Theme tonight: Mozilla. Next topic if I remember: parallels between the first two Matrix films.

If you don’t know, Mozilla is an open-source browser developed (as far as I know) primarily by Netscape programmers. It’s in version 1.3x now. I ran it under Red Hat Linux and I thought it looked okay, but I didn’t have a lot of fonts within Linux so I never really liked using it. Right now I am interested in Mozilla for two reasons:

Multiple home pages
. I like this for two reasons. The first is: there are three or four sites that I read every time I surf the web. Yahoo! Mail. PvP. I read them every time. Second: a trait I picked up as an adaptation to dial-up is using multiple browser windows – this lets me read one site while the other one or two are loading. This way, I theoretically won’t ever have to wait for pages to download. Theoretically.

I’m sure most of you pull the read-one-browser-while-the-other-loads trick. With multiple home pages, you no longer have to click File | Open two or three times, and you no longer have to hit three or four bookmarks. Yeah, neither requires very much effort, but since you do it thousands of times per year, and since there might be a better way … Plus, Mozilla has tabs, which are an awful lot like the buttons on the Windows 9x+ taskbar. Personally I’m still undecided on whether or not I would like tabs, but I have a feeling that I would use them once given the opportunity. Next …

Separate mail client and browser
. I remember when I downloaded Netscape 6, I was disappointed with the fact that the browser was buggy as hell, but I also thought that the mail client was not as good as its 4.x predecessor. Plus I was losing messages when the browser crashed. The project name for the standalone mail client is Thunderbird and the project name for the next (and standalone) version of the browser is Firebird. The fact that there is actually a team dedicated to the mail client and that they have enough interest in it to release it standalone makes me think that it might turn out okay.

Additionally, Mozilla supports pop-up blocking. Microsoft really has to implement this. This is the single feature that really made me think twice about Mozilla. I know you can download applications from several web sites that will disable pop-up ads. But the code that actually disables that little component of JavaScript must be like two lines long … why can’t Microsoft just throw it into the next point release of Internet Explorer? Or the next Windows Update release? Probably because they don’t want advertisers jumping on their back. And I don’t install the little helper apps because it’s little helper apps like that that install some other POS or generally just gunk things up.

Finally, why am I considering Mozilla? For the answer to that, think back … Think about the first time you used the Internet, the first time you used the World Wide Web … What browser did you use? Netscape 2.0? Netscape 3? From Netscape 2.0 through Netscape 4.7, I loved Netscape. It was the non-Microsoft product that I used. (Insert first girlfriend metaphor here.) When Netscape 6 dropped (and I do mean dropped), I was so pissed. Yeah, Internet Explorer had been gaining market share for years by then, and may even have passed it, but version 6 of Netscape was the white flag. Maybe the developers were feeling pressure from AOL to make a release date? Maybe they set their goals too high because they wanted their product to be the new face of AOL? I don’t know. Netscape 6 sucked. But still. There’s always been that little part of me that liked Netscape.

Mozilla Firebird was originally called Phoenix. Maybe the Netscape tradition will finally rise from the ashes …