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

Re: Review of Mozilla M4

Author:Eric Kidd
Posted:4/24/1999; 6:07:57 PM
Topic:jwz resigns
Msg #:5287 (In response to 5283)
Prev/Next:5286 / 5288

Does M4 offer more value to you than Nav4.5 as a pre-alpha user?

No. The biggest shortcomings are a lack of bookmarks, poor forms support and a few remaining bugs in the rendering engine. The best features are fast rendering, good CSS support and incremental display.

I've just started running M4 in parallel with 4.07. I'm writing this message in 4.07 because M4's support for forms on Linux is still a bit screwy.

If this were a traditional, GPL'd project with volunteer developers, I'd guess that it had a 75% chance of becoming a really great browser by the end of the year. As the Mozilla folks are fond of pointing out, though, Mozilla's a special case. As with GCC, much of the work is driven by a single company, so it's hard to estimate project completion and schedule risks against regular projects in the GNU and Linux communities.

Also, please remember that I'm an early adopter with rabies. Some folks were complaining about versions of Gnome immediately prior to 1.0.8; I ran Gnome 0.10 as part of my personal desktop.

Open source software doesn't start out as being any more reliable than other kinds of software. Early peer review improves the quality of the design, but not the initial bug count. It's only once a big project gets most of the way through the integration phase that the bugs start to disappear.

So if you want a short summary, you might try: "Mozilla's still a piece of junk, but it just became a loveable piece of junk." The next stage is traditionally something like: "Hey! This doesn't really suck anymore. I can use it as a real browser, if I'm patient enough."

After that, things usually get fun. ;-) Free software is generally usable at 1.0, polished at the next major release and a reliable workhorse after that. As an illustration, Gnome is usable, KDE is polished, and the Linux kernel is a workhorse.

Cheers, Eric

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