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Mozilla The Internet

Meet The Co-Creator of Firefox 255

Posted by Hemos
from the learning-more-about-it dept.
Jay Langhurst writes "Learn more about the roots of Firefox and about the 19-year-old who co-created the browser in this article. 'To take an internship at Netscape during the summer of 2001, Ross moved with his mother to a rented apartment near Netscape's offices in Mountain View, Calif. She drove him to work each morning.'"
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Meet The Co-Creator of Firefox

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  • by ravenspear (756059) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:07AM (#11454850)
    At least we know he's a real geek.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:07AM (#11454852)
    ' Ross moved with his mother to a rented apartment '

    Is the apartment two-floors, so he can still be in mom's basement?

  • Meet him? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:09AM (#11454866)
    I want to hug him, kiss him, have his children....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I want FireFox for Amiga.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Digging up coffins just to put a copy of FireFox in them is not worth the effort.
    • I heard someone on IRC talking about this. They got something now, the only problem is that the binary is about 300MB. Why? Because it also has a Posix, X, GTK, etc. compatibility layer built-in. Pretty sick, if you ask me. :-)
  • by kmmatthews (779425) * <krism@mailsnare.net> on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:12AM (#11454885) Homepage Journal
    The article claims that the Mozilla Foundation was created _for_ FireFox.

    Gee, I wonder what codebase he used to create Firefox, then?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Shoddy journalism and taking comments out of context.

      Note how its not actually quotes but summed up by the reporter...that's his mistake not Ross's.
  • Uhh...wow? (Score:1, Insightful)

    How much of a geek genius does it take to do this:

    1) Download Mozilla code
    2) Change the name and turn off several features in the Makefile
    3) ???
    4) Profit!!!

    • Re:Uhh...wow? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker.gmail@com> on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:22AM (#11454970) Journal
      And completly rewrite the XUL that makes the frontend experience.
      • Re:Uhh...wow? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomstdenis (446163)
        Last I checked there is more than just him working on FF. He may have created the fork (and kudos to him) but that's a far cry from the co-author of the entire suite.

        First off, it's LARGELY based off the gecko engine [e.g. Mozilla]. Second, there are other FF active developers.

        This would be like me forking GCC then when 100 developers get a cool release out of my fork I take credit for it.

        Tom
        • Re:Uhh...wow? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by starwed (735423)
          This would be like me forking GCC then when 100 developers get a cool release out of my fork I take credit for it.

          No, it would be like you forking GCC then, when 100 developers get a cool release out of your fork, the media writes simplistic articles giving you credit for it. :P

          Blake Ross readily admits that he gets too much credit from the media. Read his comments on this blog post [mozillazine.org] if you want to see his take.
        • Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that blake rewrote XUL or anything, was trying to state that firefox is more than just a trimmed down version of mozilla that anybody could have made.
    • by dapyx (665882) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:37AM (#11455088) Homepage
      No, no. That should be: 1) Download Mozilla code and modify it a bit
      2) Change the name
      3) Change the name
      4) Change the name
      5) ???
      6) Profit!!!
      • Haha... so true. IIRC, It started out as Phoenix ( 0.6). Of course, it sprouted a plugin to randomize the name of Firefox... which I can't seem to find. Someone help me out?
    • Re:Uhh...wow? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by finkployd (12902) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:39AM (#11455100) Homepage
      How much of a geek genius does it take to do this

      Slightly more than it takes to whine about it.

      Finkployd
    • From your sig:

      You may disagree with me, but you have to acknowledge the existance of my highly educated opinion

      Hard to acknowledge your highly educated opinion when you spell "existence" wrong...

  • Basement (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Diabolical (2110)
    So refreshing to see he didn't live in his mothers basement....

  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:16AM (#11454925)

    Odd isn't it - how many times a flat broke intern turns our entire industry upside-down?

    On another note, I wonder how the IE team feels knowing that an intern who had to share an apartment with his mom and have her drive him to work basically outperformed their entire team.

    • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:19AM (#11454943)
      "On another note, I wonder how the IE team feels knowing that an intern who had to share an apartment with his mom and have her drive him to work basically outperformed their entire team"

      Studies have shown that a million monkeys, banging on a million typewriters, will produce Microsoft-standards-compliant IE releases on an average of once every 6 minutes.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:35AM (#11455066)
      I wonder how the IE team feels knowing that an intern who had to share an apartment with his mom and have her drive him to work basically outperformed their entire team.

      I wonder how the mozilla team feels knowing that an intern who had to share an apartment with his mom and have her drive him to work basically took all the credit for their entire communities work.
    • Odd isn't it - how many times a flat broke intern turns our entire industry upside-down?

      How many times is that, exactly? Not to pooh-pooh a good story, but what makes it special is exactly how rarely this really happens.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:05AM (#11455403)
      Oh please, quit it with the hero worship. He didn't outperform the Internet Explorer team at all. He took the existing Gecko rendering engine and slapped a lightweight shell on the front.

      Firefox development is hardly without its problems or questionable decisions. They switched from a good looking, professional default theme to an ugly, unfinished one because they couldn't be bothered to check up on the licensing issue (the theme creator had no problems with relicensing it to meet the Firefox needs).

      They broke the extension API multiple times while encouraging people to give it to newbies in its pre-1.0 unstable state, even going so far as to put it on the Mozilla front page in favour of the actual Mozilla suite. Newsflash: telling newbies to uninstall extensions, delete directories, etc just to upgrade is not acceptable.

      They made important UI changes in-between the release candidate and the final 1.0 (do they even know the meaning of "release candidate"?) including such usability cock-ups as changing some keyboard shortcuts from positive actions to destructive ones (when I want to open something in a new tab, I don't expect to get my bookmarks deleted!).

      They left a really annoying bug in 1.0 - the Slashdot bug - that affects their "early adopters" that are responsible for recommending this browser to other people. That's a marketing disaster that only seems to have been mitigated by people spreading FUD that it was a bug in Slashdot's code not Firefox's.

      I like Firefox. I use it as my primary browser. But all along, I have been shocked at how many boneheaded, unprofessional decisions have been made by the lead developers. I haven't observed this incompetence in other browser developers (except for Internet Explorer, of course), and it is not a good sign for the future quality of the Firefox browser. The Mozilla suite developers might not have had their priorities in tune with everybody else, but they didn't screw up anywhere near as often as the Firefox decision makers.

      • including such usability cock-ups as changing some keyboard shortcuts from positive actions to destructive ones (when I want to open something in a new tab, I don't expect to get my bookmarks deleted!).

        Huh? Which shortcut are you talking about?

        PS: I agree with the rest of your comment. Luckily the current Trunk nightlies are useable (--> no more slashdot bug).
      • I'd like to add annoyance #1 to the list: the integrated Find searchbar that got snuck in at the last minute. It sucks, I didn't ask for it, and I want it out of my browser.

        It's typical of the Mozilla projects, though, sneaking in radical UI changes at the last minute when the project should be concentrating on bug fixes and stabalizing the code.
      • er... there is a difference between a mere rumour and Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt...
        The slashdot bug is the one where the link column on the left partly overlaps the stories, right? Truthfully, that bug doesn't really bother me that much, even as an avid reader of slashdot...
      • Here's my annoyance story: I had a power outage take down my machine. Rebooted, bookmarks were gone. Wiped. Erased completely. The bookmark file had been replaced with the default nearly blank one.

        Searching for it, finds it's a well known bug that if your machine terminates abnormally, there is a chance to lose the bookmarks. There are even extensions out there that back up your bookmarks whenever you close firefox. But really, this is unacceptable in a 1.0 released product. How can I explain to jo
    • by sjf (3790) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:25AM (#11455601)
      "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants." --Newton to Hooke, 5 Feb. 1676;

      'Nuff said really.
  • by ThinkPad760 (794676) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:17AM (#11454930)
    Just think, If every 19 year old did and internship and produced something of this quality by the time they were 19 and still being driven to work by mum and not colecting royalties. Someday, bloody someday.
  • by Sanity (1431) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:20AM (#11454956) Homepage Journal
    I often wonder whether Blake Ross' involvement with FireFox is accurate and fair to other people involved, or whether it is a creation of the media in love with the notion that a 19 year old could go up against Microsoft and win.

    Does anyone have a good understanding of the actual role Ross played here and whether the media reports are being fair to other contributors by focussing on him?

    • by ToLu the Happy Furby (63586) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:50AM (#11455214)
      Blake's involvement is definitely being overhyped for the "college kid takes on Bill Gates" aspect, as both he and everyone else at the Mozilla Foundation will be quick to acknowledge. He did play a central role in getting the Firefox project started--but along with Dave Hyatt, who is now a developer for Apple's Safari browser. (Surprised we don't hear as much about Hyatt's role in the story?)

      I think if there's one person who really deserves credit as "the guy behind Firefox," it's Ben Goodger, UI nazi and lead developer from 0.7 onwards. After all, as Firefox is mostly just a UI gloss on the underlying Mozilla code, it's Ben's rigorous adherence to principles of good, clean, simple UI that has made Firefox the breakaway success that the Suite never was.

      But really that just emphasizes how much Firefox depends on the entire Mozilla project, with its thousands of sometime developers and probably a few dozens of real core superstars. That's the real story here, but so far the media has chosen not to cover it.
      • I think if there's one person who really deserves credit as "the guy behind Firefox," it's Ben Goodger, UI nazi and lead developer from 0.7 onwards. After all, as Firefox is mostly just a UI gloss on the underlying Mozilla code, it's Ben's rigorous adherence to principles of good, clean, simple UI that has made Firefox the breakaway success that the Suite never was.

        Yeah. Too bad he doesn't work on Thunderbird. TB really needs cleanig up its GUI.
  • Co-creator? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by northcat (827059) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:25AM (#11454996) Journal
    Co-creator? FireFox is derived from the Mozilla code base, with a few changes. The creators of Mozilla are the real creators of FireFox. It's wrong to give any amount of credit for the creation of FireFox to someone who just added some little features and optimized it a bit. The media just likes to make the "story" more interesting by saying a 19 year old "kid" created something used by millions. I can see a new media sweet-heart in the making. Like Linus Torvalds. Yes, he started a good kernel and gave a major kick to Free Software development, but it seems like the media just loves project as if he created every program we use on a Linux distro today and tends to forget the fact there people/groups of people who have done as much as or even more than him.
  • You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by keiferb (267153) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:28AM (#11455015) Homepage
    ...this isn't helping the lives-with-his-mother geek stereotype much.
  • Is this the same kid that they interviewed in that documentary called Code Rush that was on PBS a few years ago?
    • I believe so, I have that tape [amazon.com], created in 2000, which documents the launching of Netscape's browser to the open source world, and they document a 14-yr old kid (from Atlanta I believe) who moves to Silicon Valley to work for Netscape, and his mom drives him to work. I'll have to watch that tape again, but I believe it is him.
  • Wired Magazine prominently features Blake Ross on the cover of their Feb '05 issue for their lead story, "The Firefox Explosion."

    Wired Mag doesn't have the cover online yet [wired.com], meaning I probably got it from a newstand that put it out early (the 34th St PATH Station newstand in NYC, for those interested).

    The issue also features an "interesting" piece: a fake memo from the future...written to one Bill Gates from newly-hired employee Linus Torvalds - concerning Winux, Microsoft's next-generation OS.

    [Apparently, Bill's "pitch" to Linus in this post-apocalyptic future was "come on Linus...infect the Mothership ;^)" ]

    Anyway, I hate to sound like a pitchman for Wired, but it's worth the look.
  • Something new (Score:3, Interesting)

    by qray (805206) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:43AM (#11455821)
    Firefox is nice, but it's yet another browser. That's one thing that shocked me. Netscape brought the browser to the masses but they never really moved passed it.

    For quite sometime people's needs have grown beyond the browser. Java Applet, and ActiveX have been bolted on, but what is needed is a more seamless integration that provides a more traditional application feel.

    It's unfortunately that we're still stuck using a "browser" when what we need is something more dynamic and powerfull.

    Firefox is yet another browser. Definitely better than many of the current crop. But it would be nice to see something truly innovative.

    --
    I forgot my sig line
    • Check Konqueror [konqueror.org]. It is an integrated file manager, file viewer and Web/FTP browser for KDE [kde.org]. It's small, fast and full of features.
  • A Warning (Score:2, Funny)

    by RodRandom (734200)
    I hope this kid takes a warning from Chairman Bill and passes up the opportunity to pose for kittenish pix in teen mags.

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