Eric Raymond on Mozilla
Monday November 29th, 1999
Brian King writes:
"Just want to let you know that I was at a talk last night in Trinity College, Dublin with Eric Raymond, whom we know and love as a champion of open source.
It was billed as: 'Freedom, Power and Software: What the Internet teaches us about ethics and politics'
Anyway, at one point someone from the audience brought up Mozilla and its 'failure' to try to disprove one of his points. But Eric was having none if it, proclaiming Mozilla to be 'a success', despite the delays. I won't say anymore in case I misquote him! But that was the bottom line.
It was a great talk; certainly gets you thinking."
You know, we've seen how mozilla has had delays, and how even with the delays, it's been deemed a "success"; I have to wonder if the same types of things are happening up in Redmond, if Windows 2k required a radical re-write of the software as did mozilla, if new tools had to be developed to create it, and so on.
Of course, they are two entirely different products: one being a cross-platform browser and another being a written -to -the -metal operating system.
But it makes me wonder if MS actually hoped to get W2k out by 4q99 and then failed, as opposed to just promising 4q99 all the while knowing it would take much, much longer.
Hi. I'm not to defend anything MacroHard but I don't think it helps bringing your point across with references to supposed (or even actual) failures of MS's own failures.
So my point is this: Mozilla (as any other OS product) can stand on it's own merits better than with irrelevant (or untrue - W2K should become gold in December - at least according to MS) facts about any competitor.
Here's one key difference between Mozilla's delays and W2k's delays: Microsoft keeps slashing W2k features, yet the release date continutes to slip. Mozilla's release was delayed BECAUSE of the wealth of features they decided to implement.
#6 Openness == Forgiveness
Tuesday November 30th, 1999 1:52 PM
I would I don't think outsider views have much to do with intentions. Although MS marketing is probably in there to make sure the correct things are not supported - I really doubt that any MS developers purposely write bad code. Of course they are subject to the same types of delays as any other projects.
The real key is the openness. If Mozilla had never happened and this was all a closed-netscape endevour we'd be bitching more about Netscape's delays than Win2000. The differences is that because Mozilla is so public, people can understand what's happened, and in turn forgive. We can see that happening in the media even: All the bad press mozilla's been getting lately are invariably from people who haven't checked anything out at all - they don't know much about it so they go "hey, it's late. it must be a failure" While all the good press tends to be from those who have actually investigated.
And with such open development, a software's promised features become a bit more than vapour ware - people can actually look and find out the state of a particular vapour and get an idea for themselves when exactly it'll solidify.
#2 Eric Raymond on Mozilla
Monday November 29th, 1999 7:22 PM
The MPL and Open Source as a whole is great, and Mozilla's apparent success can always be found in the nightly builds. It's good to see that people are backing up mozilla. Too often I've heard people bash mozilla based on the fact that M3 sucked. Many people base the failure of Mozilla on the bugginess of the PRE-ALPHA versions in the milestone builds.
There are still some, mostly performance and visual issues which significantly hurt Mozilla. When you drag the splitter, it moves under content. When a page loads or you resize something, things may freeze up for seconds at a time. The visuals are full of small things that look bad. The "return" icon on the default "OK" button which looks totally out of place. The "notebook tabs" that lets's you flip between tabs in screens with several panels (the tabs look like normal buttons -> like a cheap hack). 20 different types of trees with different margins and different performance. 20 different types of table-widgets which are all equally slow (try resizing the columns). Scrollbars that don't reflect the size of the actual content (probably not the scrollbar's fault). REALLY bad mail-news performance. Bad layout performance compared to IE5.01..
Mozilla shows a lot of promise, but there are also lots of things that haven't improved much lately.
Sure, it's not a final product, but how much can it be optimized? Mail-news for instance, needs to become 10x as fast as it's now. This is true for the UI as well.
Meanwhile, we await the 100% standards complient IE6..
>Meanwhile, we await the 100% standards complient IE6..
I hope that's a joke, or you're gonna be waiting a LONG time.
For two reasons: Reason 1 is that MS has given us no reason (other than press releases, which are notoriously inaccurate at MS) to believe that they would support standards 100%. Reason 2 is that the Platform Preview (roughly equivalent to one step in front of beta in MS-speak) for IE 5.5 was just released on the Microsoft Developer Network yesterday, indicating that there's no IE 6.0 in the near future.
As for the layout performance, it dwarfs IE 5.01's. It just doesn't look that way because of the untuned incremental reflow code. Vidur and Nisheeth are working on fixes which Nisheeth is confident will totally alleviate the reflow issue. The rest of the issues are being dealt with in like fashion. Trees particularly are being beaten, bloodied, and beaten again by Hyatt, which in turn improves mail/news performance. Ender (the Composer and form widget backend) is getting similar performance overhauls. The speed-up will be dramatic once the engineers can focus solely on speed and bug-fixing rather than feature implementation.
I'm proud of the Mozilla team. Of course they are doing a fantastic job, but I'm actually more proud of them for not quitting due to all of the negativity and FUD which is constantly surfacing concerning the incredible endeavour which they have undertaken. I think many of their detractors just don't understand what goes into such a large project especially when much (if not all) of the communication for the development takes place across the Internet. If anything, I think their "sticktoitiveness" shows the real power of Open Source development. I'm highly anticipating the release of their browser. It has tremendous potential for huge impact on the software world because it's method of development isn't supposed to be to work and when they finally release their remarkable piece of software, a lot of people are going to be eating their words. Quite frankly I'm really looking forward to it. It reminds me a lot of when Linux was just beginning to get big about a year and a half ago. Many of my friends, colleagues and co-workers were saying "Linux schminux". Well, they are eating their words on a daily basis as Linux constantly proves its detractors wrong. I have the same feeling about the Mozilla project. I for one can't wait! Keep up the great work guys!
Good point - Linux was "nowhere" and was apparenly going "nowhere" now it's gathering quite a bit of (non vapourware) momentum - several high quality hardware makers and major IT firms (IBM SGI) and its own well capitalized (RedHat) developpers.
Mozilla will likely "surprise" people in a similar way - it won't surprise us though ...