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
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!