Mozilla Renames Browser, Revs New Releases

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-02-09 Print this article Print

UPDATED: The Mozilla open-source project on Monday changed the name of its Firebird Web browser to Firefox as it updated its browser and its e-mail applications.

The Mozilla Foundation on Monday renamed its standalone Web browser to avoid confusion with another open-source development project. Mozilla, of Mountain View, Calif., announced that it changed the browsers name from Mozilla Firebird to Mozilla Firefox. At the same time, the open-source project released updates to Firefox as well as its standalone e-mail application, named Thunderbird. The browser had shared the same name as the Firebird open-source database, raising the ire of the FirebirdSQL Foundation that oversees the databases development. Mozilla had agreed to find a new name by the time it released Version 0.8 of the researched hundreds of names since November, said Mozilla Foundation President Mitchell Baker.
"We felt comfortable that legally we could continue to use the Firebird name, and in the spirit of goodwill it made sense to change the name," Baker said. "Changing the name is a painful and long and difficult process, but we felt it was the right thing to do."
Committee members of the FirebirdSQL Foundation said the project was committed to defending its Firebird name. Even after having persuaded Mozilla to refer to its browser as Mozilla Firebird, FirebirdSQL remained concerned with the similarity of the names, both referring to pieces of software. "We very much welcome this name change and yes, it certainly solves the issues we had with the Mozilla Firebird name," wrote committee member Martijn Tonies in an e-mail interview. Click here to read more about the Firebird relational database. Mozilla officials said the group had registered the new name with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office; it also on Monday unveiled a new logo for the Firefox browser. The new name for the browser comes as Mozilla nears full releases for Firefox and Thunderbird. Both currently are technology previews, but Mozilla plans to reach full 1.0 releases on both in 2004, possibly as early as this summer, Baker said. The standalone applications are built on top of the same underlying technology as the full Mozilla application suite. A new version of the suite, Mozilla 1.6, was released in January. Click here to read an eWEEK Labs review of Mozilla 1.6. Beyond the new name, Firefox 0.8 features a new installer for Windows. Users previously had to install ZIP files, but the new installer lets them more easily add Firefox as a Windows shortcut and set up Macromedia Flash, said Ben Gooder, the lead developer of Firefox. Other new features in Firefox 0.8 include a revamped download manager to simplify the tracking of multiple download and a new theme for the Mac OS X version to match its Aqua look and feel, Gooder said. Along with the updated Firefox, Mozilla released Thunderbird 0.5 and added features most requested by enterprises and institutions. These include greater support for LDAP directories, the ability to sync Palm-based devices with Thunderbirds address books, improved IMAP performance and secure password authentication. "Our focus on Thunderbird 0.5 was to add a set of enterprise features to make adoption by enterprises more successful," Baker said. Mozilla also is offering a migration path for enterprises wanting move from Netscape 4.x to Thunderbird, Baker said. Firefox 0.8 and Thunderbird 0.5 are available now as a free download from the Mozilla Foundation Web site. Editors Note: This story was updated to include comments from members of the FirebirdSQL Foundation. Check out eWEEK.coms Linux & Open Source Center at for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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