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The Mozilla Free Lunch
Oliver White

The captain has abandoned the ship, apparently. I for one miss being flamed by Jamie for my moronic suggestions to the Mozilla team. Jamie has given his reasons, and for the most part they seem reasonable. AOL is a big, uncaring company, for the most part, and it's sad that Netscape couldn't fare on its own. However, there are mouths to feed, and however much the current situation lacks poetry the engineers at have created something to be proud of.

All religious wars aside, I think Eric Raymond's essay, "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" was pretty much correct in its assertions. Perhaps the Mozilla folk should try reading it again, if their intention is to garner broad support from the hacker community.

You don't write software from scratch via internet based development. But it was decided to rewrite the code anyway. "Ahh", you say, "That's right, that's where it all went wrong".

But it didn't.

I personally hate politics, and when the decision was made on the Mozilla newsgroups to rewrite the browser's engine, implementing as many web standards as was possible, I thought, "what a great idea". The result has been a less slim lizard than perhaps Jamie would have liked, but something that really benefits web developers. I'm very proud of the guys and women at Mozilla, and their efforts.

Building the engine isn't all that much fun for a hacker. This is a possible reason the hacker community hasn't dived headlong into the code. The process at the moment is an engineering exercise, to produce a full-featured, extensible browser. It seems that this new code base is beginning to stabilize.

Now it's your turn. Work with it, or never ever complain to me about how a feature/bug annoys you. Play with the new binaries, the milestone releases especially. Report all the bugs you find. Look for things that annoy you, and change them, send in patches. Complain! I know you guys can manage it if you try.

It's your tool, as much as it is AOL's. It's odd that Jamie left at this point in time, when it might actually become fun for hackers to have a go. Or maybe I'm smoking crack; the folk tell me that a lot.

Well there you go, AOL doesn't owe you a good browser, and you certainly aren't paying them for the privilege. But then they don't own it, it was given away by Netscape long before the takeover started. Jamie has made these points before, and perhaps will again, wherever his travels take him.

Or maybe you really don't like the new browser, from what you've seen. Maybe it's not good enough. Maybe it's a failure. In that case, there's an opening for a better browser. Write it yourself. There's no such thing as a free lunch.


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