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September 9, 2001
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Turbo/Quick-Launch Examined -- Is Mozilla Really Open Source ?

Turbo Mode & Bugs Slow Mozilla Development to Snail's Pace

Milestone 0.9.4 Delayed

Mike Angelo -- 9 September 2001 (c)

Mozilla Milestone 0.9.4 should have been released Friday, 7 September 2001, but it was not. The suspected reasons -- bugs, poor program management, and inappropriate concessions to AOL and its Netscape Division. It's likely that Mozilla 0.9.4 will not be released for several days. Even then, it likely will be the buggiest Mozilla Milestone ever.

Of course, many of the more noticeable bugs have been fixed, which is a good thing. So it might not seem that there are more bugs in Mozilla now than ever. However, there are more bugs in Mozilla now than in any previous Mozilla Milestone release. Please see Figure 1.

Figure 1. Mozilla's Runaway Bugs -- more now than ever.

Turbo Mode & Bug 97620

Perhaps the worst, or maybe the most important, bug is Bug 97620 Crash unloading -turbo mozilla from tray icon, which was opened 30 August 2001. (Link in the Resources section at the end of this article.) This bug appears to be the primary reason the Mozilla 0.9.4 release has been delayed. Turbo mode first appears in the 0.9.x Mozilla builds.

Windows Memory includes both actual physical RAM memory plus virtual, swap file, memory on a hard drive.
The fairly new Mozilla turbo mode for the Windows edition loads some Mozilla code when the system is booted. That means that Mozilla will start more quickly when you open it because some of the Mozilla code already is loaded into Windows Memory.

The Netscape people call this turbo-mode feature Quick Launch in Netscape 6.1. It's meant to try to make Netscape 6 (and Mozilla) more competitive with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which seems to start more quickly than does Netscape 6.

The upside to turbo mode is that Mozilla and Netscape 6.1 start faster than they would without turbo mode. One downside to turbo mode is that is adds a few seconds to the amount of time it takes Windows to boot.

Session as used here is the period from the time that you start your computer until you turn it off or reboot.
Another downside is that you waste resources by using the turbo mode until you use, and if you actually decide to use, Mozilla and/or Netscape for that session.

Yet another downside is that Mozilla and Netscape 6.1 are very buggy and do a lousy job of memory management. So if you enable turbo mode, you are loading buggy Mozilla or Netscape code every time you run Windows -- if you run only Windows and have Mozilla/Netscape turbo mode enabled, you are loading buggy code every time you run your computer. With turbo or Quick Launch mode turned on, Mozilla or Netscape load whether or not you ever use them. Of course, if the Mozilla folks ever get the bugs out of the Mozilla/Netscape code, then this downside of loading buggy code would be gone.

Creating a Mozilla turbo mode for the Linux/UNIX versions is under consideration also. That could be a zoo. There is some very interesting discussion about that proposal at Bug 86977 -turbo on unix. This bug was opened 20 June 2001. (Link in the Resources section at the end of this article.)

Need some help understanding or using Bugzilla? Then check out our Bugzilla mini-tutorial and guide, Meet Bugzilla -- Mozilla's Secretary of Bug-Busting & Feature Requests Lizard
If you really want to bone up on the turbo mode, check Bug 75599 [META] Turbo mode tracking bug. This bug was opened 11 March 2001 by a Netscape developer and has all the background info about the turbo mode plus links to many other bugs that involve the turbo mode.

Currently, the default turbo mode is not-enabled in the Mozilla Milestone releases and Netscape 6.1. So, if you decide you want to invoke turbo mode, you may do that. It is your informed choice. Please see Figure 2.

Figure 2. Advanced preferences screen from Netscape 6.1 showing Quick Launch checkbox at the bottom of the options.
That's how it should be. Computer users should be able to make, and, should have to make, informed and voluntary choices before enabling any program to be automatically loaded when they start their computers.

Incidentally, MozillaQuest Magazine recommends that you NOT enable turbo/Quick-Launch mode -- because the downsides outweigh the upside.

Moreover, as discussed in the next section, the plan is to set turbo/Quick-Launch mode on by default. Therefore, MozillaQuest Magazine now recommends that you do not download or install any Mozilla Windows edition later than Milestone 0.9.3 or any Netscape Windows edition later than Netscape 6.1.

Of course, these only are our recommendations. You are free to follow our recommendations or not follow them, as you see fit. That is what choice is all about. We support choice. Our reason for this recommendation is that AOL-Netscape and its Mozilla Organization are infringing on choice by making the default turbo/Quick-Launch option set to on.

One bad effect of making turbo/Quick-Launch turned on the default option is that many users will not even realize they are running Mozilla-Netscape in turbo/Quick-Launch mode. Another bad effect is that even users that are aware of the turbo/Quick-Launch mode set to run by default will not be able to turn that option off until they run Mozilla-Netscape -- unless there is a choice-point provided in the installation process.

If the Mozilla-Netscape developers decide to NOT set turbo/Quick-Launch mode on by default, then we will change that recommendation -- unless some other serious breach of freedom and choice crops up in the meantime -- and it looks as though that has happened -- stay tuned for the full story about that in an upcoming issue of MozillaQuest Magazine.

Is Mozilla Becoming an Internet Explorer WannaBe?

One of the major complaints Mozilla and Netscape fans have made since the inception of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) is that it is automatically loaded when one starts Windows and that IE is integrated into the Windows operating system (OS).

However, now the Mozilla/Netscape game plan seems to be to make turbo-mode-enabled the default setting for Mozilla. The Mozilla/Netscape developers plan to do the same thing with their Mozilla/Netscape browser that they complain about in respect to Microsoft Internet Explorer -- load it by default when Windows boots. What a bunch of hypocrites.

If the Mozilla-Netscape developers hope to move computer users from Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) to the Mozilla-Netscape browser, then the Mozilla-Netscape developers will have to come up with a better product -- not merely a buggy emulation of IE. And unfortunately for the Mozilla-Netscape developers, right now IE is a better browser than is Mozilla-Netscape.

Incidentally, we suspect that AOL and its Netscape division are behind this lame idea to set turbo on by default. However, one Netscape developer commenting in Bug 75599 aptly warned the Mozilla-Netscape developers that turning turbo on by default would not be a good idea -- and his warning was on-mark.

------- Additional Comments From Judson Valeski 2001-05-30 13:29 -------

sounded to me like we were going to have the installer do this at install time.

I admittedly haven't read the entire text of this bug though.

if we make this a default, it will bite us.

Excerpt from Bug 75599

Who Really Controls the Mozilla Project?

That suspicion leads to why it is suggested above that Bug 97620 Crash unloading -turbo mozilla from tray icon might be the most important bug now slowing down and delaying release of Mozilla 0.9.4.

Normally, if there is a particularly bothersome bug that is blocking a milestone release such as the turbo-crash bug, the code that is causing that bug can be backed out of the tree. That lets developers maintain their milestone release schedule. Then after the milestone is finished, the developers can replace the pulled-out turbo/Quick-Launch code in the tree trunk and try to get the bug(s) out.

If that normal procedure were applied to Bug 97620 Crash unloading -turbo mozilla from tray icon then the turbo mode could be backed out and Mozilla 0.9.4 could be released without further delay -- or perhaps even have been released on schedule had it been applied from the get-go.

So why did the Mozilla developers not simply back out Bug 97620 and release Mozilla 0.9.4 on time? Could it be that some third party with lots of clout and control when it comes to the Mozilla Organization and Project wants Quick Launch, whoops -- er -- uhm -- turbo, mode turned on by default? Hmmmmmmm.. Now just what third party has that sort of clout and control of the Mozilla Organization and project?

Before guessing just who is this powerful and domineering third party, it is important to note that Bug 97620 is not the only Mozilla 0.9.4 blocker bug at this time. Actually, Bug 97620 is listed as a critical bug rather than a blocker bug.

Earlier today, there still were 61 bugs targeted to be fixed before the Mozilla 0.9.4 release. Two are blockers, nine are listed as critical, nine as major, thirty-seven are listed as normal, one trivial, and three are enhancements requests.

Target Milestone

The seamonkey project uses target milesones to plan Mozilla's development process. A milestone plan enumerates when different features are expected to be completed. If a bug is marked M18, it means work on the bug is expected to be completed by milestone 18. This field should only be set by the person responsible for the bug. From bugs, Mozilla Organization. (Link in Resources section below.)

In addition to the 61 bugs targeted to Mozilla 0.9.4, there were some 1,146 bugs targeted to Mozilla 0.9.5, 119 bugs to 0.9.6, 35 bugs targeted to 0.9.7, and 1,629 bugs targeted to Mozilla 1.0. That's a total of 2,990 bugs targeted to these five, work-in-progress, Mozilla releases. All these 2,990 bugs are in Mozilla 0.9.4. They just are not expected to be fixed until release of the specified targets.

Incidentally, there are some 4,674 bugs targeted to Future Mozilla releases. Please see the bugs list in the right-hand sidebar on the MozillaQuest Magazine front page (mozillaquest.com) for the updated Mozilla bug counts.

To learn more about how many bugs there are in the Netscape 6.1 and Mozilla Web browser suites, and to learn how the Mozilla and Netscape developers are sweeping bugs under the carpet, please see Mozilla 0.9.3 Branched Behind Schedule & Buggy and Mozilla Roadmap - Mozilla 1.0 Set Back to 2002 - Mozilla 0.9.4 Set for 7 September.

AOL-Time-Warner's Netscape division's Netscape 6 browser-suite is based upon the cross-platform (XP) Mozilla browser-suite. The recent Netscape 6.1 (NS 6.1) browser-suite release was based on Mozilla Milestones 0.9.2 and 0.9.2.1.

We label AOL-Time-Warner's (AOL) Netscape division as a third party only because the Mozilla Organization claims that it is independent of AOL-Time-Warner's (AOL) Netscape division. Bah Humbug! This is no longer a creditable distinction.

The core Mozilla Organization is comprised mostly of people employed and paid by Netscape to work on the Mozilla project. However, there also are some core Mozilla Organization people employed and paid by other organizations to work on the Mozilla project or core Mozilla Organization activities. A few core Mozilla people are contributing to the Mozilla Project on their own time.

The lion's share of people working on the entire Mozilla project are people that are employed by and paid by Netscape -- or at least were employed by Netscape. Netscape through its spokesperson Catherine Corre has refused to disclose how many Netscape employees work on Mozilla. However, it is likely that number is/was at least 100 people and could be more than 200 people.

In addition to Netscape, other companies such as Red Hat and Sun have people working on the Mozilla project. However there are not many people from other companies working on the Mozilla project.

There also are many independent developers and people helping with the Mozilla project. There likely are at least 100 of these independents involved with the Mozilla project and that number could exceed 200 people.

All-in-all, however, AOL-Time-Warner's Netscape division seems to pretty much dominate the Mozilla Organization and project. As a practical matter we now view the Mozilla Organization and project more or less as a division of AOL -- AOL's Mozilla division perhaps?

Once Mozilla 0.9.4 has been released, the 0.9.4 branch is expected to be taken over by a third party to develop its commercial software release based upon Mozilla 0.9.4. The identity of this third party is a closely guarded secret at this time -- so much for Mozilla's claims to being a true open source project.

So far, every time a branch has been taken over by a third party, that third party has been AOL-Time-Warner's (AOL) Netscape division. Chances are that it is again Netscape that will be taking over the 0.9.4 branch.

For example, after Mozilla Milestone 0.9.2 was released, AOL-Netscape took control of the 0.9.2 branch and continued to work in that branch to finalize the Mozilla code for incorporation into Netscape 6.1. When Netscape 6.1 was released, the Mozilla developers took back control of the 0.9.2 branch and renamed it 0.9.2.1. Then the Mozilla developers released a source code only Milestone 0.9.2.1. Please see our article, Mozilla 0.9.2.1 AKA Netscape 6.1 Browser Source Code Released for the details about that.

This is a somewhat simplified explanation in this case. Development continues on an offshoot of the 0.9.2 branch. The offshoot is the 0.9.2ec branch. Once again there is a shroud of secrecy involved. However, the chat is that this is an AOL-Netscape project.

And once again, we believe that such secrecy is not appropriate in an open source project. That again raises the question of whether the Mozilla project is a true open source project.

The more MozillaQuest Magazine examines the Mozilla Organization, the Mozilla project, and the relationship between Mozilla and AOL-Netscape, the more matter for concern turns up.

Stay Tuned


The Mozilla browser-suite is cross-platform and open source. Builds generally are available for the BSD, Linux, Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, OS/2, Sun, and several UNIX platforms. Source code is available if you want to custom compile your own Mozilla Milestone build.

The Mozilla Organization Roadmap and development plan calls for Mozilla Milestone 0.9.4 to have been released to the public on 7 September. However, it has not been released, yet. For more information about the Mozilla Roadmap please see Mozilla Roadmap - Mozilla 1.0 Set Back to 2002 - Mozilla 0.9.4 Set for 7 September.

Moreover, Mozilla 0.9.4 was branched five days late. Please. See our article, Mozilla 0.9.4 Branched -- Behind Schedule & Buggier Than Ever.



Mozilla Roadmap - Mozilla 1.0 Set Back to 2002 - Mozilla 0.9.4 Set for 7 September


Mozilla 0.9.x Releases & Download Links

More Mozilla Roadmap & Development Plan Changes: Mozilla 1.0 Pushed Back to Q3 2001 (April Roadmap revisions)

Mozilla 1.0 Release Pushed Back -- Milestone 0.8.1 Inserted into Development Roadmap Schedule (March Roadmap revisions)

Mozilla Organization Revises Development Roadmap and Product Release Schedule (December Roadmap revisions)


Mozilla 0.8.x Releases & Download Links

Lizard On The Move: Mozilla Milestone 0.8.1 Browser-Suite Released

The Lizard Marches On: Mozilla Milestone 0.8 Browser-Suite Released

Mozilla Milestone 0.8 Browser-Suite RPM Builds Released


Other Related Mozilla & Netsape Articles

Composer: The Netscape & Mozilla Graphical HTML Editor & Word Processor

Netscape 6.1 Browser-Suite Released Again?

How To Download, Install, & Configure Netscape 6 -- Safely!


MozillaQuest the Series: Building Your Own Mozilla-Based Web Browser

Meet Bugzilla -- Mozilla's Secretary of Bug-Busting & Feature Requests Lizard


For more information about the Mozilla Organization, the Mozilla applications programming framework, and the Mozilla browser, please see:

Please do not forget to report bugs, problems, or suggestions for enhancements to Bugzilla.

For more information about the Mozilla Roadmap & Milestone Plan, please see:

Mozilla Development Roadmap


Copyright 2000, 2001 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved


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