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The end of the road for Firefox 2
Mozilla plans rapid abandonment of 2.x branch
encyclo




msg:3787499
 9:51 pm on Nov 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

[lwn.net...]
By some accounts, the Firefox browser is now responsible for a full 20% of web traffic. As the number of Firefox users grows, so does the need for top-quality support; 20% makes for a large number of potential attack points. So it is interesting to note that Mozilla is now planning to end Firefox 2 support in the near future, perhaps before the end of the year. This change could leave a lot of users - and not just Firefox users - in a difficult position.

(...) There is another important aspect to this story, though: this decision will affect users well beyond those who use Firefox. The end of Firefox 2 support will also bring an end to support for the Gecko 1.8.1 platform. And this version of Gecko is used by several applications beyond Firefox, including Camino, SeaMonkey, Sunbird, Miro, Instantbird, and Thunderbird. All of these platforms currently use Gecko - the soon-to-be-discontinued version of Gecko - for HTML rendering.

 

Swanson




msg:3787630
 2:30 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

And that is why you don't use a non-commercial product (for longevity)

Everyone slags off MS browser etc. but at least it is developed and supported by a commercial entity.

You can't have your cake and eat it - when the going gets tough you actually need to stop messing about and make a commercial reason for something.

Good stuff - can't stand open source.

fischermx




msg:3787631
 2:31 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

What's the big deal?
It is not like when Microsoft stops support for old OS...
In this case you just download the next version and you're done!

And for those Gecko incarnation.... easy just don't use it, and use Firefox instead.

What am I missing?

encyclo




msg:3787637
 2:39 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

And that is why you don't use a non-commercial product (for longevity)

The article makes it clear that the wider community is already supporting some earlier Gecko variants, and that there is no reason why the same cannot happen in this case. As the codebase is open-source, the support can be handled by any interested parties - often those with a commercial interest in doing so such as Linux vendors like Red Hat or Ubuntu. Open source and commercial are far from being mutually exclusive.

If a closed-source product is abandoned by its developers, there is no hope for users of the product other than using an insecure product or being forced to upgrade (and often having to pay for the unwanted upgrade too).

Swanson




msg:3787638
 2:41 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Actually I would just like to say that everyone slagged off Microsoft when each new OS was released but didn't realise the implications of creating something new that was still compatible with the old - this dates back to windows 95.

Yet they still tried - however if they had of been given the chance to just go for it and create something brand new we would be light years from where we are now.

So how come mozilla should get away with it - because they are working for mozilla?

Anyway - they should get a job and contribute something commercial to the world as we need their skills -not the development of a web browser.

We can all browse the web for free out of the box right? Why re-invent the wheel when there is no commercial reason to do so?

[edited by: tedster at 3:22 am (utc) on Nov. 17, 2008]

grelmar




msg:3787640
 2:47 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

@ swanson
Wow. So, you're saying that when MS drops support for .doc files made before 1995, and the only software that will continue to support them is is open source apps like Open Office, MS is still right, simply because they're doing it for commercial reasons?

Or that when MS leaves known vulns open in IE for 6 months at a time, it's Ok, because they're doing it for commercial reasons?

@ fischermx

The big deal isn't the lass of Firefox 2.x, the big deal is the drop in support for the older Gecko rendering engine, which is in a ton of apps that Mozilla doesn't necessarily control, and can't force the developers to change to the new rendering engine. Many of these apps aren't browsers, but "browser like objects" like RSS feed readers, email clients, etc.

@ no one in particular

It doesn't really matter that Mozilla is going to drop support for the old Gecko engine, simply because it's open source. If/when they drop support, two things are going to happen:

#1 Most of the outside apps using the older Gecko engine will simply upgrade to the new incarnation.

#2 For those apps that don't, or can't, adopt the new rendering engine, I can pretty much guarantee someone will pick up the the older Gecko and keep maintaining it. It's happened time and again in the FOSS community. The core outfit behind a piece of software drops support, and someone else picks up where they left off.

[edited by: tedster at 3:13 am (utc) on Nov. 17, 2008]

Swanson




msg:3787648
 2:58 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

grelmar, I don't know what you are saying - are you saying that it is bad for a company to not support a format that is 13 years old? Yet it is ok for an "open source" development to drop support a few years old?

Yes, I think it is totally fine to drop support for something 13 years old - is it just me or does that sound correct? I used to play on a commodore 64 when I was 13, which came out 15 years before windows 95 - should that be "supported"?!?

What are you talking about regarding vulnerabilities? Yes they have them, they release new versions - that is what a commercial company does!

[edited by: tedster at 3:14 am (utc) on Nov. 17, 2008]

poppyrich




msg:3787671
 4:07 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've had the feeling for quite some time that management at Mozilla doesn't have a clue about what really drives people to use FF and what users truly consider value in a browser.
It certainly isn't under-the-hood pyrotechnics.

I've also gotten the feeling that they're moving too fast. I would have thought the laggardly response of add-on developers to version 3 would have taught them something.

But I think they are on a crusade and don't really give a damn.

poppyrich




msg:3787674
 4:13 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

@swanson

How dare you be so politically incorrect!

Yes, I can browse the Internet with IE. But with FireFox I can browse the Internet with FireFox!

Don't you understand the difference?

rise2it




msg:3787681
 4:25 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

No one I know (average users) liked Firefox 3....they all uninstalled it and went back to a 2.xx version.

yaix




msg:3787701
 5:06 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Only because something is Open Source, it does not mean it is not commercial. And something commercial does not have to be closed source. Strange discussion.

Bad decision by Mozilla, that might leave Windows users with yet another browser full of bugs and security holes.

AlexK




msg:3787731
 6:24 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

encyclo:
By some accounts, the Firefox browser is now responsible for a full 20% of web traffic

FWIW Firefox traffic through my website up to 4am GMT today (Monday) was 27.3%, cf 64.6% for MSIE.

mcneely




msg:3787736
 6:34 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Firefox 3 does leave a bit of a footprint then these days, doesn't it?

If Mozilla thinks that being a resource hog is the way to win the day against IEX, then I think they should re-think the browser altogether.

I picked up on Firefox in the beginning because it was fast and light. Nimble would have better described it.
It would read and go, read and go, and didn't stop to look at things along the way to a page load like IEX does.

These days of high speed connections has only served to allow web developers to build some of the heaviest, most script laden pages that have ever existed on the net, and for a period of time, Firefox was up to the task of putting these heavy monstrosities on in pretty short order. Firefox 3, however, is the closest yet to IEX that I've seen so far, with regard to going as slow as IEX when it comes to loading sites like msnbc and myspace for example.

Firefox used to load the heaviest of pages with a certain ease. An ease the IEX has never had.

Sure, I've been to the Firefox forums, what with all of the ex-internet explorer users in there complaining about Firefox because it seemingly doesn't do what their once beloved explorer did ... I think that you can't please them all, and that the development team for Firefox should quit being so swayed by the opinions of those who would seem to want IEX, but under a different name, like maybe, Firefox for instance.

>>> ... laggardly response of add-on developers to version 3 would have taught them something... <<<

Of course it should've. It should have alerted them to the fact that they are, by nearly every build these days, drifting closer and closer to the lane that the internet explorer is driving in.

We here would prefer to have Firefox because it's Firefox ... If we wanted internet explorer, we'ld be using that instead.

One day, I fear, that I'm going to wake up and discover that my Firefox is IEX, and that my IEX is Firefox, and I won't be able to distinguish one from the other without first looking at the logo.

koan




msg:3787759
 7:32 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

We can all browse the web for free out of the box right? Why re-invent the wheel when there is no commercial reason to do so?

Actually IE was getting stale for a very long time until Firefox started becoming a serious competitor, and the latest version of IE is pretty much just copying Firefox's innovations.

I don't know any IT and web people who use IE anymore.

I don't understand all your rage against open source, but in this case it seems to be doing better than closed source.

Hester




msg:3787808
 9:53 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Everyone slags off MS browser etc. but at least it is developed and supported by a commercial entity.

Which let it rot for five years. That helped hold back the web. Even to this day we are still dealing with this problem. That is the reason Firefox was born. Now IE is playing catch up with all the progress Firefox made.

JAB Creations




msg:3787809
 9:57 am on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

"We can all browse the web for free out of the box right? Why re-invent the wheel when there is no commercial reason to do so?" - Swanson

Gecko's downfall is that it's extremely riddled with holes. I'm still waiting for two dozen extremely important bugs (both web programming and GUI related) to be corrected.

The only positive thing I can say about Internet Explorer is that when it actually *does* support something there aren't that many bugs. For example for Gecko I have to have tabindex attributes on all tabable elements including overflow divisible elements and implement it so that the page still validates otherwise when the page is served as application/xhtml+xml the user will not be able to tab through huge portions of the second cycle (a full cycle being once you've fully tabbed through all tabable elements on a page).

However it's clear that in a completely commercialized product only minimal (if you could consider that) progress is made. Internet Explorer 8 (once finished) will still not be able of things Opera 7 and Netscape 6/Mozilla Suite 1.0 were capable of. Unfortunately when it comes to rendering engines there are simply numerous trade-offs. Pick your poison.

- John

docbird




msg:3787853
 12:07 pm on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

MS browser supported and developed, eh?
Not for some time on Mac OS, it isn't.

Tho Apple has Safari, Firefox sometimes helpful where Safari is wanting.
For me, version 3 working fine.

swa66




msg:3787860
 12:38 pm on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Old versions of browsers (like e.g. IE6) are a curse to those developing websites. It's lack of support for even basic CSS1 (dating back itself from 1999) and trivial thing like selectors from CSS2 are a major problem in getting the web to evolve. Add to it the unwillingness of MSFT to fix even the most glaring (non-security/non-lawsuit) bugs. A lot of these bugs have been given names over the years (3px jog, guillotine, double margin, the broken box model, the lack of support from auto margins, ...) And nobody else can fix them as we lack the source code to do so properly ...

Now Firefox: the drop of support is a good thing as it'll prompt people to switch to the next version. This will cause us to have to worry less about the old version (something MSFT never achieved with the horror of IE6). The other browsers using the old gecko engine well they have a choice: getting stuck in the middle ages and continuing the support themselves (and -for all I care getting ignored by web developers so slowly they'll see their browser not being able to handle what's out there), or they can adapt and upgrade to another rendering engine: webkit (used by chrone and safari), or the newer gecko, or make their own better one. I'm not sure if opera's engine can easily be used.

In the end open souce allows for more choices. Now that doesn't mean some of them are good. And my vote is to let the old gecko die a somewhat swift death. Freeing web masters from havng to deal with how stuff renders in it.

Demaestro




msg:3787923
 2:50 pm on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

great move by FF in my eyes.

I am done supporting old browers so anything to get people to upgrade.

I wish MS would do this with IE6 and force people to upgrade when IE8 comes out.

I have even removed IE6 from my proposals as a supported browser version that I develop for.

Out with the old... in with the new.

hutcheson




msg:3788008
 4:33 pm on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

>The only positive thing I can say about Internet Explorer is that when it actually *does* support something there aren't that many bugs.

I stopped supporting the IE years ago because it was so buggy. As a user, when doing heavy browsing to random sites I could COUNT on it crashing within 20-200 MINUTES. EVERY time.

As a developer, the code never, NEVER did what the documentation said. It was a waste of time to read documentation and code HTML or Javascript.

It's not just features that other people added, and Microsoft had trouble implementing. It's their OWN enhancements they can't even get to work with each other.

I don't even look at what the Microsoft bugset-du-jour does any more. I just write to the standards, and figure IE will catch up, sort of, except with a different set of bugs, in ten years or so....if anyone cares.

On the difference between Microsoft terminating support for a FILE FORMAT which was SECRET and which encrypted untold millions of dollars of user's data, and Mozilla terminating support for a CODE SET which was FULLY PUBLIC, and which didn't hold ANYBODY'S data hostage, there's no moral comparison.

Keeping the file format secret in the first place was morally reprehensible itself. Using it to suck up user data with no way of disgorgement (except paying MORE money to Microsoft, not just once but multiple times, was sheer evil. (Of course, falling for this scam more than once was sheer stupidity, and I'm ashamed to admit I fell for it twice before I returned to publicly documented file formats.)

However, Mozilla CAN'T lock up anyone's data, because they were supporting a codeset--the associated file formats were publicly documented so even if the code HAD been secret, no roach hotel for user data would have been possible.

And, since Mozilla's code is public, they are providing more support for the future than Microsoft. They're providing all the tools ANYONE needs, to support themselves or to arrange with anyone for whatever support they think is worth purchasing.

Microsoft is giving no support, and no help.

CritterNYC




msg:3788072
 5:21 pm on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

And that is why you don't use a non-commercial product (for longevity)

Swanson, if you actually believe this... I'm sorry but that's just dumb. The most long-standing, long-supported software is open source. This whole internet thing, runs on open source software and open protocols.

Everyone slags off MS browser etc. but at least it is developed and supported by a commercial entity.

Define "supported" here for me. If I have a problem with Firefox, I can hop onto mozillaZine.org, open a free account and get answers to my questions within a day. If I have a problem with Internet Explorer I can do... what.. exactly. Call my OEM PC manufacturer (Microsoft doesn't support OEM software at all) and wait a half hour on hold to get someone named "Jim" with a vaguely midwest accent who is most definitely on the other side of the planet read from a script of common issues that don't solve my problem?

And without Firefox, we'd still be using Internet Explorer 6 and website probably wouldn't work with Safari or Opera either.

How about a reality check here. Upgrading from Firefox 2 to Firefox 3 is free and easy. And it happens *AUTOMATICALLY* for end users, preserving all their settings and automatically updating their extensions. This isn't a paid app that a user has to pay to upgrade, it's just an automatic upgrade to the latest release. That's it.

As to the other software that uses the old Gecko, they can continue to do so but nearly all I have checked are upgrading. Thunderbird 3.0 (Alpha 3 now) uses Gecko 1.9. And Mozilla will continue to fix bugs in Gecko 1.8.1 that affect Thunderbird 2. Miro already uses Gecko 1.9 and has for the last few point releases so the article has that one wrong. InstantBird is a 0.1 pre-alpha release so if you're using it in production the Gecko version is the least of your worries. SeaMonkey 2.0 uses Gecko 1.9 and has been a LONG time coming but is still only an alpha (they'll need to step up development). Camino isn't as necessary as Firefox 3 works much better on Macs and has a native Mac look but I believe they are upgrading to Gecko 1.9 as well. Sunbird 1.0 uses Gecko 1.9 and is currently approaching release with another bug finding day.

[edited by: CritterNYC at 5:22 pm (utc) on Nov. 17, 2008]

Response




msg:3788107
 5:56 pm on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hmmm. Might it be related to this?
It came through this morning from our network people indicating we need to upgrade our browsers.

Subject: US-CERT Technical Cyber Security Alert TA08-319A -- Mozilla Updates for Multiple Vulnerabilities

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

National Cyber Alert System

Technical Cyber Security Alert TA08-319A

Mozilla Updates for Multiple Vulnerabilities

Original release date: November 14, 2008
Last revised: --
Source: US-CERT

Systems Affected

* Mozilla Firefox
* Mozilla Thunderbird
* Mozilla SeaMonkey

Other products based on Mozilla components may also be affected.

Overview

New versions of Firefox, Thunderbird, and SeaMonkey address several
vulnerabilities, the most severe of which could allow a remote
attacker to execute arbitrary code on an affected system.

I. Description

The Mozilla and the SeaMonkey projects have released new versions
of Firefox, Thunderbird and SeaMonkey to address several
vulnerabilities. Further details about these vulnerabilities are
available in Mozilla Foundation Security Advisories. An attacker
could exploit these vulnerabilities by convincing a user to view a
specially crafted HTML document, such as a web page or an HTML
email message.

II. Impact

While the impacts of the individual vulnerabilities vary, the most
severe could allow a remote, unauthenticated attacker to execute
arbitrary code on a vulnerable system. An attacker may also be able
to cause a denial of service or execute cross-site scripting
attacks.

III. Solution

Upgrade

These vulnerabilities are addressed in Mozilla Firefox 3.0.4,
Firefox 2.0.0.18, Thunderbird 2.0.0.18, and SeaMonkey 1.1.13.

poppyrich




msg:3788112
 6:15 pm on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

@critter
And without Firefox, we'd still be using Internet Explorer 6

The two hundred million people still using IE6 are going to be upset about this. Have you told them yet?

CritterNYC




msg:3788116
 6:30 pm on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

The two hundred million people still using IE6 are going to be upset about this. Have you told them yet?

I don't think 23.5% of the world still using IE6 can be told much of anything. :-)

hutcheson




msg:3788148
 7:01 pm on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

>The two hundred million people still using IE6 are going to be upset about this. Have you told them yet?

No. But fortunately, you know who they are. They've all sent you e-mail. If they're not the beautiful bulgarian girl just hanging around in the internet cafe, they're offering cheap watches designed to impress gullible girls, oh, and bargain-priced recreational pharmaceuticals.

Demaestro




msg:3788179
 7:39 pm on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

The two hundred million people still using IE6 are going to be upset about this. Have you told them yet?

Well someone should, I do every chance I get. They need to be upset, they are using an outdated browser and most don't even know why other then fear of something "different".

What is it going to take to get them to move forward with the rest of us?

poppyrich




msg:3788284
 10:09 pm on Nov 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I get such a kick out of these testosterone-laden "my browser can beat up your browser" threads.
Did you know that the content on webmasterworld looks exactly the same in IE6 as it does in FireFox3?
Really, it does. I wouldn't lie about a thing like that.
Now, when there's a browser that filters out content that is unintelligent and/or uninformed - let me know, I'm definitely in for the switch.
(And that includes my own dribble, too. No immunity.)

docbird




msg:3788377
 12:37 am on Nov 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

What is it going to take to get them to move forward with the rest of us?

That's easy: switch to Mac

:)

Demaestro




msg:3788378
 12:40 am on Nov 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

^^^ Bah... I don't care what OS they use as long as they use the most current version of a modern browser of their choice.

vincevincevince




msg:3788409
 1:41 am on Nov 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

I agree with Demaestro's sentiments entirely. Users need to understand that updating their software is no more optional than checking the water in their car radiator.

If you don't top up the radiator and the car overheats, that's not the manufacturers fault; especially if you were given prior warning by the car and by the manufacturer.

This 47 message thread spans 2 pages: 47 ( [1] 2 > >
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