit a large amount of enhancments. Keep this going for the sake of Open Source, and you will benefit. Keep it going just to benefit, and you won't. I can't prove this, but the atmosphere is there. (what ever that means :)

  • Remember that this is a case of a project which was already well underway, and had a lot of legacy source, and had gone down a lot of paths with a lot of dead ends in the source code. It's very difficult to take a half million lines of code and just send them out into the ether and expect anyone to be able to assimilate it, much less largely rework it, in any reasonable amount of time.

    One of the reasons why it wouldn't compile, at least in part, is that if you look at the development environment for any major enterprise-level software project, it typically demands a very particular setup and environment to compile (i.e. you must be running the following apps with the following directory structure with teh following path and the following environmental variables just to get compilation, much less linking or debugging). Abstracting that away to a more general case of "I'm going to download the source and compile it because I'm bored" is a very very difficult proposition.

    Most of the truly successful cases of open source projects have followed the "Release Early, Release Often" mantra. Perhaps if this is something that is that important to the community (which I think it is), it is worth starting from scratch. The problem is that starting truly from scratch would result in Mosaic, and it would take just as long to get something working. But in all likelihood the process and major contributors would be set by the time it got to have something useful in it, which would increase speed dramatically.


  • by Sosarian ( 39969 ) on Wednesday June 30, 1999 @11:51AM (#1824458) Homepage
    I think that Mozillas biggest shortfall from my perspective is that when the initial source release came out, the code would not compile into a useful product.

    While I was interested in attempting to revamp the bookmark code, it made no sense to me as I couldn't even get it to compile.

    When Mozilla actually builds the foundation for an open source browser that is useable and that others can build upon, I might be interested in contributing.

    Perhaps then it can meet the most basic Cathedral and the Bazaar requirements by my standards.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus