Mozilla 'dirty deed' brings out a Firey response

That free lovin' spirit shared among the open source community has been ruffled this week after a decision by The Mozilla Organization to change the name of its browser-only product to Firebird. This has landed it in trouble with a database project of the same name.

The Mozilla.org has been working on two projects named Phoenix and Minotaur. Phoenix is an open-source Web browser for Windows and Linux that is based on the Mozilla codebase and written using the XUL user interface language. Minotaur, on the other hand, is a stand-alone mail/news client also based on the Mozilla codebase. In comparison, Mozilla is a complete suite of Web related applications, such as a browser, a mail/news client, a chat client and more.

The problem with the Phoenix browser component was the name. Phoenix Technologies, a BIOS maker, invoked its legal power to prevent Mozilla using a name that was already trademarked. As a result, Mozilla embarked on a name change to prevent any trademark suits against it.

Then, on Monday, Phoenix and Minotaur were changed to Firebird and Thunderbird, respectively. However, the change to Firebird incurred the wrath of members of the Firebird project, a development group that is working on enhancing and developing the Firebird Relational Database Engine.

"This must be one of the dirtiest deeds I've seen in open source so far," said Helen Borrie, a Firebird project administrator and documenter.

"They [Mozilla.org] are even saying now that it must be OK because nobody from Firebird [RDBMS] objected.”

Adding insult to injury is Borrie's claims that the Netscape-Mozilla newsgroup has today "moderated out" postings to the newsgroups by Firebird RDBMS loyalists. "The admins and management have done nothing but ignore or fob off discussion from us," Borrie said.

When LinuxWorld sought official comment from Mozilla.org about these claims, it received no response at the time of posting.

The Firebird project's main concern is that of branding. "We certainly don't want there to be the confusion of 'who owns Firebird?'. We own the trademark and will defend it," Borrie said.

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Howard Dahdah

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