Firefox flew out of the ashes of Netscape a year after AOL formally cut ties with Netscape and Mozilla. Firefox came into being in a hostile environment for new browsers, and blew the doors wide open. Firefox through its solid page rendering, and user friendliness quickly redefined what was view as standard on the web.
Outside of the political reasons for using Firefox, I prefer it over Webkit browsers (Chrome/Safari) due to the expansive list of plug-ins, and overall functionality that Firefox has. I’ve can stumble, read Rss feeds, post to Twitter and Tumbler, shorten urls with Bit.ly, block cookies, set up proxies on the fly, and go completely IP kamikaze with Tor in a click of a button.
The fluidity and functionality of Firefox relates to the mission statement of the project, a browser for the people by the people.
A Bit of History
There was a frightening time when the web had only one widely used, and well-functioning browser. Back in 2002-03 there was really only Internet Explorer. Netscape was the only viable competition, and there were a lot of problems. Netscape, even though open source since 1998, was first its own for profit, and then was owned by America Online. Netscape could not keep up with the changes in browsing and collapsed in 2002.
Mozilla, the open source of Netscape, was given one hell of a severance package from AOL, the Mozilla developers received 2 million dollars to charter a new non-profit, now known as the Mozilla Foundation. Unlike Netscape, and later AOL in which the developers served the interests of their parent organizations, the Mozilla Foundation pledged to serve the interests of the public.
Open Source & Company Interest
Firefox embraces the whole spirit of the open source movement. The code is created by anyone who has the desire and ability to contribute, and there is no corporate motive other than to provide the best browser possible.
This is the key difference between Mozilla and browsers like Chrome, and Safari. While they are also open source projects they are intricately connected to larger for profit companies. Both rely on a budget and interest in the projects from Google and Apple, companies that produce a wide range of products with a varying level of interest and potential profit.
Years from now I believe that Firefox (so long as people continue to use it) will continue to make an innovative product, with no deviation from its current mission statement. As Mozilla was created for the sole purpose of doing what it is doing now.
With Safari and Chrome I worry about stagnation over time, and them going the way of Netscape. As there are so many competing interests within their parent companies and a constantly evolving set of motives and goals for the browsers. Microsoft being closed source, and completely private is already being crushed under its own weight and proprietary coding, and is barely worth mentioning.
Firefox is more than just a browser, it is an important idea that survives only through us continuing to use it, donate, and support the project. Mozilla has set forth a bold approach for application development where the primary goal is satisfying the user.
- Mozilla Mission Statement
- History of Mozilla
- History of Firefox (Wikipedia)
- Webkit (Wikipedia)
- Google Chrome Mission Statement
- Why Use Open Source Software