The Story of Firefox: from Underdog to Superhero
During 2005, Firefox gained 10% of global market share from its rivals, a feat that the proprietary Netscape could not muster after falling behind Internet Explorer. The success train continued to roll down the tracks, and Mozilla released Firefox 1.5 on November 29, 2005.
In Firefox 1.5, the Mozilla development team added new features, such as even speedier page loading, drag-and-drop search, integrated RSS reader, tab re-ordering, better pop-up blocking, binary patching for upgrades, clearing of personal data with a single button and partial SVG 1.1 support—not to mention all the new extensions that continue to accumulate, which leave practically no limit to what you can do with Firefox.
Despite the increased complexity of version 1.5, the Firefox development team continued to prove itself more worthy than its rivals, not only attending to serious flaws but also avoiding them in the first place.
We need another metaphor for inertia, because Firefox 2.0 has it too. As we sit on the verge of version 3.0, we can see that Firefox 2.0 has carved out another 8% of market share to reach 18%, according to Net Applications. This translates into approximately 170 million users worldwide.
As I finish this article, I longingly look ahead to the release date for Firefox 3.0, which looms just a few tantalizing days out at the time of this writing. The day is also Download Day, an initiative by Spread Firefox to set the Guinness World Record for Most Software Downloaded in 24 Hours. As of mid-June, the number stands at 1.1 million and growing. Clearly, now that open source has taken hold, it is possible to assert that one should never underestimate the effectiveness of disciplined bands of inspired volunteers to change the world of computing.
Mozilla has raised expectations for Firefox 3.0, saying that it will run double the speed of its predecessor and use much less memory. Furthermore, the browser will be much smarter, as you can simply begin typing into the location bar, or “aweome bar”, to find what you are looking for, and Firefox offers a list of options it thinks are most relevant to you.
Version 3.0 also implements the updated Gecko 1.9 layout engine, which allows it to pass the Acid2 test, a standards-compliance test for Web-page rendering.
Firefox's trajectory—from proprietary Netscape to Mozilla to Phoenix/Firebird and finally Firefox—is an incredible story of triumph. What began as the outdated, proprietary Netscape browser, with shrinking market share from a struggling company, was set free with open source to transform itself into a technological and organizational powerhouse. Firefox now ranks with Linux and Apache as one of the world's premier open-source applications. Although it has taken a decade, Firefox has valiantly clawed back to nearly 20% market share worldwide, with 29% in Europe and more than 40% in countries like Finland and Poland. This is quite an accomplishment, given that Firefox's main competitors, IE and Safari, have huge pre-installation advantages.
Firefox came of age with open source and, as Technetra's Alolita Sharma observed, “has helped make open source mainstream” and that “its success as a constantly evolving open-source product has validated the open-source development model”. Hats off to the pioneers like Eric S. Raymond who helped Netscape see the light in 1998 and get started on the right foot, as well as the hundreds of developers and activists who contributed to Firefox technically and promotionally. Without the army of Spread Firefox volunteers, who never would be so enthusiastic about a proprietary product, Firefox's success would be much less viral.
Many thanks also go to Microsoft for so many things—its horrible attention to security, lack of innovation and IE's overly tight integration with Windows—all of which made users so fed up and thirsty for an alternative. It helped tip so many millions to Firefox.
The past decade has been quite a run for our friend Firefox. It has matured admirably over time, and version 3.0 continues the positive, upward trend. As mentioned, however, competitors are in the wings who would love to experience similar success and grab hold of some of Google's millions that Firefox currently receives. Already there are signs that Safari is eating into some of Firefox's market share in North America. Regardless, if our fledgling hero can ride its current wave of technical innovation and popular support, we should see Firefox residing on ever more desktops of satisfied computer users.
James Gray is Products Editor for Linux Journal.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
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.
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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