In the recent times I often wished Mozilla would just go away. This has been the case whenever I had to write code that interacts with Mozilla. You can witness the frustration in swfdec’s mozilla-sucks directory. It’s an experience I wish noone has to live through. And after talking to Vlad and Reed (You need a blog, where am I supposed to link to?), I now think I understand why interacting with Mozilla is such a bad experience.
The problem with Mozilla - note that I’m saying “Mozilla” when I mean “the community of people that make up the Mozilla project” - is that it’s focused on building a stand-alone project. A number of products (like Firefox) are built with the single goal of putting out an awesome complete product. For this goal, Mozilla takes responsibiltiy for all the software it uses and makes sure it is tuned to work perfectly with the product they ship. This is likely the best way and maybe even necessary if you are in a “hostile” environment like Windows or OS X, where the people building the operating system ignore you or are your biggest enemies for market share. However, it is somewhere between unfortunate and hostile if you behave like this in a cooperating environment like Linux.
The way I experience building Linux is that everybody works together to ship awesome software. Everybody has different goals, but there’s a constant exchange of this so people are aware of each other’s issues and ways to fix stuff are worked out. It also means that everyone customizes each other’s stuff all the time. Sometimes this works out well, sometimes not so well. But at all times it is encouraged to cooperate to achieve whatever you want.
I guess this absence of Mozilla from the Free software community and insistance on doing their own stuff is what causes frustration with Linux people and fuels the buzz about browser replacements. Mozilla seems to see the problem, but I don’t think their solution is right. We don’t need just a technical solution. We require a solution in people’s minds.