Mozilla 1.0-RC1 Browser-Suite Milestone Released Behind Schedule
Mike Angelo -- 18 April 2002 (c)
AOL-Netscape's Mozilla Organization placed the first release candidate (RC1) edition of its upcoming Mozilla 1.0 browser suite on its public FTP server today. The latest Mozilla roadmap calls for Mozilla 1.0-RC1 to have been released 15 April 2002. (Please see Figure 1, below,)
At least one more release candidate milestone (1.0-RC2) is planned before the Mozilla 1.0 release. Although Mozilla 1.0-RC1 overall seems to be the best Mozilla milestone yet, it's rather buggy. More about that further down.
Nevertheless, Mozilla 1.0-RC1 is a nice and usable product. Moreover, although Mozilla 1.0-RC1 is not rock-solid, it is relatively stable and reliable. Additionally, the Mozilla browser-suite does have many nice and handy features too.
On the surface there were no changes since Mozilla 0.9.9 that particularly hit us in the face. Mozilla 1.0-RC1 looks and feels pretty much as Mozilla 0.9.9 looks and feels -- at least in a quick test drive. Figure 2, below, is a screen shot of a Mozilla 1.0-RC1 branch build we tried.
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 12 April 2002 Mozilla 1.0-RC1 branch build for a quick spin on a medium performance PC. The test box was a Windows 98 SE desktop with a 300-MHz AMD K6 CPU and 128-MB RAM.
At first blush, Mozilla 1.0-RC1 seems to be less of a RAM hog than Mozilla 0.9.9, which memory-wise was an improvement over previous milestones. The Mozilla 1.0-RC1 branch build we tested on the 300-MHz AMD K6 box seems to run significantly faster than Mozilla 0.9.9 runs on that box.
However, Mozilla runs more slowly than other applications run on that test box, thus suggesting that Mozilla still is a system resources hog. Mail runs very slowly.
The Mozilla 1.0-RC1 branch build we took for a quick spin did not crash at all. However, a Bugzilla query today for new, assigned, and open bugs with the keyword "crash" turned up 533 bugs. Seventy-eight of those bugs are for all platforms, 359 for PC, and 67 for Mac. That same querry on the day Mozilla 0.9.9 was released turned up 517 "crash" bugs altogether.
Mozilla has more bugs now than it did when Mozilla 0.9.9 was released. However, we did not notice as many annoying bugs and behaviors in Mozilla 1.0-RC1 as we did in Mozilla 0.9.9. Additionally, some pages that display correctly with the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser that did not display correctly with the Mozilla 0.9.9 browser displayed correctly with the Mozilla 1.0-RC1 branch build we tested. Some other pages did not.
Mozilla still has lots of bugs and performance problems. However, they are significantly less noticeable in Mozilla 1.0-RC1 than they were in Mozilla 0.9.9. Bug tracking is important in the software development, quality assurance, and evaluation processes. However, end users are more likely to form their opinions of a product on how well it works, or does not work, for them.
All-in-all, the Mozilla browser-suite still does not offer any compelling, performance reason for people to switch from Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser to AOL-Netscape's Mozilla browser. On the basis of overall browser performance, look, and feel, Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser still is a better choice than AOL-Netscape's Mozilla browser.
Apparently, however, the Mozilla Organization does not desire to attract end-users to the Mozilla browser suite. Interestingly, the official position of AOL-Netscape's Mozilla Organization is that it does not want end-users to run the Mozilla browser suite.
For more information about Mozilla 1.0-RC1, please see our companion article, Mozilla 1.0-RC1 Browser-Suite Sneak Preview.
What's New in Mozilla 1.0-RC1
Here is what is new in Mozilla 1.0-RC1 according to the Mozilla 1.0-RC1 Release Notes:
New Additions to the Release Notes
The download information and links are in the Resources section at the end of this article.
Lots of Bugs for Mozilla 1.0
Release of Mozilla 1.0-RC1 signals that finally after four-years in development, Mozilla 1.0 is on its way soon. However, some in the Mozilla community question whether Mozilla 1.0 should be released in April 2002. One major concern is that there are too many open bugs in Mozilla.
We addressed some of these concerns in our article, Mozilla Milestone 0.9.9 Branched Behind Schedule. In that article, we noted that on 1 March, there were some 12,137 targeted new, assigned, and reopened Mozilla bugs and 21,199 new, assigned, and reopened bugs (open/unfixed bugs) altogether. However, it appeared that only 1,575 bugs were set to be fixed before Mozilla 1.0 is released.
There are more bugs in Mozilla today than there were six weeks ago when Mozilla 0.9.9 was branched. Moreover, there are more bugs in Mozilla today than there were nine days ago when Mozilla 1.0-RC1 was branched. Earlier today, there were 12,207 targeted, new, assigned, and reopened Mozilla bugs and 22,743 new, assigned, and reopened bugs (open/unfixed bugs) altogether.
Please see our Mozilla 0.9.9 release article for more information about and a breakdown of the targeted new, assigned, and reopened Mozilla bugs complex.
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 4 February 2002 -- a ten-day delay.
Bugs delayed the Mozilla 0.9.9 branch a week from the scheduled 22 February 2002 to 2 March 2002. The Mozilla bugs problems pushed release of Mozilla 0.9.9 back from 1 March to 11 March -- a ten-day delay.
Mozilla's out-of-control bug problem resulted in a ten-day delay in its 0.9.9 milestone release, a ten-day delay in the Mozilla 0.9.8 release, and a four-day delay in release of milestone 0.9.6.
The culprit, behind what became 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. Moreover, the Mozilla developers do not seem to be very effective in keeping buggy code from getting into the development tree.
However, since the Mozilla 0.9.9 release, code-checkin practices have been tightened down somewhat. That seems to be providing some reduction in the Mozilla runaway bugs problem.
The preceding bugs discussion has focused on the impact of Mozilla's bugs on the development process. Just as important as that, if not even more important, is how the Mozilla bugs hit users. If the Mozilla bugs for the most part are trivial or only rarely occurring, then end-users likely are not going to be very upset by the bugs, However, if the bugs are more noticeable, annoying, disruptive, or result in data loss, system crashes, or application lock-ups, then users likely are going to be rather upset.
That said, the more bugs in a program the more likely users will notice them and the more likely they will be annoyed by them. 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. More than 12,200 targeted-bugs and some 22,600 open bugs in Mozilla is just too darn many bugs for a Mozilla 1.0 offering.
Incidentally, a Bugzilla query today for open bugs with the keyword crash turned up more than 500 hits. That's not a very pretty picture either.
All this bug stuff can be confusing. The most important point is that Mozilla 1.0-RC1 includes not merely the bugs targeted to Mozilla 1.0. Rather, Mozilla 1.0-RC1 includes all 22,600 un-fixed new, assigned, and reopened Mozilla bugs. The Mozilla 1.0-targeted bugs is merely a subset of the more than 22,600 un-fixed new, assigned, and reopened Mozilla bugs.
Please see our 0.9.4 branching article, Mozilla 0.9.4 Branched -- Behind Schedule & Buggier Than Ever, for more detail and information about the Mozilla bugs.
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 1.0 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. For the revised post-Mozilla 1.0 development roadmap and plan please see our article, Moz 1.0 April Release Confirmed & Post-1.0 Development Plan Announced.
Downloading & Installation Info
Here are the FTP download links for Mozilla 1.0-RC1 for you readers that cannot wait to try Mozilla 1.0-RC1
Please see the important note in the sidebar to the right here before installing.