David Madore's WebLog: Whither Mozilla?

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Whither Mozilla?

Is our favorite lizard dead? I've been using Mozilla as my primary Web browser from version 0.7 of it or thereabout (that must have been early 2001); I've been recommending it to everyone since version 1.0 (released 2002-06-05); and I recompile the beast (the Sea Monkey, to be precise) every week or so based on the then-current CVS snapshot. Now since Mozilla 1.4 this summer, perhaps even 1.3, I can't recall any significant novelty of any kind: whether new feature, bug fix, or anything. It seems that they've been releasing new version after new version that were practically identical with each other: is this because the death of Netscape left Mozilla moneyless? I follow MozillaZine, but uninteresting news items are all I ever see, like, this-or-that corporation recommends Mozilla, or this-or-that government decided to use Mozilla for its internal use, or here-or-there you can buy Mozilla promotional tee-shirts (or coffee, or whatever): fine, but not really to the point.

Perhaps the activity is still going on other fronts, such as FireBird and ThunderBird — those I do not use (because recovering all the Sea Monkey features that I need would require installing zillions of not-too-stable extensions), and I feel like all of what Mozilla is doing now is putting back in these children what used to be in the Sea Monkey and which they had removed to create the birds.

Actually, I've observed a few regressions in the layout engine, affecting this 'blog. In this very page, for example, the right margin and/or the bottom margin of each entry is always wrong with the Mozilla version I use (at least one of them is too large, and sometimes both are). In this paragraph, in principle, the left and right margins (the distance between the edge of the text and the edge of the entry's bounding box) should be precisely the same, and should also be the same as the bottom margin of the entry (the distance between the Comments link and the bottom edge of the box); typically this isn't the case. I haven't submitted a report for that bug, because I was unable to provide a clear test case, and it isn't systematically reproducible anyway.

Like everybody, I have my pet bugs in the Lizard. Every time a new release is announced on MozillaZine, half of the posts are sarcastic comments from people who ask, have they finally fixed <my favorite bug> yet? I really really can't use Mozilla until they do; <insert some more blathering about why this bug is super-important and should be on the developers' top-priority list>. Well, I don't complain that much, but I'm still annoyed that Mozilla can't handle XHTML content incrementally (which sort of forbids the use of XHTML, and, consequently, of XML), <ruby> support is still missing, X Window System selection is buggy, helper applications can't be passed any command-line arguments (this is the most ridiculous bug ever, and could be fixed in five minutes by anyone who knows a bit about the Mozilla source tree), pixel roundoff problems (this is a serious design problem, of which I already spoke here) still occur, ChatZilla does not handle DCC, tooltips cause various troubles, SVG has the most ridiculous crash bug, and so on. I'm not even bothering to count, report, or mention, printing bugs, because Mozilla printing is so utterly broken that I've never been able to do anything remotely useful with it (when I wish to print HTML documents, I generally turn to Konqueror or something; maybe I should try FOP instead). Anyway, none of these bugs are likely to be fixed anytime soon, unfortunately: if I really cared, I would learn enough C++ and enough Mozilla-hacking to fix them myself (some should be relatively easy), but, of course, I won't. But it's not so much the fact that my favorite bugs aren't (ever going to be) fixed that worries me: it's the fact that nothing seems to be happening, these days.

Hello, Mozilla? Is anyone there?

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