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HP Taps Mozilla for HP-UX

Hewlett-Packard has had a change of heart when it comes to the Web browser it uses in its server operating system.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer and printer maker Tuesday said it will begin replacing the Netscape platform with its open source alternative Mozilla for its HP-UX versions 11.0 and up. Mozilla will also ship as standard in future HP-UX releases.

HP-UX, is the company's UNIX operating environment that powers e-services and HP-UX servers on both PA-RISC and Intel Itanium processor families.

HP said it would continue to be distribute HP-UX versions of Netscape 7 and the older Netscape Communicator 4.

"Many of you are still using and are happy with Netscape 4.79 and above, and will not wish to upgrade. In fact, you will still be able to download the Netscape browser of your choice. No new features or support fixes will be provided by Netscape but this should not matter to the majority of legacy customers," HP said in its March 2003 Software Updates release.

The two Web browsers are very similar in composition. The entire Netscape code base was rewritten from scratch when the Mozilla Open Source project began five years ago this month. But the news is somewhat of a validation for the Mountain View, Calif.-based consortium that distributes Mozilla.

Head lizard-wrangler Mitchell Baker said she couldn't speak for the entire group but was personally pleased with the news.

"The Web is becoming increasingly integrated into our lives as more and more critical financial, health and other personal information is managed through Web-based transactions. Browsers are the mechanism through which individual human beings access and manage this digital data," Baker said in a memorandum to Mozilla users. "We don't yet know what new innovations will be possible in this arena. New innovations should be judged on their own merits, on their ability to benefit human beings, and not solely by their effect on the business plans of one or even a few companies. Mozilla.org remains committed to a world-wide-Web based on open standards and developed for the common benefit. We provide world-class software and technology to promote this vision."

HP said part of its inspiration for choosing Mozilla was based on its ability to prove "that it is here to stay, and that it is a worthy and professional."

The company said it was particularly enticed by Mozilla's streamlined code base and an entirely new rendering engine -- Gecko.

Among the features in Mozilla that HP said it likes include tabbed browsing; adherence to open standards such as HTML 4.0, CSS 1/2, the World Wide Web Consortium Document Object Model, XML 1.0, RDF, and JavaScript; Bugzilla bug tracking software; and a Password Manager.

During the transition, HP said developers wouldn't have to worry because the source code for Mozilla is open, and so security updates get regularly submitted and is generally a couple of months ahead of Netscape in feature updates.

HP said it will be able to ship quarterly updates and would continue to test versions of Mozilla on HP-UX, and would provide a fully supported and tested version of Mozilla at its Software Web site and eventually through application media kits.

"In return for this new flexibility, our engineers will be able to provide feedback, patches, and code support into the Open Source tool," HP said in its briefing.