Relicensing Has Begun
Wednesday September 19th, 2001
Gervase Markham writes: "Today we are checking in the first set of license changes into the Mozilla source tree, in our effort to get all mozilla.org-hosted code licensed in a way which addresses concerns about potential incompatibilities between the MPL and the GPL and LGPL. Our ultimate goal is to relicense all the mozilla.org-hosted Mozilla code under an MPL/GPL/LGPL tri-license (except for a few contributed files which will remain under their current BSD-style licenses). For more information on this ongoing effort see the Mozilla Relicensing FAQ. Please read that before asking questions in the comments." Click the Full Article link to find out more about the relicensing.
As I understand it, the reason netBSD and freeBSD are under parallel development is that there is something fundamentally different somewhere between the two operating systems - they made a different decision about something big a ways back and now, because of that, they would have great difficulty using each other's code (although they are obviously legally allowed to, being truely free and all).
But how could this work with Mozilla? That's a question which begs the question - what is Mozilla? Is it XPCOM? NGLayout? Which components would you have to take away to make Mozilla no longer Mozilla?
If you were to fork based on one feature then, because of the modulised nature of mozilla, you could still share certain other components with the main Mozilla codebase. Kmeleon, for example, doesn't maintain its own rendering engine, fixing bugs and improving the code they already released, they just use the newer rendering engine from mozilla.org when they want to update their browser. I'm no programmer, but because of the modulised nature of Mozilla, I really can't see how it would be possible to fork and stay forked in the way you mean. The Mozilla organisation forks the codebase regularly, but they don't maintain the forkedness for more than a week or so - every milestone is a fork from the "main" codebase. And Netscape and OEone and Kmeleon release things forked from particular milestones, but the developpment of a particular fork is always shortlived.