Open source free web browsers – IE alternatives

Written by on Sunday, August 10, 2008 22:40 - 2 Comments

Open source software Web Browsers

One of today’s leading web browsers, if not the most popular, is Mozilla Firefox.  An excellent piece of programming in its own right, Firefox has the privilege of being directly descended from the web browser that changed the face of not only the internet, but how business is done in today’s electronic world.  While this article is not meant to be a history of web browsers, some background may be in order to truly understand the importance of both web browsers and Open Source software.  Without Open Source, web browsers may not have developed as well and in the ways that they have, and without today’s web browsers, the Internet that is used by many millions of people may never have come to be at all.

In late 1992, NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) undertook the creation of MOSAIC, which sought to make use of the then academically based descendant of ARPAnet in ways that were more pleasing to the eye, and easier to navigate.  Other web browsers had existed for as much as 2 years, but MOSAIC added one very interesting new twist– instead of images being displayed in a separate window, they were able to be displayed inline, much as images are displayed on a newspaper or magazine page.  Even then, before the craze that changed the world had taken off, the developers at NCSA recognized the importance of information exchange, and MOSAIC itself was developed expressly as a means to encourage the dissemination of information across multiple computer platforms to the greatest number of people as possible.  Even though MOSAIC itself was never Open Source, it’s design depended on input from diverse sources and remote data sources, a trait that its co-author, Marc Andreesen, continued when he left NCSA and formed Mosaic Communications Corp., which was later changed to Netscape Communications.  When Netscape split off and formed it’s own branch on the timeline of Internet history, the NCSA formed Mozilla, and Firefox became the most popular Open Source software application in the history of personal computers.

Just as MOSAIC was a conglomeration of other web browsers, and Netscape was MOSAIC on steroids (Netscape “extensions” to MOSAIC became a household term), Mozilla Firefox shares it’s basic appearance and behavior with the earliest web browsers created, and builds upon the extensions created for them expand the productivity and value of the web; including such things as Java, (or Microsoft’s Javascript, which is a variation of the true Java language), PHP, and ASP.  By being Open Source, Firefox allows the easy implementation of new internet technologies through the use of add-on and plug-in modules, including such recent additions as RSS reader modules, and Scribefire, the Firebox companion add-on to the most popular blog product, WordPress (which is itself an Open Source application).  Just as today’s hybrid cars bear an undeniable relationship the Henry Ford’s Model T, so does Firefox 3 sport the same shape and basic set of stock options and controls as the original browsers, even as it offers its users the latest technology available in the field.

The name Mozilla came into existence, some say, as a result of Netscape Communicator being the biggest, baddest, most powerful version of a MOSAIC-like browser; the Godzilla of Mosaic.  Today, the Mozilla Organization is the Open Source contact point for the development of cutting edge browsing technologies, as evidenced by the two similar but distinctly different browsers, Firefox and SeaMonkey.  Built on a community of collaborators, both on the projects themselves, and on the many additional modules available. is perhaps the best known Open Source software development group in the world.  An example of how popular software developed in this way can be, Mozilla Firefox 3.0 set records for the eagerness a new software version has been embraced, achieving more than 8 million individual downloads in less 24 hours from the time of it’s release.  A number nearly a third higher than any other version of software had ever managed.

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Aug 30, 2008 2:24

I’ve been using Mozilla ever since it first came out. At the time you can immediately notice the difference from the speed and ease you don’t get from IE or Netscape. The tabbed browsing’s what really got me. For now though I’m using Opera which might still be commercial if not for mozilla.

Aug 30, 2008 4:40

Opera has been the best browser ever made, the only thing against its favor was that it was a paid service earlier(rest there were ad displays in browser). Firefox is good but I think Opera is apple of browsers, real innovative ideas develop there. Opera was the first browser to give the tabbed option which was enacted by IE and FF later on.

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