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The Battle That Could Lose Us The War

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the we-need-a-better-browser dept.

GNU is Not Unix 550

Quite a number of people have been writing to us about Dave Whitinger's column that ran on LinuxToday and was sent over here as well. Dave's contention is the browser compatibility is a crucial battle for the success of Linux - and things don't look so good. Click below to read the column, and contribute your thoughts.

By Dave Whitinger, dave@wmkt.com (Temporary E-Mail account)

Linux is quickly becoming the operating system of the future, thanks in part to the advanced type of development that we refer to as Free Software, or Open Source, as well as the rock-solid features that are present in Linux. It is the ultimate server platform.

Linux is also enjoying success as a desktop workstation. My wife, Trish, makes the perfect example of the typical desktop user.

When we became married in August of 1996, she was a complete computer illiterate, having never even used a Windows or Unix machine. I presented her with a choice:

  1. I will give her a Windows computer, but will offer nothing in the way of technical support or training assistance.
  2. I will give her a Linux box, and will give her complete technical support and training assistance.

A New Hope

Not knowing the difference anyway, she chose the latter, and found herself extremely happy with a rock-solid desktop.

She enjoys her Red Hat Linux 6.1 workstation. Coupled with the K Desktop Environment and various applications that I have installed for her, she's ready to go. She has her TkRat E-Mail program, Netscape Navigator, notepad text editor, licq, games, the Gimp, and a variety of other nice applications, all accessed via a friendly interface.

Finding friends in mailing lists and on-line web-based chat groups, she was happy as a clam. She would fire up her Netscape Navigator and hit any web site she wanted, and was constantly bragging to her friends about this great computer operating system that she had the privilege of using.

The Empire Strikes Back

...Until the day that Netscape Navigator, her web browser, her window to the outside world, the major purpose for using the computer, simply disappeared from her desktop while she was browsing.

Trish turned to me, confusion spread across her face, and opined, "Dave, my Netscape has simply vanished from my screen. Perhaps you have telneted in and did a kill -9 on it?"

Dave responds, "Absolutely not! Why would I do that? Let's examine the problem more closely, that the answer to this perplexing issue will reveal itself."

Upon further investigation, it turns out that Netscape apparantly did not "like" the Java code that was being incorporated into one of the websites that Trish frequents. My solution: Turn off Java.

A very important and critical issue is realized here. At this point, Trish's computer is not as powerful as all of her friends' Windows computers. If they can access certain Java-enabled pages that she cannot, she is being left out, all because she chose to use Linux.

Fade to 2 or 3 weeks later.

Trish: "Dave, this website is telling me that I cannot use their services."

Dave: "What's the URL?"

Examining the website, it turns out that it is using some special kind of plugin that is only available for Windows or Macintosh platforms. I explained to Trish that she simply will not be able to access the services on this website, until they decide to make this plugin available for Linux. A short and polite note to the webmaster later, there was nothing we could do, and the issue was closed, and Trish's computer became even less valuable to her.

Fade to 2 or 3 more weeks later.

Trish: "Dave, this website is telling me that I am using an unsupported web browser, and cannot view the pages within."

Dave: "Okay, this is starting to make me angry. The web was initially created as a completely open environment where multimedia can be viewed, regardless of your platform. It's a platform independant medium, yet here are people making platform dependant websites."

Trish: "That's great that you feel that way, but I just want to access this coupon website! All my friends say they are getting great deals, and I'm missing out! Oh, and now my netscape just froze again! Argh, (killall -9 netscape ; rm ~/.netscape/lock) again. I want a Windows computer like all my friends have."

I hung my head in shame, realizing that if she is going to be able to take full advantage of the web, she will need a Windows computer. Trish, who has used nothing but Linux for over 3 years, and is completely happy with her computer, now feels the need to switch to Windows so that she can get the same web-browsing features as her friends.

Does this sound like a big deal to you, gentle reader? If it does, than I have accomplished my mission. If it does not, read on:

In 1994, I hated Netscape Communications, Inc. The way they were embracing and extending the HTML standards was starting to become very disturbing for me. The more websites that I found that said that it uses Netscape Extensions, the more angry I became.

Then Netscape released Navigator for Linux, and everybody loved them again. They were our saviour, completing the picture of a perfect desktop for Linux users. We were all Linux users, browsing any site we wished, enjoying the satisfaction of having a great web browser for our desktop.

Then Microsoft created Internet Explorer. Then Microsoft won the "Browser War". Then webmasters began using some of the "advanced" features of Internet Explorer, shutting out Netscape users.

Problem yet? Still not convinced? Okay, let's fast forward 1 year:

Microsoft owns 99% of the web browser market share, and they control the HTTP protocol. They start adding a huge variety of features to their "Internet Information Server", their competitor to Apache, to offer advanced features to Internet Explorer clients. At this point, sites being served by Apache become useless. Then Linux becomes obsolete as a web server platform. Then Microsoft wins the war, and we're right back to square one, and proprietary technology wins again.

Return of the Jedi

On April 1st, 1998, Netscape Communications, Inc. made one final redeeming move. They released the source code to Netscape Navigator, freeing it to the Free Software community to do with as they chose.

1 and a half years later, this browser is still nowhere near completion. There is a band of rebels working feverishly on the code, trying to bring it to a usable state as quickly as possible. Plagued with problems and set-backs, Mozilla continues forward, currently at "Milestone 10". Will we see a completely usable web browser for Linux in time to save us from seeing a new monopoly for Microsoft be created?

Attention: This is the battle that could cost us the war. If we come together and push all of our might toward a Free Web Browser for Linux, we have a good chance of winning this battle. If we fail, we will lose the war. This is the issue that Microsoft wants us to overlook.

I am making a personal committment to get involved with the Mozilla project. It is the project with the most potential to become this Free Web Browser that we so desperately need. Netscape is NOT going to save us this time. Netscape has failed us, and it's time to take matters into our own hands.

If we fail, we will lose the war.

Add that to your .signature:

If we fail, we will lose the war.

And repeat it every morning to yourself:

If we fail, we will lose the war.

When you are looking over Mozilla, finding items that could use your contribution, remember:

If we fail, we will lose the war.

The truth of the matter, friends and esteemed members of the community:

If we fail, we will lose the war.

cancel ×

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Ouch! (0)

g.liche (99325) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559448)

""
Hey, while they're at it, why doesn't Mozilla through a couple options in there that M$ doesn't have?

this is not new (2)

lubricated (49106) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559449)

this is the same as getting office released for linux. If we can't read M$Office documents perfectly will we lose. For me and for many others there is no war. I'm using linux full time and I don't care what others use.

If there is enough linux and mac users than many sites will check in those enviroments first.

that about sums it up (1)

qwerjkl (97170) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559450)

I was using netscape on a linux box for browsing, but you just can't do that unless you want to be shut out of a LOT of sites. You can't even just use netscape on windows, because IE's javascript is different from the specs, etc. So I am stuck using IE on Windows if I want to browse the web. That's just the way it goes.

Browser isn't enough (2)

Eimi Metamorphoumai (18738) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559451)

The Phantom Menace

The problem is that just having a good browser is not enough. The thing we really have trouble with is all the proprietary plugins that are only available under Windows (and some of them for the Mac). While there are some that are available for Linux, what we really need is some portable plugin architecture. Netscape isn't the be all and end all of browsers, but the main problem I have with Netscape under linux is the sites that it doesn't work for, and that isn't because of (the numerous) flaws in netscape. Solutions?

Linux doesn't do plenty - so what? (2)

jabber (13196) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559452)

Yes, your experience with Netscape points out a shortcoming, but not in Linux. Those of use who want the functionality you are missing are free to code it.

Mozilla is a dog, but it's open, and the features are coming, I'm sure.

As for certain MS-Specific extensions that Linux doesn't run: Are you actually surprised? Linux also doesn't run VB. BeOS and AppleOS don't either.

It is not a fault of Linux or it's developers, it's a fault of Microsoft. They are 'embracing and extending, and innovating' wizz-bang toys that they keep closed. This is the crux of their monopolistic practises that the FTC is investigating.

I can easily put together a page that excludes all but IE using surfers. I can put together a website that REQUIRES a PIII processor... My doing so does not put the fault on my competition.

Mozilla is critical! (4)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559453)

Dave is absolutely correct: Mozilla is probably the single most important project for the future of free software. Nearly all technology development for the next decade will be tied to the web in some way, and it's absolutely vital that web technology be kept open.

Hopefully, AOL realizes this. If Microsoft ends up controlling the web, it's only a matter of time before AOL is reduced to insignifance for most purposes. Perhaps they don't realize just how urgent it is, though. AOL needs to make the Netscape Client Engineering Group a very high priority, and get Mozilla into the AOL client as soon as possible. This alone will shift the browser market away from Microsoft in a huge way. Yes, I know about the bundling deal, and I don't think it's worth it.

We do need to focus on more than just the browser, though. While Mozilla is absolutely the most important, we still need to have a diverse array of software available, to give the Linux platform some value, both on the desktop and server side. I personally am working on a replacement for MS Exchange [mt-kisco.ny.us] and hopefully will be able to hook up with the developers of some of the better Outlook clones, in order to offer a nice end-to-end integrated solution. Mozilla tie-in? Absolutely. Everything's gotta work with the Web, and I've already got a good web-based front end in place.

Heed Dave's call and spread the word. This is very important.

And Mozilla is going to help how? (1)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559454)

It seems that the point of the article is the spread of proprietary to Microsoft extensions on the web -- Java code that will run only in IE, plug-ins that exist only for Window machines, etc.
That's all true and is a danger. However, I completely fail to see how Mozilla is going to help us here. Unless the author believes that Mozilla will win the browser war on Windows machines (dream on), it will do nothing to stop people from producing Windows-only plug-ins or writing Microsoft-specific code.



Kaa

Love means never saying "Want the Xtended warranty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559455)

What's tackier than a prenuptial? Writing up a SLA for your future spouse!

> When we became married in August of 1996, she was a complete computer illiterate, having never even used a
> Windows or Unix machine. I presented her with a choice:
>
> 1.I will give her a Windows computer, but will offer nothing in the way of technical support or training
> assistance.
>
> 2.I will give her a Linux box, and will give her complete technical support and training assistance.

I'd pay for a good, stable browser for Linux (2)

georgeha (43752) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559456)

There's a real market opportunity there, and Mozilla and Netscape aren't there yet.

And what about all the companies with $200 surfing boxes we keep reading about, do they have some cool browser up there sleeves?

George

? (1)

technos (73414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559457)

He makes a good point, although I see the Apache group doing a RE/RI job on the IIS 'features' as a last ditch effort befor waning into oblivion.

But I don't see all of the problem residing w/Mozilla. The problem is the Win-centric web developers. They see the 'kewl new sound/graphics service/plugin' and implement it, counting on the fact that 80% of their audience are IE users, and the remaining 20% are used to meing marginalized. Meanwhile, they're serving the content from Apache servers on *nix boxen, and looking like hypocrites.

Letter writing campaign? 'Give us Shockwave, give you DEATH'? (ex only.)

This is a VERY good point... (1)

SgtPepper (5548) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559458)

Alright people, let's start a from scratch, no sleep, code till you die, the perfect web browser coding mission let's go, let's go, let's GO!

(BTW that story is very familiar, main reason why my parent's machine is STILL windows, despite my attempts)

My new .sig:

If fail, we will lose the war.

Words of Wisdom (1)

cdmz1 (97535) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559459)

Excellent points made here. I think that everyone on Slashdot should take heed of these words of wisdom.

i'm failing to see the point (1)

Xtacy (12950) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559460)

Do you think that if linux has a really sweet web browser people will switch to it? - I don't think so.

Did I switch to Linux 3 years ago because it had Netscape? -- No

I also think that because people are not going to be switching to linux because it has a cool browser, those same people are still going to use IE and get special bonuses from accessing IIS sites, and linux will never stop MS from doing this.

Your wife wants a windows box because it sounds like all she does is surf the web. So get her a windows box cuz its what will "work for her".

btw i dont see a war happening. I see the MS side serving itself, and I see the open-source side serving everyone, a little unfair yes, but we choose to do that so why are we bitching so much?

The problem is with how browsers are built (5)

brennanw (5761) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559461)

I've never understood why browsers are designed the way they are. Basically, all HTML translation capability is built in to the browser itself, meaning that when new features come out you need to download a new !@#$% browser.

Why? Browsers are, for the most part, free these days. There's no competitive advantage for that.

If the browser were _modular_, with the display engine as part of the browser, but the information on all the tags and extras as a series of plugins -- you'd be able to add support for new HTML code ON THE FLY.

That's how XML is kind of supposed to work, isn't it?

I think what we need is a plugin-centric browser... one with a basic display engine that knows how to draw/display stuff, but doesn't come with any specific information. Then plugins with that information -- plugins that can be updated on the fly, or replaced when needed -- are added, and voia! Superbrowser!

So then you get your HTML 4.0, Cascading Stylesheet, XML, and proprietary tag support whenever you need to.

Oh, and you can have a program that sets your browser identification as whatever the hell you want it to say, or even change it on the fly.

Just a thought...

Re:Browser isn't enough (2)

Evangelion (2145) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559462)

"what we really need is some portable plugin architecture."

You mean like Java?

*ducks and runs away*

Dave's got a point, but the plug-ins will come (2)

Bill Henning (504) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559463)

Dave raises a number of excellent points; but I don't think the situation is quite as bad as he suggests.

The major plugins RealAudio, Flash are now available for Linux (albeit beta for Flash) and other major plugins WILL be ported to Linux - at least if their vendors/proponents want them to survive!

Just look at the Netcraft surveys, Apache OWNS the web server space; and Microsoft just took aim at its other foot - if I read the latest Win2k pricing announcement correctly, in addition to an NTAS license you need a $1995 "unlimited web client" license to run a big web site.

Mozilla needs... integration. (1)

Spyffe (32976) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559464)

One of the nice things about IE is its nice extension system. IMHO, ActiveX is superior to the Netscape plugin architecture. Implement something like that for Mozilla, and development of plugins may speed up.

Microsoft won the browser war? (1)

Quintin Stone (87952) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559465)

When did this happen? Last night while I was in one of my trademarked drunken stupors?

Sad but true (1)

pq (42856) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559466)

I see the story of "Trish" repeated over and over again - we use Solaris at work, and many (many) sites offer "features" which are simply unavailable for *nix users.

Back when I was still willing to try Barnes and Noble, I remember complaining to them about a broken shopping cart (this after I submitted a credit card number!) - their response at that time was, "well whaddya expect if you aren't using IE on Windows 95??? Go get a life, or at least a Mac!"

So much for Brenners-Lee and his vision of seamless information exchange... How long before there is a usable, portable Mozilla?

Re:that about sums it up (1)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559467)

I was using netscape on a linux box for browsing, but you just can't do that unless you want to be shut out of a LOT of sites.

YMMV, of course, but I am using netscape on a Solaris box and don't have any problems surfing the web. Very, very rarely I get some Java I can't handle, but then again, in 99% of the cases it's a site that I don't really need, anyway.

Kaa

He's right (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559468)

He makes a valid point towards the validity of Linux as a viable choice for a desktop environment. With the internet becoming completely web-centric, the evolution of the browser continues in only one corner: Microsoft. The Mozilla project is playing catchup, and will be for some time to come. By allowing MS to dictate the development of HTML and extensions, open source users (*BSD, Linux alike) are losing. I, for one, will contribute what I can to Netscape alternatives like Mozilla and Opera in the hope that with a large enough market the standards will become more open and platform independant. Of course, the browser doesn't invalidate Linux's ability to be a server platform.

What War? (1)

daviskw (32827) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559469)

I own two computers that run both Linux and Windows. My modems don't work on either computer in Linux mode. What should I care what browser I'm using on Linux, I can't even access the WEB from my Linux box.

If you're viewing the Linux issue as an ongoing war with Microsoft, then I have news for you. You've already lost the war. Microsoft already owns the desktop market. Microsoft already owns the browser market. Microsoft already owns the word processor market.

The Linux advantage is not Apache or WEB Browsers or even the WEB. The Linux advantage is that it offers a choice. As Linux gets better, the choice becomes easier. As more people move toward a Linux environment, and Linux becomes more stable, the choice gets easier. As Microsoft continues to dink with their cost structure, and Linux continues to be free, the choice gets easier.

Oh, and don't worry about those sites that offer browser specific implementations, in a world where sites make money based upon access, any company denying service because of browser based incompatabilities is shooting itself in the foot.

Tim Berners-Lee Wept (1)

Bander (2001) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559470)

It never occured to me that the "proprietizing" of the Web was a direct threat to Linux. Is there anyone out there who can mount an effective response to the problem?

Tim and the W3C [w3.org] seem like voices in the wilderness -- why doesn't anyone listen to the guy who "invented" the Web?

Sigh...

Nick Vargish [patriot.net]

Re:Linux doesn't do plenty - so what? (2)

arcade (16638) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559471)

Yes, your experience with Netscape points out a shortcoming, but not in Linux. Those of use who want the functionality you are missing are free to code it.

You are missing the point. As the article pointed out - if we don't catch up and start supporting everything that the freakin' microsoftbrowser supports, then people won't move to linux. People will move to windows. Then we lose the war.

The way to win, is to make mozilla usable for everyone.

All those who are able to! Go Hack! The rest of us, let's continue to support Linux and OSS.


--

The Man is Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559472)

Linux community = Don Quixote
Netscape Browser = Kitri
Mozilla = Dulcinea

Although Quixote realizes that Kitri isn't the same as Dulcinea, and stops worrying about her, unfortunately he never finds Dulcinea. He's left to go bumbling on in his merry way.

I can't believe I just wrote this crap. This has to be the stupidest analogy I've ever seen. Oh well.


The desktop war perhaps... (5)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559473)

... And while many of us kinda laugh at the idea of linux desktops for the masses, I feel in terms of political freedom it's probably the most critical front.

All I can suggest is:
  • Send a polite but unambiguous note to the webmaster of any standards-noncompliant site informing them that because of their decision to break standards you will not be able to use their site in any way, and that you will never install a browser or software that supports their standards-noncompliant components. If it's a commerce site, let them know you will be taking your business elsewhere, and if they have a B&M component let them know you'll seriously consider taking your business elsewhere IRL as well.
  • Consider informing various advocate groups for people with disabilities, as if the site can't be used with Linux it probably can't be used with a browser that provides support for sight-impaired netizens. I bet that the junk which breaks Linux Netscape also breaks Lynx...


The only way we're going to break moron webmonkeys out of using noncompatible junk is to be a large enough audience to affect their planning. If we join forces with our differently-abled brothers and sisters, perhaps we can force the issue! ;)

And I wonder if a boycott proxy would be helpful?

Your Working Boy,

Re:Ouch! (1)

arcade (16638) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559474)

Hey, while they're at it, why doesn't Mozilla through a couple options in there that M$ doesn't have?

Because we are the good guys. We follow the standards. Microsoft make their own.


--

The Cavalry is coming over the hill! (1)

SurfsUp (11523) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559475)

Mozilla milestone M11 is apparently due out on tuesday. The milestone M10 was pretty darn near useable - I used it for a few hours until the unfinished state of the text edit fields finally stopped me. I wouldn't be surprised if M11 is a keeper.

The source code is 20 something Meg. Grab. Download. Build. Fix. :-)

Losing the war for the DESKTOP (1)

ArthurDent (11309) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559476)

I have had the same problems using Linux (and other unices as well like HP, SGI etc.) Netscape is rather unstable (though it is getting better), and you just don't have the plugins to do some of the cool stuff that you can with Windows.

Linux will not lose the long term war over this short term battle. This problem is largely a desktop market problem not a server market problem. I don't think that there are too many arguements against the fact that Linux just isn't ready for the desktop yet.

Hopefully sometime in the future that will start to be less true, and then and only then should we even *expect* plugin companies to develop for Linux.

Mozilla as I understand it is progressing, and if it turns out not to be vaporware, should go a long way to giving Linux a stable browser.

In short, this is just a symptom of the larger problem of Linux not being ready for the desktop. Never fear. This will resolve itself.

Ben

Re:Love means never saying "Want the Xtended warra (1)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559477)

Yeah, but you should have seen the End User License that she made him agree to.

--
Evan E.

Re:that about sums it up (2)

sec (20916) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559478)

Horsefeathers.

100% of the genuinely useful sites I've visited have worked just fine with Netscape.

In fact, probably a good 90% of the genuinely useful sites I've visited work just fine in Lynx.

About the only sites I've had trouble with are the ones that use Shockwave Flash, and I've yet to find anything useful on any of them, anyway. Not to mention that they're not all that common.

This ain't just about browsers... (1)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559479)

This feature describes a reaction to Linux that goes far beyond the browser battle. Simply, I don't think the "Browser War" will make or break Linux, but I believe there is a lot to learn about it if we want Linux to continue to grow.

Let's face it, Linux is fighting an uphill battle. Programmers have to include features in their applications that appear in MS applications, while the reverse is not true: before switching to Linux, people will complain that they'll lose features they're accustomed to in Microsoft Office, for instance. But when you tell them about the features of, say, Star Office, they'll merely consider them carefully and judge their merits.

This is why Mozilla can't strike back, for instance, by putting features of their own that are not supported by Internet Explorer. People would just hesitate to consider that technology, because they figure the majority out there wouldn't be able to use it anyway.

So what's the solution? I'm not sure. I think Linux needs to keep fighting the uphill battle until it has common ground. Then, the battle will be one of features, where the best features will win.

It is true that a very good browser for Linux would be one of these fabled "killer apps". Unfortunately, I don't think it's Mozilla. I think Linux needs more browser projects than it needs office projects right now. I don't know why energy is not being put more into creating a slew of unique browsers, then putting these resources in common.

It's doable... Linux developpers have done it or are doing it for everything else. I'm sure no one expected the quality Office suites looming on the horizon or already in place for Linux. And I figure it must be more complicated to build a complete, integrated Office suite than a Web browser, no?

"Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass"

Re:Ouch! (1)

bmetzler (12546) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559480)

Hey, while they're at it, why doesn't Mozilla through a couple options in there that M$ doesn't have?

They are. Chat, terminal client, another chat client. What else? there must be more...

-Brent
--

This is cheezy, dorky alarmism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559481)

This is cheezy, dorky alarmism. We're not going to "lose the war" because of any "battle". Just as one example, not being able to use a handful of crummy web sites that use lame plug-ins or buggy java *utterly pales* in comparison to the problem of having to be able to handle MS Office documents people send you. The fact is that we still have a long road ahead of us before we can do everything we'd like to be able to with free software. There's still a *lot* of work to be done on a lot of different fronts, but it won't make free software irrelevant if everything on the GNU task list isn't finished by next Tuesday after lunch.

Amen! (1)

SteveSgt (3465) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559482)

(The subject says it all.)

accessible site design (2)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559483)

Yes, it would be good to put more effort into Mozilla. I do hearby promise that when my new (well, used 266-K6, but it's newer than my current P-90) box comes and I get Linux up on it, I will put Mozilla on it and at least help with testing.

But, if web designers are stupid enough to design pages that only render in one browser, or even worse require plug-ins, I'm not sure that Mozilla will help.

We need to keep reminding content providers that there are people using other browsers than IE on Win - there's Opera, Netscape, Mozilla and Lynx being run on Macs, BeOS boxes, and various flavors of Unix, as well as the coming PDAs with browsing capabilities. Forty lashes with a cat5 cable for any web author who depends on proprietary extensions - if you want to say something, why in the world would you restrict who can hear it??

Hopefully, the accessibility lawsuit against AOL will help inspire more broswer neutral, universally accessible web site design.

A web developer's perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559484)

This is a helluva good point. I'd like to add my perspective as a web developer. I am in the lucky position of being able to semi-control what browsers my users employ. We're a subscription-based transactional site, selling to organizations. Installing IE is generally a low barrier. We don't use any Microsoft innovations at all. However, we DO use DHTML. Extensively. IE does a pretty good job supporting the standard object model. Netscape currently does not.

We anxiously await the day when we can tell our prospects that Netscape is fine. But until Netscape fully supports the DOM, we can't do that. We just don't have the resources to attempt to recode all our pages to work with Netscape 4's "layers."

The web is the new platform. If there is not full support for that platform on Linux, it will not be that important that Linux has a nice windowing system and some decent desktop apps. That's the old model.

standards standards standards (1)

plaiddragon (20154) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559485)

Its all about the standards. Maybe they shouldn't be called that--since nobody treats them as such.

Any thing used on the web should be open source. That's the only way it will work.

Although...If /. was only viewable from linux...hey maybe thats an idea. just kidding.

I hate articles like this one... (3)

daVinci1980 (73174) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559486)

... That seem to think that one aspect of Linux can cause us to lose the "war" with Windows. To most of us linux users, its not a war to begin with. I could care less if others use Linux, I know that I can use it, it takes care of my needs, and I never have to reboot my machine. If there is a Desktop war going on, I wonder who's fighting? MS certainly sees us as a threat, but we couldn't care less about them.

Upon further investigation, it turns out that Netscape apparantly did not "like" the Java code that was being incorporated into one of the websites that Trish frequents. My solution: Turn off Java.
I have yet to come upon any problems after extensive testing of Netscape with thousands of pages loaded with Java. There was an initial misconfiguration of Netscape, (actually X) wherein a necessary font for Java was not installed by default, but once installed, I haven't hit any pages with Java which were unviewable.

Then Microsoft created Internet Explorer. Then Microsoft won the "Browser War". Then webmasters began using some of the "advanced" features of Internet Explorer, shutting out Netscape users.
Again, with the ignorance. MS has hardly won the browser war. The problem with many authors of Tech articles today is that they don't understand the computer market AT ALL. They continue to naively think that just because some particular product doesn't have market share in one particular market, then it must not have market share in ANY market. The fact is that Netscape STILL dominates the Browser war for two reasons:
1) Companies use netscape on all their UNIX boxes.
2) Companies use netscape on all their Win95 boxes. IE wasn't free when the majority of companies purchased their licenses, and Netscape continues to dominate the market share in the commercial sector, which is roughly twice the size of the personal or private sector.(After all, everyone who works in virtually any white collar job has at least one machine they have at work, but not all of them have PCs at home.

If we fail, we will lose the war.
We're not at war.

If we fail, we will lose the war.
We're not at war.

If we fail, we will lose the war.
We're not at war.

If we fail, we will lose the war.
We're not at war.


When comparing M$ Windows to Linux, let us consider an analogy. You see Windows is kind of like a Trojan horse. Sure, it looks all big and impressive, and when you bring it inside the walls, it opens up and bites you in the rear end.

But linux is like a Juggernaut to the Trojan horse. Every day it gets bigger, more robust, and more difficult to stop. Eventually MS will have to bow out to Linux not because Linux will declare war on Windows, but because Windows will simply pale in comparison.

You see, one of the most important differences between Windows and Linux is that Windows is all smoke and mirrors (marketing) whereas Linux is an product that is actually well made and capable of delivering on its promises. The public will grow tired of the illusion sooner or later, its all a matter of time.
--
"A mind is a horrible thing to waste. But a mime...
It feels wonderful wasting those fsckers."

Mozilla won't solve many of those problems (1)

Admiral Burrito (11807) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559487)

Mozilla, once completed, should provide us with a stable and efficient web browser. But many of the problems described will remain.

There will still be Windows-only plugins, IE HTML extensions, polluted Java, etc.

The only way to solve this is to convince everyone that "cross-platform" is good, and that Microsoft is completely proprietary (read: bad) and not a "standard" the way many people like to think MS is.

Getting involved with Mozilla. (2)

jelwell (2152) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559488)

Mozilla has a whole page devoted on how to get involved. Get Involved! [mozilla.org]
I, myself download the milestones and then report bugs I find. It's really easy to do, and most people could probably replace their current browser with Mozilla. (however there is no SSL support -- encryption export problems on source code).

Don't be afraid to help out for windows either. Mozilla isn't going to release on windows only -it's a cross platform development. So if you report bugs for the windows or mac (others too) versions then you're still helping out Linux as well as the rest.

Mozilla has a lot of room for helping hands, in paticular bug reporting, testing, and documentation writing. For the more technically advanced: code writing and bug fixing.
Do your part!
Joseph Elwell.

Usable Portable Mozilla (1)

Ken Broadfoot (3675) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559489)


The first part: Usable is what we are waiting for. The second part (portable) is part of the project and probably won't be a problem.

Those are some good points. (1)

Planetes (6649) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559490)

I noticed the Java problem (particularly with Javascript) a long time ago and just accepted it. We can't afford to 'accept' things as status-quo anymore. One question though, is Navigator/Mozilla even worth the effort? Would it be easier/better/faster just to start over? An open source CVS project in the same vein as the kernel itself? One command team controlling it and everybody donating patches? Just some thoughts. I'm seriously considering starting over and writing a open source browser but I'd like opinions first.

If we choose to believe the wrong things... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559491)

we will loose the war. The real sinner isn't Microsoft, but all the poor sob's who think that copyrights (and software patents) can peacfully co-exist with GPL users. Renember GPL is a tool used to fight the wrongs doings of copyrights, not an end in itself. If we don't understnad this, problems like MS (and DVD) will always keep coming back to bite us time and time again.

Sad but true. (1)

skelly (38870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559492)

We do need a way to keep certain standards on the Net from being "embraced and extended" by proprietary code. Here is a hint. If some Linux developer could taken on helping the Mozilla project and get other companies to do Linux versions of their web applications, then we may just stop this war and keep the net an open forum for speech and software standards.

It's not just plugins (1)

Wooly-Mammoth (105587) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559493)

Yahoo has been adding a bunch of new features that run only on the Windows and Mac (Yahoo Companion, instant messaging client). Sure, you can get the basic functions with java and html, but I suspect their Windows version has extras that are gradually becoming lockins. I guess this is the MS masterplan - make their platform indispensable, so that even if Yahoo is used on small clients, it can use WinCE or whatever. Basically, Windows everywhere, and they are gradually doing this, mainly coz the alternatives never succeeded (Java isn't hitting the mark anymore.)

Will making a snappy Mozilla convince Yahoo, excite, and all the other big sites to not use Windows add-ons? I don't think so. Everybody caters to the mom-and-pop market, and unless there's a massively good alternative that will make Yahoo re-think its windows focus and follow universal standards, they will continue to do so, because they know 200 million people use Windows, and it's easier to just build on top of it. Mozilla won't make any difference unless it has an impact on the sites catering to the teenagers, home users, kids, etc. etc. It will just become a lynx like geek toy with us whining about how nobody is following standards.

I'm not sure what "power feature" alternative there is, but I doubt mozilla will spread all over to mainstream sites at this point.


BTW, for the netscape crashing on java, I too have java disabled, but an AC provided the answer on an earlier /. post, the star wars ASCIImation thingie:


Java under netscape in stock Redhat 6 (Score:5)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 22, @11:08AM EDT (#330)
I had the problem with netscape crashing. It seems you need to load *all* the font RPMs.

rpm -i XFree86-100dpi-fonts-3.3.3.1-49.i386.rpm
rpm -i XFree86-75dpi-fonts-3.3.3.1-49.i386.rpm
rpm -i XFree86-ISO8859-2-100dpi-fonts-1.0-8.noarch.rpm
rpm -i XFree86-ISO8859-2-75dpi-fonts-1.0-8.noarch.rpm
rpm -i XFree86-ISO8859-2-Type1-fonts-1.0-8.noarch.rpm
rpm -i XFree86-ISO8859-9-100dpi-fonts-2.1.2-9.noarch.rpm
rpm -i XFree86-ISO8859-9-75dpi-fonts-2.1.2-9.noarch.rpm
rpm -i XFree86-cyrillic-fonts-3.3.3.1-49.i386.rpm
rpm -i chkfontpath-1.4.1-1.i386.rpm
rpm -i ghostscript-fonts-5.10-3.noarch.rpm
[

hope this helps


http://slashdot.org/articles/99/05/22/1341217.sh tml

w/m

The Other Side of the Coin... (1)

bsletten (20271) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559494)

Is to alert Webmasters who use these extensions that you would like to take advantage of their services, but they have made a choice that prevents you from doing so. Not all will care. Some will. If enough people say this politely, they may get the picture.

Unaddressed issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559495)

I have a question: If the percieved problem is the windows-only plugins and whatnot, how does a free browser help? The mere existance of a free browser does nothing to make the people creating the content actually adhere to open standards, as far an I can tell. If "everyone has IE anyway", where's their carrot?

I don't disagree with the author about the importance of a free browser; I just don't follow his logic on this point.

yes but... (1)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559496)

IE 5.0 and netscape 4.x do not work the same. Yes that is obvious. But does anyone know how obvious> It goes beyond plugins too. IE 5.0 does not comply with the standards fully. I have code that was created as per documentation on how to use layers. I then viewed this page under Netscape. All was fine eveything showed up just fine. I view it under IE 5.0 and the layers lloose there properties that were set in my style sheet that I took so much time to work on. That sucks!

The problems do not stop there thou. VBscript is another issue altogether. I have had the same problems mentioned in this article and plain and simplely Here is my feeling:

If you create a website that is 'browser' specifiic on the web, you have lost my attention.
It is one thing to require a browser that adheres to newer standards, like table in tables (HTML4.0), but to block out users and redirect them to another page cause they do not have IE adn windows is just wrong!

Why in a world that is so divers in its cultures and populus, should I be FORCED to use XXX OS with YYY browser?

Truthfully, I do boycott browser specific sites.

send flames > /dev/null

If we luse. (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559497)

Before you all start blabbering about why this or that doesn't really matter and how software freedom means being able to choose the best application / platform for each Job. Here is how it works in real life.

You cannot run an Office without at least a Windows machine for simply reading MSWord docs being sent to you by "Early deployment partners" and other miscellaneous offices that have standardized on "MS Office". As is home users and servers can get around the problem by not doing business with any of those people.

If the same kind of dominance is brought to bear on web standards then the only desktop useable for browsing will be MSIE on Windows 2000/98. Once MS has the browsing client sewn up then it will be trivial to make that client incompatible with all servers but IE on Win2K.

that scenario means that all you ISPs ( I know a lot of you read Slashdot ) will have to take down whatever server you like and currently use and install Win2K with it's "browser access licenses" and whatever limitations it may have for your specific application.

So yes. The browser client is critical, simply for keeping the ground we already have and keeping the web and open platform where some sun starved geek can write a server that actually works without paying licenses for applicable patents/copyrights.

The MS Office suite filters are the next target but a secondary one since that will be to win ground that already belongs to a proprietary format. It's called leverage and we must get and use it because the other goy ( MS for now, Novel, SCO or AOL latter ) will not accept slicing up the market between "equal players" as any kind of option. They each want it all.

Lets overcome inertia and apathy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559498)

I'm going to join the Mozilla project. I know that I can contribute *something* to it. If enough of us can do the same, even if each person can only contribute one line of code or one bug fix, we've got potentially *millions* of lines of code or bug fixes. Lets take advantage of our community and help out the Mozilla team. This could be a flagship product for *all* platforms.

Re:Love means never saying "Want the Xtended warra (1)

mattreilly (33603) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559499)

I agree. Girlfriend, you probably could have done better.

cheers,

Matthew Reilly

If we fail, we will lose the war (1)

Primer (25308) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559500)

Wow, I can't agree enough. Talk about a wake up call. I think I'll go to mozilla's web site and sign to do what I can to prevent this catastrophe. This is a war we cannot lose!

-- If we fail, we will lose the war

Re:Linux doesn't do plenty - so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559501)

Who's "we"?

Only Solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559502)

Develop OPEN USEFUL web standards that work on Linux first (Since it would be the dev and ref platform). Let MS do the backporting for once, instead of us playing catchup... :)
We's give everything to the W3C for approval, and design useful ideas. MS would have play catch up coding wise, while we developed a better Linux Browsing experience... :)
We are starting to get the clout.. Why keep following everyone else? We should lead, and show them all how it is done! :)
I say, keep linux UNIX compatible, but look for ways to extend it to new areas. Beowulf is a wonderful example of this. What can we do in the web domain? What can we offer and build that would force MS to play catch up for once?
XML maybe a great tool for this purpose. Develop useful XML standards for vector graphics, etc, get them approved, and implement the nec features in browsers. The std would be open, but MS woul lack in development time...

The tide will turn.... (1)

Kris Warkentin (15136) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559503)

This is the main reason that I hesitate to install Linux on non-tech people's computers. Personally, if something doesn't work, I just go to another site but most people will not tolerate that.

I notice that IIS has gained ground on Apache lately but we still have >50% of the market. With Micro$oft's new seat-based pricing on web-server authentication (starting with win2k i think?), IIS may not seem to be such an attractive choice for long.

We have more and more companies supporting the web through Linux - witness the new server side Java support from Sun for Apache - so these plugins will come for the browsers too. I'm not advocatiing apathy but on the other hand, I think that the swing towards Linux and the backlash against Micro$oft is not even close to being finished yet.

We've more users every day and if 20 million motherboards are going to have Corel Linux with them, we just may see consumer demand for interoperability reach new heights. Linux was started by geeks and nerds but it's the consumers who will make the companies take us seriously.... Soundblaster Live driver anyone?

Standard = market share; best != standard (1)

Deadbolt (102078) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559504)

In agonizing over MS's embrace & extend tactics, there is another important factor: MS Office, Windows, IE, etc. is the standard. They are the standard for no other reason than that they are on just about every consumer desktop. The important moral of this little tale, aside from the Linux/open source community's need to focus more on the complete computer-phobic neophyte's needs, is that to beat MS, Linux, Mozilla et al. must in a way *become* MS.

Put down the gun, I'm not crazy. Hear me out.

When the IBM PC came out way back when ('81), there were a ton of other companies making PCs. Most of these PCs were better and/or cheaper than the clunker IBM was hocking. But the IBM name sold so many of those "inferior" machines that soon the "better" ones were so much silicon trash. The market share that IBM was able to grab cemented its place as the standard PC right up until the present day, and it looks like it's going to stay there for awhile.

Then came Compaq, and by reverse engineering the IBM -- i.e, getting 100% compatibility -- IBM lost its preeminence as the PC hardware maker.

I think you see where I'm going with this. Since MS is the standard OS, Office is the standard productivity whatsis, etc., we have to prove we can beat them at their own game. I admit I'm not too sure what this means, or how it could be done without subverting the open standards, but one great idea is a full-fledged, kickass web browser. Mozilla might be that browser; we have to wait and see. But open source guys can leverage their stability/adaptability advantages to out-innovate MS. (I think this can be done without breaking standards. Publishing APIs, standard protocol extensions, etc., will keep someone from 0wning the market.

Re: OK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559505)

What the fuck ever.

Linux is the ultimate server platform? Serving what? How is it ultimate at that service?

Come on. Munchausen syndrome. Mac users are cut off from certain web services at some sites.

Being a Linux user does NOT require one to adopt a fatalist attitude.

Leapfrog MS for once (1)

SLOfuse (68448) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559506)

I would like to see Linux leapfrog Microsoft for features in this area. Why can't someone code a really cool feature that can used with Mozilla first ("extend" apache to provide the feature). Then, write an open license so that if Microsoft wants to incorporate it, they would have to open up their entire browser (and since that's a part of the operating system, I guess they'd have to open up that as well ;-). It would need to be really cool, like internal collapsing/expanding page sections (that don't use any current techniques), or text-reading voice-synth links. Anyway the point being, what stops open-source developers from "extending" current standards and then depending on the open-source licenses to prevent MS from incorporating these features in their products? They are *not* the true innovators.

Re:Dave's got a point, but the plug-ins will come (1)

jelwell (2152) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559507)

Do you remember when Netscape OWNED the browser client space? How long did it take for Microsoft to change all of that? I remember when I first heard that IE had tipped over 50% share.
Joseph Elwell.

Fight fire with fire. (1)

ddt (14627) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559508)

Anyone else here notice how much more they noticed Linux in the press once it got a mascot?

Branding might be the answer here. One solution, or at least ameliorization, might be to create a handsome certification stamp for web sites that run correctly on Linux Netscape.

That way, important sites can brag, "This site uses no wonky extensions that aren't in a blessed form of Java, JavaScript, or Shockwave" then plop down the sexy logo, and then link the sexy logo to a database of sites that are Linux Netscape-friendly.

I get pretty upset over glorified sites, myself. I don't think everyone making sites that don't work with Linux grok that they've goofed. Most peeps understand how big Linux is now that we've some stock IPO's associated with Linux that did so dern well.

Perhaps Tux riding the Mozilla character in a cowboy hat a la the "running linux" book cover? If this idea appeals to someone willing to run the site, lemme know, and I'll get a good game artist to put together a sexy logo.

This article speaks the truth. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559509)

I am currently developing an Intranet application which requires WYSIWYG editing (HTML) comments to be posted by the end-user. After a moderate amount of research, I found that IE has the ability to create a TEXTAREA-like IFRAME that has this unique ability, the likes of which cannot be duplicated in Netscape short of using Java (not even DHTML can do WYSIWYG editing as far as I have found.) I find myself able to provide this advanced ability only to end-users running IE. It turns my stomach.

Re:this is not new (1)

Tower (37395) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559510)

Star Office does import most all Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents pretty well, and the macro scripting langue is ~Visual Basic (they just call it BASIC, though). It is quite functional, and is really easy for Office users to pick up...

(rehash similar argument for Wordperfect on Linux, but not with as much vigor)...

I personally don't care much what I use, since i don't exchange docs with many others,and most of them use .rtf anyway 8^)

Re:I'd pay for a good, stable browser for Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559511)

Wait for the Opera [opera.com] port to finish. From what I understand, it runs great on Windows, and the port to Linux is underway. It is certainly non-free in all senses of the word, but if that doesn't concern you, it should be a usefull piece of non-bloated software.

Re:Browser isn't enough (1)

Anthony Kilna (27541) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559512)

Or maybe another new idea like a platform independant scripting language of some sort, that could run in the browser? We could make it absolutely nothing like Java except for calling a few objects the same things... and call it JavaScript. We'd have to since it just sounds so cool, and we love using an uppercase letter in the middle of a word. *cough, cough*

Now and Then (3)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559513)

Before i was very concerned with making websites that were only viewable in one browser or another. There wasn't that much diffentiation in terms of developing for one browser would making my life that much easier. With Cascading Style Sheets, that's all changed.

Let me warn you that I haven't upgraded my Netscape past 4.5, figuring they're all "dot" releases and will probably not have CSS support. If I'm wrong let me know ASAP!

But the fact remains that these days I develop sites primarily with IE in mind, because CSS is easier to develop, and produces much cleaner HTML, in my opinion. I don't know, or care, if MS has extended the CSS standard, but what i do know is that I can't seem to get equivilant functionality from Netscape.

Mozilla really needs to get it's act together, in terms of releasing a reference release, in my eyes. Just bolt on a usuable GUI and call it 1.0. Then start adding features and call that 1.5. Netscape is withering away because of the lack or percieved development. If we wait til Mozilla is perfect, it'll never come. The world changes, and just as Mozilla catches up to it, someone, somewhere, adds something new...

Re:accessible site design (2)

Chase (8036) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559514)

As an internet software developer I think I can answer your question.

When we begin a development project we put together the requirements for the software we need to write. Over time our customers have started to demand features that are generally only accessable to you via a fat application. Those features are available to you in web browsers but only if you target a particular browser. Example: DHTML -- This is a great step forward in what is possible on a browser but unfortunatly Netscape and Microsoft implement the language differently. This mean we have to make a choice for our first release and many times our first release becomes the only release. In the case of DHTML Microsoft is closer to the W3C standard than Netscape so we choose MS. Better to go with the standard and hope that Netscape moves that way than implement the non-standard version and hope that Netscape doesn't standarize.

Its a complicated and often argued topic.

Re:i'm failing to see the point (1)

housefly (79747) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559515)

I second this idea. I didn't switch from Windoze to Linux for the web browser. Let her have her M$ machine, and after it crashes a whole bunch, ask her how much those coupons were worth.

What website could be worth so much that you'd give up a stable OS to view it?

that's why you WILL lose (1)

AshleyB (18162) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559516)


gee, as a computer illiterate, she really had no choice at all. What was she going to do, pick the Windows machine for which you had REFUSED to help her? Your heavy handed tactic forced her into Linux and now it seems to be incapable of meeting her needs. Hmmm, being forced to use a platform the constricts you...how is that different from the reason the average zealot hates Microsoft? I guess the Open in Open Source doesn't apply to your options.

Hear, hear! (2)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559517)

If I had moderator points right now, you'd have an "insightful".
--

Core applications (1)

speek (53416) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559518)

Everyone's got their core applications they can't live without. Swtiching to Linux requires that, on a user-by-user basis, those core applications work on Linux. For me, the core is

Java
Browser
MS-doc/xls support

At this point, I'm just waiting for Java 1.2, and then I'm gone from the world of windows.

For your everyday user, the core probably goes something like this:

Browser
MS-doc/xls
games

(note, I'm not counting things like email, ftp, newsreading, webserving, code developement, cause those things are unquestionably available on Linux).

Probably the two things on virtually everyone's list is MS-doc/xls and Browser. So, absolutely, we have to have those things.

I've been using StarOffice for 2 months now. It works well, though is buggier than MS word or excel. Mostly harmless, annoying bugs only (haven't hit any show-stopper yet, the worst is that it is constantly popping up an alert box to tell me of an unsupported format - which it then goes on to support anyway).

I had no idea browser was an issue. It surprises me, since we're always hearing of more and more sites going to Linux/Apache. Shouldn't the problem of platform dependent websites be decreasing? I respect this article, but it's anecdotal. Are there any facts and statistics available?

I wish I could help with Mozilla though......
In

What comes first . . . (1)

layne (15501) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559519)

What's more important to ensure compatibility with the web-at-large: a coherent desktop or au courant browser?

I remember back to a story here that sparked long-winded arguments about the allocation of Red Hat's funding. The posts seemed to overlook the urgency of these problems; I can't do my banking on the web with my Debian box, my nephew's diff calculus plug-ins don't work nor will the Apple QT media for his classes etc.

In the cause of expediency, content developers look at audience statistics. One can develop a plug-in that work's great on Win32 platforms or complete a security assay for a handful of platform/browser combinations in much less time so long as the consequences exclude only a very small minority. It doesn't matter how fully implemented is Mozilla's JVM or it's DHTML support.

They need to be developed in tandem but most important is overall ease-of-use. With that comes a strong showing in the census and content managers can no longer ignore us. I can not simply find a new *nix friendly bank.

Exactly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559520)

I'm trying to write a Java applet that will allow people on Macs, PCs, and Unix boxes to all do the same thing. Easy, right? Just what Java was made for, right? Wrong!

Windows has the fastest JVM and things run OK under IE. Linux NS crashes every two seconds or so. The Mac NS doesn't properly support JDK1.1.

No-one uses Linux because it doesn't work. Working now involves much more net access than it used to. Linux has no good browser, therefore, it doesn't work. Yes, this is rather harsh, but is unfortunately true.

On the other hand, I think that there's enough pressure for a good browser that one will materialize whether or not Mozilla solidifies. People will simply have to pay for it under Linux where it is free under Windows. (That will be rather a shock, won't it?) For instance, Opera [operasoftware.com] is working on a bunch of ports [opera.com] for their software. I expect to be able to play $30ish for a decent Linux browser (one that doesn't require the use of kill -9 as frequently as "back") early next year.

Now if someone would just write all the plugins in Java and get a good Java implementation...we'd be set.

Netscape should think of the developers! (1)

ian stevens (5465) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559521)

As someone who is working on web-based application development, I can tell you that Netscape has a long way to go before it can even compare to IE. IE is just a better browser, period. Long ago, Microsoft saw the potential for the browser-as-platform and implemented a consistent Document Object Model which adheres to many more W3C standards than any 4.x version of Netscape. CSS support in IE4 outweighs that of any Netscape 4.x as well. (Mind you, Microsoft also added a few "enhancements" here and there.) As a result, writing web-based apps is a lot less frustrating on IE than under Netscape. There is not a person on our development team who does not secretly wish we could forget about Netscape support altogether ... and these are people who bad-mouth Microsoft all the time for their shoddy products. Quite simply, Microsoft went and done good with IE.

This is not to say that Netscape's crappiness is the only issue. Most people, as we know, don't support good web design or are using web authoring tools which may use crazy IE or Windows-only extensions. They may not even know that they are doing it, nor may they care. Add that to the fact that most plugins exist only on Windows and with closed protocols.

In my opinion, though, if Netscape could make it easier to develop products and pages for its browser by supporting a more consistent DOM and a larger breadth of CSS support, they would be one step closer to pleasing the people who matter as much as the users ... the developers. I haven't really seen the environment under M10, so I can't comment on how well they are doing, but the browser looks and renders significantly better than Netscape 4.x.

Mozilla doesn't need to involve a huge overhaul either. If Netscape could start providing some decent developing tools, like a DOM browser and debugger for Netscape like the one InterDev has for IE, that would be super. Debugging code under Netscape is hell right now and involves a lot of alert() calls all over the place. Yes, they have a JavaScript debugger but it still has a long way to go.

If you reduce the number of excuses developers can give when asked to support your browser, you can make your browser easier to develop for and, in turn, much less of a pain to use.

ian.

PS. Of course, your problem could be solved if you ran IE via VMWare but that's beside the point.

Don't Panic! (1)

lucas_gonze (94721) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559522)

Wait! It's not that simple! Open source competes against secret source on a different time scale.

Open source uses accretion, and operates on geological time. Drip, drip, drip. Slow accumulation of itches scratched... Secret source uses huge amounts of manpower and operates on mtv time. Secret source will often have the edge in the short term. So when things are changing rapidly secret source will be able to compete. It's when a market settles down that open source is unstoppable.

Word processors are a mature technology; we have parity in open source word processors. HTML is a mature technology; we have HTML parity. There is a new RealPlayer twice a day; we do not have parity.

Consumers should be able to make their own choice according to their values. Tell 'em it's ol' faithful open source VS. sexy but undependable secret source. Let there be a choice.

(Don't flame me for suggesting that open source methods can't compete in a fast moving situation! They can at exceptional moments - like the present - when heavy hype has made large numbers of people available for work - but at less visible moments progress will become glacial again!)

Netscape on linux just plain sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559523)

One thing nobody's really touched on, is that the implementation of Netscape on Linux just plain sucks large planets through a millipore filter, aside from Java/plugin considerations.

My box runs Linux 90% of the time, except to boot to Windows to A) play games B) run MS "Streets & Trips 2000", and C) run Netscape's HTML composer.

Even on the latest 4.61, if you do something as elementry as insert a link, it'll bus error, for god's sake! This is just entirely too lame. And it doesn't even have Mozilla's excuses.

There have also been times when someone's accidentally swapped a {td} and a {tr} and Netcrap goes off into the weeds and dumped core. Not displaying the table I can understand, but a core dump??

Plus I like IE's ability to title and save a new bookmark where ever the hell you please, at the time you create it. That's the killer feature that turned me to the dark side. What use is tons of nicely organized folders if you end up with your "new item" folder full of hundreds of uncategorized, randomly titled links? By the (infrequent) time I go to sort 'em all out, they're useless.

Another problem, both on Linux and Windows, is the cache. Lots of times Netscape just doesn't bother to check the timestamp on a page and happily pulls old crap out of the cache. And YES, I've turned on "check every time" too.

Netscape deserves to lose the browser war.

-gc gcash@magicnet.net

Corba may be the answer (1)

Kris Warkentin (15136) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559524)

When applications can say 'Yo....Orb....gimme a jpeg viewer and a Shockwave plugin....pronto', then maybe none of this will matter. Browsers are just huge, ugly, beasts that try to do way more than they should and we need to get things more modular. I realize that plugin's are modular but it's much more profitable to write an object that everyone in the OS can use rather than just one specific application.

Is a BROWSER really the issue though? (4)

jabber (13196) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559525)

Most people with computers (ahem, Windows) use their home PC for web browsing. True enough.

To compete in this area, Linux needs a stable, solid, full-featured browser. True as well.

But, IMHO, Linux isn't even ready to take up that challenge. A solid, stable, pretty, glitzy GUI is needed first.

The OS needs to be usable to a new user - on the same level as Windows.

Linux needs to be easy to install, easy to uninstall, able to sense hardware without the user needing to open the PC to read numbers off of chips.

Linux needs to support the latest and greatest hardware, like USB (USB2), firewire, parallel port scanners, WinModems...

Linux needs to have GAMES!

Linux needs all these things to displace Microsoft as the king of the desktop!

But is that what we want? Or do we want the best OS possible. A stable and robust system, architectured to be portable and extensible, to support new hardware easily as opposed to supporting it now. It's the fisherman maxim.

Write in cool hardware support and you play now, write in extensability for new hardware and you play for a lifetime.

Unless of course what we want to do is relegate Linux to the function of WebTV boxes, in which case all it needs to do is run a browser, a mail client, and that's about it.

Let's do this right folks. Let's design it for the future. Let's not get seduced by Microsoft's rapid upgrade cycle of feature glut.

Linux isn't there yet for the desktop. We have other, more important issues to worry about. 64bit is one. IPv6 is another. Parallel multiprocessing is another still...

Fsck conformity with M$! Let's beat them, not join them. Linux has always been about technical superiority and building knowledgable users. Dumbing Linux down will not serve it at all.

If Linux bends over for the lowest common denominator, I'm going FreeBSD, and so will all the people developing for Linux.

Complain to the webmasters! (1)

MS (18681) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559526)

I totally agree.

I'm webmaster since the early days when XMosaic 0.9 was the only graphical browser and observed the same alarming evolution...

Getting involved with the Mozilla Project is good, but unfortunately not all of us are programmers.

Complaining to those WebMasters who are responsible for non-portable webpages is much easier: write them an e-mail asking them politely to make it's webpages "usable" to all. Tell them that otherwise we can't read them and we wont link to them. If we don't link to them, they'll loose also readers which may use MSIE on Windows... Shop will not sell, information will not be read an banners wont be seen and clicked. I call this the leverage effect.

Be assured: after they get hundrets of complaints, they'll switch!

Better still: write to the customers who own the webpage (often it's not the webmaster who wanted this Java-thingie, but it was the customer who saw somewhere this neat moving pop-up and instructed the webmaster to insert something similar in his homepage too.

To my experience, a website which is readable by all browsers and doesn't contain ActiveX, Java, Shockwave or the like has a 200% bigger audience due to various leverage-effects.

You know David Siegel? He was(!) responsible for dazzling websites, and now has turned back to the "minimalismus". Others will soon follow.

E-Commerce and it's need to reach all people we do our interests here and drive away from proprietary solutions towards robust and standardized solutions.

No, we haven't lost yet, but we will have to work hard.

:-)
ms

HTTP user agent (1)

cwebster (100824) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559527)

"Oh, and you can have a program that sets your browser identification as whatever the hell you want it to say, or even change it on the fly."

Lynx already lets you change the user agnet to whatever you want. :)



We don't want to be like Apple. (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559528)

Getting Office released for Linux isn't in the same league. If Office for Linux is our "main" Office suite then we are in the same position Apple has been forced into. I.e. MS can pretty much kill Apple in everything but it's graphics niche whenever it wants.

Being able to read the formats in a _seperate_ free app is what will help. Make *.doc a commodity and MS can join the XML bandwagon and play our game ( open Standards ). They haven't managed to win the web server war yet so they are wary of truly open standards.

PS : Has MS EVER ported ANYTHING to an OS which can be instaled on a machine that also runs Windows ?

Konqueror (1)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559529)

The new version of Konqueror (seen here [kde.org] and here [jorsm.com] ) will be supporting Java, has Corba based plugins, and can emulate (send a "brand name" browser string) to view websites that think they know better than the user. I also seem to remember something about javascript being supported, although I can't find a reference, and it may or may not be coming in KDE 2.0.

Corba plug ins let you view all sorts of images, PDFs, Postscipt files [jorsm.com] , as well as browse your local filesystem.

And yes, I know that it's for KDE, but KDE will run with both E and Gnome pretty compatibly.

As for the larger premise: My personal "killer app" that is keeping me in Windows is the lack of multi-head support for ATI cards. I use two to handle multimedia in and out on two monitors. I'm hoping that XFree 4.0 will allow me to use it (at that point, I'll also have to get my USB HP 895Cse printer working).

My point is that everybody has a whole different set of priorities. Not being able to see some websites is merely annoying to me. Having to reboot two or three times a day -- that's forgivable only when I trade it off for two monitors and multimedia i/o.

--
Evan E.

Marry a Rebel and You Marry the Cause. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559530)

What if George Washington's wife said "C'mon home George, it's cold up their in Valley Forge. We have a nice warm fire down here in Mt. Vernon".

Mozilla may not win, but it's not our last hope. (1)

Calimus (43046) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559531)

As much as I have always been a supporter of Netscapes browser, I do realize that it's not the only choice we have. The people over at Opera are working on their linux version and though they ask for a little coin for their software, it is fastly becomming an alternative.

An this really pains me to say, but there is a version of IE for the *nix platform as well. Though I have never used it, or know anyone that has, I have seen that it does exist. I pray to the GOD's that I never have to see that on my desktop ( thats part of the reason I switched to linux ), it is still none the less an alternative as well.

And maybe with the fall of Netscape/Mozilla there in the aftermath may sprout a new browser that wont have the same problems. Who knows.

Re:The problem is with how browsers are built (3)

Ledge Kindred (82988) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559532)

I think what we need is a plugin-centric browser... one with a basic display engine that knows how to draw/display stuff, but doesn't come with any specific information. Then plugins with that information -- plugins that can be updated on the fly, or replaced when needed -- are added, and voia! Superbrowser!

And of course 99% of those plugins will all be distributed as .DLLs written with Microsoft Visual Studio. No source, either, because this is proprietary technology, you see.

Oh, you can't use .DLLs on your platform. Oh well, I guess you can't view our new proprietary content. Sorry.

No, we don't need a browser that is plug-in based, we have those and they obviously only work if you own the OS platform and browser that uses them as well. What we need are sites that conform to STANDARDS.

Unfortunately that will never happen.

I don't think the "war" will ever be over. There will ALWAYS be a company somewhere perverting the standards for their own benefit. If they can convince enough of their users that the advantages of doing something that will never work anywhere enough outweights the drawbacks, it will catch on and you're right back at square one.

There will ALWAYS be more people willing to go for "Cheap, easy and the WRONG thing to do" than "Less cheap, less easy, but the RIGHT thing to do." People are lazy.

-=-=-=-=-

This is very true.... (1)

free space (13714) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559533)

This is all very true,currently the mozilla project has several problems: 1-FUD from the likes of CNet & ZDNet 2-Some people in The Open Source community say it's either not 'really free software' or that it's a failure. 3-The impression that Mozilla is Netscape,or that Netscape is only getting free programmers. 4-Delays. The Open Source community should participate with more code,bugs et al,currently by viewing their code changes in Bonsai* you will see 80% of the work done by Netscape programmers. -MS ---------------- * (Bonsai is Mozilla's code-changes tree-sorry couldn't come with a better def.)

Counterattack! (1)

Spud Zeppelin (13403) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559534)

Having been involved in both (a) proprietary technology for the web and (b) commercial website development at different points in my career, it seems eminently clear to me what the counterattack strategy is:

When you come across a site that is incompatible with your browser, fire off a letter to said company's VP of marketing, pointing out that the developer they chose to build their site has made technical decisions that deliberately exclude 25-80% (depending on how severe the platform-specific nature of the site is) of their potential audience. Have your friends do likewise. Sit back and enjoy the fireworks. I haven't met a marketing VP yet who has said that they want their site anything BUT 100%-cross-platform.

Microsoft will ultimately lose the battle over proprietary web goodies simply because everybody isn't using a Microsoft client. Between AOL, Apple, *nix, Netscape-on-Win, etc. the vast majority of the world isn't.





This is my opinion and my opinion only. Incidentally, IANAL.

We're looking at the wrong solutions (1)

The Wing Lover (106357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559535)

Rather than trying to look at how to fix web browsers to be able to look at certain sites, I would say that a better area of concentration would be in educating web designers in browser independence. We run a stock market simulation contest. People with Netscape or IE or whatever the latest browser is would consider it a cool, professional-looking site. However, it will run just as well on Netscape 2, MSIE 2, Lynx, Mosaic, Opera, etc. My point? That sites that look cool and professional-looking don't have to be MSIE-only. (Actually, Slashdot is another example). So shouldn't more of an effort be made to teach webmasters and web designers how to not make their sites rely on the latest technology? - Drew

- Drew

Bring the battle to their websites. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559536)

You will never win if you have to keep playing catchup to IE.

!EVER!

Remember, that's what killed every other one of MS's competitors.

Don't even get into that fight.

If you can't browse a website with Netscape or Opera or Lynx, then make sure that SOMEBODY important at that company KNOWS that.

If they still don't change, they've lost a customer or a pair of eyes or however they want to count it.

And make sure they understand THAT.

And get your wife to get a sense of perspective.

If MS can make a site that 1% of people have to switch to IE to view, and those people switch, then MS will CONTINUE to do that.

Eventually there will be 2%

Then 4%

Then 8%

Then 16%

Then 32% of the web will only be available to IE.

Then 64%

Then the entire web.

It's easier to submit than fight.

But it's better not to switch and let those lazy bastards running the sites KNOW how wrong they are and that you aren't going to submit.

If one person bitches, big deal.

If two people bitch, big deal.

If four people bitch, big deal.

Eventually, it WILL be a big deal and they will change.

Remember the Star Wars and Disney sites?

Fight back.

The point (1)

SheldonYoung (25077) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559537)

He has a very, very valid point here. Navigator crashing is why I still reboot to Windows so my wife can browse the web. Well, crashing and the hideously ugly fonts.

Mozilla, where are you?

Honestly, I used to use Navigator almost exclusively. Now I find that it's down to about 25% at work with IE5 the other 75%. Why? As much as I don't like Microsoft, IE5 is just better.

Navigator has fallen behind the technology curve. Whizzy features are no longer enough to satistfy the public, they need stability. The dating is over, it's time for marriage.

Mozzila may save the day, but it can't come soon enough.

Netscape != Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559538)

Layers are a Netscape extension. The standard DOM does not have layers, and they are going away in Gecko. The DOM, unlike Netscape, lets you control any HTML in the page through the object model. You can build an entire page with Javascript code if you want. This is far more powerful than layers. Microsoft supports this fairly well, Netscape 4.x does not.

Wrong fight (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559539)

Look at the problems described: Lack of plugins, Java glitches and outright refusing connects based on browser/platform ID. NONE WOULD BE FIXED IF MOZILLA SHIPPED TODAY!

If we allow the battle to be defined in these terms we have already lost. Period.

Basically what this amounts to is "we have to be able to run the Win32 copy of IE with all the plugins or we are doomed." Nope, what we need is a hall of shame for crappy sites like those described and make outcasts out of them. For now only do it to the ones who exclude for stupid reasons, sites that could easily handle all comers but just don't give a damn because it works just fine on their Win98 boxes with IE5. The important thing is to not pick on the rare site that is actually doing something interesting with one of those plugins that really can't be done any other way yet. Then so long as they make as much of the content available as possible to non-M$ clients leave em alone while working out a platform independent way of doing it.

As for a solution to the lady who is pining away for Windows, give her a partition or VMWare box with Win98 and let em experience the horror firsthand,

Mozilla isn't the answer ... (1)

Masoch (93459) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559540)

... 'cause, when all is said and done, Mozilla is a part of AOL, and AOL isn't particularly concerned about Linux -- they still don't have Linux support for dial-up. And, frankly, given many Linux advocates' opinions about AOL, I can't blame them.

Netscape is fast approaching irrelevance. 4.6 is buggy, and its JVM is so bad that we were warned by one of providers not to use it for their new service. They reccomened 4.51 or "any 4.x or greater version of IE." It pains me to say it ... but, I bet in a complete thrashing of browsers on Windows platforms, IE 4 would be more stable and more compatible with HTML standards.

I have a pretty strong suspicion that Mozilla will be too little too late.

Opera, on the other hand, looks *much* more promising ... it's just not open source. But sometimes closed source isn't bad.

Just a thought ...

Re:Linux doesn't do plenty - so what? (1)

Dr.Whiz-Bang (4662) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559541)

It is not a fault of Linux or it's developers, it's a fault of Microsoft. They are 'embracing and extending, and innovating' wizz-bang toys that they keep closed. This is the crux of their monopolistic practises that the FTC is investigating.

that's WHIZ-bang.

gg

Fixing Java under RedHat 6.1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559542)

I'm surprised no one has posted this yet:

chkfontpath --add /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi
/etc/rc.d/init.d/xfs restart

Or you can update the package (which runs the command, the files are exactly the same.)

Found it on the errata page accidentally. :)

Re:The problem is with how browsers are built (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1559543)

If the browser were _modular_, with the display engine as part of the browser, but the information on all the tags and extras as a series of plugins -- you'd be able to add support for new HTML code ON THE FLY.

That's how XML is kind of supposed to work, isn't it?

I think what we need is a plug in-centric browser... one with a basic display engine that knows how to draw/display stuff, but doesn't come with any specific information. Then plugins with that information -- plugins that can be updated on the fly, or replaced when needed -- are added, and voia! Superbrowser!

I don't know any of the technical details, as I'm less of a coder than anything else, but isn't X generally a "client-server" display system? Would it be difficult to add-in/add-on an HTML display library of some sort? Would it be possible to drop the application model altogether and make it a display library of some sort that loads when you need it and goes idle/shuts down/pages to disk when you don't?

. . . customizable . . . (1)

gnarphlager (62988) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559544)

What we need is a full options set where we can choose to enable or disable certain tags, and have the architecture for implementing said tags standard and easily updatable.

Don't like ? Shut it off.

Want to implement a new tag ? Make up a little mod, and distribute it to your audience.

We could have a repository with custom tags, and the HTML 4.0 standards (obviously should be standard on the browser) and extensions. Just a thought anyway.

oh, and the tag could be standard for whining to yourself in a public place ;-)

Re:We don't want to be like Apple. (1)

toast0 (63707) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559545)

Actually yes, IE 4 has/had a SCO Unix version

It's about the monopoly that control standards! (1)

joeler (45203) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559546)

The real problem isn't writing a suitable application. The real problem is the standards that people follow. As long as Microsoft can use it's monopoly power to change or extend the commom standards whenever in benefits Microsoft and hurts their competitors, linux programmers will always be playing catch up. This is the same thing IBM faced with OS/2, as soon as IBM got things working , Microsoft would make changes to stop it.

The only thing that will save open standards is the DOJ , and only if they remain steadfast in their effort to make Microsoft stop abusing it's monopoly power. However, as, I have posted before, the real problem may end up being politics.

The DOJ only got involved after Anne Bingaman was appointed head of the anti trust division of the DOJ. About one month after her appointment she contacted the FTC and told them that if they did not intend to do something about Microsoft, to send the case over to the DOJ. However, time is running out, with elections coming up next year it is possible that a new administration will remove Anne Bingaman ( that was appointed during the Clinton/Gore administration), and the DOJ will go back to the way it was, before she was appointed.

The DOJ is fighting to keep a level playing field, where everyone can compete fairly, but Microsoft will not allow that to happen if the DOJ backs off. It is no secret that Microsoft is already giving money to some politicians to cut the budget for the DOJ , certainly they also would like to have the person removed that started all this trouble and the only way is to have a new administration take over that will replace Anne Bingaman with a more Microsoft friendly department head.

You may not be a programmer, but you may be an American voter, if you feel it is important to keep the DOJ on Microsoft's case then vote to keep the same people at the DOJ.

Perhaps a weekend hack-fest? (1)

Pretender (3940) | more than 14 years ago | (#1559547)

Perhaps there should be some bug-stomping party, some get-together (easy if funded by AOL, slightly more difficult if not) where competent hackers all converge and fix a lot of things over a weekend or something? Something like what Loki did.
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