My apartment building has a community garden. The building owner started it with a donation of raised beds and soil. What happened next amazes me to this day.
One day tools appeared, the next a shed to store them. Seeds were planted. Someone put up string trellises for tomatoes. No one took credit. When one of my neighbors moved, she took seeds from the garden to start one just like it for her new home.
The magic that created our little garden is a little like open source code, the kind that makes Firefox so special. The Mozilla community works together to make Firefox an outstanding browser used by hundreds of millions of people around the globe, just as my neighbors contribute to the garden.
The Mozilla project had become larger than any one company by creating an open community. Firefox is our pride and joy, and it stands for choice in how people can build and experience the Internet.
The Mozilla project was created in 1998 with the release of the Netscape browser suite source code. From the outset it was open source, a method to harness the power of a community to create Firefox, an alternative to the then all powerful Internet Explorer.
Within Firefox’s first year, community members from around the world had already contributed new functionality, enhanced existing features and became engaged in the management and planning of the project itself.
Firefox is now in its 57th release and is still powered by a community of volunteers. Firefox is a symbol of what’s possible because of open innovation and an open web, principles worth fighting for that are under threat today.
Why open source matters for Firefox
Openness sparks innovation. If the Internet at its infancy was closed, it never would have become what it is today. In being an open network with no one entity controlling it, the web allowed anyone, anywhere to create a whole new way to communicate.
If the Internet were a closed system, it’s possible that it would have continued to be a series of independent networks that didn’t interact and wouldn’t have allowed users the freedom to find vital new voices and projects. We wouldn’t be able to surf from link to link, uncovering new information we never knew was out there waiting to be discovered.
Open source also means more interoperability. We want websites that load on any computer or phone. Without a commitment to open source and open standards, it’s possible that manufacturers would create websites and browsers that only work on their machines. That means less choice and less control.
Open source not only prevents the few from deciding for the many – it also makes Firefox better. The more people who can experience and test a set of code, the more likely any bugs will be smashed and great ideas will become part of the project. Think about it: Products made by more people leads to products that are closer to what users want. Four engineers in a room can make an amazing app. Four thousand around the world can change entire systems.
Firefox will always be powered by open source
Any engineer can use Firefox’s code and Mozilla’s rendering engine, Gecko, which powers Firefox, to create their own independent browsers. This is how Tor, which lets users hide their Web browsing, was built.
The Mozilla project is a global community of people who believe that openness, innovation and opportunity are key to Internet Health. Firefox will always be open source and if it ceased to be, it wouldn’t be Firefox any longer. Firefox shows what’s possible when we choose openness over closed, corporate ecosystems. Together, we can create faster, safer web experiences for everyone.
This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)