Five Years Ago Today: Netscape Source Code Released

Sunday March 30th, 2003

On this day in 1998, Netscape made good on its historic announcement to release the Communicator source code. At 10:00am Pacific Time, an early development snapshot of Netscape Communicator 5.0 — which included Navigator and Composer but not Messenger — was posted to, together with a note thanking those who had made it happen. Netscape also published a document describing how the open source development process would work after the code release. Contemporary news coverage came from sites such as CNET, whose article featured quotes from both Netscape and Microsoft, and Wired News, who filed reports both shortly before the release and on the day after.

#20 Re: Did mozilla achieve what it promised ?

by vcs2600 <>

Monday March 31st, 2003 10:41 AM

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One big problem with open source projects is determining exactly what the goals and objectives really are. Which is why many of the successful projects are just clones of existing software. For example, everyone agrees that the goal of the Linux kernel is "Create a copy a monolithic UNIX kernel", where more 'blue sky' projects like HURD tend to get bogged down because few people understand what they are trying to achieve.

I really think the goal of Mozilla was nothing more than "Rewrite Netscape Communicator from scratch, except make it standards compliant and more portable."

Which they did successfully, but along the way nobody really questioned if users really *wanted* a new version of Netscape 4 -- and when people did they were generally ignored. Thus Mozilla gets the exact same criticisms that NN4 did when it was released way back when -- bloated, slow startup, too much stuff in one process space, etc. Not to mention that 7 years ago, Communicator fit into Netscape's mail/groupware/intranet server strategy, and even though that strategy went out-of-business, we still have the all-in-one Communicator approach.

Fortunately, people are hacking on Phoenix and Minotaur and other approaches to build more end user requirements-driven software based on Mozilla's "technology demonstration". But it took a long time to get there.