Phoenix from the, well, you know
The Firefox project was originally known as Phoenix, a standalone open source browser rising from the ashes of Netscape. The project was launched in early April 2002, but its roots trace back to 1997, when Netscape released its Communicator suite as open source software - before anyone called it open source software.
When Netscape's code went free, Asa Dotzler was among the first to file a bug report. And by 2000, after helping to build a thriving community of testers, he'd landed a job with the Netscape-backed Mozilla Organization, well before the outfit morphed into a standalone not-for-profit.
"I had always had some interest in the free software community, but I couldn't stand Linux. I was a Mac user and it was abhorrent to me," he remembers. "But here was a product I did use - the Communicator suite - and I said to myself: 'I should get involved somehow.'"
In those days, Mozilla's efforts centered around the development of the suite as a whole - a package that included not only a browser but several other online tools, including email, chat, and html editing. But two years later, Dotzler and a small group of developers launched another project on the side.
The group had worked on Camino - nee Chimera - a standalone browser that wrapped Netscape's Gecko rendering engine in a Macintosh front-end, and they soon decided to do something similar using Mozilla's front-end language: XUL.
Enter the Phoenix.
The Mozilla brain trust set aside some space in the source code repository, and within three or four months, Dotzler says, ten to fifteen thousand people had tried the thing.
The browser wants to be alone
In those days, Microsoft controlled 95 per cent of the browser market, a lead so large that the Borg actually disbanded its IE development team following the release of Internet Explorer 6 in 2001. The only way to chip away at Microsoft's seemingly unassailable position, Dotzler and crew soon realized, was through a standalone browser - not a suite bogged down with all sorts of other stuff.
"We were looking and saying 'No one is really taking browsers seriously,'" he says. "The only way to have an impact, to make something that was going to get millions of users, was to attract Internet Explorer users, and they didn't want or need to move over to a large suite of applications. We wanted to let them keep their email client or chat client and just give them a browser."
By the time the Mozilla Foundation was founded in 2003 - a way of saving the project from a sinking Netscape - the organization's focus had shifted from the original Mozilla suite to Phoenix. Firefox 1.0 was released on November 9, 2004, and in the five years since, the open source browser has reclaimed nearly a quarter of the market.
Based on the number of security updates downloaded each month, Dotzler and Mozilla estimate their browser boasts roughly 330 million active users - plus or minus 10 or 20 million.
Microsoft is still the market beast, with a nearly 65 per cent share. But Mozilla has proven that despite Redmond's grip on the desktop operating system market, an alternative browser can succeed - in spades. And in doing so, it forced Microsoft into (at least partially) updating Internet Explorer for a modern internet.
Next page: Google? 'It's awkward'
That Mozilla guy´s are so busy looking at their belly buttons and how well Chrome is doing on it´s dawn that they are forgetting what their goal was .
Make a decent browser.... maybe?
I in particular do not use FF because of ideals, I use it because objectively for me is a better means (tool) to an end, but not an end on itself and not an ideal internet which for good or bad doesn't exists.
Firefox offers such a random experience depending on which computer and OS you run it, that the only reason 90% of the true FF users stick to it are the extensions.
FF on itself is useless without Firebug, Adblock plus, noscript and the rest.
Give me a build of Chrome with extension support and at least adblock plus or Noscript and I'm entirely sold.
Lately it is as if only the FF guys care is to copycat MS´s and Chrome interfaces, as if they do not care about their product and think the competition´s product is better.
IMHO they should care not too much about how the product looks like (up to a point of course) and they should care more about how the product performs, and then worrying about cosmetic.
a good cold war
Anything that pushes Mozilla to fix their overengineered, bloated, slow, hard to code on/with core, Gecko is a good thing (thanks webkit). Both have even pushed M$ to actually fix IE to be somewhat friendly to web standards so all the better for this one good war. Still Gecko is a monstrosity renderer core these days and I seen perhaps even Firefox moving to a heavily modified Webkit core within several years.
Read the news much?
"Marketing is such a revolting industry."
"where the users of the web become consumers of content who sit in front of commercial advertising all day long and have no control over their experience"
"blah blah blah"
Right. So ads are the soulless evil preying on the planet. Nothing else wrong with the planet, nope. No hunger, wars, human rights violations, global warming. And websites are free to run, 'cuz like... information wants to be free. Joe Blow writes incisive articles about Outer Mongolia steppe erosion, no need to pay anyone's salary.
As a user I wish FF would stick to trimming its memory footprint and speeding up JS. Not that it is a bad browser, I like it.
Targetted Google ads are fine by me:
-They are less obtrusive mostly than early do-it-yourself web masters' flashing stuff
-They are more relevant
-They presumably consume less of the web authors' time, leaving them to write up Outer Mongolian step erosion articles.
-I never really pay attention to ads anyway and I have broadband. If I cared, adblock works.
-Last but not least: I am worried when websites I rely on have no obvious revenue sources.