eWeek Takes Stock of Mozilla Foundation's First Year

Monday July 26th, 2004

eWeek is running an opinion piece about the progress of the Mozilla project in its first year outside of Netscape. Author Jim Rapoza argues that Mozilla is only now recovering from the mistakes Netscape made during its dominance of the project. Note that the article contains a few mistakes, such as stating that the original Netscape Communicator 5.0 codebase was not open-sourced (it was — find it in the abandoned classic directory of the Mozilla source tree).

#1 Hmm

by thelem

Monday July 26th, 2004 5:05 PM

Seems to me like it is more an excuse to have a go at Netscape/AOL and promote corporations having a hands-off approach to open source projects than a true review of the successes and failures of the Mozilla project.

I think its a good thing that the foundation is now free of AOL's control, but if that had happened in 1999 I don't think mozilla would even exist today. Open source projects thrive on having a community to promote and support the project, and a product which can be used, so that modifications seem worth while. I don't think Mozilla would have had enough of this without the significant support of Netscape/AOL.

#3 Re: Hmm

by allen

Tuesday July 27th, 2004 3:53 AM

I'd agree with that.

It seems to me that Mozilla's recent successes come as much from the maturing of Firefox and Thunderbird, as well as IE's bad press, as they do from the project being freed from AOL.

It's also worth pointing out that Firefox and Thunderbird were under development prior to the formation of the Mozilla Foundation, anyway. They might not have had the same marketing force behind them as they do now (including the new name, icon, advertising etc.), but they'd still be pretty much the same products.

There's a bit of a skew on this story that doesn't make a lot of sense. He's writing from an angle that isn't as accurate as he assumes it must be.

#2 support of AOL

by pkb351

Monday July 26th, 2004 8:14 PM

I suspect thelem, you may have misunderstod the author here. I understood the author making a distinction between "hands off" and "support". IU agree with you if Netscape had ste Mozilla free in 1998 we would not have a Mozilla browser today. But if Nescape (and later also AOL) had supported the the Mozilla browser, but simply let the programmers be in charge of the programing the browser landscape might be much different. I believed the the sentence "But if companies truly want their open-source projects to succeed, they'll have a lot easier time if they just let the developers do their jobs," refers to such mistakes Netscape made by not listening to its Mozilla programers such as the plea by Mozilla to wait until they had better code before the release of Netscape 6.0 and the promotion of Netscape for the average Joe and Mozi;lla for web developers i.e. geeks.

I agree with the author on this one. Mozilla was hindered by decisions made by executives and managers who were not programers. If the developers had been listened to more during Mozilla's early days definitely the browser landscape would be different today. The browser landscape "is" changing", just some years later than it could have, due to interference by well meaning executives who did not have enough knowledge of programing to to make decisions for the Mozilla project. If the Mozilla programers had been supported by Netscape/AOL but left alone to make their own decisions.....what a different internet/web world we might have today.

#4 Re: support of AOL

by jimrapoza

Tuesday July 27th, 2004 6:50 AM

This is exactly the point I was making. While I was writing this column one of my colleagues pointed out how Sun's relationship with is a good example of supporting an open source application without limiting the developers. I thought about including that example but this column is written for the print edition of eWeek and I had to cut a lot of stuff. On another note, it is technically correct that the Navigator/Communicator code was open sourced, but back then most of us, including the Netscape people I was talking to, assumed that there would quickly be a fully functional Mozilla out that would be based on the Navigator code base and would be the open source counterpart to the expected Navigator 5.0.