Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

jwz resigns

Author:Eric Kidd
Posted:4/2/1999; 8:35:10 AM
Topic:jwz resigns
Msg #:4744
Prev/Next:4743 / 4745

In retrospect, Netscape's mistakes seem pretty obvious:

They released an unusable product. The Netscape 5 code that was released to didn't compile. Once people got it to compile, it didn't run. Once it ran, it died on any major website.

Now, open source developers will forgive bugs. But they rarely contribute to products they can't use. So developers stayed away in droves for the first six months.

Fortunately, has almost fixed this problem: Mozilla now runs under Windows. Unfortunately, it's just barely usable under Linux--and that's only true since sometime last month. Since most of the world's open source developers use Linux, the folks at have been cutting themselves off from most of their developer base.

If you release a product as open source, make sure people can use it. People don't enhance programs they don't run.

Netscape choose an inconvenient license. The NPL and MPL are open source licenses, but they're problematic ones. The NPL is "asymetric"--it requires you to give Netscape rights to your code that Netscape won't give you to their code. The MPL fixes this problem.

Both the NPL and the MPL have a bigger problem, however: code released under these licenses can't be used in many open source programs. Much of the open source software in the world is released under the GNU General Public License. But the NPL and the MPL don't mix with the GPL. This costs another 50% of their potential developers.

If release a product as open source, make sure your license is compatible with the GPL.

However, things are looking up. Mozilla M3 is beginning to be usable (even on Linux), and it's a pretty cool program. Netscape is making small, cautious attempts to make their license more compatible with the GPL.

But still, 30 outside developers is pretty pathetic. Miguel de Icaza, a university student in Mexico, organized close to 300 for Gnome. The Linux kernel has dozens of major contributors and probably a thousand part-time contributors. Hell, any project, no matter how useless and ridiculous, can find at least half a dozen people to write code. (Alan Cox, for example, even found people to help him port Linux to 68k Macintoshes.)

Up until your project becomes usable, though, you won't get more than a few developers. Mozilla is just reaching this turning point after a year of development.

Did jwz quit too soon?

Cheers, Eric

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