FOSDEM 2021 Schedule

Mozilla History: 20+ Years And Counting

An overview of origins, past, and present
Robert Kaiser
We sometimes hear statements like "Mozilla is one of the oldest Free & Open Source projects in existence today, with more than 20 years of history - and still going strong". But where exactly did this project come from? What happened early in its history? What did the project go through to come to where it is today? This talk will try to answer those questions and compress multiple decades into less than an hour - or at least give an overview of the big-picture events this project lived through. As the audience may be more familiar with recent than earlier years, more emphasis will be put on times when the project was still young - for some things even reaching back to times before the speaker joined the community in 1999. After attending this talk, you will hopefully have a better understanding of the background of the Mozilla project and how it has helped shaping the web for the better, something that will hopefully continue into the future.
The roots of Mozilla go back almost to the beginning of the web itself. The first broadly used web browser in university circles was NCSA Mosaic - the co-writer of that piece of software created a commercial variant back in 1993, going under the commercial name of "Netscape" when it was released and became the first major web browser in Internet history. But its code name, right from the start, was "Mozilla". When Netscape open-sourced its code in March of 1998, that code name became the public name of the open source project, and over the years, Mozilla attracted a large community of developers, localizers, and more. A non-profit Mozilla Foundation was created, with a "corporation" subsidiary for tax reasons, and a huge list of projects and products have been associated with Mozilla over its more than 20 years of history. The most well-known is of course the Firefox web browser, which has been one of the most-used open-source products for many years - hundreds of thousands of people browse the web with Mozilla Firefox even nowadays. After decades, this project and community is still going strong - hopefully continuing to do so in the future. The speaker has been with this community for over 20 years himself and the talk will give you and overview of the origin, past, and present of this interesting project.

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