"Many remember the birth of the Mozilla project in 1999 when
Netscape opened its Communicator code in the face of Microsoft
bundling Internet Explorer with Windows . Many also remember the
ensuing catcalls at the open-source process when, after a year of
hard work, Mozilla failed to reach the Version 1 plateau. Had the
open-source process proved to be inadequate for producing a complex
piece of software such as a browser?
"Not at all. Open source is no magic bullet. Making difficult
software open source does not automatically bestow ease of
maintenance and development. It's not like Tinkerbell's pixie dust,
transforming everyday children into special youths capable of
flight to faraway lands. Yes, open source adds potential to do
great things, but only after hard work and insightful toil.
"For Mozilla, this amounted to a total reworking of the
rendering engine (called NGLayout or Gecko). This was accompanied
by a redesign of the user interface, the addition of numerous
features, and intensive labor to ensure the result could survive on
multiple operating systems in multiple hardware architectures. Yes,
the lizard is as at home on your Windows desktop as it is under
Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, or any number of OSes.