Mozilla Milestone 0.9.8 Browser-Suite Sneak Preview
Mike Angelo -- 4 February 2002 (c)
The Mozilla Organization has not yet released the Milestone 0.9.8 edition of its Mozilla browser suite. The latest Mozilla roadmap calls for Mozilla Milestone 0.9.8 to have been released 25 January 2002. However, MozillaQuest Magazine snuck a peak at a Mozilla 0.9.8 branch build that should be pretty close to the final 0.9.8 release build.
The favicons (shortcut icons) that were added in Mozilla 0.9.6 have been turned off. However, you can turn them on if you like.
We do not advise turning the favicons on. That feature was turned off because it was causing problems. If you turn the favicons on you will be turning on the problems too.
Still noticeably absent from Mozilla is a spell checker. There is no spell checker for the e-mail and news editor -- or for the Web pages Composer module. It is somewhat disappointing that after some four calendar years and more than 1,000 person-years in development, the Mozilla browser suite does not have a spell checker for its mail, news, and Composer modules.
We took a 2 February 2002 Mozilla 0.9.8 branch build for a quick spin. The test box was a Windows 2000 Professional, Hewlett Packard, notebook with a 900-MHz Pentium III and 128-MB RAM. Mozilla still is a memory hog. Although it now seems to be less of a RAM pig than what it used to be. More importantly, however, we did not see any memory leaks in our quick look. When Mozilla was closed it seemed that all the RAM it had hogged had been released.
Prior to launching Mozilla 0.9.8, the Windows 2000 Task Manager showed Mem Usage (memory usage) at 79-MB. After launching Mozilla 0.9.8, Mem Usage jumped to 89-MB with a blank paged displayed in the browser. With three Mozilla browser-windows opened with 4 Web pages in each browser-window and four window-tabs opened in the first browser-window with four pages open in each tab-window, Mem Usage popped up to 108-MB. After closing Mozilla, memory usage was back down to 79-MB. (There were 24 Web pages opened altogether.)
On the surface there were no changes that particularly hit us in the face. Mozilla 0.9.8 looks and feels pretty much as Mozilla 0.9.7 -- at least in a quick look. Page display quality is very good. Figure 1, below, is a screen shot of the Mozilla 0.9.8 branch build at which we looked.
The download information and links for sneaking a look at Mozilla 0.9.8 release candidate builds are in the Resources section at the end of this article.
Bugs Still Are Causing Problems
For some time now, Mozilla milestone editions have been plagued with late or clumsy branchings and delayed releases. Bug problems and a clumsy branching resulted in a delay of four days in the Mozilla 0.9.6 release.
Mozilla Milestone 0.9.7 also was buggy and endured a clumsy branching. However, the Mozilla folks were able to get Mozilla Milestone 0.9.7 out the door on schedule.
Mozilla 0.9.8 should have branched on Friday, 18 January 2002. However, it was not branched until 24 January -- because there were too many serious bugs. Moreover, the Milestone 0.9.8 branch was cut with too many unfixed bugs in it that still were targeted to the 0.9.8 milestone.
The bug-driven delay in branching along with the all the unfixed, 0.9.8 bugs pushed the Milestone 0.9.8 release back from 25 January 2002 until today. Mozilla's out-of-control bug problem resulted in a ten-day delay in its 0.9.8 milestone release
The culprit, behind what now is becoming a regular clumsy and/or tardy Mozilla milestone branching and release process, appears to be the Mozilla bugs problem. The Mozilla developers are continually failing to get the bugs targeted to milestones fixed before the scheduled milestone branching dates.
There is only one more scheduled milestone release before the scheduled April 2002 Mozilla 1.0 release. Yet there are more than 11,600 targeted-bugs and more than 20,700 open bugs in Mozilla at this time. Bugs in milestone development releases are understandable although not a good thing.
However, releasing a Mozilla 1.0 that is so buggy could be Mozilla's death knell. Whether that happens in large part will depend upon how browser-suite users weigh the bugs against Mozilla's overall usability and how annoying are the bugs. Mozilla is now and has been a usable browser for some time.
Here is how that 3,572 bugs breaks down. Earlier today there were 42 bugs targeted to Milestone's 0.9.1 through 0.9.7, 103 bugs for Mozilla 0.9.8, 1,439 bugs for Mozilla 0.9.9, and 642 bugs for Mozilla 1.0 -- a total of 2,226. Add that to the 1,346 bugs targeted to Mozilla 1.0.1 and you get a total of 3,572.
Add those 3,572 bugs for Mozilla 0.9.1 through and including Mozilla 1.0.1 to the 730 bugs targeted to Mozilla 1.1, the 582 bugs targeted to Mozilla 1.2, and 6,794 bugs targeted to Future Mozilla releases. That amounts to 11,678 targeted, Mozilla bugs.
But those 11,678, targeted, Mozilla bugs are not all the bugs in Mozilla. They only are part of the more than 20,799 un-fixed new, assigned, and reopened bugs currently listed in the Mozilla bug-tracking database, Bugzilla.
All this bug stuff can be confusing. The most important point is that Mozilla 0.9.8 includes not merely the bugs targeted to 0.9.8. Rather, Mozilla 0.9.8 includes all 20,799 un-fixed new, assigned, and reopened Mozilla bugs. The Mozilla 0.9.8-targeted bugs is merely a subset of the nearly 20,800 un-fixed new, assigned, and reopened Mozilla bugs -- a subset that the Mozilla developers say should be fixed before Mozilla 0.9.8 is released.
Mozilla pre-1.0 Milestone and daily development builds normally are available for the BSD, Linux, Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, OS/2, Sun, and several UNIX platforms. Source code usually is available if you want to custom compile your own Mozilla builds.Incidentally, please check the MozillaQuest Magazine front-page (mozillaquest.com) sidebar every now and then for bug-count updates and for upcoming Mozilla Milestone 0.9.9 progress updates.
Please see our article, Mozilla Roadmap Update: Mozilla 1.0 Set Back to April 2002, for more information about the October 2001 Mozilla Development Roadmap and development schedule revisions. There is lots of bug information in that article too.
MozillaQuest Magazine will have the Mozilla 0.9.8 final release information and download links as soon as Mozilla 0.9.8 is released. Check the front page later for Mozilla 0.9.8 final release news.