The Real Firefox-Killer
Firefox fans will be facing 2007 with more tranquillity than they did 2006. A year ago, it was clear that Firefox's free ride was about to end: after an astonishing five years of inactivity, Microsoft was finally launching an updated version of Internet Explorer. There seems little doubt that much of Firefox's success is down to the fact that Internet Explorer was so bad, both in terms of the eternal round of security problems and its general technical tiredness (half a decade is a very long time in computing.)
Potentially, them, the appearance of Internet Explorer 7 could have marked the high-water point for Firefox, as the Microsoft machine went into overdrive and began clawing back the market share it had lost since Firefox's arrival. But when the final version of Internet Explorer 7 appeared in October last year, the verdict was almost unanimous: it was not a Firefox-killer. To be sure, it was much better than IE6, but that had set the bar pretty low. Aside from offering tabs and a few much-needed security enhancements, IE7 was definitely in the ho-hum category. Firefox seemed safe for at least another year or two.
It is not. For the real challenger comes not from Microsoft directly; instead, it's from a new browser that uses IE's rendering engine, Trident, but which is produced completely independently of the company. This means that it can offer all the "benefits" of 100% compatibility with what is still the dominant Internet browser, together with a host of real improvements - some of which go beyond even Firefox.
This new competitor is called Maxthon, and, significantly, comes from China. This is relevant because the Chinese computer sector has tended to evolve according to its own rules. So while many sensible Westerners have seen the light and converted from Internet Explorer to Firefox, this is by no means the case in China. On the contrary: according to a recent interview with one of Maxthon's executives, Maxthon holds around 30% of the Chinese browser market, while Firefox is nowhere. Put that figure together with the fact that there are currently 132 million Internet users in China, up 30% from last year, and likely to grow even more in the future, and you have a situation where Maxthon's installed base probably already rivals that of Firefox.
That on its own would be bad enough; worse is that fact that the Maxthon browser is going to be being pushed aggressively outside China. The company behind it has received several rounds of investment, and now has the funds to make a big impact in the West.
Worst of all, perhaps, is that the Maxthon browser is actually better than Firefox. That is, it offers all of the features we have come to know and love on Firefox - tabbed browsing, adblocks, skins, plugins - together with several innovative ideas, such as automatic detection of RSS feeds, built-in Babel Fish translation, quick links to Google's cache, mouse gestures as standard, and plugins for Gmail, Hotmail, Bloglines, and coComment already installed.
I said that Maxthon offers all of the features of Firefox, but there is actually a rather important one that is missing: freedom. Although Maxthon is free as in beer, it is not free as in freedom. For readers of this blog, that will probably be the showstopper in terms of using Maxthon, but for the other 99.99% of the world, it is largely irrelevant. Maxthon may only work on Windows, but the market share of non-Windows desktops is currently small, so this is not a major issue either. The fact is that Maxthon could well be the best browser out there for most non-technical users who either are unaware of or don't care about deeper issues of freedom.
This is extremely dangerous for Firefox. Although Firefox 2.0 is widely regarded as superior to IE7, it is not that much better: it has no really stunning new features, and the old memory leak still seems to be dripping away (Firefox regularly eats up 200-300 Mbytes on my systems). In other words, it is hardly invulnerable to a bright, brash new entrant like Maxthon.
There is a danger that the Firefox world is starting to rest on its laurels and become complacent: this could be fatal for the Fox. The last thing it can afford to do is sit back and take its position as the coolest, most innovative browser around for granted. It can't even point to its highly successful SpreadFirefox community as an unbeatable trump card: Maxthon too has an extremely active and enthusiastic community behind it, which provides bug reports and evangelises the product.
Unless some serious thinking goes into how to make Firefox 3.0 not just better, but also truly exciting once more - and I don't mean just adding things like microformats - I fear that 2007 may finish much worse than 2006 did for the Firefox world.
Glyn Moody writes about free software at opendotdotdot.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
Free to Linux Journal readers.View Now!
|The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database||Jul 29, 2016|
|Stunnel Security for Oracle||Jul 28, 2016|
|SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager||Jul 21, 2016|
|My +1 Sword of Productivity||Jul 20, 2016|
|Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!||Jul 19, 2016|
|Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)||Jul 18, 2016|
- Stunnel Security for Oracle
- The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database
- Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)
- SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager
- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- My +1 Sword of Productivity
- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
- Google's SwiftShader Released
- SuperTuxKart 0.9.2 Released
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide