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Real-World Mozilla Test

By rusty in News
Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 12:38:55 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

I downloaded the Mozilla M13 build a few days ago, and installed it, but I haven't given it a good testing-out until today. So I thought I'd make this a self-referential article. It is simultaneously an article about testing out Mozilla M13, and the actual test itself. Read on for more info, and screenshots.


Well, the first testing I did was to see how long it takes to render this article with comments in "nested" mode. For reference, it takes my dual PPro, running Netscape 4.6 for Linux 4 to 6 seconds to do that, with one processor cranking away at 100%. M13 did it in the same time it took to render the index page, without seeming to even break a sweat. Very impressive.

But how would it work to, say, administer a site like this. How easy is to use? Will I be able to post an entire story without a disaster happening? That's what I'm trying to find out here

The first thing I did was write the summary. You can see in the following screenshot that the form widgets are currently ugly as sin (they look just like the windows widgets!) and don't exactly respect the HTML around them. The font is not set, and for text fields labeled WRAP="soft", there's still a side-to-side scrollbar. But as you can see, it definitely does work.


The Kuro5hin "Edit" screen in Mozilla M13. Amusing how much the mozilla color scheme resembles kuro5hin.org!

So all was going pretty well. I could edit the story, all the form elements seem to work fine, and the overall layout of the page is just what I'd expect it to be. I saved what I had, and started to continue. Here, you can see the preview of the story (with my original typos intact!), and the top of the editing screen that follows it.


Saved what I had, started editing again.

At this point, however, I glanced over at my memory monitors. 99% of my RAM was gone (that's normal) but also swap was about 80% filled (that's not normal!). My total memory usage was about 220MB and growing. Most of this, I'm sure, can be put down to the fact that it's not even alpha software, it's a milestone build, so all debugging is still turned on. This sucks up a lot more memory than a stable, production application. So, worried, I turned back to the story.

Then it crashed. In the interests of getting the story done, and partly because those hideous widgets were hurting my eyes, I switched back to Navigator 4.6, my normal browser.

So to summarize, I think Mozilla is well on it's way (finally!) to being the next great open-source application. There's no doubt the renderer beats the pants off anything else out there in terms of speed. The interface is still kind of clunky, the buttons are way too big, and there seems to be too much "stuff" going on. All kinds of panes that slide in and out, and bars, and menus, and things. But these are all issues that usually get ironed out late in the game. The operation of M13 is very flaky. You constantly feel like it's going to crash any second. This, too, is totally normal for pre-alpha software.

All in all, I'd say that this is a browser that could (if you were patient) be used on a daily basis right now. Which can only mean that we will see a very good product at the end of the long road to open-source that Netscape started way back in 1998.

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Real-World Mozilla Test | 13 comments (13 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
This is a good-well balanced story ... (none / 0) (#4)
by bmetzler on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 01:42:01 PM EST

bmetzler voted 1 on this story.

This is a good-well balanced story about Mozilla. Mozilla has come a long way, but that doesn't mean it'll be impossible to finish. Everyday, more bugs are fixed, and the finish line looms closer. Oh, the widgets are completely graphically optimised yet :)
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.

Re: This is a good-well balanced story ... (none / 0) (#9)
by bmetzler on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 05:31:40 PM EST

Oh, the widgets are completely graphically optimised yet :)

Hmm, I guess I wanted to say that the widgets aren't completely graphically optimised yet. I think that a lot of the widgets are just "dummy fillers" until the UI settles down a bit. Also, Mozilla will be themable.

-Brent
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
[ Parent ]
hey, mozilla has worked (under debi... (none / 0) (#3)
by ramses0 on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 01:45:33 PM EST

ramses0 voted 1 on this story.

hey, mozilla has worked (under debian gnu/linux) really well for me. This is interesting
[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]

M13 is one of those things that's o... (none / 0) (#1)
by dblslash on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 02:22:25 PM EST

dblslash voted 1 on this story.

M13 is one of those things that's on my TODO list. I've had at least one friend try it out with good reviews. He didn't mention the horrible memory usage, but I believe he's got 224MB physical in his current desktop with swap to match. He tends not to worry about memory problems.

Re: M13 is one of those things that's o... (none / 0) (#6)
by Demona on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 04:59:25 PM EST

I got brave and switched to nightly builds instead of milestones around M12. There've been a few duds, but the one I got just last week was darn stable; I'll have to check memory usage and report back. The Full Circle bug system is rather sweet, since all non-code-monkeys like me have to do is run the thing and it spits out relevant crash information direct to the mozfolks.

[ Parent ]
A good review of Mozilla. I've use... (none / 0) (#2)
by joeyo on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 04:15:15 PM EST

joeyo voted 1 on this story.

A good review of Mozilla. I've used it myself on both mac and windows (and a very early linux build) and I agree that its almost ready for prime time. I haven't had M13 crash on me but the interface still feels a little too "clunky" for my taste.

--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi

Re: A good review of Mozilla. I've use... (none / 0) (#7)
by bmetzler on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 05:26:16 PM EST

I haven't had M13 crash on me but the interface still feels a little too "clunky" for my taste.

The M14 freeze should have happened last night. The interface has had some major improvements since M13, and the mail/news reader is now usuable on Windows. Oh, and lot's of beta bugs have been fixed.

-Brent
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
[ Parent ]
Thanx for the info (none / 0) (#10)
by joeyo on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 05:54:27 PM EST

Cool deal. Maybe I should start trying the nightly builds...

--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi
[ Parent ]

Paul Dunne voted for this (none / 0) (#5)
by rusty on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 04:59:14 PM EST

He didn't comment, so it doesn't show here. But I want everyone to know that Paul Dunne DID vote for this story. So he does have some interests ;-)

____
Not the real rusty
Re: Paul Dunne voted for this (none / 0) (#11)
by Paul Dunne on Thu Feb 17, 2000 at 04:47:01 AM EST

Smart ass!

I did indeed vote for this, as it is very interesting to see someone attempt to use Mozilla -- I investigated it a while ago, took one look at the size of the download, and voted with my phone-bill. But, with RAM usage like that, it is not really ready for prime-time yet, is it? I know X leaks all over the place anyway, but Jesus, your test was using more RAM that I've got VM. And then it crashes, just like that. So it is not for everyday use, unless the user is nuts, or a very strange type of masochist.

How long has development been in progress on Mozilla now, anyway? It feels like years, but it must be at least one. I would like to be proved wrong, but I get the feeling that progress would have been faster if someone had strted from scratch, and gathered a team about them -- rather as happened with Linux. It took how long for Linux to become a usable OS? Call 0.01 "M1" if you will. That was Oct '91, right? Certainly, by June '92, when I became aware of it, Linux was usable if still lacking important features (TCP/IP, X). When I finally made the switch, in June '94, it was able to step right into OS/2's place (no sniggering at the back please). I wonder how long it would have taken if instead, Linus had been handed the source to Xenix, say, and told, "here you go, make a decent OS out of that"?
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/
[ Parent ]

Re: Paul Dunne voted for this (none / 0) (#12)
by rusty on Thu Feb 17, 2000 at 07:55:03 AM EST

Smart ass!

Guilty.

No, mozilla's absolutely not ready for prime time yet, and no one claims it is. M13 just represents the fact that a certain predefined set of features works. Like I said, it's not even alpha. It's not even close to being release software.

How long has development been in progress on Mozilla now, anyway?

I believe it's been over two years. I don't know when work really got started on Mozilla, but Netscape announced the project in January '98. I checked the FAQ's on mozilla.org, because I couldn't remember either.

Actually, the team did start from scratch. Sort of. They initially tried to start with the existing communicator source, but soon scrapped it, because no one could ever understand all the code in that. My opinion is that it's taking so long because it's still basically a Netscape corporate product. One motivated hacker can do more than twenty employees, under certain circumstances. The problem is, when you're Netscape, it's hard to get people to work for you for free.

But you're right, is the overall point. How long did it take me to make Scoop usable (I know this doesn't compare to an OS, but still)? It's been about 18 days since the first time I was able to post a story using Scoop (see this article on the scoop dev site-- it really is the first!). Now if you gave me the slash code, and said "here, make a decent site out of this"... well, God knows. Interesting point though.

Forgive me if this post made no sense. There's too much blood in my caffeine stream right now.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Paul Dunne voted for this (none / 0) (#13)
by bmetzler on Thu Feb 17, 2000 at 02:55:17 PM EST

But, with RAM usage like that, it is not really ready for prime-time yet, is it?

No, it's still in development yet. And it will continue to get better. Software doesn't just come out of the pipe perfect, it take time and work to get to that point. Sorry, that's just a fact of life :)

How long has development been in progress on Mozilla now, anyway?

The first few months after mozilla was released, was basically spent just testing the waters. I think it was a year and a half ago that they finally scrapped the old code base, and started real development. In terms of a project that size, development has actually been might swift. And the product they developed is second to none in design.

-Brent
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
[ Parent ]
My own test. (none / 0) (#8)
by Inoshiro on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 05:30:07 PM EST

I grabbed M13 right when it came out, and played with it (as I noted in my changelog).

The result: this (1024x768. M13 under Litestep) -- I found a new bug in their CSS system withing a few seconds of using it. This screenshot is under Windows, and is more gibbered than what it does when I run it under my Gnome desktop. Sigh. :-)

--
[ イノシロ ]
Real-World Mozilla Test | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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