[CentOS] Speaking of firefox...

Wed Feb 12 23:03:55 UTC 2014
Warren Young <warren at etr-usa.com>

On 2/12/2014 15:04, me at tdiehl.org wrote:
> I guess it is hard to get it tested without making
> it the default.

No need to guess.  There's plenty of evidence that at a certain point, 
software needs to be battle tested to shake the last bugs out.

Take btrfs.  It's been included in shipping kernels for 5 years now, yet 
people keep asking "...but is it stable?"  Why does the question come 
up?  Because it isn't the default filesystem.  Since it isn't installed 
on $BIGNUM percent of all existing Linux boxes, there is room for 
ignorance to sprout into doubt.

Firefox's PDF reader problems are certainly not all "bugs," per se.  PDF 
is a huge bag of complex features only loosely related.  I can't see 
Mozilla even *wanting* to implement every last behavior and feature 
defined by Adobe, much less accomplishing it.  If your document depends 
on an unimplemented feature of PDF, it won't render right, so you're 
likely to call the viewer "broken," even if every feature Firefox's PDF 
reader /does/ implement is flawless.

This isn't about Firefox and Adobe.  It's about any software development 
team who's set themselves the task of following the taillights of 
another software development team, while the latter has a bigger revenue 
stream.  It's an inferior strategy, if your goal is to win the race.

Lots of examples of that:

- octave vs Matlab
- Libre/OpenOffice vs MS Office (document compatibility)
- Wine/ReactOS vs Windows
- SharpDevelop vs Visual Studio
- Gimp vs Photoshop (PSD compatibility)

If you're tempted to give "IE vs Firefox" as a counterexample, notice 
that I specified a bigger revenue stream.  It's a necessary 
precondition.  IE6 was leapfrogged by Firefox and Chrome because they 
have an independent revenue stream, while IE does not.  IE also has to 
move around in legal leg irons that don't hobble the others.

Another non-counterexample: Linux vs big iron Unix.  Big iron Unix 
priced itself out of the segment of the market that was outgrowing the 
economy as a whole.  Now Linux calls the dance steps.