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Friday, March 04, 2005

Open Source Friday: The Haunting

Posted by: Hammer / 7:51 AM

Firefox features

Here's a tip I found here. In your Firefox address bar type: "about:config" (no quotes). This displays a page listing all (or at least many) of the user-configurable options available in Firefox. Definitely for advanced users. You can also use ChromEdit to personalize your browser experience. Again, for advanced users only.

Firefox flaws?

I don't know who pays the bills at eWeek, but headlines like Security Flaws Haunt Open Source Software are not helpful. If you read the article, the "haunting" seems quite tame:

The phpMyAdmin Project recommends that users upgrade to version 2.6.1-pl1, which contains fixes. ...

The phpBB Group has fixed the vulnerability and is strongly recommending that users upgrade to 2.0.12.

In this case "haunted" means "previous versions of this software contained errors; they have been fixed". Security updates are important, but hyperbole should be avoided except when applied for its intended purpose: dramatic comedic effect.

Browser security is important. That's why Firefox released 1.0.1 this week. You should upgrade as soon as possible to fix a vulnerability. On the other hand, once the release is out there, do we really need articles like this? The headline is despicable: 8 More Bugs Found In Firefox And Mozilla. Once again, all the bugs have already been fixed. AP has a much more responsible headline: Firefox Browser Fixes Security Flaw. It's okay to report the barn door is closed. You don't need to pretend that the cows are on fire.

While Mozilla immediately fixed bugs, Microsoft continues to promise to fix bugs. IE 7 is mostly a security release with a few features added in. Mozilla just hired more staff to focus on security and increased bounties on bugs -- rewards paid to people who find and report exploitable vulnerabilities in Firefox. Report a vulnerability in IE and you'll likely be sued under the DMCA.

Firefox usage Tech Web reports two different numbers on Firefox usage. According to WebSideStory, Firefox has a 5.7 share of browser usage. According to OneStat, Firefox owns 8.5% of the browser market. Mozilla's goal is 10% by the end of 2005. Here's hoping that by the end of 2006, Firefox will be so popular that we elite users will be complaining that it has totally sold out.
New software AbiWord 2.2.5 was released this week. AbiWord is an open source word processor that runs on many platforms. If you don't want to pay for Microsoft Office you've got two choices. Steal it -- which Judge Roy Moore and I both agree is wrong -- or use an alternative. AbiWord just works. It's not as fully featured or bloated as MS Word, but it will do everything most users will ever want.


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