Mozilla evangelist and Netscape engineer Jamie Zawinski resigned from the open source project "Mozilla.org" this week, citing the project's complete failure to deliver a usable product. Zawinski, who spearheaded the project during its first year, also threw some flak at Netscape purchaser America Online (AOL), which he describes as contrary to the goals of the Internet and open source software. He also blames Microsoft for destroying Netscape's greatest product, Navigator, and ruining the market for Web browsers.
"For whatever reason, \[Mozilla\] was not adopted by the outside," he wrote in his resignation letter. "In my humble but correct opinion, we should have shipped Netscape Navigator 5.0 no later than six months after the source code was released. But we couldn't figure out a way to make that happen. I accept my share of responsibility for this, and consider this a personal failure."
"Here we are, a year later. And we haven't even shipped a beta yet," he continues. Actually, it's been about 15 months since the Mozilla project was started. "The fact is, there has been very little contribution from people who don't work for Netscape, making the distinction (between Netscape and Mozilla) somewhat academic."
"And so I'm giving up," he concludes. "The Mozilla project has become too depressing, and too painful, for me to continue working on."
Though Zawinski is careful to mention that the problems with Mozilla are not endemic to open source software in general, one has to wonder. Aside from Linux, Mozilla is the biggest and most well-known open source project there is, and it has the distinction of being able to affect users of almost every computer system out there. The complete lack of enthusiasm for continuing Netscape's legacy is perhaps telling. In any event, Zawinski's resignation letter is a fascinating take on the failure of the most well publicized attempt to prevent Microsoft from owning a market. Check it out at Jamie Zawinski's home page