Firefox devs ask navels when to curtail Mac OS support
'I don't want to be worrying about 10.4 until 2012'
Firefox developers are considering ditching support for Mac OS X 10.4 sometime after the organisation ships its successor to Firefox 3.5 next year, despite accepting that users will be "pissed off" about the move.
The debate, first flagged by ComputerWorld, is playing out in the Mozilla planning forum here.
Mozilla's Josh Aas ventures, "I'd still like to drop support for Mac OS X 10.4 in Gecko 1.9.2, I don't want to be worrying about 10.4 until 2012." He notes that this would put Mozilla on a par with Apple's own timeline for Safari support.
"I think dropping 10.4 support in 1.9.2 will allow us to make the most efficient use of our resources and focus on quality and performance for the vast majority of the users we'll have in 2011," he argues.
One user objects to the proposal, saying he's missed out on new features before because of Apple's upgrade policy, and notes that Firefox is still supporting XP. "Suffice to say, I will be very disappointed if I can't upgrade to Firefox 3.6 or Firefox 4 next year."
Firefox's Daniel Veditz notes, though, "Is that a Firefox problem or just what you get when you buy Apple?" before adding helpfully, "You can always load Linux on that box when Apple stops supporting it."
Mozilla's Mike Connor's seems to firm up the debate, saying: "Overall I think there's a lot of technical reasons why 10.5 should be a new baseline, and the number of users is small and diminishing in any case, so I definitely support this from the Firefox side."
He accepts, "Users will be pissed off. That's just the way it works, but a huge number of apps seem to be 10.5-only these days anyway, so we're just another tree in the forest, and not even for another year or so."
The debate echoes another bout of navel gazing two weeks ago as Mozilla developers pondered how long to support Microsoft's more elderly operating systems.
There was no decision then, and it doesn't look like there'll be one anytime soon on the Mac OS X issue. But in the meantime, we all get to marvel at how transparency doesn't necessarily translate into speedy decision making. Not to mention how Linux, ultimately, will cure all technical ills. ®
Are they thinking of dropping support “after the successor to 3.5”, or in Gecko 1.9.2 (i.e. *in* the successor to 3.5)?
Either way, 3.5 itself *will* support OS X 10.4, and will be supported until late 2010 at the earliest.
The devs would support Windows 3.1 if they could, but they have limited resources, so they have to make a trade-off. Remember, this is open source—if enough people really want to see subsequent Firefoxen work on OS X 10.4, they can do the work themselves.
In my opinion, this is just what you get when you buy OS X or Windows. At some point you'll have to upgrade to continue using supported software, and when you do it'll cost cash and possibly involve new hardware.
If you really want to avoid paying for upgrades, you're going to have to use a for-free distro.
Computing patterns - and people - aren't so good at change
It's always fascinated me how the IT world is so rocked by change. From when Facebook redesigned its interface, when a service pack or operating system upgrade rolls around, it's always accompanied by the wailings and angst from those affected by the change
Everyone knows how you can remove an icon from a middle manager's toolbar and cripple his productivity until someone else can restore it. Perhaps the icon has been put somewhere more sensible? Rubbish - it's because it has CHANGED that's causing the ill.
It takes a lot of training to get up to speed on any software application. Some are of course more complex than others. When a new version is released, some retraining is needed. It's painful but necessary, and it is always appreciated when application developers take actions to mitigate this pain.
But people in IT know this to be the case. This will always happen. IT is constantly evolving in all spheres.
Why aren't we good at accepting this?
That was why I bought my first Windows box
"marc" wrote: That is why I stopped using Macs. Having to upgrade an whole OS to get the latest browser or Java release... I'd rather use Vista."
I totally understand.
Mac unsupported browsers (going back to problems with IE 5 Mac version, which had *previously* been *great* - worked just fine, nice browser, *until* certain website developers stopped supporting it - grrr!) and also lack of compatible printers was the exact reason I bought my first PC (XP Pro), whereas prior to that I'd never even touched a PC.
However even after buying the PC, I kept the Mac anyway because I didn't feel like shelling out another $600/whatever for Photoshop, $500 for big Wacom tablet and more $$ for extra Wacom pens such a stroke etc., and another minimum of $2000 to replace all my Photoshop 3rd-party plugins and another $400/whatever for Painter (Painter sucks anyway, but it had no competition, "only game in town" kinda thing)... and whatever would replace BBEdit (no equal that I've found yet, tried 'em all). I can certainly see the tempation to pirate software, although I wouldn't do it because of stability concerns.
However the Mac gets far less use these days, as gradually, slowly but surely, I'm methodically migrating things away from the Mac and towards whatever other OS is capable of handling them gracefully. I see no point in buying a newer Mac, as the Mac OS *comparatively* short life-cycle would soon put me right back where I started, everything outdated, after spending thousands of dollars to replace everything. Pointless, and I'm not rich to justify it.
Apple sort of shot itself in the foot with that, because after my first taste of Windows, I quickly came to appreciate the much longer Windows life-cycle (well for XP Pro anyway), the amount of time between having to ditch-all-the-hardware and buy all new hardware & apps which had really pissed me off on the Mac side of things after too many years of it.
Incidentally (off-topic) I also quickly found out that Windows is actually pretty nice to work with - I'm *not* talking about what's under the hood in Windows (I'll defer to the experts who say Windows is crap; they're probably right at least judging by Windows' perpetual security problems even when locked down), but just you know just talking about moving files around and browsing through cheap-n-nasty ;) Windows clipart (useful after much modification) and just normal stuff, what I see on my screen as an everyday user and the ease of setting things up, customizing the appearance, and basic simple functionality (like being able to drag-select multiple items in list view, which Ubuntu stupidly can *not* do as far as I can tell, but XP does with ease, and Macs have since at least the mid-1990s and maybe longer), and the ease of making stuff work in general. Bearing in mind I'm not all that smart these days ;) and money doesn't grow on trees either ;)