Is Mozilla Actually AOL-Netscape's Mozilla?
Mike Angelo -- 11 January 2002 (c)
Some of the controversy surrounding the Mozilla Organization, the Mozilla Project, and the Mozilla software centers on the relationship between Mozilla and Netscape. Just what that relationship is depends on to whom you speak about it and upon what you see as happening in practice rather than in theory.
Some of you are raising eyebrows at the suggestion that Mozilla is an AOL operation and product. The Mozilla Organization, the Mozilla Project, and the Mozilla browser-suite are supposed to be independent of Netscape and AOL -- yah right.
One easily can argue either side of the coin on this one. The facts of course are the facts. The devil is in how one applies the facts to the question of the relationship between Mozilla and Netscape. There is little doubt that there is a relationship between Netscape and Mozilla. However, in the end what you conclude is the nature of that relationship depends more on how you decide to analyze the available facts rather than on the facts themselves.
The Netscape-Mozilla Nexus
The Netscape-Mozilla Urban Legend
The Mozilla-Netscape relationship urban legend goes something like this. The Mozilla Organization is responsible for and is in charge of the Mozilla application framework, Mozilla Web-browser suite development and distribution, Bugzilla, and other software development that taken together comprise the Mozilla Project -- or perhaps more appropriately a collection of Mozilla projects. AOL's Netscape division is responsible for and in charge of Netscape Communicator development and distribution.
Theoretically according to the Mozilla-Netscape relationship urban legend, Mozilla and the Mozilla Organization are independent of AOL-Netscape. Simply put, Mozilla the program is not Netscape the browser suite. Nor is Mozilla the organization, Netscape the company! Mozilla, the organization itself is an independent entity and has its own, but small core staff.
AOL-Netscape Dominates Mozilla
In addition to that core Mozilla staff there are many other people involved with the Mozilla Project. Most of the people working on the Mozilla project are independent (mostly volunteer) developers or paid employees of companies such as AOL-Netscape, IBM, Red Hat, and Sun Microsystems who are assigned to work on the Mozilla Project.
The largest block of people involved in the Mozilla project is from AOL-Netscape. So even though the Mozilla Organization and project technically are independent of AOL-Netscape, as a practical matter AOL-Netscape has lots of influence on the Mozilla project -- if for no other reason, at least simply because so many developers working on the Mozilla Project are Netscape people. Also, AOL-Netscape does provide some, if not most, funding for the Mozilla Organization staff and infrastructure.
Bugzilla Takes an End Run Around Netscape Stonewalling
The AOL-Netscape division spokespeople are very secretive about how many Netscape employees work on the Mozilla project and how much support AOL-Netscape provides for the Mozilla project infrastructure. However, thanks to Bugzilla, we were able to do an end-run around the stonewalling from the Netscape spokespeople. Bugzilla provides a handy listing of many people working on Mozilla stuff.
On 7 January 2002, Bugzilla, the Mozilla project's bug tracking database, showed nearly 20,600 (20,576) new, assigned, and reopened bugs. These all are active, open bugs. Therefore there is a natural presumption that the people listed as owners or assignees of these bugs currently are involved in the Mozilla projects -- and that their e-mail addresses listed with those bugs are current e-mail addresses. If not, then the Mozilla people are not doing a very good job of keeping Bugzilla up-to-date.
AOL-Netscape Does Most of the Mozilla Work
Our Bugzilla check turned up 522 unique e-mail addresses listed as owners or assignees for the nearly 20,600 new, assigned, and reopened bugs. Generally bug owners and assignees are people who are involved with code development and/or project management. Moreover, generally the more bugs for which a person is responsible, the more that person is involved with the project (or in the alternative that person is doing a lousy job of fixing bugs or assigning bugs to bug fixers).
Some 229 people with netscape.com e-mail addresses are listed as owners/assignees of that nearly 20,600 new, assigned, and reopened bugs. Another 16 people have mozilla.org e-mail addresses. That leaves 277 people that do not have netscape.com or mozilla.org e-mail addresses listed as owners/assignees of that nearly 20,600 new, assigned, and reopened bugs. Please see Table 1, below.
The Bugzilla owner and assignee e-mail address counting showed more non-Netscape/Mozilla unique e-mail addresses (277) than Netscape (229) or Mozilla Organization (16) unique e-mail addresses. However, the non-Netscape/Mozilla people account for an average of only 9 bugs per person. On the other hand, Netscape people average about 71 bugs per person and Mozilla Organization people average about 103 bugs per person.
Most likely the average bugs-per-person measure reflects that generally the Netscape people and Mozilla people are working full-time on Mozilla projects. And most likely many, if not most, of the non-Netscape/Mozilla people are working much less than full-time on Mozilla projects.
At least seven, if not more, of the sixteen mozilla.org people are now, or were formerly, Netscape employees. The conclusion here is that some 235 people involved in the Mozilla projects are full-time, paid AOL-Netscape employees. Absent publication by AOL-Netscape of the actual number of AOL-Netscape people that work on the Mozilla projects we will consider that number to be about 235 AOL-Netscape people working full time on Mozilla stuff.
At $100,000 per person-year (including benefits and overhead), that is $94,000,000 ($94-million) AOL-Netscape invested in Mozilla -- and still no Mozilla 1.0. No wonder the Netscape spokespeople do not want to tell how many AOL-Netscape people are working on Mozilla stuff.
The $100,000 per year is a guess. However, there are many programmers in the California area that make that sort of money. It sure would be interesting if AOL-Netscape would provide the actual figures. Even at only $50,000 per person-year, that Mozilla investment is $47-million -- and still no Mozilla 1.0.
That's just the AOL-Netscape effort investment in Mozilla. There is additional effort investment from other companies such as IBM, Red Hat, Sun, and so forth that pay people to work on Mozilla stuff too. Their effort investment is not included in the above discussion.
Incidentally, the Bugzilla-checking found 28 unique sum.com e-mail addresses with a total of 293 bugs -- about 10.5 bugs per sun.com unique e-mail address. There were four unique ibm.com e-mail addresses with a total of 57 bugs -- about 14 bugs per unique ibm.com e-mail address.