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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,)

Figure 1. The current Mozilla milestone roadmap schedule. Please note the Mozilla 1.0-RC2 and Mozilla 1.0 milestones are not shown in the current roadmap schedule. (Screen shot from the Mozilla Organization's 10 April 02 Mozilla Development Roadmap.)

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:

  • Mozilla Composer now implements one button publishing which allows you to save html documents directly to web sites where you have an established account.
  • Our most frequently reported bug has been fixed. Viewing the source of a cgi generated page now works properly.
  • The menu bar and context menus have been reorganized for improved usability.
  • Mozilla now implements LDAP over SSL and allows LDAP Address Book replication.
  • Mozilla now implements Mail Return recipts.
  • Improvements to the UI for secure S/MIME mail.
  • The preferences dialog now allows you to set a minimum font size for web content.
  • On Microsoft Windows, mail users get animated alerts when they receive new mail.
  • There is a new Download Manager, found under the Tools menu.
  • Checking the File as group box in the File Bookmark dialog creates a bookmark group for all the tabs in that window. Opening the bookmark group in a new window opens a tab for each of the pages in the group and loads that page.
  • The last of the XUL 1.0 syntax changes have landed.
  • The following JavaScript statements are now acceptable, as they are with Netscape Navigator 4.7 and Internet Explorer 6:
  • for(i in undefined){}
  • for(i in null){}
  • var obj; for (i in obj){}
  • Improved GB18030 support -- the Unicode surrogate range support is now available on Windows.
  • Linux scaled bitmap font support is available This improves quality of bitmap font display even when a font does not contain embedded bitmap fonts in many different sizes.
  • Fixed several bugs for Chinese IME on Windows and other platforms.
  • There is now a preference to match the browser's default locale/region to the operating system default. In all.js:
  • pref("intl.locale.matchOS", false);
  • When its value is "true", browser will find the system's locale and set its UI language and region content to match it. For example, when installing on an English (US) system, on start up, the client will use English as its UI language and US as its region locale until a user profile is selected. If a (pair) of locale is defined in the selected profile, browser will honor the profile locale. In addition, when cmdline switches, '-UILocale' and/or 'contentLocale', are present, the cmdline switch takes precedence. (Bug 121744) Note: Having this preference on is an expensive operation. Therefore, when this preference is "true", there will be approximately a 30% increase in startup time.

New Additions to the Release Notes

  • These are items that have been added to the release notes since the last milestone although the bugs themselves may have existed previously.
  • The Mozilla installer does not work on Windows 95. Windows 95 users must download and install the zip package. (Bug 135570)
  • To use MathML in Mozilla , you must install the appropriate TeX fonts. See for information on installing the appropriate fonts. (Bug 134849)
  • Moving or copying a labeled message will not retain label in destination when filing across accounts:
  • IMAP to any other account (including Local Folders): Message labels are lost.
  • POP to POP (including Local Folders) is OKAY.
  • POP to IMAP: Message labels are lost.
  • Copy Newsgroup messages to any account: Message labels are lost. (Bug 133795)
  • If you enable TLS in your SSL preferences and a web site server is "TLS intolerant," the client will fall back to using SSL3. However, if you have selected to use a proxy for secure connections, the browser will not be able to reach a "TLS intolerant" web site. (Bug 87902)
  • Certificates deleted from the Certificate Manager will still appear until you restart Mozilla . (Bug 129067)
  • Revoked certifcates using OCSP may still appear in the Certificate Manager verified as "True". (Bug 91530)
  • If you set the memory cache to 0, you should set the disk cache to 0 also. Otherwise, you will not be able to view https:// (secure) web sites.
  • Do not share a profile between Netscape and Mozilla builds. Doing this can lead to unpredictable results, some of which may include loss of Search settings and preferences and unchecked growth of the Bookmarks file (large enough to freeze your system). It is best to create a new profile for each or manually copy (and change the name) an existing profile. (Bug 137164)
  • In Print Preview, plugins are not shown. (Bug 134002)
  • For some users on Microsoft Windows, using the Classic theme, Mozilla windows may not mimimize. The workaround is to use the Minimize All Windows command on the Windows Task Bar or to switch to the Mozilla Modern theme. (Bug 136761)
  • McAfee virus scanner has an advanced option, not enabled by default, to turn on a Web-scanning feature. This feature intersects all winsock2 system calls and may cause Mozilla to crash. It is recommended that disable this feature before using Mozilla. (Bug 111316)
  • Mozilla might crash while playing random Quicktime content. (Bug 136761)
  • Linux: The Flash plugin context menu does not disappear when you clicks outside the plugin area to dismiss it. Workaround: Click inside the plugin to dismiss the plugin context menu. (Bug 63182)
  • Linux: Mozilla will hang if a Flash plugin tries to play audio and the audio device is already in use. Workaround: Stop the audio device and return to that page. (Bug 58339)
  • Linux: Mozilla crashes while playing Flash content on a remote X display. No workaround present other than not using remote X display. (Bug 58397)
  • Some users might not be able to print on Windows 98 or Windows ME with the default spool setting. The workaround is to go into printer properties, choose details tab, choose spool settings, and then choose print directly to printer. (Bug 130083)
  • If you are running McAfee's WebScanX, you may experience crashes at startup. Please disable the product and see if it prevents the problem. If so, please contact McAfee for a solution. (Bug 107882)
  • Plugins are not refreshed if the browser is restarted with QuickLanuch on. Workaround is to make sure Quicklaunch is not 'ON' by removing it from the system tray and then restarting the browser. (Bug 119056)

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.

Note: the distinction, targeted bugs, is important. Almost anyone can submit a bug to the Bugzilla database. Many bugs so submitted are duplicates of other bugs, unconfirmed, or otherwise not bugs that should be fixed or need to be fixed. However, in order for a bug to be targeted, it must be either submitted or reviewed by a Mozilla developer or triager that has the appropriate skills and permissions level in Bugzilla to set the target parameters for bugs. This also applies to bugs listed as new, assigned, and reopened -- those parameters can be set only by a Mozilla developer or triager that has the appropriate skills and permissions level in Bugzilla. When we query Bugzilla for bugs targeted to a specific Mozilla release, we also restrict that query to new, assigned, and reopened bugs. Incidentally, the general query for all new, assigned, and reopened does include bugs related to other-than-Mozilla projects such as Bugzilla, Web tools, and so forth. That is one reason we do not report that bug in our Front Page bug-count tracking.
There is only one more planed milestone release (Mozilla 1.0-RC2) before the anticipated April 2002 Mozilla 1.0 release. Yet there are more than 12,200 targeted-bugs and 22,600 open bugs in Mozilla at this time. That's up from the nearly 12,000 targeted-bugs and more than 22,400 open bugs on the day when Mozilla 0.9.9 released.

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 ( 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.

Figure 2. Screen shot of the Mozilla 1.0-RC1 browser module (13 April 2002 branch build).

Downloading & Installation Info

Note: the Mozilla Organization used include a simple, non-talkback, Milestone download build for the Microsoft Windows platform such as plus a talkback build. The Mozilla 1.0-RC1 release notes also call for such a build file and a talkback build file,

1. Click the link or the link to download the .zip file to your machine. (Mozilla 1.0 Release Candidate 1 Release Notes , the Mozilla Organization, 16 April 2002.)

Unfortunately, the Mozilla Organization has decided not to give you that choice for Mozilla Milestone 1.0-RC1. It has not included the non-talkback build -- even though the release notes say it is included.

The Mozilla Organization's rationale is that it needs the talkback info to get rid of bugs in Mozilla, particularly crash bugs. Getting rid of Mozilla bugs certainly is a noble purpose. And Mozilla has lots of bugs that need to be fixed.

However, freedom of choice is an even more noble pursuit. Moreover, choice is much of what Open Source Software is all about. Therefore we think the Mozilla Organization should have included the non-talkback too. Whether you participate in Mozilla talkback should be your choice, not the AOL-Netscape-Mozilla Organization's choice.

Of course you can turn talkback off when you install Mozilla if you use the installer version 1.0-RC1 Mozilla Milestone build (mozilla-win32-1.0-RC1-installer.exe). However, the installer version of Mozilla presents some potential privacy breaches, which we shall address eventually in another article.

In the meantime, we recommend that you disconnect your computer from the Internet when installing mozilla-win32-1.0-RC1-installer.exe so that you can adjust your security and privacy preferences before taking Mozilla 0.9.8 online for the first time.(Please see our article How To Download, Install, & Configure Netscape 6 -- Safely! for more about that.)

1.0-RC1 Download Links

Here are the FTP download links for Mozilla 1.0-RC1 for you readers that cannot wait to try Mozilla 1.0-RC1

Linux Builds

Windows Builds

Please see the important note in the sidebar to the right here before installing.



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

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