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Editor's Note: Congratulations One Billion Firefoxes!

Jul 31, 2009, 23:03 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)

by Carla Schroder
Managing Editor

Firefox passed the billionth-download milestone today. This is an amazing achievement for a five-year old. Back in the bad old days Linux users had only text browsers and Netscape, and the Netscape browser had a lot of problems. Though it wasn't the only graphical Linux browser for very long; Opera made a Linux port, and the Qt team released Konqueror. (This Linux Gazette review is a fun blast from the past, Opera - a lightweight browser for Linux.)

The Web browser is one of the most important pieces of software these days. Not because it renders the operating system unimportant, which is a stupid thing to say and people say it anyway, but because it is becoming the primary network interface. If it weren't for Firefox what would we have? We would doubtless have a range of choices, but it's hard to imagine that anything else would have risen so fast and so far. Without a star the magnitude of Firefox we would be trapped in a nasty, stagnant WinInternet with even worse security problems than now, and not even a pretense of trying to adhere to standards. You know, like it was before Firefox.

As Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols points out, Firefox competes successfully with Internet Explorer despite having to overcome IE's considerable advantages, inertia and ubiquity. People go out of their way to get Firefox.

There may be a lesson here that applies to FOSS as a whole, I don't know. I don't much care either, because this is Firefox's party. Congratulation Firefox folks, you done good!