Concern Over Firefox Reviewer Resources

By Blane Warrene
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A recent blog post reflects some concern over the number of serious resources available for code/patch review for Firefox.

This post, by one of the senior hackers involved in the evolution of the browser, perhaps shows more the frustration and difficulty encountered in light of the explosive growth of Firefox.

As with most successful open source projects – a huge amount of work is completed by volunteers. However, in many cases public and private companies also pledge senior developers to a project which costs them money (through allowing the developer to pledge time during work hours to contribute).

Of course this is not done out of pure altruism from a corporate perspective – the company often sees a real need for the application or technology and wants to benefit from its success.

This latter element also often can salvage a lagging open source project when volunteers run out of time and energy. Perhaps there is an additional angel waiting in the wings for Firefox.

The Mozilla Foundation did not respond to a request for a clear background on the review process for Firefox and if there would be paid developers at some point in the near future for the project.

Even if one is not a high level hacker who can jump into code for a major project – any of us who heavily leverage open source should find ways to contribute to projects we find value in. This can be accomplished in many ways – assisting with marketing, documentation, testing and qa, advocacy as well as working at the code level.

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  • I think the main trouble is where is Mozilla going to get that money?

  • With the momentum they are gaining through Firefox, Thunderbird and ultimately also a calendar app – it should be easier than a start-up would go through to raise funds. They have a proven product on the market in production.

  • I have never understood how browser manufactuers make money from their product (Opera and very early Netscape aside).
    The fact that Firefox and Thunderbird are very popular won’t alone lead to any revenue while the products are free and without advertising.

  • MySQL is a great example of how to run an open-source product and still bring in enough money to finance the growth of a company. I’m no expert in this field, but it’s more than possible when you have such a popular product

  • In Mozilla’s case – as a non-profit foundation – they look for public and private support based on putting superior products into the market at no cost under open source licensing. They make money through individual donations of cash as well as corporate contributions which can be leveraged as partnerships where the donating company gains access to the knowledge and customization capabiliies of Mozilla staff.

    In other open source projects – they are often purely volunteer with the goal of being offered a high paying job or contract based on their skill set reflected in the free software (as we saw Google hire away two programmers from Mozilla).

    Finally as Dean C noted above – it is common for some open source projects to sell support and customization as well as offering a commercial version of the software.

  • Dr Livingston

    Well the applications I develop come in two flavours for clients.

    1) free with documentation and nothing more
    2) for a fixed monthly fee (lease) they get the software and support available

    once the software is developed you really only make money from the services you offer for the software.

    trying to make money via a licence is more difficult in my view