What comes first, the enterprise or the consumer?


Some really interesting things have happened with the release of Firefox 5.

For starters, it's brought to attention the fact that, with the new rapid development cycle, Mozilla will no longer provide any support for old versions - not even security patches. So after six weeks, if you want to stay safe online, you'd better upgrade to the latest version.

As independent home users this shouldn't be a problem, especially as Mozilla looks to make upgrades transparant. For enterprise IT departments, however, it may very well make it impossible to use Firefox. If you're not sure why, you should take a look at this post.

Mozilla's response? Who cares, more or less. Enterprises are such a small part of their user base, their time is better spent supporting home users and creating the best product for them.

This raised an interesting question here at LXF towers. Is technology adoption driven by the enterprise or the consumer?

Mike tells me that back in the day, the PC won out over the much cooler Amiga because enterprises used it and, as a result, so did home users - it's what they were used to.

Now, however, we see Mozilla explicitly rejecting enterprise customers, as well as businesses and governments purchasing more Macs as a result of the consumer love affair with iPods etc.

No conclusions, just a little food for thought ;-)

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Your comments

Amiga vs PC

Just to expand on the Amiga vs PC point: that was the general feeling back in the early 90s, anyway. It makes sense to me. The Amiga was a cool, sleek, all-in-one box with excellent graphics and sound capabilities, a powerful multitasking GUI built right in and other ace features.

The PC was a boxy, ugly, expensive, complicated device that had a fiddly command-line interface and PC speaker sound. OK, you could get a graphics card and add Windows, but I still remember being aghast at watching people edit CONFIG.SYS to play games.

I understand that although the Amiga was far more suitable to home computing, people were using PCs at work, getting familiar with them, and then bringing them into the home. Makes sense to me.

-- Mike


Whatever the "official" Mozilla position may be, it just makes sense to concentrate on their largest userbase. The same is true of any company.

Besides, as I sometimes have to remind myself before firing off an angry email to the developer of some buggy application, it's a free and open-source project - so nobody has a right to expect anything.

Way too fast

They should slow down the release pace to about one release very 3 months. 4 Release per year is good enough, it gives companies time to do internal testing, and also means that Mozilla can do a sort of midpoint between their old release schedule and their current one: Long enough to be able to get stability and new features in, but short enough to be able to get new features soon. Or a 6-month release cycle to match Ubuntu and Fedora. They could release a month or two before the next Ubuntu/Fedora release so it's included.

Fast enough for end users and slow enough for enterprise users.

'Bout the right speed

The trouble is, one tends to look at the new release schedule in the same light as the old one; major version numbers aren't so major anymore...

Think about chrome, that follows roughly the same release schedule as firefox - nobody complains about chrome... (this is presumably because chrome has always been marketed as chrome (not chrome #) and firefox always as firefox #)


I think its a question of developing for the biggest userbase. It's the same as Adobe stopping air for Linux as only 1% use it.


So if there are to be no updates for earlier versions of Firefox then the majority of "Joe Public" Linux users will be at risk, especially if you run a LTS version of Mint or Ubuntu. This situation will remain until there is a simple, one button or, automatic route to the latest edition.


Microsoft do the same thing with an entire Operating system.
People using it expect security problems.

There might be problems here

... but it is hard to tell yet whether or not they will prove serious ones.

Ray Woods is absolutely right that the masses using LTS or recent but non-current versions of Mint and Ubuntu might be at risk. This would include my own household, which currently runs Mint 9 and 10 on various machines. I guess it is resolved by adding a Mozilla repo to your software sources - but many "Joe/Josephine Public" users will go on with FF 3.6 suspecting that nothing is wrong as their system will go on telling them that it is "up-to-date".

Amongst more technical users, there may be anxiety about add-on breakage if FF versions are churning over rapidly. For example as a web developer I would find it hard to live without Firebug and would need to be very confident that this would not break with frequent version upgrades.

Mozilla and distros will need to keep users informed about matters like this, and do so prominently. Otherwise, users may be placed unwittingly at risk and confidence in FF may diminish in other respects. This would be sad, as Firefox is a superb browser, for my purposes at least.

Just Semantics

Maybe if Firefox reverted to the traditional approach and labeled these full point releases as just 'updates' to '4', which is all they actually seem to be, folks would be happier?
I see '4' as a whole point upgrade to the '3' series, but surely '5' is really just '4.3' or somesuch?

Broken add-ons

The update to FF5 broke my add-ons, meaning that I started using Chromium instead. Need I say more.


So if there are to be no updates for earlier versions of Firefox then the majority of "Joe Public" Linux users will be at risk, especially if you run a LTS version of Mint or Ubuntu. This situation will remain until there is a simple, one button or, automatic route to the latest edition.

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