Mozilla is not a dragon. He is a dinosaur. Think Godzilla. Furthermore, he has no wings.

The fact that he is a dinosaur shouldn't cause any inferences on the age or obsolescence of any Netscape browser or of the Mozilla project.

The name was meant to indicate that Netscape (both the product(s) and the company) would become a ferocious beast, which would ravage the earth, and would be impossible to defeat. Some of this is true. Netscape Navigator did become a beast, and it did help ravage the earth, or at least the Web.

According to him, the name Mozilla was coined by jwz. The character was originally designed and drawn by Dave Titus, and the mascot had a strong presence in the early post-release logo and branding of the Netscape company.

The original design of Mozilla was a short, Hanna-Barbera-ish lizard, with light green skin, maroon chest scales, and blue spikes from the back of his head to the base of his tail, which was about four to five feet long itself and thick at the base. He had a large Bullwinkle-like snout with large flared nostrils, and big, cartoony, expressive eyes. He was sometimes seen breathing fire in his atypical moods of vengeance.

There is, of course, a built-in about:mozilla link in most if not all versions of the Netscape Navigator browser. The effect of this link on the UNIX versions is the best.

The Mozilla imagery was shelved by Netscape as a branding gimmick around the release of Netscape Navigator 2.0.

The ODP editorship revived the Mozilla imagery shortly after it was bought by Netscape. The images at the bottom of category pages at www.dmoz.org exhibit this.

The mascot's name has been given not only to the image of the lizard, but also to the Netscape Navigator browser, the Mozilla.Org project, and the ODP.

There is also a Book of Mozilla, of which little is available, and from which the following ominous verse comes:

"And the beast shall come forth surrounded by a roiling cloud of vengeance. The house of the unbelievers shall be razed and they shall be scorched to the earth. Their tags shall blink until the end of days."

Mozilla is the name of the open source browser created by mozilla.org, with funding and support from Netscape and its evil taskmaster, AOL. Netscape announced it was opening mozilla and founding mozilla.org on January 22, 1998, and the source was released on March 31, 1998. After more than four years of development, the long awaited version 1.0 was released on June 5, 2002. AOL has since turned over development to the Mozilla Foundation.

Mozilla attempts to be revolutionary in several ways:

  • It is open source. Mozilla wasn't the first open source browser, but it is certainly the most high profile and has the most momentum.
  • It was redesigned from the ground up. There should be a minimum of legacy cruft.
  • It is standards compliant. It attempts to match the existing standards exactly, in hopes of ending the one-upsmanship of proprietary features that has created the current mess that is the world wide web.
  • It is component-based. Microsoft deserves the credit for making COM-style component based programming mainstream, but mozilla has taken it cross platform with its XPCOM framework.
  • It has an cross platform XML-based user interface. The whole user interface is written in XUL, a type of XML, which makes it easy to customize and truly cross platform.

Mozilla and Netscape

Netscape Communicator, versions 6 and up, are based on mozilla, as are other projects such as phoenix, chimera, galeon and beonex. The new Netscape suite consists of the mozilla seamonkey framework repackaged, and bundled with extras like an integrated AIM compatible instant messenger and Netscape Radio.

Though mozilla is a complete rewrite, it mirrors the functionality of Netscape 4.x quite closely. It provides a web browser, webpage editor, and an e-mail and USENET news client, but it is missing a few minor features like roaming access, Palm synchronization and the calendaring client (though a new calendaring client based on open standards has been added recently). However, mozilla adds some useful components that Netscape never had, like an IRC client and a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) editor.

Features

Some of the features that make mozilla popular are:

  • Tabbed browsing - more that one page can be loaded into a single window and accessed by tabs at the top of the page; additionally, pages can be bookmarked together as a group of tabs
  • Image and cookie blocking - images and cookies can be blocked on a site by site basis; for example, all images and cookies from advertising sites like doubleclick.net can be banned
  • Pop-up window blocking - or more accurately, unrequested pop-up window blocking -- this feature blocks so-called pop-up ads without interfering with most web applications that open new browser windows for legitimate purposes
The mozilla name

Mozilla was also the original code name for the classic Netscape browser, and was often used by the developers to describe it. There were always small references to Mozilla in the old Netscape: the user agent string identified the browser as Mozilla, not Netscape. Of course, almost all browsers now identify themselves as Mozilla, a holdover from when websites would inspect the user agent string and only serve the coolest content to Mozilla. There were easter eggs, too; typing about:mozilla would bring up a page from the "Book of Mozilla" and change the throbber animation to a fire-breathing lizard. The name itself comes from Mosaic + Godzilla (i.e. Mosaic killer), and was coined by Jamie Zawinski (jwz) when Netscape's primary competition was Spyglass Mosaic.

Mozilla isn't actually a web browser - it's a platform. It supports writing UIs with XUL that incorporate different kinds of components (using XPCOM, which is cross-platform!).

One of the things it implements is the Navigator, which uses the Gecko (aka NGLayout) HTML rendering component. But, of course, this is not the only thing that has been implemented for the Mozilla platform. Some examples:

...and more, including completely outrageous projects like MozQuake... A nice list of different Mozilla applications can be found from http://www.mozdev.org/projects.html.

If Mozilla's automatic installation is turned on, adding applications to Mozilla is very easy - just click on download link, confirm, and it gets downloaded and installed.


Mozilla folks seem to have some obsession with Ghostbusters movie - XUL files have XML namespace "http://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul" and the JavaScript debugger is called Venkman, with motto "Don't cross the streams".


Some reasons why I like Mozilla a lot:

  • Bookmark keywords. Zillions of search engines effortlessly on the location bar! (Yes, works with E2 too. Detailed in E2-related browser tips)
  • Tabbed browsing. Helps in X11 a bit, and a great deal in Windows.
  • "Block images from this server", cookie restrictions, Javascript security policies, and that nice "no unrequested popups" option. No more annoying web advertising!
  • Gestures and - this is great - pie menus as a recent addition, both from Optimoz at mozdev.org - Great things, great things!
  • "Lo-Fi" theme. You can't get Opera, or even MSIE, to look this neat and uncluttered with same amount of money invested =)
The history of Mozilla dates back to 1993 when Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina created the first release of Mosaic, a graphical browser for the World Wide Web. The two undergraduate students from NCSA at the University of Illinois created the browser for the X Window System. Eric Bina handled the lions share of the coding, and Marc Andressen kept careful watch on the quality assurance.

After graduating from college, Marc joined forces with Silicon Graphics chairman Jim Clark to form Mosaic Communications to create the Netscape browser. The original plan was to call the product Mosaic, but it was immediately prevented by a threat of a lawsuit from the University of Illinois. The company instead chose the Netscape Communications company name, and the name Mozilla for their web browser.

In October of 1994, Netscape released verson 0.96b of the Mozilla browser. On December 15th, 1994 Netscape released Mozilla 1.0, the first commercial web browser.

A short explanation of the virtues of Mozilla in the context of Everything2.

I assert that Mozilla is the perfect tool for experiencing E2. It simply fits this environment like a glove. The tabbed browsing* is a godsend.

With some simple configuration, Mozilla opens a new tab when a link is clicked on with the middle mouse button. So if you are reading a long write-up, and you come across a link that sounds interesting, just click it with the middle mouse button. The link is opened up and loaded in a new tab, behind the tab you are currently reading. When you are done reading, you close the current tab to expose the tab beneath it.

You can continue this process seemingly forever. There will always be fresh write-ups in new tabs beneath your current working tab. And as you read those tabs, you will open new ones. This could ruin your life.

Additionally, you keep all of your E2 browsing in one window. There's only one Mozilla entry on the task bar, no matter how many write-ups you have open, so no more juggling dozens of browser windows. This makes node browsing at work much less conspicuous.

Finally, there are grouped bookmarks. With Mozilla you can create bookmarks composed of several tabs. So when you select that bookmark, a group of links is opened up into several different tabs. You could create a bookmark group composed of your homenode, E2 Scratch Pad, HTML Symbol Reference, Reference Desk, E2 Source Code Formatter, Text Formatter, and whatever utility nodes you may need quick access to, or any other nodes, utility or not, or any other websites at all for that matter.

If you've never even tried Mozilla, you should at least give it a shot. With a few minutes of open-minded adaptation, you will likely come to love it. Most of the people I have convinced to try Moz have eventually converted to Moz completely. Even if you don't choose it for all of your web needs, it will at least improve your E2 experience.


*For a more thorough explanation of tabbed browsing, see other write-ups in this node. Or wait until I create a new node devoted entirely to the subject.

On April 3, 2003, mozilla.org announced the largest shift in their development roadmap since the decision to scrap the worn Netscape Communicator codebase and begin anew with Gecko and XPFE. The basic points are:

  1. Switch Mozilla's default browser component from the XPFE-based Navigator to the standalone Mozilla Firefox browser.
    Firefox has been shown to be significantly faster and lighter in all respects, and as development continues it continues to speed up and thin down. Its robust extension support is much more usable and versatile than Mozilla's, and it doesn't have with every possibly-useful feature built into it like Mozilla does. The interface is also simpler, partly because Firefox is only a browser and not an application suite, and partly because of the decisions of the Mozilla Firebird team, which were much freer from inertia than those which produced the Mozilla Navigator interface. The Preferences dialog especially highlights this.

  2. Develop further the standalone mail companion application to Mozilla Firefox already begun as Minotaur, but based on the new XUL toolkit used by Firefox (this variant has been codenamed Thunderbird).
    The same rationales which apply to the browser apply to the mail client. The only real difference is that while the standalone XUL browser is already feature-complete and usable, the standalone XUL mail client is in its infancy. The plan is for Thunderbird to hook into Firefox as an extension if the user desires.

  3. Deliver a Mozilla 1.4 milestone that can replace the 1.0 branch as the stable development path, then move on to make riskier changes during 1.5 and 1.6. The major changes after 1.4 involve switching to Firefox and Thunderbird, and working aggressively on the next two items.
    There is a perception that the year-old and static 1.0 milestone is significantly behind the times. This is bolstered by mozilla.org's own recommendation that people not committed to the 1.0 branch use 1.3 instead. A new stability point will give third party developers a chance to use all of the improvements to the Mozilla core without having to track the sometimes hazardous trunk, and frees up the Mozilla developers to make major changes.

  4. Fix crucial Gecko layout architecture bugs, paving the way for a more maintainable, performant, and extensible future.
    Many ideas were integrated into Gecko early on that have been proven to be dead ends. They have persisted because other code was built on top of it assuming many of its quirks. It is also divided up in ways that do not improve its modularity, resulting in a system that is more opaque, rather than less.

  5. Continue the move away from an ownership model involving a large cloud of hackers with unlimited CVS access, to a model, more common in the open source world, of vigorously defended modules with strong leadership and clear delegation, a la NSPR, JavaScript, Gecko in recent major milestones, and Firefox.
    Mozilla is a very large project, and like other large projects a certain 'decomposition' of the development process would help to streamline things. Since I am a user and not a developer, further explanation would be better found on the Mozilla web page.

This re-architecting of the Mozilla suite will bring many changes to the project. The other parts of the SeaMonkey suite, including Composer, the Calendar, Chatzilla, and the DOM Inspector have had to find their own way through alll this. Composer and Calendar have been split into separate applications (outside the mozilla.org umbrella) as Nvu and Mozilla Sunbird, respectively, while Chatzilla has been re-released as a Mozilla Firefox extension. Mozilla Firefox itself had to be ported to Mac OS X, to replace the Mozilla suite for that system. This bold new move by the Mozilla developers should result in a lighter and more usable Mozilla application.

The Mozilla roadmap is found at http://www.mozilla.org/roadmap.html .


This writeup is released into the public domain by D.G. Roberge.

You and Your Middle Mouse Button

Mozilla has some behavior differences across platforms. One of the most noticeable differences for those of us who appreciate tabbed browsing is the behavior of the middle mouse button. By default, on Windows and OS X, depressing the middle mouse button over a tab will close that tab.

Among those I've asked, this behavior becomes very ingrained, and when switching back and forth between Windows and Linux machines, it is cause for great consternation. It doesn't work right. This is due to a user interface tradition. User interfaces work best if they're consistent. When was the last time you used a program that wouldn't copy with Ctrl-C or paste with Ctrl-V? (Substitute Command-C/Command-V on OS X.) When did you last double click on a word and not have that select it? So one would think it best if Mozilla worked the same everywhere, with middle click closing tabs.

But, on Linux, in X11 in general, middle click means paste. And Mozilla wasn't about to change that. So when you middle click, regardless of where on the screen, over a tab or no, the current clipboard is pasted to the location bar, and loaded. "That's not what I meant!" Annoying, but I learned to type Ctrl-W more often, which also closes a tab, and works consistently on all platforms.

But there's a better way. The setting middlemouse.contentLoadURL controls this behavior. Change this boolean value to false, and your middle mouse button will close tabs. Once more, your middle mouse button will continue to work for pasting into text fields.

Mozilla 1.4 or Greater

Starting with Mozilla 1.4, about:config allowed direct editing of preferences. This is useful for preferences which 'exist' but can't actually be changed in the normal Edit->Preferences dialog box. To change this setting, type about:config into your location bar. Now, click on the list*, type 'mi', and it should scroll down to the preference 'middlemouse.contentLoadURL'. Double-click on the preference and type 'false'. Hit 'Ok'. The setting should immediately take effect and automatically save.

(*) A digression. Formally speaking, Mozilla calls that list a tree. You can add and remove columns by clicking on the little box and arrow thingy as well as sort by any of the columns by clicking on the appropriate column heading. This complex widget courtesy of XUL.

Mozilla prior to 1.4

Since you can't change values in about:config in earlier versions of Mozilla, this is slightly harder. First, close all running Mozilla windows. Now find your user preference file users.js. The location of this file varies, but for me it can be found in ~/.mozilla/default/922do5t4.slt/. Typing find ~/. -name "prefs.js" on the command line will likely show you the location of this file. (This is not a good idea if you're root.) Open that file and insert a line containing user_pref("middlemouse.contentLoadURL", false);. Now, restart Mozilla and the change should take effect.

Middle Click to Paste

There is a related setting named middlemouse.paste which controls whether middle-clicking pastes in text fields, including the location bar. Again, this behavior is turned on by default in X11 versions of Mozilla and off in Windows versions of Mozilla. For the adventurous, this option can be turned on for that truly Linux-like experience on more stable legal commercial operating systems.

References

  1. "Mozilla Bug 110090 - provide edit field in about:config...", http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=110090, Accessed 2004 Mar 04
  2. "Mozilla 1.4 Rough Changelog", http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/one-dot-four-changelog.html, references Bug 110090, Accessed 2004 Mar 04
  3. "Mozilla FAQ for Linux Users", Copyright R.K.Aa., 2002 Feb 23, http://www.mozilla.org/docs/end-user/dark-mozilla-faq.html, Accessed 2004 Mar 04
  4. A few running copies of Mozilla to play with including "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.2.1) Gecko/20030225" and "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.4.1) Gecko/20031114"

Being the story of how the Mozilla web browsers came to be

The World Wide Web began when Tim Berners-Lee brought out the first web browser and web server, in between hunting and gathering food and fending off velociraptors. This was the distant past of 1991, and society was so primitive that you actually had to go to an adult bookstore to purchase Interracial Anal Lesbians VI. The arrival of the web meant one thing — no longer would some guy working at a porn shop know your innermost perversions. Instead, the only people who knew about your interest in Japanese schoolgirls and their sexy, sexy feet would be the good folks at the NSA. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

It wasn't until 1993, with the release of the Mosaic web browser, that the web started to become popular. Mosaic was developed by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. The development team was led by a young undergraduate named Marc Andreessen, and it was the first widely available web browsers for Windows, and the first for the platform that allowed pornographic images to be displayed inline, rather than in a separate window. This is a feature we take for granted today, but at the time Mosaic was first written, this ability to combine graphics and text was new and exciting and it took the world by storm, if by world you mean the tiny handful of nerds who had internet access.

Mosaic was also, like many early web browsers, given away free for non-commercial use, and while it wasn't open source as we know it today, the source code for it could be obtained by signing a non-disclosure agreement. After he graduated, Marc Andreessen went to work in California, where he and a few others founded the Mosaic Communications Corporation. The NCSA requested that the company change its name, so it was renamed the Netscape Communications Corporation. The company's explicit goal was to develop a web browser that would unseat Mosaic, and so they went to work on Netscape Navigator.


And the beast shall come forth surrounded by a roiling cloud of vengeance. The house of the unbelievers shall be razed and they shall be scorched to the earth. Their tags shall blink until the end of days.
                 from The Book of Mozilla, 12:10

Mosaic Killer

And what's the most important part of developing software? Why, the mascot, of course. And thus was Mozilla born. His name came from "Mosaic Killer", doubtless influenced by the name 'Godzilla'; he was a dinosaur and he became a popular image for t-shirts and posters in the Netscape offices. In the early months of Netscape's development, the little dude also appeared in the documentation pages for the software, but by the time Netscape 1.0 was released, the developers decided he wasn't corporate enough to make public appearances.

But Mozilla was hidden inside the browser nonetheless. Part of the web protocol requires the browser to identify itself to the server it's requesting a web page from. Netscape identified itself as "Mozilla", and many web servers would serve different content to Netscape than to other browsers, as Netscape was the leader in adding things like Javascript and cookies to its browser. Some people protested Netscape's attempt to remake the web's standards, but by the time Netscape 2.0 came out in 1995, it was popular enough among the rapidly-growing population of the web that they could pull off that kind of shit. Things were looking good for Netscape. During the mid-nineties, it was by far the most popular web browser around. In fact, as I remember, it was really the only web browser I ever saw anyone use. The prophecy of the Book of Mozilla — you can see it by typing "about:mozilla" in the location bar of any Mozilla-based browser — was rapidly coming to pass.


Lost my legs in the Browser War

That whole interweb thing was really starting to catch on. Even non-nerds started to recognize just how awesome it was to have porn delivered right into your house. And the good folks in Redmond decided they wanted in on the action. So, naturally, they put their massive in-house talent to work crafting a quality web browser. Ha ha! I kill me! Actually, they licensed a little-known browser called Spyglass Mosaic (so named because, like the first version of Netscape, it was inspired by the Mosaic browser.) The year was 1995, and the Browser War began. Netscape had the major initial advantage — at that time, they controlled almost the entire market. And they had extended the functionality of the web far beyond the official HTML standards, as mentioned above, to create a richer but more proprietary web experience. So Internet Explorer had some catching up to do.

But it wasn't until IE 3.0, released in August 1996, that Microsoft had a browser remotely comparable to Netscape. Version 3 finally supported frames, plug-ins, Microsoft's Javascript knockoff (Jscript), and other features that had made the web richer for Netscape 2.0 users. Both browsers came out with 3.0 versions nearly simultaneously, and Internet Explorer even had a bit of a technological edge — some support for cascading style sheets, which would eventually become an integral part of web design, finally vindicated in the eyes of the masses with the release of E2's zen theme.

This is when the Browser War began in earnest. Releasing Internet Explorer for free wasn't enough, as Netscape was already available for free. So Microsoft started bundling it, leading to the eventual antitrust suit filed by the U.S. government. IE 3.0 was included for free with later versions of Windows 95, giving them a substantial leg up on the competition. Windows 98 not only included IE 4.0, but tied it in so tightly with the operating system that it could only be removed with the help of third-party tools. At this point, Netscape still held the majority of the market but their hold was weakening — 72% of web users used Netscape, while 18% used Internet Explorer. IE 4.0 continued to improve on its predecessors, and was faster and (surprisingly) more standards-compliant than Netscape 4.0. This was the beginning of the end for Netscape.

An interesting footnote is that Internet Explorer also identified itself to web servers as "Mozilla" in order to ensure that IE users were delivered the same richer content that was served to Netscape users. This use of their competitor's mascot in the browser's internals continues to this day.


The rise of that big blue lower-case 'e'

Microsoft never came up with a mascot for its browser as cool as Mozilla, but the late 90s were good to Internet Explorer nonetheless. There was a lot at stake; the web was becoming an integral part of people's lives and it was a pretty good bet that this trend would to continue. Microsoft was a bit late to the party — Bill Gates later admitted, "Sometimes we do get taken by surprise. For example, when the Internet came along, we had it as a fifth or sixth priority." (Incidentally, though, he never said that 640 kilobytes of memory should be enough for anybody.) While Microsoft was a tad later out of the gate than Netscape, it quickly proved to be a capable competitor.

And they used all the resources they had — not only had Microsoft actually developed a piece of software as good as their competitors', but the company also used its market force to its advantage. I've already mentioned the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows, which gave consumers little reason to go looking for another browser basically equal in its abilities. The FrontPage web authoring program was made part of the ubiquitous Microsoft Office application bundle, and its buggy output was often only viewable in Internet Explorer, furthering the division of the web into Netscape and Internet Explorer sections. Microsoft also worked out a deal with Apple to bundle IE with their computers, and a similar deal made it the default web browser for AOL. AOL's purchase of the Netscape corporation at the end of 1998 could have been a boost for the browser, except that AOL continued to use IE as its web browser. The use of another company's product rather than their own in their software was perhaps not a strong vote of confidence in Netscape. By the end of the 90s, Netscape was no longer a serious competitor.


And the beast shall be made legion. Its numbers shall be increased a thousand thousand fold. The din of a million keyboards like unto a great storm shall cover the earth, and the followers of Mammon shall tremble.
                 from The Book of Mozilla, 3:31

Netscape 5.0

Seeing the writing on the wall, in early 1998, the Netscape Corporation released the source code to their browser as an open source project, which meant that anyone could contribute to it and the software was given away freely. The about:mozilla text was changed by Netscape's programmers to reflect its move to open-source development. Meanwhile Internet Explorer 5.0 was released in early 1999, and it featured improved support for style sheets, scripting, non-Latin writing systems, and so on. Back at Netscape, the company continued with development of the Netscape 4.0 base, though it was increasingly recognized as inadequate and outdated. So they decided that Netscape 5.0 would be based on a complete rewrite, starting with the new Gecko rendering engine. The rendering engine is the component that turns HTML into a display on your screen, and the preview released in late 1998 was quick and capable, and people assumed a browser based upon it could not be far behind. And time was of the essence!

So the Netscape people, now assisted by volunteers, snapped into action, and released a new version of Netscape only two years later. Yep, that's right — two whole years. A complete rewrite of a large piece of software takes time — time that permitted Microsoft to complete its domination of the web browser market. Mozilla was now the name used for the development version of Netscape, and like Netscape 4 it was a suite of applications, including a browser, an email client, a newsgroup client, and an IRC client. It was decided to skip Version 5 and call the new product Netscape 6.0. It was released in December 2000. But the wait was worth it! Oh, wait, no it wasn't. Netscape 6.0 was godawful. It was unattractive, slow, ugly, buggy, hideous, and it crashed. A lot. Also, it didn't look very nice. Those of us who stubbornly refused to use Internet Explorer ended up sighing and going back to Netscape 4.5.

But the developers, still largely AOL-Time Warner employees, kept on. And in August 2001, they released Netscape 6.1. And, as it turns out, Netscape 6.1 was pretty good. Internet Explorer 6.0 had been released in March of that year, and Netscape 6.1 was probably the better product — it was smaller, substantially faster, and had better support for style sheets. But being an arguably superior piece of technology wasn't really enough; by this point, most everyone used Internet Explorer, and a substantial portion of the web population was new enough that they didn't even remember Netscape.


The dinosaur roars and stomps on stuff

The Mozilla browser was initially not particularly intended for public consumption. It was meant as a development product, given away freely to computer geeks, its purpose to spawn new versions of the Netscape web browser. Mozilla started to catch on, though. It had cool features like tabbed browsing and pop-up blocking long before they made it into Netscape. "Prerelease" versions of Mozilla were quite usable and growing in popularity, and Mozilla 1.0 was finally released in June, 2002.

Soon after, work started on a slimmer version of Mozilla, a smaller piece of software that sacrificed features few people used in order to be smaller, speedier, and more useful on low-end equipment. With Mozilla's support for "extensions", small bits of software that users can download separately to add features or modify the workings of the browser, the goal came to create a browser that only did what each user needed, sparing them the features (and accompanying bloat) that they didn't need.


And so at last the beast fell and the unbelievers rejoiced. But all was not lost, for from the ash rose a great bird. The bird gazed down upon the unbelievers and cast fire and thunder upon them. For the beast had been reborn with its strength renewed, and the followers of Mammon cowered in horror.
                 from The Book of Mozilla, 7:15

A phoenix rises from the ashes

By the time Mozilla 1.0 came out, Netscape wasn't a particularly useful brand for AOL anymore. Few people used the browser, so there weren't many revenue possibilities associated with it. The open source community increasingly handled the product's development, and finally, in July, 2003, AOL decided to end the Netscape division entirely. The same day, the Mozilla Foundation was formed as a non-profit to direct future development of the Mozilla Suite; AOL donated all of Netscape's intellectual property and $2 million to the project.

The new, slimmer browser, named Phoenix, was the focus of the Mozilla Foundation's efforts, and new text from the Book of Mozilla was included in the entire product family starting in September, 2003 to reflect it. Phoenix was renamed Mozilla Firebird due to trademark issues, and then in 2004 it became Mozilla Firefox due to other trademark issues. As with Mozilla, prerelease versions were widely used before it went 1.0 in November, 2004. Firefox grew in popularity, eroding away at Internet Explorer's userbase due to its innovative features and relative invulnerability to security exploits. By the end of 2006, around 14% of the public was using Firefox, and Internet Explorer's share had fallen to less than 80%.

The Gecko rendering engine, being open source, is used in numerous other software products. In addition, AOL is still releasing versions of Netscape, though they're not remotely popular. Internet Explorer 7.0, the first new version of the browser in several years, incorporates pop-up blocking and tabbed browsing, no doubt in reaction to the popularity of Firefox; meanwhile, Microsoft has lately made overtures to the Mozilla folks, offering help to ensure its compatibility with Windows Vista.


References

Net Applications: Browser Share (http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?qprid=0)
CNet News: Microsoft offers helping hand to Firefox (http://news.com.com/Microsoft+offers+helping+hand+to+Firefox/2100-1032_3-6109455.html)
Mozilla (http://www.mozilla.org/)
MozillaZine (http://www.mozillazine.org/)
Inside Firefox: Where Did Firefox Come From? (http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/ben/archives/009698.html)
CNet News: Gates, Buffett a bit bearish (http://news.com.com/2100-1023-212942.html)
U-G-L-Y / You ain't got no alibi / You ugly! (A picture of Netscape 6.0)
The History of Mozilla Firefox: From Phoenix, to Firebird, to Firefox (http://www.flexbeta.net/main/printarticle.php?id=89)
Wikipedia
Being a big nerd

Thanks to unperson for catching an error on my part and even digging up a quote for me.

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