Raising Mozilla on Linux Runtime Requirements Proposed

Monday May 14th, 2007

Mike Connor has written a weblog post proposing raising the runtime requirements for Mozilla applications on Linux. Historically, Mozilla on Linux has had fairly conservative requirements, employing runtime checks and workarounds to support older libraries or work around known bugs. While this means that Mozilla applications will run on older Linux distributions, it has led to some compromises and ugly hacks in the Mozilla code, making it harder to maintain.

Mike has discussed the issue with Christopher Aillon of Red Hat and Alexander Sack of the Ubuntu project to create an updated list of Linux runtime requirements. Maintainers of older Linux distributions will be able to make the necessary changes to keep Mozilla working with older libraries themselves but the Mozilla Corporation will not ship or test builds for older platforms.

If Mike's proposals are accepted, the first version of Mozilla Firefox to ship with these higher requirements will be Firefox 3. This version of Firefox will also drop support for Windows 95, 98 and ME and raise the minimum required Mac OS X version from 10.2 to 10.3.9.

#1 Let's use some sense here, please?

by EyesOnly

Wednesday May 16th, 2007 10:43 AM

The person(s) responsible for this need to be exercising a little more constraint in their cutting-off points with where they're drawing the line on what to accept and not accept as "modern" and "old". Sure! Go ahead and cut off support for RedHat 8.3. It came out in 2003. More than likely the vast majority of RedHat users have upgraded by now. (Granted, some may not have but you should think about it perhaps?)

However, where they're currently drawing the line? They're tending to cut off major new distros which have just rolled out the door! I'm a user of Mepis 6.5, itself based upon Ubuntu-Dapper [Debian], and with the runtimes they want to accept? I sure won't be running Firefox 3. So I'm supposed to change from a distro I like just to continue using Firefox---and quite possibly TBird? And where will all of this leave SeaMonkey since code is shared all around?

Of the FOUR modern, just-installed distros I run (one recently installed this week and is in beta!), according to the set-forth criteria NONE of them will run Mozilla Products in the very near future. Am I upset? You be the judge!


#2 Re: Let's use some sense here, please?

by schapel

Friday May 18th, 2007 6:42 PM

"according to the set-forth criteria NONE of them will run Mozilla Products in the very near future."

Firefox 2 will be supported at least until mid-2008. You (and many others running older Windows, Mac, and Linux versions) might be able to convince Mozilla developers to support Firefox 2 for even longer if you asked. Has anyone simply asked politely?

#3 But this isn't the point, sorry.

by EyesOnly

Saturday May 19th, 2007 9:23 AM

Hi schapel, and thank you for responding.

But this isn't the point. I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd like to be able to run Firefox 3, TBird 3, and I would imagine SM 1.5 (since they all share the same coding) on a brand-new, major (and popular), Linux distro that may not even be a year old by the time these products arrive in their Milestone versions. And this was the point I was trying to make. I guess it didn't come across because I was rather upset at the time that here I'd installed four distros and as it stood they wouldn't run. (Thankfully one has been since updated via its GSlapt repo.)

Of course, those who are in the "Linux Know" could just download the source and compile Firefox, et al, and play around by turning off/on the various compiler flags. However, more and more are coming over into Linux who just use it, install software, and are happy with the way it runs---and know nothing of compiling. I'm one of those who has only compiled a few things myself and am not sure I could handle such a large piece of software.

I've always enjoyed the luxury of grabbing the binaries from's FTP servers and running those rather than waiting for some software programmer, who generally will take 3 to 4 months to compile what I specifically need, and place it in the repo. I guess that's a luxury others, and myself, will have to be giving up. I wonder what it'll do for beta-testing for these Firefox/TBird/SeaMonkey builds though? Many are people who download and test the stability, hunt for bugs, duly report them to bugzilla (I'm no longer one), yet once these versions will no longer run on their 6 month old to one year old distro of Linux they too will have to forego testing.

I don't know. I just think it's all too draconian schapel. GTK 2.10 at the least? I can see dropping GTK 2.4 or 2.6, but many are still on GTK 2.8 and writing for that. And Cairo 1.4.0? That's not been out all that long.

This is almost akin, in the Windows world anyway, of telling people that we're not going to support your last XP SP pack. You've all got to go out and get Vista now or you can't run Firefox 3 or any other Mozilla Product. It's about what it comes down to when you take this to its logical conclusion.

Thanks for listening schapel. It's much appreciated that someone did. It's just that I've been using these products since before Netscape even had a name and was a test alpha download which I picked up with my Mosaic browser. I'd hate to switch now.

Amicalement / In friendship,


#5 Re: But this isn't the point, sorry.

by schapel

Tuesday May 22nd, 2007 9:12 AM

"This is almost akin, in the Windows world anyway, of telling people that we're not going to support your last XP SP pack. You've all got to go out and get Vista now or you can't run Firefox 3 or any other Mozilla Product. It's about what it comes down to when you take this to its logical conclusion."

This is an overreaction. There's no way new versions Mozilla products aren't going to run on a large percentage of its installed base. Additionally, Linux is free and you need to pay for new versions of Windows. Just upgrade to a newer version of Linux, and you'll be fine to run Firefox 3. If you do not want to do that, you can run Firefox 2. It doesn't seem like much a problem to me.

#4 Sounds good...

by jabcreations

Sunday May 20th, 2007 7:12 PM

I've flirted with various Linux distros and currently test with openSUSE 10.2 via VMware to test KHTML. Linux is ok but would be great if it worked as smoothly as Windows and I know that will upset hardened Linux users but as an advanced Windows user I'm not compiling software, I'm already using it. If this helps Mozilla to get nightly builds compiled every night so I can use an installer it would ease the transition of switching XP as my main system and Linux as an emulated system to vice versa. As a professional web designer I'm not switching to Linux until that among a few other things make Linux a viable main OS. Xandros makes a reasonable effort to ease this transition but I was unable to get a nightly build to install via their windows installer.

#6 Be more conservative and bugfree in development

by johnt

Wednesday May 30th, 2007 6:07 PM

I'm a Mandrake 10.1 user, as I've found nuisance problems in Mandriva 2006 and blocker problems in Mandriva 2007. I spent about a month this spring installing and re-installing Linux distros including the Mandrivas and Fedora 6 to get something to work. Fedora 6 wouldn't work with my video and had a disabled KDE setup, as well as Gnome windows that at an unadjustable 640x480 were unusable. The Mandrivas worked fine with my video as usual, but Mandriva 2007 could not be set to enable direct root logins. Maybe a Linux hacker could make it work right, but the graphic security-setter wizard wouldn't. In contrast, nearly everything in Mandrake 10.1 works right. It's a Sept. 2004 release, and I'll keep using it instead of punishing myself with buggy recent releases.

Stability is a key factor in making an operating system and its associated applications usable. And there's no merit to running the latest and greatest crashers unless you're working on bug removal from beta software before calling it a release. The code must work. That's why Linux users used to laugh at Windows users. But I've seen so much Linux software that's half baked. Conservative Linux users who stay with what works need to be supported, not spurned. I would hope that a few library upgrades would keep new versions of Seamonkey etc working, but when I tried upgrading a few libraries I broke the scripts that started my display manager, and had to re-install.

It's also WRONG to bind an application like Seamonkey to the Gnome desktop instead of recognizing that there are plenty of KDE users too, and some like myself don't even care for the style and bloated code of Gnome. Bind to a Gnome library, ok, but don't bind to the Gnome desktop.

Binding SM, FF and TB to Gnome and to the very latest libraries instead of libraries a couple of years old and thoroughly debugged seem like very dumb moves for development of Mozilla software. The conservative FreeBSD developers included GCC 3.46 in their very recent release 6.2. That's only about six months newer than the GCC in my three-year-old Linux. The BSD guys want to make sure that the software works right, instead of releasing defective software for the ego trip of being really up-to-date.

JohnT, aka Dllbrt

#7 Gnome!!!

by veerakumar

Monday June 4th, 2007 5:33 AM

What about this gnome requirement! Anybody knows what about KDE, XFCE etc

#8 this sounds ridiculous

by smkatz

Thursday June 7th, 2007 9:18 PM

You can't bind to a specific window manager..