O'Reilly Network on the Netscape-Mozilla Relationship
Wednesday September 4th, 2002
Last week, the O'Reilly Network published a weblog entry-cum-article about Mozilla from software professional Kevin Bedell. Superficially, the piece may appear to be just another Netscape 7.0 review but it also examines the organization of the Mozilla Project. Describing Mozilla as "a case-book example of outstanding open source management", the article discusses who benefits the most from the cooperation between Netscape and the open source community.
#1 Er, they didn't work without pay
Thursday September 5th, 2002 4:47 AM
You are replying to this message
The writer seems to have missed the point that a large proportion of the serious development work on Mozilla was done by paid Netscape/AOL employees.
Other portions of work were also contributed by paid employees of other firms (IBM, Sun, etc.) which is an interesting factor.
Most of the 'free' work that went into Mozilla, for which AOL genuinely didn't have to foot the bill, was unpaid testing (regular users filing bug reports), which is valuable and is probably why it's so solid, but isn't development.
Really that's the basic answer to the question he poses: how can such a huge project be so successful using open source development? The answer: money, in terms of paid development time using the resources of an existing, 'normal' software corporation.
Because of this misunderstanding, he's asking the wrong question. The interesting factor here is not that AOL got Netscape for free; they didn't. The interesting factor is that they got a *better* product, through the contributions of many additional unpaid people (testing, bug reports, suggestions and opinions, small bugfixes, sometimes larger niche features) for roughly the same investment.