Raising Mozilla on Linux Runtime Requirements Proposed

Monday May 14th, 2007

Mike Connor has written a weblog post proposing raising the runtime requirements for Mozilla applications on Linux. Historically, Mozilla on Linux has had fairly conservative requirements, employing runtime checks and workarounds to support older libraries or work around known bugs. While this means that Mozilla applications will run on older Linux distributions, it has led to some compromises and ugly hacks in the Mozilla code, making it harder to maintain.

Mike has discussed the issue with Christopher Aillon of Red Hat and Alexander Sack of the Ubuntu project to create an updated list of Linux runtime requirements. Maintainers of older Linux distributions will be able to make the necessary changes to keep Mozilla working with older libraries themselves but the Mozilla Corporation will not ship or test builds for older platforms.

If Mike's proposals are accepted, the first version of Mozilla Firefox to ship with these higher requirements will be Firefox 3. This version of Firefox will also drop support for Windows 95, 98 and ME and raise the minimum required Mac OS X version from 10.2 to 10.3.9.

#6 Be more conservative and bugfree in development

by johnt

Wednesday May 30th, 2007 6:07 PM

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I'm a Mandrake 10.1 user, as I've found nuisance problems in Mandriva 2006 and blocker problems in Mandriva 2007. I spent about a month this spring installing and re-installing Linux distros including the Mandrivas and Fedora 6 to get something to work. Fedora 6 wouldn't work with my video and had a disabled KDE setup, as well as Gnome windows that at an unadjustable 640x480 were unusable. The Mandrivas worked fine with my video as usual, but Mandriva 2007 could not be set to enable direct root logins. Maybe a Linux hacker could make it work right, but the graphic security-setter wizard wouldn't. In contrast, nearly everything in Mandrake 10.1 works right. It's a Sept. 2004 release, and I'll keep using it instead of punishing myself with buggy recent releases.

Stability is a key factor in making an operating system and its associated applications usable. And there's no merit to running the latest and greatest crashers unless you're working on bug removal from beta software before calling it a release. The code must work. That's why Linux users used to laugh at Windows users. But I've seen so much Linux software that's half baked. Conservative Linux users who stay with what works need to be supported, not spurned. I would hope that a few library upgrades would keep new versions of Seamonkey etc working, but when I tried upgrading a few libraries I broke the scripts that started my display manager, and had to re-install.

It's also WRONG to bind an application like Seamonkey to the Gnome desktop instead of recognizing that there are plenty of KDE users too, and some like myself don't even care for the style and bloated code of Gnome. Bind to a Gnome library, ok, but don't bind to the Gnome desktop.

Binding SM, FF and TB to Gnome and to the very latest libraries instead of libraries a couple of years old and thoroughly debugged seem like very dumb moves for development of Mozilla software. The conservative FreeBSD developers included GCC 3.46 in their very recent release 6.2. That's only about six months newer than the GCC in my three-year-old Linux. The BSD guys want to make sure that the software works right, instead of releasing defective software for the ego trip of being really up-to-date.

JohnT, aka Dllbrt