Mozilla history

Since 1999 I kept notes on the many, many Mozilla releases. I have gathered all old notes on this page; I hope some future browser historian will find them useful.

Mozilla 1.2 and 1.3

Mozilla 1.2 was the first release of 2003.

There were few issues, as I recall. I haven't really kept separate notes.

Aside - Names

This deserved rant belongs somewhere here.

<rant type="deserved">

Due to a severe fever in the communicative lobes of what passes for its brain, the Mozilla Project is renaming all of its products every Friday afternoon, valiantly striving for less and less appropriate names.
Is the browser called Firestone? Thunderlizard? Phoenis? CamelLion? Whatever it is, the correct name is not Mozilla, of course. That would be far too easy.

Besides, all names invented by the Project turn out to be copyrighted by someone else. This, too, is part of the Grand and cunning Strategy, since it allows the Project to change all names once again.
As an additional bonus, these violations make sure that Mozilla loses lots of goodwill with other Open Source organizations.

This dedication to finding the worst possible solution to a non-existent product names problem is to be applauded by any true Mozilla fan.

</rant>

Read my recent comments on this silly subject for some more information. As you may note, I don't take this continuous stream of idiocy seriously any more. These guys have gone crazy, completely crazy.

Please don't mail me that I've got the names all wrong. I know. I'm proud of it.

Update: Some people at Mozilla have woken up and produced a branding roadmap that actually makes sense, even though it keeps a loophole open to add more names later on:

"From now on we should try to capitalize on the Mozilla name, as it is already well known and is widely used outside of our small technical community. [Good thinking]
However, once we have got a logical split of the browser and mail/news into separately run projects, we should use the brand we have while allowing the two main parts (and other parts, in the future) to have their own identities, while still reinforcing the Mozilla name." [Bad thinking. I don't think this is feasible without giving up 'Mozilla' or creating an awful mess like the one we've just weathered. But time will tell]

Mozilla 1.1

Mozilla 1.0 final

Seems to be pretty much OK.

Mozilla 0.9.8 - 1.0 RC 3

Hardly made any notes. There are just too bloody many Mozilla releases to keep track of them all.

Mozilla 0.9.7

Mozilla 0.9.7 was the first release of 2002.

Since I had to study 7 browsers anyway, I decided to add Mozilla 0.9.7 Windows and Mac. Although no doubt many problems have been solved I'm not very content. There's just too much wrong with this browser.

To start with an oldie: the Mozilla project still hasn't found a way to let its Mac versions handle bold text. <B> tag or font-weight: 600, Mozilla Mac doesn't show bold at all.

Two brand new bugs pertaining to the loading of pages in the Windows version: I got a very weird error "Unknown socket type. Loading aborted" and not much later Mozilla decided not to bother about fetching pages any more: every page I requested was Not Found. Very, very weird. Switching off QuickLaunch helped the first time, but not the second time.

Meanwhile I've heard that this could be explained by incompatible profile data. You have to use separate profile information for all Netscape/Mozilla installs, since it frequently changes.
Annoying, but to be expected in a browse that's still in development.

The Find position script suddenly doesn't work for elements inside a TABLE. A much worse bug surfaced in my Change style sheet script: when I told Mozilla to change the colour of the PRE tags it changed the colour of all tags to wildly different values (Windows) or the colour of all H3's and LI's (Mac). Mozilla is the very first browser to support deleteRule() but that doesn't help much in the face of all this bugginess.

One point of excellence in all this bugginess: it is possible to turn off popups (Preferences => Advanced => Script and Windows). Good idea, I hope it will make it to the regular Netscape 6.

All in all I'm not very content with this new release. Let's hope Mozilla 0.9.8 will do better.

Netscape 6.2

Aside - Competition?

This theoretical aside belongs somewhere here. It's obsolete now.

An interesting question is whether Mozilla will become a true competitor for Internet Explorer. This does not depend at all on the quality of the code engine, but on the marketing genius of Netscape and its corporate owner AOL (and on the Mozilla Project switching back to recognizable names like Netscape or maybe even Mozilla).

There is a persistent rumour that AOL will later on use the Mozilla code engine for its proprietary AOL browser. At the moment this browser still uses Interner Explorer as code engine. Whether this changeover will really be made depends, in my view, on computer manufacturers.

Years ago AOL had a moment of true genius by making a deal with Microsoft. It would use Explorer as its code engine (giving Microsoft a then much needed browser market share) and Microsoft took care that on the desktop of newly sold computers a user friendly AOL shortcut was clearly visible. Result: newbie users confused 'AOL' with 'Internet' and became clients of AOL.

When AOL bought Netscape, it still retained its delicate position on the desktop of new computers, courtesy of Microsoft. But computer manufacturers ultimately decide what's on the desktop of computers they make and apparently Microsoft has decided to ditch the AOL icon from its Windows XP desktop. Therefore it is no surprise that AOL has started a test to incorporate Mozilla in its AOL skin. If Mozilla were to become the AOL browser, it would start its slow way upward again.

Will this really happen? AOL seems to have taken the first step by adding the Gecko code engine to its new AOL 7 for Mac OS X.
Since this is no corporate news site I won't closely follow this political and economical struggle, but be warned that Mozilla might make a come back. If it does, make sure your code is ready for it.

Netscape 6.1 (Provisional Final Release)

Netscape 6.1 Preview Release 1

Some old NN6.01 and 6.1 PR bug notes:

Mozilla 0.9 and 0.9.1

I was too busy and haven't made any notes.

Mozilla 0.8.1

Mozilla 0.8.1 is once again worse than its predecessor, 0.8 . On my WinNT machine it crashes when starting up, so no test results there, and on my Mac it lacks the Back and Forward button. I tested some stuff but found no differences with 0.8 .

Meanwhile I've heard (but not tested) that both the crashing problem and the Back problem is related to the use of third party themes. Something has changed in the treatment of themes from 0.8 to 0.8.1 and these themes are not yet compatible, causing no end of trouble. To solve the problem, delete the file user-skin.rdf.

Aside - Chrome vs. code engine

This theoretical aside belongs somewhere here.

Let's make an important distinction. The code engine as developed by the Mozilla project is currently the best one available. Its task is to read the HTML, CSS and JavaScript you send to the browser and to determine how the page should be shown. This works fine.

However, it's in the chrome that most of the bugs are. The chrome is the user interface that takes care that when you click on the Back button the browser actually goes back to the previous page. Many of the bugs listed below are connected to this chrome or to user actions in general.

I have the feeling there are some really nasty issues with the chrome and related technologies. The chrome was really horrible in Mozilla 0.8 and although 0.8.1 implemented a new chrome, the problems have merely become less, they have not disappeared.

Netscape 6.01

Netscape 6.01 was the first release of 2001.

I trashed my Netscape 6.01 notes, can't find them any more. Some bugs in 6.0 were solved.

Mozilla 0.8

On the positive side: position: fixed is once more supported. Finally!.

In the Mac version I downloaded the location bar where you can type in a URL is completely missing. Still no special menu when you hold the mouse down, either.
A colleague of mine downloaded it on Windows and didn't get any location bar either. So this problem is not OS dependent. I think Mozilla ran into huge chrome problems, the end of which is not yet in sight.

The Back functionality (the button or Alt/Cmd + arrow left) does not work at all on either OS. So in general, even though each release supports more CSS and JavaScript (I assume), the user interface gets progressively worse. This will probably be solved when Mozilla 0.8 is processed into Netscape 6.02, but it doesn't help us getting a better overview of where the Mozilla project is headed. I wonder if XUL finally works, I haven't yet tested it because I don't understand how it should work.

Mozilla 0.7

What I dislike most about mozilla 0.7 is that for the first time in the Gecko project there are clear differences between the Windows and the Mac release. On Mac, the old Netscape 4 bug that refused to make <B>'s bold has reappeared, now worse than before because putting b {font-weight: 600;} in the style sheet does not help at all. Furthermore the chrome of the Mac version is chronically instable, holes may appear in your toolbars.

In addition, when I installed the Mac version it completely fouled up my normal Netscape 6. The browser texts are so small that they're impossible to read. Even worse, after I trashed both Netscape 6 and Mozilla 0.7, then reinstalled Netscape 6, it worked fine the first time but was again fouled up the second time I ran it.
I have the feeling (not yet properly tested) that installing Mozilla 0.7 also overwrites the code engine of Netscape 6, if it's installed. Since I'm not sure if 0.7 is such a huge progress, I advise you for the moment not to install it on Mac.

A positive point is that the problems with tables seem to be solved. Many tables were stretched out far too much, this had something to do with spacer gifs being placed below the content, while they should be besides it. Maybe this had something to do with the DOCTYPE problem. Anyway, this particular bug seems to be gone. However, because Mozilla 0.7 has overwritten my old Netscape 6 I cannot properly test this.

Netscape 6.0 = Mozilla 0.6

The previous Big Issues seem to have been solved. a:hover works once again, the Frame parsing script, the only script not working in M17, now works fine in Netscape 6.0 . There was an unexplained problem on the NetEvents homepage I coded, but it has been solved now.

At the moment I can't find a script on my site that doesn't work in Netscape 6, which is a good start. In addition, all the good old keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl+U for View Source and so on) work once again. Better still, the user can change the text size, even when a style sheet has absolute font sizes (like mine). Use View => Text size or Crtl + and Ctrl - (Mac will be Cmd + and Cmd -, I suppose).

Gecko M18 = Netscape 6 Preview Release 3

Netscape 6 Preview Release 3 (containing the Gecko M18 code engine) has a few more bugs than M17: a:hover doesn't work and there is some as yet unexplained bug in the new DOM, because the pulldown on the Version 5 methods and properties page isn't filled with options any more. Other than that: no data.

Gecko M17

M17 is very much better than all previous M's. It finally supports TITLE's (which was high on my personal wish list), the M16 bugs have been solved and it seems that Mozilla is finally on the road. Not that it is perfect, it still has trouble that I can't really define with the NetEvents homepage I made (try the links on the right, they should open a red div with some additional information). My current guess is that Mozilla can't handle links in layers that are above other layers with links, but when I tried a simple experiment, it worked fine. Vague, vague...
One definite pro: the JavaScript console finally works.

Gecko M16

M16 has developed some new bugs that make it worse than M15. Although the auto scroll script finally works, this release has trouble with the style sheet I write out with JavaScript in the navigation frame. It literally prints it to the screen instead of executing it. The millennium bug is active on the Mac version. There are a host of new minor bugs, slightly more on Mac than on Windows and Linux. So let's continue to hope and not be impatient.

Gecko M12 - M15

Gecko M13 was the first release of 2000.

  1. Gecko M12:
    Can't remember
  2. Gecko M13 (also called Netscape 5 Alpha):
    OK-ish
  3. Gecko M14:
    Buggy
  4. Netscape 6 Preview Release 1:
    Slightly less buggy
  5. Gecko M15:
    OK-ish (better than M13)
  6. Gecko M16:
    Buggy
  7. Gecko M17 (the same as Netscape 6 Preview Release 2):
    OK (best until now)
  8. Gecko M18/Netscape 6 Preview Release 3:
    Less OK

It supports style sheets very much better than Netscape 4 and the promises for the new JavaScript (DOM, XML etc.) are truly amazing. It supports position: fixed (item stays where it is on the screen, regardless of scrolling) Let's see what really happens before we start cheering, though.

To see JavaScript Error messages, type javascript: into the location bar or select Tasks => Tools => JavaScript Console and you get the error messages.