(Having trouble keeping up with the rapid changes occurring in enterprise Mozilla? You're not alone. That's why IT pros are asking Nigel McFarlane, SearchEnterpriseLinux.com's Mozilla expert, for the latest news on Mozilla's new releases. McFarlane is the author of several IT books, including the recently published
Rapid Application Development with Mozilla from Prentice Hall PTR. -- Jan Stafford, Editor, SearchEnterpriseLinux.com)
What do you think of the preview version of Mozilla 1.7?
McFarlane: Well, it's faster, smaller, less buggy and has some incremental features. As a minor upgrade, those are all the things you expect from well-maintained enterprise software. For specific features, the most significant is probably for those looking at Linux GNOME desktops. The styling system inside Mozilla has improved incrementally, and it's possible to make Mozilla fit more closely with a standard desktop look-and-feel. The best such support is in the Gtk2 builds, not the default ones. Customizing Mozilla's look and feel is probably only recommended for very large organizations where deployment is a huge issue, and for places where very robust systems are required, like heavy industry and the military.
Does Thunderbird 0.6 have better security features for cross-platform implementations?
McFarlane: Microsoft servers (both Web and e-mail) include a proprietary protocol called NTLM that's used to pass user information to the server. The server uses that information to grant or deny the user access to server resources such as websites or mailboxes. Clients like Mozilla that support NTLM are spared from throwing up additional dialog boxes to the user. So, NTLM support in Mozilla (including Thunderbird) is an ease-of use issue.
If you happen to have NTLM rolled out, then Mozilla can work with it, although there are still a few outstanding issues. When moving from Windows to Unix, NTLM support in Linux-based clients and servers like Mozilla and Apache makes the migration slightly less painless. NTLM is really a variant on Windows for Workgroups. If you were to architect Linux services from the ground up, rather than mimicking Windows, then Kerberos is an equivalent technology. Workgroup computing on Linux really just comes down to plain /etc/group groups, though.
Why doesn't Mozilla Firebird work well under 64-bit Gentoo?
McFarlane: You should check you have the latest version, since Firebird is now called Firefox. Type "about:" into the Location bar to see the current version.
Installing Firefox 0.8 will almost certainly fix the problem, since Mozilla has been supported on IA64 architectures since about 1.5. If the problem's still there, put a message in the newsgroup netscape.public.mozilla.unix (server news.mozilla,org, port 119). Someone there will have tried what you've tried, and you can compare notes to see if you have a bug, or if there's a useful 64-bit version of Firefox to try.
The Mozilla Application Suite is based on the same technology as Firefox, so choose either. Especially after 1.7 is released, the two will have a common source code base for most of their functionality.
Got a Mozilla or software development question? Ask Nigel McFarlane.
This was first published in June 2004