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Firefox Grabs Enterprise Linux Title

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The Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox 1.5 blew away the competition to take

the top award in the Enterprise Linux category in the Datamation Product

of the Year 2006 awards.

The open-source browser easily beat out the second-place finisher, Red

Hat Inc.’s Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0, by garnering more than twice the

votes. The Zimbra Collaboration Suite from Zimbra Inc. came in a distant

third, with Asterisk 1.2 coming in fourth.

Firefox had a lot of industry buzz surrounding it early in 2005,

according to Joe Wilcox, a senior analyst for JupiterResearch. That buzz

was starting to fade, though, until Version 1.5 hit the market in the

later part of the year.

”The release came just in time as some of the energy was dying around

Firefox,” says Wilcox. ”Firefox has built up a tremendous community.

There’s a lot of participation that goes on around the browser. It’s an

open-source product so there’s contributions coming in from almost


And that community is part of what users love about Firefox, according to

Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering at Mozilla Corp., based in

Mountain View, Calif.

”It’s one of the most amazing things about Firefox,” says Schroepfer,

who adds that they have 40 million to 50 million active Firefox users,

with 50 percent to 60 percent of them using Version 1.5. ”There’s all

different sorts of people participating in the community. There are

people who help to test. Anyone can look at product plans and all the

code and review it and participate. If there’s a feature they’d like to

see implemented, they can show us a way to do it. By incorporating that

into the product, they’re really part of it.”

Jonathan Barksdale, a virtual IT specialist with the Jenaly Technology

Group, Inc., a Portsmouth, N.H.-based outsourced IT firm, says there are

features specific to Firefox that make it a better browser than some of

its competitors, like Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), which dominates

the market.

”There are still reason to have Internet Explorer, but when I’m browsing

and reading, I use Firefox,” says Barksdale, who uses Firefox for his

personal use and for work. ”Well, the benefits I get are the tabbed

browsing, and it seems pretty bullet proof to catching the nasty stuff

that people put up on malicious websites. I’ve got my brother, mother and

father all on Firefox. I went from cleaning out their PCs hard core once

or twice a month to not having any real problems for me to deal with.”

Barksdale says he still needs to use Internet Explorer when he’s running

certain applications that use Microsoft’s .Net framework, which makes

them incompatible with other browsers. For example, there are database

applications that you interface with through the browser, and he couldn’t

use Firefox with them.

”If the primary purpose is for browsing the Web and information

retrieval off the Web, then absolutely, I’d recommend Firefox,” he adds.

One of Barksdale’s favorite features on Firefox is its tabbed browsing,

which opens multiple web pages in a single browser window. It also is

designed to enable users to quickly flip back and forth, and drag and

drop open tabs to keep related pages together. Firefox 1.5 also boasts

improved pop-up blocking, integrated search and better security.

”It’s pretty good,” says Wilcox. ”If we’re talking about capabilities,

there’s not much comparison. Firefox has the tab browsing and other

enhancements that improve the experience… IE6 is an old browser in

Internet time. If Internet years are like dog years, then IE6 is well

into its middle age. Version 7 is available now in a beta preview. It’s

looking good and I do expect it to give Firefox a hard run here.”

Wilcox adds that IE7 is expected to ship sometime this year, but the

folks at the Mozilla Foundation aren’t sitting around just waiting to see

what the release will do to the market. Schroepfer says Firefox V2.0 also

is expected to be released later this year, going into beta in the middle

of the year.

Schroepfer says they’re making some changes to the user interface,

tweaking how tab browsing, searches and book marks work. ”We’re trying

to make it easier for people to organize and search information,” he

says. ”Someone might think about a page they saw five days ago and now

they want to get back to it. We want to make that easier.”

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