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Mozilla's Nightingale: Why Firefox Still Matters 260

An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla could be heading into an open confrontation with its rivals Google, Apple and Microsoft as browsers evolve into platforms. Mozilla's director of Firefox engineering John Nightingale gave some insight on the past, present, and future of Mozilla and outlined why Firefox still matters. While Mozilla is accused of copying features from other browsers, the company says the opposite is the case. Nightingale says that a future Firefox will give a user much more control over what he does on the Internet and that Mozilla plans on competing with the ideal of an open web against siloed environments." Chrome may have a nice interface and be a bit faster than Firefox's rendering engine, but if Firefox failed as a project I'd miss its Emacs-like extensibility (something all other browsers lack).
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Mozilla's Nightingale: Why Firefox Still Matters

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  • Re:Money from Google (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BZ ( 40346 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @02:37PM (#37035518)

    > If Google pulls out in favor of Chrome, you have to
    > ask what will happen.

    You can ask... or you could look up the answers.

    The 2010 data is not out yet, but the 2009 numbers are at [] which means you don't have to worry about citing 2006 numbers.

    As of 2009, Mozilla had $120 million in net assets. Expenses in 2009 were $61 million. Revenues were $104 million. They were hiring as fast as they could find good people, and earning more money than they could spend. They had 2 years worth of operating costs in the bank. All of this is public data, as it is for any other nonprofit.

    So if trends continued in that revenue and expenses grew at the same percentage rate, and if you assume that Google is still 85% of their revenue stream (the data on that doesn't seem to be available), what would happen if Google pulled out is that Mozilla would have about 2.3 years to find funding sources to replace that revenue. Assuming they kept spending as much as they do now in the meantime instead of trying to stretch the money out.

    On the other hand, you also have to wonder what the bottom line for Google would be from 20-30% of internet users not having Google as the default search engine anymore, say. And if that were a possibility, why Google would want to risk that.

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @03:50PM (#37036422)

    XULRunner didn't take off because of a couple things.

    Its just too much of a bitch to get started. Its not hard, its just slow and tedious as you spend 90% of your time googling and pulling in bits of information from all over the web in order to finally get a working XULRunner package. The Mozilla documentation is out of date, in multiple ways. You can see that some bits have been updated, but they aren't current, just newer than some other things. Never can you find any current documentation, unless you consider poor people stumbling through it and sharing their work on newsgroups to be documentation. I certainly don't.

    Too fat. Simple apps take too much. Too much of a download for something simple. In theory you only need it once for all apps but ... see below.

    Bad integration with the OS due to chaotic API. The API is constantly in massive flux, you can pretty much rest assured that any moderately complex app is going to have hacks for EVERY damn version of XULRunner, FORGET supporting nightly builds, you might be able to bounce off an installed firefox or thunderbird installation, which limits the number of releases you're trying to hit, but there are still far too many to cope with, so that means ... you ship your XULRunner app with a known good XULRunner. Hope the user doesn't update it to fix security issues!

    Because of the above, getting an xulrunner package to download and double click to run doesn't work for crap if the user tries to use another one as well, unless maybe you're doing in house apps that share the same XULRunner version compatibilities. Good luck with that, we found that two internal teams working on seperate based XULRunner apps couldn't/wouldn't keep themselves in sync just cause it wasn't work it. Should they waste several hours of time validating code every time someone wants to bump to a newer version of XULRunner for some feature, or ship another 20-60 megs of course instead? Well, the only intelligent choice at face value is to waste disk space since its not an immediate cost.

    The update mechanism is a couple clusterfuck as well, thanks to various bits of half implemented features.

  • by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @03:58PM (#37036484)
    "A few clicks"? Here's the process i went through to get Firefox4+ looking like the old style Firefox i want. Note first of all that i'm not sure this list is complete, the last time i needed to use it i found that i'd missed a couple steps. I think i wrote them down at the time, but i can't be sure of that. Also, it's still not perfect. The status bar in particular is still a little wonky.

    - Menu, Navigation
    - Turn off Tabs on Top

    - General: Always ask me where to save

    - Status-4-Evar 2011.07.20.21
    - New Tabs at the End 1.0 (not always necessary? Why not?)
    - Menu Editor 1.2.7
    - Firefox 3 Theme for Firefox 4.0
    - Switch to Tab No More 1.0
    - Active Stop Button 1.4.9
    - Back/forward dropmarker 1.0
    - Remove New Tab Button 1.0
    - Stylish 1.2

    Right-click on toolbar->Customize
    Move home/stop buttons (currently have to put stop before reload, or they'll merge)
    Make sure "Icons" and "Use Small Icons" are selected

    // Remove "Tab Groups" from tab list
    {display: none !important; }

    That's a bit more than "a few clicks" and enough that i think a "classic" version of Firefox would be justifiable. Not to mention the risk that at any future upgrade they could re-break one of these fixes, or break something entirely new, possibly in a way that can't be easily corrected with just "a few clicks."

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley