FOSDEM III: Mozilla

One of the developer teams at FOSDEM was the Mozilla project. I stayed with them for a while and listened to what they have to say and to announce. First of all, it was apparent that the crowd was really proud of what has been achieved so far. This is no surprise: Firefox is taking the market by storm and is about to make life for Microsoft significantly harder. Thunderbird is about to do the same for the e-mail market but here is an even longer path ahead before we will see results.

The deal with Google (putting the default start page of Firefox on their servers) is a win-win situation. Google gets the hits, Mozilla gets the money. The Mozilla project significantly earns from this relationship and has engaged a long list of new employees recently because of this new income. Click a link, sponsor a programmer. Supporting open source was never easier. Apparently, around 80% of the users stay with the preconfigured start page. So this might work out fine in the end.

On the technical side, more consolidation seems to lay ahead. The “Mozilla 2.0” effort is about to change the foundation of most Mozilla apps to provide an even more solid and flexible “kernel” for the applications. This might translate in more consistent behavior, smaller apps and more OS integration but I am not holding my breath for the Mac. Mozilla’s Macintosh support has been a nightmare from day one and while Firefox has improved on this, it’s still far away from where it could be. This is a result of focus (Linux, BSD and of course Windows are primary targets) and man-power (not enough Mac hackers available) which seems obvious. So there is nothing to complain about in general. It’s getting better all the time…

Talking about the Mac: the presentation of the Camino team was quite interesting and I decided to go for a current nightly build to check out the new features. I have been using the tool two years ago but quit due to technical problems and the emergence of Safari. So what shall I say? I was blown away! Not in terms of features – Firefox, Safari and OmniWeb all have much more to offer – but in terms of speed! The perceived velocity is around 200% to 300% compared to the other options. No delays, straight and compliant rendering and very good Mac OS X integration. Stunning. I have switched to Camino as my default browser for a week to see how this works out under heavy usage. But this small app is a beauty and it’s by far the best integration of Gecko on the Mac.

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