Eric Raymond On Mozilla
Friday August 20th, 1999
Well, it's not the glowing review you'd hope for (and he doesn't seem to realize that some things don't happen overnight), but it's a better assessment than we've seen in some news organizations recently.
I find Mike Shaver's status update much more even-handed, even if he is from the mozilla team, if only because his comments are based on actual numbers, not just impressions of the project.
We know mozilla made mistakes when launching their source code, however as Eric was actually at their early strategy meetings why didn't he tell them the problems of releasing uncompilable code before they went ahead and released it?
#2 He didn't *know* - there were no precedents
Friday August 20th, 1999 7:22 AM
Mozilla was a first - nothing like it had ever happened before. Eric's experience was in projects like fetchmail and Linux, which had been free from the start. They had also started off incredibly small, with no hype whatsoever, so they had nothing to live up to. Eric couldn't have been expected to forsee all the potential problems that Netscape would face - nobody could.
#3 The initial hype and fanfare
Friday August 20th, 1999 7:50 AM
When Mozilla first happened there was an expectation that the open source community would suddenly have the entire source code to Communicator 4.x. Imagine that!
Of course this didn't happen, with Netscape instead releasing a heap of junk that was little more than an emasculated pre-alpha Communicator 5.0. Not surprisingly the inital(and considerable) open source interest evaporated away to almost nothing. It was obvious that the thing was little use to anyone. Happily, a year later and after much soul searching the situation is different. After a virtual rewrite from the ground up, today's Mozilla is a much healthier animal. It's fast, sleek, cross-platform, standards compliant and customisable. And with the end of the tortuous alpha stage in site we can look forward to the return of the developers.
People shouldn't bury Mozilla just yet.
"If you rebuild it they will come"