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About Mozilla

  1. Information about Mozilla & Co.
  2. The Role of Netscape
  3. Software based on Mozilla technology
  4. The Fate of Netscape Communicator 5
  5. The SeaMonkey Project

1. Information about Mozilla & Co.

Mozilla-the-software-product used to be a so-called Internet Client Suite (i.e. a package consisting of browser, mail/news, composer, chat program). Initially, Mozilla.org should not release official products, but instead third parties involved in the project such as Netscape or Beonex would fulfill that part. Mozilla itself was targeted at developers. When Netscape was abandoned and gradually shut down by AOL this has radically changed. Netscape, a long-time main contributor to the project, was more or less gone. In addition, "virtual" Mozilla.org became a legal organization, appropriately named Mozilla Foundation in July 2003. In August 2005, the Foundation created a company called Mozilla Corporation to oversee marketing of their products.
   Mozilla is part of the Open Source movement. Everyone may participate. Today, Mozilla Firefox is the flagship of Mozilla. The last version of the Mozilla suite was released in April 2006 (version 1.7.13). SeaMonkey is the follow-up project that continues working on the suite.
   On September 17th 2007, Mozilla Foundation created the Internet Mail and Communications Initiative (Press release) to focus on Thunderbird, the Mail/News program.
   Mozilla, by the way, was the original code name of the Netscape internet browsers (e.g. Netscape Navigator 3 = Mozilla 3). Additionally, Mozilla was also used as the nickname for the dinosaur-like Netscape mascot.
   You can find more on Netscape's history here.

2. The Role of Netscape

In January 1998, Netscape declared two important things:
- Netscape Communicator would become a free product
- The Netscape Communicator code would be released as open source.
In March 1998, the code was released to the public. Netscape founded a virtual organization, Mozilla.org, to work on a new version of the Netscape Client Suite. At the same time, AOL bought Netscape. Netscape was the main contributor of Mozilla development; most developers working at Mozilla.org were Netscape employees. For a long time, it appeared that Mozilla was a "Netscape project in the open" rather than an Open Source project. Over time things changed, but Netscape continued to be one of the main contributors until AOL decided to shut down Netscape development. AOL released Netscape Navigator 8 and 9 based on Firefox, yet in December 2007 AOL released a press statement that it would halt all development and support for Netscape products in March 2008.

3. Software based on Mozilla technology

Firefox (Browser), Thunderbird (E-Mail/News), Mozilla (Suite) up to Version 1.7.13: http://www.mozilla.com
Seamonkey (successor to the Mozilla Suite): http://www.seamonkey-project.org/
Netscape 7.x (Suite), 8.x (Browser), 9.x (Browser): http://www.netscape.com/download
Beonex (Suite): http://www.beonex.org/ (discontinued)
K-Meleon (Browser): http://kmeleon.sourceforge.net/— Windows only
Camino (Browser): http://caminobrowser.org/— Mac only
Sunbird (Calendar Projekt): http://www.mozilla.org/projects/calendar/
Lightning (Sunbird for Thunderbird): http://www.mozilla.org/projects/calendar/
Minimo (browser for mobile devices): http://www.mozilla.org/projects/minimo/

4. The Fate of Netscape Communicator 5

Mozilla.org, initially, started working on Netscape Communicator 5 (Codename "Grommit")  in 1998. But it was soon realized that throwing the old code over board was the only way to go; so Mozilla.org started from scratch on a new technology that would eventually become Firefox.
   Netscape Communicator 5's code can still be accessed today at Mozilla.org (look for "Mozilla Classic").
Here's a picture of the Codename Grommit developers t-shirt:

5. The SeaMonkey Project

When Mozilla.org decided to focus their work on Firefox, a group of volunteers took over the development of the suite. The new project was aptly named Seamonkey (which actually was the old internal codename of Mozilla). New versions of the Mozilla Suite are released as SeaMonkey.
See http://www.mozilla.org/projects/seamonkey/ for details.

© Holger Metzger