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Firefox - The Platform

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the if-it-only-had-an-ssh-client dept.

Mozilla 589

Strudelkugel writes "Business 2.0 reports Firefox is becoming a problem for Microsoft. But FF is not just a problem as a browser; its potential as a platform is significant. From the article: 'It all adds up to a business opportunity for startups, established software companies, and Web giants alike. Though Ross and the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation don't stand to make money, Firefox's open platform gives it enormous potential to hatch a new class of applications that live on the desktop but do business on the Web.'"

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589 comments

frosty (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616275)

posty

poop (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616279)

So what was the article about??? FRIST PSOT fr157 p057

no, the cat HASN'T got my tongue. (5, Insightful)

flynns (639641) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616282)

The potential for development within firefox is fairly impressive...microsoft had better be concerned.

Maybe Firefox is like the third-party candidate of browsers. Sure, it may not ever hold a dominant market share, but it will guide those who DO towards the right issues...

Re:no, the cat HASN'T got my tongue. (5, Insightful)

CanadianCrackPot (727998) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616295)

Like security, stability, and compliance with actual standards.

Re:no, the cat HASN'T got my tongue. (-1, Troll)

Valdar729 (739092) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616335)

And you could already do this with IE. I know of several business applications that run through the web, quite well in fact. Using SSL certificates you have your encryption and with ActiveX controls you can achieve single sign on.

Whether it's done on FireFox, IE, or Opera it doesn't matter because it's WEB BASED.

Re:no, the cat HASN'T got my tongue. (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616356)

"and with ActiveX controls"
There is the rub. Active X is a nasty locking that should be avoided at all costs. It locks you in to not just an OS but also an ISA.

Re:no, the cat HASN'T got my tongue. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616437)

There is the rub. Active X is a nasty locking that should be avoided at all costs. It locks you in to not just an OS but also an ISA.

so is it the concept or the implementation thats flawed ?

at the moment its not a lot different than the XPI/plugin format that FF/Moz currently employs which is just as lock-in to a browser as MSIE (OS aside)

Re:no, the cat HASN'T got my tongue. (1, Informative)

Valdar729 (739092) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616454)

ActiveX was just for SSO. You'd still need an outside program for SSO if you were using FireFox.

My point is, web based is web based. The best ones are browser independent, so touting firefox is not different than touting IE.

Re:no, the cat HASN'T got my tongue. (4, Funny)

Ploum (632141) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616442)

Maybe Firefox is like the third-party candidate of browsers.

But who are the two others ?

You must say : Firefox is the other candidate !

Re:no, the cat HASN'T got my tongue. (1)

KingPunk (800195) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616478)

you say that like the third party canidates actually go toward the "real" issues.

its completely a point of view that may others don't see.

however, you're correct about the whole firefox stuff though ;)

First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616283)

Fist Post

Re:First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616300)

her'e s anothe er fistrpsot.

Google? (4, Interesting)

sh1ftay (822471) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616296)

Though Ross and the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation don't stand to make money, Firefox's open platform gives it enormous potential to hatch a new class of applications that live on the desktop but do business on the Web.

Can you say google?

Perhaps he should have said... (1)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616486)

..."because Ross and the non-profit MF don't stand to make money..." since that sooner or later seems to drop any group's focus onto making money rather than making good software.

Bring it on! (2, Troll)

TheShadowHawk (789754) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616298)

Anything to attack Microsoft is good!

Go firefox!

Let's see:
Pro firefox - ding!
Anti MS - ding!

Good slashdot post! :)

Thank you EBERLIN!!! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616301)

I make a dash to the Slash to the D-O-T
Coz them news for nerds makes sense to me
So let this serve as a warning to the spammers and trolls
You may have a fat pipe but you ain't got bawls.

There's a new manifesto by ESR
And the stats of the watts of a hybrid car
I gots love for Perens and miguel, et al
And I voted CowboyNeal on the Slashdot Poll

I'm Microsoft bashin' like every single day
Coz the OS got holes and Exploder's teh gay
Now SCO's talkin' trash so I give firefox a ride
To reply as a Coward so I can hate on McBride

I will flame you with language I won't say to your face
And I bet you can't guess who gots all your base
There's one way to know if your server is rotting
Just post a link and you'll get a slashdotting

You can mod me down coz I'm a karma whore
And I'm a decorated veteran of a recent flame war
Where they fought about an app with a K or a G
And a heated debate on what was meant by "Free"

As a slashbot, when Linux receives a threat,
My palms begin to sweat and my evil bit is set
You best believe I'll be posting a rant
And I'll be surfin' Slashdot 'til my mom says I can't.

Re:Thank you EBERLIN!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616394)

^_____^

Firefox... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616306)

In Soviet Russia, Foxes FIRE YOU!!!!!!!!!

motherfuckers!!!!!!

Security of Online Apps a Hurdle? (4, Interesting)

spin2cool (651536) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616309)

Online applications clearly have many benefits, especially with the recent surge in broadband, but adoption and support has been slow in coming. Why is this?

Well, I think many companies are hesitant to move to online platforms, though, because they feel that it's a security risk. Putting sensitive data on a closed intranet seems safer in many ways, especially to those unfamiliar with encrpytion and other modern security measures.

Re:Security of Online Apps a Hurdle? (3, Insightful)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616428)

Well, I think many companies are hesitant to move to online platforms, though, because they feel that it's a security risk. Putting sensitive data on a closed intranet seems safer in many ways, especially to those unfamiliar with encrpytion and other modern security measures.

As someone who has a reasonable understanding of "modern security measures", I don't do any online financial stuff.

I do have a reasonable trust in the security of the data in transit. What I don't trust (yet) is the security of the transaction information once it's stored on someone else's server.
I've lost count of how many times there have been news reports of credit card info (among other things) "leaking" off some supposedly secure system. Or of some worm taking out a bank's system, or some other breach of data storage.

Nope, I'll keep moving my money around the old fasioned way for a while longer.

BZZT, you are already digital (3, Insightful)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616460)

If you really were an "expert" like you claim to be, you would know that financial services have been computerized for years. Do you use ATMs? LEt me guess, you'll lie in a response and say no just to stick to your party line, but it doesn't matter, going and dealing with the teller just means you strip off one layer of the digitization. It still happens upstream whether you like it or not.

Now let me guess you will tell me you keep it all under your mattress and don't deal with banks at all.

Huh? Who isn't online yet? (4, Interesting)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616440)

Your bank? Check. Your brokerage? Check? Your government? Check. Your doctor? No, but thats because your doctor is still using Win95 and Office 97. Once someone consolidates the IT operations of law offices and medical practices, this will happen too...the cost of handling paper records is killing these industries.

Re:Security of Online Apps a Hurdle? (5, Insightful)

aldoman (670791) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616466)

Have you ever worked in a real office before?

Most companies now use at least one IE (sadly, almost all are heavily locked into ActiveX atm) based app.

I'd guess that most of new big backoffice apps are being developed for the web now. The benefits are so big.

Firefox is what we should be focusing our attention on. Not Linux. Linux is at this stage a pipe dream on the desktop, at least for now. All Firefox needs to get is killer installs in the office, which I don't see too hard especially with the status of IE patching, and those tricky ActiveX issues can be got round with the use of an icon that opens IE only for that certain site and for the rest of the things, Firefox is the default.

But, I've thought this for a long time that Linux is harping up the wrong tree. Look how quickly FF has got hold - this is the sort of real changes OSS can do. However, I'm not undermining Linux's achievements in the server room. I think that is where it will get hold next.

Anyway, this is what I think we as an OSS 'people' should evangelize:

1) Use of Linux in the server room. Mail servers, web servers. Anywhere that it works.
2) Use of XUL in Firefox/Mozilla. Get Safari to support it.
3) Get BigVendor (tm) cooperation. Show them how XUL is really a lot better than using ActiveX, especially as Microsoft is really not a great partner to work with.
4) Watch as the books, tutorials etc for XUL gathers up. Watch the small developer presence increase.

Basically what we want is XUL/PHP/mySQL (a very strong combination) is to become the new VB. Once we have this, it's going to be a cakewalk to get Linux on the desktop everywhere. Then the hardware support jumps up, and boom, desktop too.

Good Show, Mozilla! (5, Insightful)

LegendOfLink (574790) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616313)

It's about time the Mozilla foundation is getting the recognition they deserve. As a Windows user (yes, flame me), Internet Exploder has been nothing but a giant general protection fault.

Just goes to show, when you take out competition, you get stale, passionless software. Thank you Mozilla.

Re:Good Show, Mozilla! (1)

AngryScot (795131) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616424)

Yeh I'm a Windows uer as well, please don't kill me :(

I think it's great that after all their hard work the mozilla guys are getting the credit they deserve.

let it be just a browser (4, Insightful)

xlyz (695304) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616315)

as soon a browser reach a bit of popularity, everybody seem to try to have it substitute his OS. why can't it just be a browser???

Re:let it be just a browser (5, Insightful)

SimplexO (537908) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616347)

The title is a catchy one because Firefox is "new and cool". Really, it's Mozilla as a Platform, and that just really means XUL as a Platform. XAML is Microsoft's attempt at XUL, because it's XUL's a "Good Idea".

Re:let it be just a browser (5, Informative)

FuzzzyLogik (592766) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616357)

It is a browser. But the components that were used to BUILD the browser are very cross platform (hence you have firefox on 3 major different platforms, windows, linux, and mac). in doing so the backend of all of this is cross platform and can be used to create other applications besides just a web browser. you only really need to know javascript, xul, and a few other things and you can use the stuff that was used to build firefox and make your own application. it's a novel idea and hopefully it'll be put to good use.

Re:let it be just a browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616393)

Because it's to bloated

Re:let it be just a browser (3, Interesting)

mikael (484) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616406)

as soon a browser reach a bit of popularity, everybody seem to try to have it substitute his OS. why can't it just be a browser???

Because in the corporate environment, system administrators are completely fed up of the constant battle with spyware, adware, trojans, email spam, viruses and popups that users inadvertently download while using web based applications (E-mail, web browsing). Since at least one of these applications is web-based, having a secure browser is manna from heaven. And as the other applications (calendar/diary, group conferencing/whiteboard, voicemail) need network access anyway, there is no reason why these shouldn't be accessed through the same browser. If all of this is possible, then it eliminates the need for all the applications to be stored/run on a PC, thereby eliminating the need to buy licenses for the "professional" release of a certain OS whose vendor maintained a web browser is a basic part of the OS.

Re:let it be just a browser (1)

jdkane (588293) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616410)


why can't it just be a browser???

... because everybody wants more of the market share, because each browser to a degree disagress with what the other browser/company is doing, because each browser just wants to be a little bit more popular in the browser wars.

It's a bit of a catch-22: for one browser to exist, everybody involved will have to make concessions; nobody is making concessions because they are still in a browser war. For only one (type of) browser to exist, I believe human nature dictates somebody will have to win this war, rather than everybody making concessions.

Because in the future the browser is your only app (1)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616423)

IM, Web, commerce, file sharing...these are all the apps of the future and they can all piggyback on a good browser codebase. Now I will preempt all of the people who tell me they actually spend 95% of the time on their computer using a spreadsheet or word processor....first of all, bullshit. Secondly, its only a matter of time before these are also embeddable browser thingies...via XAML, XUL or otherwise.

Re:let it be just a browser (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616429)

Because to make all applications platform agnostic is the next logical step in development. The web is today mostly platform independent but it lacks the ability to present a nice interface to the user. Add that to a browser and you have a platform agnostic application framework.

This must have MS all wired up because the second they loose the applications barrier to entry on the market they are toast.

Re:let it be just a browser (1, Insightful)

lunar_legacy (715938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616456)

Firefox will remain just a browser. It's XUL [mozilla.org] platform that article refers to which Firefox among other Mozilla apps (like Mozilla Suite, Thunderbird, ...) is built upon.

Why when something is good for the userbase is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616319)

Why when something is good for the userbase is bad for Micro$oft?

What about security? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616320)

I love Firefox. It's fairly fast (not startup, but in use), it has a decent UI and the extensions are amazing. However, I'm becoming increasingly dismayed by the sheer amount of security holes being found. I mean - shockingly - if you look at sites like Secunia, there have been _MORE_ vulnerabilities in Firefox than IE in the last six months!

That isn't good. Sure, the FF crew may fix them faster, but ATEOTD it's getting hard to advocate FF over IE when effectively it's no more secure at present. I've already suffered this; a couple of people to whom I recommended FF have come back at me pointing out the recently discovered holes.

Being a 0.x release doesn't really count, as the Moz Foundation is pushing this to the masses - even looking for a NYT ad. It'd just be interesting to hear some thoughts on this. I'll be using it for years no doubt, but how do others promote it considering it has had more vulns than IE?

Re:What about security? (2, Informative)

Bad Ad (729117) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616353)

maybe because it isnt even released yet?
its been beta forever, and been a PR for like a month tops.

mozilla foundation dont have the man power of MS to internally test their product, so they release it for testing, if it worked ok for you during the test period then you got a bonus.

Re:What about security? (1)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616378)

Quite a few of the holes were also present in Mozilla 1.x which went 1.0 a long time ago and is now going on 1.8...

Re:What about security? (5, Insightful)

FuzzzyLogik (592766) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616390)

The reason so many holes are found are due to the Bounty that the mozilla foundation puts forth for each security hole found. this means that people are actively looking for security holes to turn them in and get i think $500.

Why are they doing this? Simple really. Find the holes now and lock firefox down pretty good. Better that the holes are found and fixed ASAP than found but not fixed at all... say.. like internet explorer. they're simply trying to make it more secure and this is a pretty good way of doing it.

Look at it this way, if you develop software you look at the same code all the time and once you see it so many times you don't potentially see the security holes that you might otherwise see because you've looked at it so much that you kind of become numb to the fact that something could be wrong there. by having new eyes looking at the code you are having new eyes put on that older code and they're finding the problems, $500 is just an incentive to get people to look at the code.

Re:What about security? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616419)

there's a lot of truth to this. firefox is being very heavily pushed, and has had a large number of security holes found recently.

and yet at the same time, it has less than 10 percent of the market. now, given the userbase (often newbies) and market size (vast) of IE, and apply that to firefox with its holes, and... well, it'd be no differnet.

millions and millions of inexperienced firefox users getting bitten by holes ofthe same severity.

this really isnt good for anyone, especially as its not down to firefox being beta, because these holes are in mozill too which has been out for years. there are also closed bug reports, some of which only come out after 6 months plus. who knows what else is in there?

moz/fox is still better than IE in terms of features, but its equally weak in terms of security - and if fox ever gets the same kind of userbase, these problems will be equally massive

Re:What about security? (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616425)

The NYT ad is only for 1.0 Final iirc, the PRs will still be just for those who get them through some other means.

Has Mozilla actually done any advertising for Firefox, or has it all been by people through word of mouth?

Re:What about security? (3, Informative)

jsebrech (525647) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616441)

However, I'm becoming increasingly dismayed by the sheer amount of security holes being found. I mean - shockingly - if you look at sites like Secunia, there have been _MORE_ vulnerabilities in Firefox than IE in the last six months!

The reason there have been more security vulnerabilities is because of the security bug bounty [mozilla.org], which rewards people monetarily for finding security bugs. They're simply trying to shake out the security bugs in advance, before it goes big.

Plus, there's been more interest in firefox recently from security firms who see it as a rising star, and think they can get some fame and draw to their consulting business by finding and
publicly revealing security bugs.

I doubt mozilla/firefox is as insecure as IE. It doesn't have the same structural design problems, like activex, and "zones".

Re:What about security? (4, Interesting)

darnok (650458) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616453)

Your points are valid, but I can see a potentially huge market for Firefox in intranet applications. Many browser vulnerabilities are simply irrelevant in an intranet context, where users' PCs are already locked down.

Most/all large customers have internal-only applications that have been client-server or n-tier with a custom front end. These apps tend to be brutal to deploy, particularly the front-end, as they are prone to DLL hell and various interdependency issues with other applications (it'd be nice if a customer's IT was mandated to only ever use version X of app Y to develop all apps, but that never is the case). In many cases, customers have resorted to deployment "hacks" such as deploying these front-ends to a small number of servers, then using e.g. Citrix terminal services to expose them to their users.

Enter Firefox and other Mozilla browsers. Now it's practical to build your front-end GUI using XUL and related stuff, and have it talk to the backend over sockets, XML-RPC, SOAP, etc. The only thing that gets deployed to the end user is the Firefox/Mozilla/etc. browser (plus possibly a few addons, typically JavaScript), which is self contained and very easy to deploy.

This is a potentially huge market, which is why MS is keen to grab it with Avalon. Unfortunately for MS, Mozilla is here now and Avalon is over a year away; Mozilla is easy to deploy, and Avalon will presumably be bundled with Longhorn and all the installation/testing issues that go with it.

Finally, I suspect that it will be relatively easy to develop an XUL-based app solution and later retrofit it to Avalon using XSLT and not a huge amount of extra effort - an investment in Mozilla app development now *won't* be lost if a later decision is made to jump to Avalon.

Re:What about security? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616480)

Here's (part of) what one of Mozilla's own developers has to say [mozillazine.org] about their push to market themselves as more secure than IE: "How can you say its built with more security in mind? There is no proof, and we've had holes in pretty much every component ... The whole activex install angle is pure bullshit ... Note that IE has never ever tried to delete anyone's Windows desktop, for example. A user bitten by that may not think Firefox is secure..."

MPL is holding up Firefox (-1)

KrisHolland (660643) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616321)

...since it cannot make use of the GPL 'commons'. MPL is incompatible, hopefully they will make it GPL compatible.

As well, there is a distinct lack of variety in the Firefox browsers, more would probably occure as people import GPL code.

Re:MPL is holding up Firefox (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616364)

Most of the Mozilla code base is trilicensed under GPL, LGPL and MPL. So although Firefox can't use GPL code, other GPL projects can use Firefox code.

The MPL license, like the BSD license, means a company can incorporate Firefox into a commercial product, which encourages companies intending to do so to devote resources to Firefox development.

Worries me.. (1, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616323)

Problem with this 'We can do more' attitude is that you could end up with serious bloat for simple software.. like your web-browser being a 20mb download and supporting everything under the sun.

This wouldn't be the first times organisations have gone over board on something and ruined what they already had. Look at all the long term really successful products (WinAmp, Google.com, etc) they do so by keeping it simple. Not trying to re-write the wheel and do things like this.

FireFox is already extremely bloated (on Windows) compared to other Windows applications and the source code is hundreds of meg in size, the reason - it has an entire platform.

Re:Worries me.. (5, Informative)

damiam (409504) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616387)

FireFox is already extremely bloated (on Windows) compared to other Windows applications

Firefox is a 4.5MB download. That may be bloated compared to sol.exe, but it's tiny compared to IE, and not much bigger than Opera (3.5MB).

Re:Worries me.. (3, Informative)

spuzzzzzzz (807185) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616398)

FireFox is already extremely bloated (on Windows) compared to other Windows applications and the source code is hundreds of meg in size, the reason - it has an entire platform.

I'm not quite sure where you get that "hundreds of megs" thing. As a gentoo user, I have source tarballs available and they're all about 30 meg:
$ ls /usr/portage/distfiles/firefox-* -l
-rw-r--r-- 1 root portage 33945173 Aug 6 00:06 /usr/portage/distfiles/firefox-0.9.3-source.tar.bz 2
-rw-r--r-- 1 root portage 32396291 Sep 14 17:27 /usr/portage/distfiles/firefox-1.0PR-source.tar.bz 2
-rw-r--r-- 1 root portage 32380173 Oct 2 16:07 /usr/portage/distfiles/firefox-1.0PR.1-source.tar. bz2

In addition, the source tarballs contain lots of non-code stuff. The actual executable on my system is less than 80 kB. There are quite a few supporting libraries, of course. Oh, and the binary download is 8.1 megs (for linux/x86).

Firefox is just a browser. That's all it does. The point of this article is that we can use a browser as a platform for other stuff. This doesn't involve bloating the browser; it involves writing applications that run on top of it.

Re:Worries me.. (1)

Matt_Joyce (816842) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616405)

Winamp should not be described as Kept Simple.
MS Media player 4 was simple.

The simple view of winamp, 'it plays media files' is no more valid than describing IE as 'it renders web pages'.
Look at the winamp pluggin page, look at the preferences, options, the system tray, skins, etc.
v3 was so awful, no one remembers it.

Re:Worries me.. (1)

FuzzzyLogik (592766) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616420)

Umm.. the reason firefox has everything at the kitchen sink is because it is cross platform. let's just say that if you coded one thing in windows.. any dialog boxes, used any windows UI controls, etc, these would not work hand in hand over in linux land. there'd be major changes in the code and that means more people are needed to work on it.. linux experts, windows experts, and so on. if you rewrite the wheel using something that will work on multiple platforms without changing that code then you have 1 repository of code as opposed to ... 3 or 4 (linux, windows, mac). it doesn't support everything and the kitchen sink just to be a platform, it does it because it needs to do that to be cross platform and CONSISTANT across platforms. notice how firefox acts pretty close to the same on every platform? i've noticed it. it's also easier to code something when it's only one respository instead of 3 or more that are all seperate and unalike.

Re:Worries me.. (1)

oddman (204968) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616446)

Wait... Firefox is bloated? Since when?

Download sizes:
Firefox - 4.5MB
Opera - 3.5MB
Safari - 7.2MB
Internet Explorer 6 for Xp - 12MB (this is actually the install size the download size varies)

It seems that you have no right to say Firefox is bloated if we measure download size. And I don't think you could possibly mean that it is suffering from feature bloat.

Did you mean to say that the Mozilla suite is bloated?

Re:Worries me.. (4, Informative)

shadowmatter (734276) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616461)

FireFox is already extremely bloated (on Windows) compared to other Windows applications and the source code is hundreds of meg in size, the reason - it has an entire platform.

Maybe the Mozilla suite, but not Firefox. In my downloads folder at work:

FirefoxSetup-0.8.exe: 6348KB
FirefoxSetup-0.9.exe: 4845KB
Firefox Setup 1.0PR.exe: 4630KB

These are the setup executables for Windows. And if memory serves me correctly, the Thunderbird client has been getting smaller with each new version even more dramatically...

- sm

The download has DECREASED in size (2, Insightful)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616491)

And sharing the gecko engine will mean more and more software will be able to ship smaller binaries once gecko already resides on your system.

meh (-1, Flamebait)

Abit667 (745465) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616324)

I think people are blowing the whole FireFox thing entirly out of proportion. Sure it is great and all and has a lot of potential but I think articles like this are just too much worrying.

November 9 lauch day (4, Interesting)

solferino (100959) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616325)

Blake Ross's minimal website [blakeross.com] reveals that November 9 is the day we "take back the web" i.e. the launch date for Firefox 1.0.

Re:November 9 lauch day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616359)

I'm skeptical. Their roadmap [mozilla.org] suggests they were anticipating releasing two more release candidates - one on Oct 18 and one tomorrow. However, Oct 18 has come and gone. I think they are behind schedule and perhaps Mr. Ross was referring to the launch of the NY Times article, not the browser.

Re:November 9 lauch day (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616474)

Yet even in just that "minimal website" he manages ten markup errors.

http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=www.blakeross. co m

What a wonderful training environment Netscape must have been. Who won that war again?

Remember Java and Dotnet? (1, Flamebait)

alext (29323) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616327)

Sorry but if ActiveX was the answer MS wouldn't have bothered with Dotnet - those applications need to be distributable and portable.

Firefox with a VM might get some traction though...

Re:Remember Java and Dotnet? (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616388)

considering all the javascript front ends for Databases in corporations, Firefox is just the platform.

Who cares? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616329)

This whole "Mozilla is a platform, not a browser!" was just face-saving when Mozilla didn't have a usable browser while a single paid KDE developer and a few volunteers had banged one out in a year.

Now they have a good browser (two, at least), and the "Mozilla is a platform!" fuss isn't worth making anymore. As a platform, it's nothing special.

Firefox as a platform... (4, Interesting)

OneDeeTenTee (780300) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616352)

Is it possible that we could see a distributed OS where Firefox on one computer acts as an interface to multiple computers which act in concert to "simulate" a much more powerful machine?

No this would not be a beowulf cluster.

The maximum amount of processing power available to any one process would be limited to the fastest machine in the group, but it could be useful for anyone who can give thier computer difficult tasks faster than the computer can complete those tasks.

Every new task would be automatically given to whichever node has the lightest load.

Mozilla? (4, Insightful)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616362)

Wasn't this tried once? XUL + Javascript + CSS + XML + XHTML = the greatest programming platform?

Must everything become an operating system? How about quitting trying to become a brand and just make a simple quality browser?

Mozilla?-Luddites on parade. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616445)

" Wasn't this tried once? XUL + Javascript + CSS + XML + XHTML = the greatest programming platform?"

What do you mean "tried once"? It's still there, and has been used. Just because every new use doesn't come with a press release, doesn't mean people aren't using it.

As far as why? Rich-clients [slashdot.org] are the future, even if all the luddites rally against them.

"Must everything become an operating system? How about quitting trying to become a brand and just make a simple quality browser?"

Must every bit of FOSS have a scripting capability? I'm browsing with Mozilla now. I'd say it reached "quality" when the majority of the "were's my browser?" posts dropped severely about two years ago. And YES brand is important. Quick! What is LINUX? Quick! What is Apache? Much better than "a browser" or "an operating system".

Re:Mozilla? (4, Interesting)

FuzzzyLogik (592766) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616450)

a development platform doesn't necessarily mean operating system. look.. the idea is simple, write your code in XUL + javascript using the backend of Mozilla and 99% of that will work on every platform that mozilla/firefox already support. write once, run in all those other places... it's not an OS, it's a development platform. why does everyone think it'll become an OS? Seriously.

catch-up has slowed down in my opinion (4, Insightful)

jdkane (588293) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616367)

From the article: Along the way, Firefox is fast becoming the browser of choice for anyone fed up with all the nasty things polluting the Web (pop-ups and viruses and spyware, oh my!).

However XP Service Pack 2 has taken a big bite out of many security, spyware, etc types of issues that formerly plagued Microsoft's IE browser. That said, users on other versions of Windows do not benefit from these new features.

Going forward, I would say that Firefox has more of a fight on its hands, now that Microsoft is starting to listen to the browser crowds.

I went strictly Firefox about seven months ago, and for the last few months have not even had the IE icon available on my desktop or in my menus. However since XP SP2, I've started moving back to using IE sometimes, because it blocks pop-ups, ActiveX controls, etc. Of course Firefox still has many extensions available which I (not the average user, but a developer user) have fallen in love with. However from the average Windows XP user's point of view, why would they switch to Firefox when Microsoft just made IE more secure for them and blocked annoying popups for them? It's definitely going to be harder to market those Mozilla features now that they doen't represent the edge over IE (XP SP2) anymore.

2004? 1996 calling... (2, Insightful)

YetAnotherAnonymousC (594097) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616368)

Uh oh. Didn't I hear this ~1996 from Netscape supporters? Not that Business 2.0 at all represents the average Firefox supporter or maintainer. But still, gives me shivers.

Deja Vu... (4, Insightful)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616370)

enormous potential to hatch a new class of applications that live on the desktop but do business on the Web.

This sounds a lot like late 90's, .com era speak to me.

I am using firefox to type up this comment, and yes it is a great browser, but it's not going to change the way the world does business.

Nearly every business application that has been developed for the last 10 years does business on the web.

I hereby petition for a change to this article text so that it reads 'do business in a tab'. Now that's innovation!

Re:Deja Vu... (1)

geg81 (816215) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616492)

This sounds a lot like late 90's, .com era speak to me.

Yes, and 5 years is hardly enough to realize a vision fully. It took hypertext, OOP, and Java-like languages nearly 40 years to make it into the mainstream.

I am using firefox to type up this comment, and yes it is a great browser, but it's not going to change the way the world does business.

So, the .com era speak has largely come true. Howver, current browser-based UIs are still pretty bad (like this fixed size text entry box). There is a lot of room for improvement there. An open, backwards-compatible platform giving people the ability to write much better web-based UIs could make all the difference. That might be Firefox or it might be something else.

sshh (5, Interesting)

guet (525509) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616373)

Yet here was Andreessen publicly proclaiming in the summer of 1995 that Netscape's plan was to reduce Windows to "a poorly debugged set of device drivers." "They didn't save it up," Myhrvold said. "They fucking pulled up alongside us and said, 'Hey, sorry, that guy's already history.'"

"The tactic drove Redmond into a rage. The day after Andreessen's quote appeared in the press, John Doerr, the prominent venture capitalist and Netscape board member, received a chilling email from Jon Lazarus, one of Gates' key advisers. In its entirety, it read: "Boy waves large red flag in front of herd of charging bulls and is then surprised to wake up gored."

from Wired [wired.com]

apt metaphor (3, Insightful)

geg81 (816215) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616467)

What an apt metaphor: an intelligent, young, adventurous member of the species "homo sapiens" (Netscape) gets gored by a bunch of dumb, overweight beasts with sharp horns (Microsoft).

A lot more applications should have moved to the web over the last decade. Microsoft prevented that because they were not ready for it yet, even though the industry was. Instead, we got nearly another decade of poorly written VB, Office, and Access applications.

Too much visibility, too early (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616377)

Yes, I whish it was not, mainstream yet. Why? It is not ready... Simple example, related with safty. You're smart and you regular users do not have admin permitions in your windows/linux box. How do you update mozilla firefox automagically?

Hmmm log in as admin and run firefox... nah, I don't wanna surf as admin. Download as regular user and install as admin? Ok... but wait, that means that the automagical update is only useful if you are willing to surf with admin permissions! So there is a feature in Firefox that assumes that you are going to connect to some site using admin permissions. No you don't have to use it, but they are promoting that behaviour. I don't like it.

How to fix it? When a regular user downloads a patch/update it should ask for root/admin pass before trying to install. But it simply fails.

This is just an example that illustrates really dumb things about firefox now. I whish it would become more mature before becoming mainstream.

Re:Too much visibility, too early (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616392)

Yes, that definitely does suck; ran into it today, in fact.

~~~

Mod down, bullshit hemming and hawing (1)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616476)

I can't believe it, nearly every comment is coming down on this incredible project. People on this site need to get over the very base notion that the contrarian viewpoint is inherently insightful.

Memory leaks. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616380)

Sure, Firefox is great, I love it, I use it all the time, but before adding any more features could the Firefox team fix up the major memory leaks? PLEASE?

Re:Memory leaks. (2, Interesting)

codergeek42 (792304) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616496)

The thing about open-source projects is that they place much more QA into the hands of their users and other developers. If you don't file a bug report [mozilla.org], it wil never get fixed.

They could start with W3C validation (5, Insightful)

hsoft (742011) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616381)

Before taking back the web, I think Firefox team should start by making their website W3C valid.

I noticed that today: Firefox page and "spread firefox" page are both invalid html code. Is it just be or they are supposed to be the ones caring about standards?

Re:They could start with W3C validation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616468)

Before posting comments, I think you should start by making your comment valid English.

I noticed that today: your comment is invalid English. Is it just _be_ [sic] or are you supposed to be the one caring about standards?

great browser, but... (5, Insightful)

geg81 (816215) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616384)

Firefox is a great browser, and there are a number of useful plug-ins available for it. It's also supported on many platforms.

But I have my doubts whether it's a good applications development platform as it is. Out of the box, you get, what, XUL and JavaScript? I'm sorry, but that doesn't strike me as a good platform for application development. In particular, JavaScript is just far too flaky to develop anything significant or complicated in it, and a lot of libraries just don't exist for JavaScript at all. And, like it or not, even if you put part of the application on the server, things still get complicated if you want a high quality GUI.

Maybe if Firefox shipped with a small, efficient JVM or CLR runtime and JIT that tie into the DOM, XUL, HTML, SVG, and event handlers (but without most of the bloated class libraries that Sun or Microsoft want to force on you), it could become a full platform. It would be even better if it included a small IDE out of the box.

As it is, I think it will remain limited to simple web apps created by rather dedicated Firefox hackers (and thank you for it, it is a great browser).

Re:great browser, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616471)

You don't develop applications in the browser, you stupid retard. That's the "applications delivered over the web" part. You develop a client for your application.

The developers will make out fine (4, Insightful)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616395)

I can't think of a more bullshit-proof resume bulletpoint than to point to your commit log on a high profile project.

Anyone using Mozilla code as a basis for a product will pay out to people with a commit history.

A few really good Apps could make the difference.. (4, Insightful)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616403)

After seeing this [faser.net] demo of exactly what Firefox and XUL can do in the way of fast, rich applications, I think its only going to take a few significant applications in XUL to get people moving to Firefox just to get it.

Does anyone know if someone is writing a webmail client in XUL? If not, someone really needs to (I've even started looking at trying to do it myself, and I'm no coder). Compared to current webmail interfaces a XUL interface would be almost indistinguishable from a local mail client. All you need to do is have browser detection send users to the old style webmail client if they aren't using a browser that supports XUL.

Now, imagine if GMail started doing that... IE users of GMail get the standard webmail interface, but Firefox users get a full fast XUL interface. Have a look at that demo site [faser.net] again, and do some clicking around ... then tell me that that wouldn't be an absolutely killer app for Firefox.

Jedidiah.

If I recall correctly... (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616418)

(which is very debateable), the idea of running apps on the browser is why Microsoft was so eager to kill off Netscape. If the browser is cross platform, it lessens the reliance on the underlying operating system, and threatens the profitability of Windows.

This may not be as much of an issue as it was back in the days of the Microsoft suit, though.

Not this again... (1)

110010001000 (697113) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616426)

OK, this was the big selling point of XUL. A cross platform "platform". No major applications came out of it.
The fact is that cross platform is not terribly important in the application world anymore. Most end-user apps only need to run on Windows to be successful.

Believe it when I see donations (2, Interesting)

sphealey (2855) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616430)

I stayed with Netscape through the disaster years, started using Mozilla at 0.7, and do my best to implement Mozilla (and perhaps soon Firefox) in the corporate environments where I work.

But - until I see some significant donations to The Mozilla Foundations, including some substantial in lieu payments from corps that are using Mozilla or Mozilla technology, I will have serious doubts that Mozilla will last in the long run. Serious cash is needed to fund a serious development effort.

sPh

yeah yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10616434)

They ought to fix it so that it has more of the menu options that were in Mozilla, works better when run in Windows limited user mode. It's still quite rough at the edges. I'm sure the program could do with more hardening as well.

Cute (4, Insightful)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616444)

Reminds me of a teacher at college. Well, not exactly a teacher, mind you. Teachers teach stuff, this guy just stood in front of the class and told us all to go learn ASP.NET from w3schools.com. If the guy was even at college to start with. But I digress. I recently argued with him as to why the hell we were learning ASP.NET while the course read "advanced programming". The moron gave me the following reasons why ASP.NET was to be the "entlösung" to all problems, including war, famine and dropbears*:

  • Web-based I: Everything will go over "the web" with .NET, ranging from word processors to databases.
  • Web-based II: Other programming languages like C/C++, Delphi, Java and anything not .NET will die because of this web-based 'paradigm-shift'.
  • Python: Python (my suggestion) was a joke programming language by amateurs and hobbyists.

That's pretty much when I stopped listening and just started to stare in sheer amazement. The guy seems to be a bit right after all though, considering the possibilities that are now available for XUL regarding web-based applications. But hey, let's be fair; .NET isn't all that bad but riding the .NET car with ASP.NET is like driving a Ferrari with wooden wheels. C# would have been nice enough, instead. But this whole "everything will be web-based" idea was utterly shit and I KNEW there was a better solution than ASP.NET to web-based solutions. Then I saw a site with XUL elements plastered all over it and I was impressed. No more silly tricks with HTML forms and parsing it all through CGI scripts. It seemed like a clean enough solution for lots of things. Think of a small company; Items need to be tracked, clients need to be contacted and managed, rosters needs to be kept up to date and plenty more. Now all that can be done by HTTP with a standard webserver and a Mozilla platform.

The compant where I worked as intern could have used that. Instead they adopted a win2k3 server with office 2k-something premium, using it as a terminal server to log in to single Access database using remote desktop, which would function as a POS system with the aid of heavy VBA scripting. Not exactly an elegant solution, though it sure is a creative way to make an Access database centralized. Now imagine the same trick with a cheapo webserver running Apache 1.3.something, serving XUL documents that read/write data from an MySQL database... ( It WAS a rather small shop, after all... )

Mozilla Amazon Browser (4, Informative)

CanadaDave (544515) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616459)

"Amazon (AMZN) could build a search application into the browser that lets users buy books without visiting its website."

That already exists! Ok, it doesn't let people buy book yet, but you can search. I wonder if the author of the article knew that. Check it out here [mozdev.org] and here [faser.net]. I've actually tried it out and it works really well.

Get the firefox extension here [texturizer.net].

Not firefox. Try google (1, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616465)

A web browser is not an operating system. I repeat a web browser is not an operating styem!

Google on the otherhand seems to not only integrate with the web but also the desktop. They are developing api's and may even challenge the database market soon.

Html on the desktop freaked out microsoft because it was something they did not control. Besides some XML its mostly html formatted documents. Big deal.

Google will began to act as an interface to data locally as well as on the corporate lan and internet and will open a huge wave of innovative software using google's api's and protocals.

Its still in its infancy but if I were Bill Gates my eyes would be aimed at google for the time being.

The usual ... (4, Insightful)

orangeguru (411012) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616469)

Netscape was supposed to be a new platform ...
Java was supposed to be a new platform ...
Even Flash was supposed to be a new platform ...
Now Firefox is supposed to be a new platform ...

Did they kill MS? Nope.

XUL is cool, but so far I haven't seen MANY great applications done with it.

Web Application Install Sucks (1)

Proc6 (518858) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616488)

Im all for a web-browser being a general shell able to host "applications". That's really what is it, an OS agnostic frame to hold platform-independant content. Web applications could be just as powerful local applications as server applications.

The problem is, installing web applications right now sucks. It isn't double-click setup pretty, and not everyone has a personal web server running, and the libraries that web applications use, from PHP to JSP to NET arent evenly distributed, nor can they be installed (at least not easily) as part of a setup.exe type deployment.

If someone could rectify that, so that a person could receive MyCoolAccountingApp_Setup.exe, run it, and bang, it looks and acts like any other local piece of software, then it would definately be an advancement. But right now its more "Well install IIS or Apache, then install PHP and these 4 modules, then hand register this DLL with the COM server, then copy all these files to these 3 locations. Zzzzz. Totally fine for server central web-applications, but not for personal ones.

Why is this news? Anyone remeber.... (3, Insightful)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616489)

Mozilla (seamonkey)? Its been around a lot longer than firefox, and it is just as much of a platform as firefox can be. I guess people just like the cool name...

Ouch! (1)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616493)

Though Ross and the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation don't stand to make money

Wow... and ouch... just throw the #1 problem, in many peoples eyes, of the GPL in their faces and rub it in why don't you.

Again, ouch...
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