The return of Iceweasel
Posted Sep 26, 2006 17:49 UTC (Tue) by sbergman27
Parent article: The return of Iceweasel
"""One cannot help wondering, however, if the Mozilla Corporation, now one year old, isn't losing touch with the free software community it is ostensibly part of."""
Sometimes, people criticize the duplication of effort in the OSS community. They moan that Gnome and KDE should merge, that Koffice is just a waste since we have OpenOffice, etc. To be honest, there was a time that I kinda thought along those lines.
This is a great example of why a reasonable degree of choice is a good thing.
Any organization, no matter how friendly and well thought of today, can turn evil, or begin to ignore parts of the community which contributed to their success, which amounts to about the same thing.
The fact that the code is open-source does not completely side step this problem when it occurs. It's *hard* to "just fork" complex software like FF, Thunderbird, and OO.o. Just look at how long X suffered under the tender mercies of XFree86 before the community forked it. This would never have gone on so long but for the fact that X, like FF, Thunderbird, and OO.o is a hard thing to fork.
To make matters worse, the *more* successful the project becomes, the *more likely* it is to start seeing various parts of the community as ants which can be safely stepped on to focus on the really important users.
I've been looking at Epiphany for my Gnome users. It's a nice browser with a much nicer memory footprint if one is already running a Gnome desktop.
Ditto Konqueror and KDE.
So all that "duplication of effort" was actually, among other things, an insurance policy.
We in the Linux community had a lot to do with FF's popularity. I suspect that an inordinate number of the people who campaigned for FF, recommended it to others, and generally put it on the map, were us Linux people.
I fear that now the only thing that the Mozilla Corporation will notice is dollars. Remember that they are making millions of dollars off of our Google searches when we, and the people we have recommended it to, search the web with Firefox.
If those FF percentages in the browser use reports started to drop a bit at the expense of "other", the Google dollars began dipping a little, and a few news stories came out about FF "losing steam" with a few of us former users agreeing about it instead of criticizing the report, I'll bet a few people at Mozilla Corporation might just take notice. (The problem being what, then, to recommend to Windows users who have fewer OSS options.)
Though by that time, their notice may not matter. They might have to *win* their Linux market share back. I'm already seeing that epiphany is an excellent browser, better integrated into Gnome than FF. And on my servers that run many users' desktops, I can see some pretty impressive memory savings from using Epiphany and Evolution, as opposed to FF and Thunderbird. (Yes, I was surprised at how much more efficient Evo is than Thunderbird, but it's true.)
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