It's one small step, but a symbolic one for Mozillakind. A Norwegian
software team has just released a demonstration-only browser based on Netscape Communications' (NSCP)
The source code is the
underlying recipe for Netscape's browser, email, and
other Internet software. By releasing an early version to the public on
March 31, the company gave the Net development community a green light to
get familiar with the code and eventually create new software products
based on it.
Norway-based Troll Tech took
Netscape's code, nicknamed "Mozilla" after the Netscape dragon mascot, and
turned it into a demonstration browser created for Linux. Linux, a Unix variant that runs on
PCs, is popular among developers because it is available for free and,
like Mozilla, the source is open for all developers to peruse and use.
Netscape executive vice president Marc Andreessen is expected to discuss
this week his company's plans to make Linux a top-priority development
platform for Netscape products.
Troll Tech cautions that the browser, dubbed QtScape, is for demonstration
purposes only and still has "bugs and features missing." The company has
grafted its own Qt graphical user interface (GUI) onto the Mozilla code,
seemingly the type of innovation Netscape is hoping developers will bring
to the open source project. However, some contributors to Netscape's
Mozilla discussion list have pointed out that the Qt GUI is not
cross-platform (it doesn't run on Macintosh, for example) and therefore
doesn't meet the Mozilla project's objectives.
In typical hacker fashion, the Qt development team says it spent
five straight days and nights working on the browser.
The Mozilla project is based on a common principle in open source
development: the code is available for all to see, and anyone can add his
or her expertise to the development process. Netscape programmers remain in
charge of the core code set, incorporate changes, and release updated
versions. Netscape last week released the first update
and posted the changes for
developers to peruse.
For legal reasons, the March 31 Mozilla release stripped out many regular
features of Netscape's browser, such as Java and encryption software. Since
the release, however, a team in Australia has added strong encryption to
the free Mozilla code to create a secure version, and plans are under way
to create a Java version.