Mozilla 1.4 Browser-Suite -- AKA Netscape 7.1
Mike Angelo -- 1 July 2003 (c) (Revised 2 July 2003)
Its predecessor, Mozilla 1.3 was released nearly sixteen weeks ago on 13 March 2003. In effect, Mozilla 1.4 will be a replacement for Mozilla 1.3.
The Mozilla 1.4 download information and links are at the end of this article. What's new in Mozilla 1.4 is further down in this article.
One factor that likely played a substantial role in the nearly seven-weeks-late release of Mozilla 1.4 is the mounting bugginess of the Mozilla browser suite. On Mozilla 1.4 release day, there were some 31,300 open/un-fixed new, assigned, and reopened bugs in Bugzilla, the Mozilla project bug-tracking database. More about that further on in the article.
Another factor that likely played into the seven-weeks-late release of Mozilla 1.4 is what appears to be less coding-support from the Mozilla Organization's de facto parent company, AOL-Netscape.
A third factor is loss of focus, which is nothing new in Lizard Land. Mozilla development is shifting from the current Mozilla browser-suite development to a collection of independent Internet-related applications; (1) Phoenix, a stand-alone Web browser, (2) Minotaur/Thunder-bird, a stand alone e-mail and news client, and (3) Gecko, the layout engine that underlies the Mozilla Web-browser suite, Phoenix, and Minotaur -- plus XUL and the Mozilla Applications Programming Framework (APF).
For more information about the decreased coder-support from AOL and the diverging focus problems, please see our article, Major Morphing in Mozilla Project Organization and Objectives Proposed -- Part 1: Mozilla Management Reorganization and Splitting the Browser-Suite into Stand-Alone Products.
Each new Mozilla release has new and improved features. However, Mozilla has been and still is plagued by lots of bugs. Please see Figures 1 and 2.
Please see Table 2, below, for the increase in Mozilla bugginess from the Mozilla 1.1 release to the Mozilla 1.2 release. Table 3, below shows the increase of bugs from Mozilla 1.2 to 1.3.
However, not all the bugs that were targeted to be fixed before the Mozilla 1.4 release have been fixed or resolved. A check of Bugzilla, the Mozilla Project bug tracking database on Mozilla 1.4 release day showed that there were more than 2,500 (2,531) unfixed and unresolved bugs targeted to have been fixed or resolved before the Mozilla 1.4 release. Of that more than 2,500 bugs, 2,159 were targeted to have been fixed or resolved before release of Mozilla 1.4a.
Mozilla 1.3 was about three weeks late because of unfixed bug problems. Mozilla 1.3b was late, also. The Mozilla Roadmap called for Mozilla 1.3b to have been released on 24 January 2003. Unfixed bugs caused Mozilla 1.3b to be released 10 February 2003, nearly three weeks late.
The Mozilla 1.3a release was a week late. The Mozilla Roadmap called for Mozilla 1.3a to have been released on 6 December 2002. However, unfixed bugs prevented Mozilla 1.3a's timely release, too.
In many ways the Mozilla browser-suite is a very nice product. It has lots of interesting and handy features. A major problem, however, is that the Mozilla developers throw features into their Mozilla browser-suite without getting rid of the bugs in the new features. It seems to be that same childish attitude that comes to the front in Learning from Mozilla's mistakes, by Robin "Roblimo" Miller on NewsForge.com.
Mozilla 1.4 Kills Mozilla 1.0, Etc.
The releases of Mozilla 1.4 puts final nail in the coffin of the Mozilla 1.0 browser-suite and its ensuing 1.0.x editions. It now officially replaces Mozilla 1.0.x as the stable, long-lived, Mozilla branch. However, we heard that long-lived branch plan before.
Despite past plans to have Mozilla 1.0 serve as a long-lived branch, we suspect effectively killing Mozilla 1.0 as soon as it could be killed had been the intent of the Mozilla Organization all along -- despite Mozilla Organization verbiage that Mozilla 1.0.x was supposed to be a long-lived branch. However, that is another story for another day. Meanwhile, please see the sidebar About the Mozilla Organization Verbiage to your right. Will Mozilla 1.4 suffer the same fate?
On the other hand, AOL-Time-Warner continued to base its Netscape 7 releases on Mozilla 1.0.x code. Netscape 7.01 was based on pre-Mozilla-1.0.2 code. Netscape 7.02 was based on Mozilla 1.0.2 code. Incidentally, Mozilla 1.0.2 was released on 15 January 2003. However, Netscape 7.1 finally moves up to current (Mozilla 1.4) code.
It has been more than a year since the release of Mozilla 1.0. However, rather than use that year to get rid of Mozilla bugs and problems, the Mozilla developers have added lots of features. Features are nice, but bugs are not nice.
The result is that on balance and simply put Mozilla 1.2 and 1.3a were crap! They were chock full of bugs. Mozilla 1.3a was slower than molasses unless you have a high speed computer with lots of RAM. This is particularly noticeable on Windows 9.x machines, which do not handle memory hogging and other such resource mismanagement problems as well as Linux, or even Windows 2000-based boxes.
We have not finished testing Mozilla 1.4 yet. However, AOL-Netscape's Lizard does not seem to be one that can change its spots. While the Mozilla 1.4 AOL-Netscape Lizard will have more features than do Mozilla 1.2.1 and Mozilla 1.3, it likely will come with most all of those bugs, resource hogging, and poor performance spots in Mozilla 1.2.1 and Mozilla 1.3.
Mozilla 1.1 brought down one of our Linux test machines. It is a 1-GHz Pentium 3 with 512-MB of hard RAM and 512-MB of Linux Swap space on the hard drive, running Mandrake 9.0. Mozilla sucked-up some 84.8% of memory -- pulling the free Swap space down to 14-KB, which resulted in the box locking.
The memory-related stats for mozilla.bin from the Linux TOP utility observed when this Linux lock-up occurred include a SIZE of 788-MB and an RSS of 413-MB. The Manual page for TOP describes SIZE as the size of the task's code plus data plus stack space and RSS as the total amount of physical memory used by the task. At the time of the lock up on the Mandrake 9.0 box there were 133 processes -- 106 sleeping and 27 running.
Of course allotting more Linux Swap space might prevent Mozilla from locking the box. However, there is no reason a well-designed and well-programmed Web browser should eat up 84% of memory on a box with 512-MB of hard RAM. In other words, Mozilla is a poorly-designed and poorly-programmed application.
Much as with the pretty yet sour lemon, the Mozilla 1.x branch (as opposed to 1.0.x branch) was loaded with new features (the pretty part) but also had lots of obnoxious bugs (the sour part). Mozilla 1.2 was so bad that it had to be recalled and replaced with Mozilla 1.2.1.
Mozilla 1.2a was released with nearly 1,300 bugs still targeted just to it. And that's just a smattering compared to the 27,435 open new, assigned, and reopened bugs listed in Bugzilla, the Mozilla bug-tracking database at the time Mozilla 1.2a was released -- plus 4,584 unconfirmed bugs. The unconfirmed bug count was up to 7,583 on Mozilla 1.4 release day.
On the day Mozilla 1.2.1 was released there were more than 29,000 open new, assigned, and reopened bugs listed in Bugzilla plus more than 5,300 unconfirmed (not yet triaged) bugs listed in Mozilla's Bugzilla. Interestingly, nearly 3,000 of those 29,000 bugs were targeted to have been fixed before release of Mozilla 1.2. Even more interesting is that only 28 of those then yet unfixed 3000 bugs were targeted for Mozilla 1.2. All the rest of those nearly 3,000 bugs were supposed to have been fixed before release of pre-Mozilla-1.2 milestones -- and they should have been fixed long before release of Mozilla 1.2.
On the day Mozilla 1.3b was released, there were more than 30,244 open new, assigned, and reopened bugs listed in Bugzilla plus nearly 5,700 unconfirmed (not yet triaged) bugs listed in Mozilla's Bugzilla.
When Mozilla 1.3 was released, there were more than 30,500 open new, assigned, and reopened bugs listed in Bugzilla plus more than 5,900 unconfirmed (not yet triaged) bugs listed in Mozilla's Bugzilla.
On Mozilla 1.4 release day, there were more than 31,300 open new, assigned, and reopened bugs listed in Bugzilla plus more than 7,500 unconfirmed (not yet triaged) bugs listed in Mozilla's Bugzilla.
The points here are simple ones. The Mozilla developers are not getting bugs fixed on schedule. Bug counts are increasing. New code, such as new features and improvements, is being written to an increasingly buggy code base -- thus compounding the bug problems. Mozilla is a poorly managed project! Please see Tables 2 and 3, below.
Too Many Crash Bugs in Mozilla 1.4
At the time Mozilla 1.0-RC1 was released there were 533 "crash" bugs listed in Mozilla's Bugzilla bug-tracking database and there were 561 "crash" bugs listed when Mozilla 1.0-RC2 was released. The "crash" bugs count was up to 618 open crash bugs by the time Mozilla 1.1a was released and the "crash" bugs count was 620 open crash bugs when Mozilla 1.1b was released. On Mozilla 1.1 release day, the "crash" bugs count was 663 open crash bugs. By the time Mozilla 1.2.1 rolled around, the "crash" bugs count was up to 718 open crash bugs.
On the day Mozilla 1.3b was released, the "crash" bugs count was down to 672 open crash bugs. When Mozilla 1.3 was released, the "crash" bugs count was down to 665 open crash bugs. Now, on Mozilla 1.4 release day the count is up to 704 "crash" bugs. That is too darn many crash bugs.
Mozilla Not for End Users
Apparently, 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.
Interestingly, since we raised the "end users" issue in previous articles, there appears to be a movement afoot by some people in the Mozilla Community to get-real and make Mozilla 1.0, et sequitur, an end-user product. That's a good move!
If you are an end-user that would like to discuss Mozilla or would like some Mozilla help, try the #ChatZilla, #Mozilla, and #Netscape channels on the EFNet IRC network.
These IRC channels are not affiliated with AOL or its Netscape and Mozilla divisions. It's mostly Mozilla and Netscape users helping other Mozilla and Netscape users. You also will find #Caldera, #KDE, #Linux, #Mandrake, #RedHat, #SuSE, and #Windows channels on EFNet too.
Incidentally, ChatZilla is an IRC client that comes with Mozilla. Give it a try. To launch ChatZilla just go to the Mozilla Menu Bar and click Window > IRC Chat.
For more information about Mozilla 1.0, please see our Mozilla 1.0 comprehensive coverage articles:
What's New in Mozilla 1.4.
Here is what is new in Mozilla 1.4 according to the Mozilla 1.4 Release Notes:
New Features and Fixes
* Mozilla on Windows now has support for NTLM authentication. This enables Mozilla to talk to MS web and proxy servers that are configured to use "windows integrated security".
* Mozilla's bookmarks have been overhauled. Bookmarks now include a root level folder, the ability to have two differently named bookmarks pointing at the same location, site icons in the Bookmark Manager and Bookmarks Sidebar, and separators now have support for labels.
* Composer now supports click and drag dynamic image and table resizing. If an image is selected or if the caret is placed inside a table, eight resizing handles appear and allow to resize the image/table with a simple click/drag/release. In the case of an image, the resizing is done real-time and a semi-opaque shadow of the image at its target size is shown during resizing. A tooltip shows in real-time the target size in pixels, and the relative change in pixels too.
* Mail now has junk-mail context menu items, a "delete junk mail" menu item and many other usability improvements for junk-mail controls.
* Pop-up blocking has been streamlined to improve usability.
* Users can now specify "blank page," "home page," or "Last page visited" for each of first window, new window and new tab.
* Users can now specify default font, size and color for HTML mail compose.
* Image blocking/disabling is now more flexible and users can "view image" to see blocked or not loaded images.
* "Launch file" after downloading has been enabled for .exe files
* It is possible to build Mozilla for Win32 using GCC. See the win32 build instructions for details.
* Proxy auto-config (PAC) failover has been implemented
* Mozilla 1.4 contains thousands of additional bugfixes, including changes to improve performance, stability, web site compatability, standards support, and usability.
These are items that have been added to the known issues page since the last milestone although the bugs themselves may have existed previously.
* The Linux binaries distributed by mozilla.org are now compiled with GCC 3.2. If you're using these binaries then you will need the 3.2 version of the Java Plugin from Sun J2SE v 1.4.2 (or the Blackdown JDK 1.4.1 compiled with GCC 3.2.) The Sun Java Plugin is compatible with modern Linux versions like Red Hat 8 or later and SuSE 8.1 or later (the plugin depends on a newer version of libgcc_s.so, installing the GCC supplements for Red Hat 7.3 -GCC 3.1 Compiler Suite for Red Hat Linux 7.3 - may allow for some older Red Hat Linux to run the plugin) Users of older Linux versions should either install the egcs 1.1.2 build of Mozilla and the JRE 1.4.1 or wait for a Mozilla version compiled specifically for their Linux distribution.
* If you are experiencing crashes on startup in xpcom.dll it is very likely that there is an incompatibility with some third-party extension. To work around this problem, uninstall your previous version of Mozilla, and completely delete the Mozilla install directory before performing the new install. You will not lose your profile data (such as bookmarks, preferences and cookies) but any third party extensions and plugins may be lost.
The download information and links are in the Resources section at the end of this article.
Lots of Bugs for Mozilla 1.1, 1.2/1.2.1, and 1.3 -- More for 1.4
By Mozilla 1.2 release day, the targeted, new, assigned, and reopened Mozilla bugs count was up to 12,512. The new, assigned, and reopened bugs (open/unfixed bugs) altogether bug count was up to 29,263 bugs. In addition there were 5,188 un-triaged (unconfirmed) bugs listed in Bugzilla on Mozilla 1.2 release day.
On Mozilla 1.3a release day there were 29,548 open new, assigned, and reopened bugs listed in Bugzilla plus 5,493 unconfirmed (not yet triaged) bugs listed in Mozilla's Bugzilla. The targeted, new, assigned, and reopened Mozilla bugs count was up to 12,487. Please see Table 3.
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. For more information about how Mozilla bugs impact on the user experience please see our articles A Quick Look at Some Mozilla 1.0 Browser-Suite Annoyances, Bugs, And Issues, Mozilla 1.0 Browser Quick Look, and Mozilla 1.0 Browser-Suite's E-Mail & News Quick Look .
Mozilla has bugs problems. The Mozilla developers have continually failed 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, after the Mozilla 0.9.9 release, code-checkin practices had been tightened down somewhat. That seemed to be providing some reduction in the Mozilla runaway bugs problem. Unfortunately, lizards do not change their spots and Mozilla bug counts are worse than ever.
That is not to say that Mozilla lizards have not been busy fixing bugs. They have. But, that just points up the tremendous Mozilla bug problem.
Despite the many bugs the Mozilla lizards fix, bug counts are higher than ever. That suggests inadequate code-review and tree management. Buggy code ought to be eliminated before it ever gets into the Mozilla code-base.
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.
Incidentally, a Bugzilla query today for open bugs with the keyword crash turned up more than 700 hits. A similar query made today using the keyword dataloss turned up more than 180 bugs. That's not a very pretty picture either.
All this bug stuff can be confusing. The most important point is that Mozilla 1.4 includes not merely the bugs targeted to Mozilla 1.4. Rather, Mozilla 1.4 includes some 31,000 un-fixed new, assigned, and reopened Mozilla bugs. The Mozilla 1.4-targeted bugs is merely a subset of the more than 31,000 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 post-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 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 first revised post-Mozilla 1.0 development roadmap and plan please see our articles, Moz 1.0 April Release Confirmed & Post-1.0 Development Plan Announced and New Mozilla Roadmap Sets 1.1 for 9 August 2002 and Effectively Kills Mozilla 1.0.x
The latest Roadmap revisions are discussed in our article, Major Morphing in Mozilla Project Organization and Objectives Proposed -- Part 1: Mozilla Management Reorganization and Splitting the Browser-Suite into Stand-Alone Products.
Downloading & Installation Info
Here are the FTP download links for Mozilla 1.4 for you readers that cannot wait to try Mozilla 1.4
Please see the important note in the sidebar to the right here before installing.