Posted Sep 26, 2006 18:43 UTC (Tue) by jmorris42
In reply to: Seamonkey
Parent article: The return of Iceweasel
> SeaMonkey is no fork...
A fork is when a new group of developers (B) take a codebase written by group A in a different direction. Mozilla Corp would be group A, they forked their codebase into the original Mozilla (integrated product) and Firefox + Thunderbird and then abandoned the Mozilla fork. Group B (the Seamonkey devels) have now taken over that fork. So while it didn't happen like most forks, the current situation IS a fork, with two seperate groups maintaining two development branches. Currently SeaMonkey is bringing most of the improvements from Firefox/Thunderbird into their tree and almost all FF extensions work on SeaMonkey.
This situation is not likely to last forever. See BSD. Code will continue to cross polinate between the branches but over time there will be divergence. Eventually patches from one tree will no longer cleanly apply to the other.
It is worth a moment to explain why this is almost certain to occur. Consider. Moz Corp explicitly abandoned Moz as an unneeded development burden. Thus they are highly unlikely to accept any patches from SeaMonkey devels into their tree that makes the lives of the SeaMonkey people any easier unless it also adds some major new feature desirable to FF users. Meanwhile SeaMonkey will be trying to play catchup with FF and at the same time will probably undertake innovation of their own. Creative and skilled devels aren't likely to remain passive forever and any feature they add which doesn't end up being accepted into FF isn't likely to be deleted from their own tree just because of FF's rejection. Thus a full two way fork will eventually appear, and while that first example will likely trigger some flaming and debate each successive one will involve less of it.
The Free Software camp, more importantly the major distribution maintainers, need to be considering which fork is likely to be easier to integrate in the long term. I'd contend that FF just isn't interested in the needs of the distributions that produce longterm stable "enterprise" products. It is not yet known whether the SeaMonkey camp will, but are new enough the major distros might be in a better position to able to influence their development. (The same arguments regarding longterm product deployment would also apply to many corporate rollouts of FF on Windows but are not something I care about.)
Questions helpful to that debate are:
1. What does FF+TB bring to the table that SeaMonkey doesn't? And forget name recognition because by this time next year RHEL and SUSE are probably going to be the only distros calling the software by that recognizable name. However, whatever the name FF is the #2 browser behind IE, thus most likely to be compatible with the most sites on the Internet.
2. What does SeaMonkey bring to the table that FF+TB doesn't? As currently packaged (from both RH and rpms available from the SeaMonkey project) it allows the extra bits (mail, chat, etc) to be discarded if unneeded. Most FF extensions install on SeaMonkey. But those aren't arguments FOR SeaMonkey.
3. Which project is more likely to backport security fixes or will be easier for a distro maintainer to do so? We already know Moz Corp. is unhelpful almost to the point of being actively hostile to the needs of enterprise computing and the stable longlived distributions needed for it.
to post comments)