Mozilla’s Phoenix, Minotaur Get New Names

Just weeks after proposing a major shift
towards the lightweight Phoenix its standalone default browser, the
AOL-backed Mozilla organization has announced new names for the Phoenix and
Minotaur projects.

The Phoenix browser, launched last September to strip away
browser bloat
will now be known as ‘Firebird’ and the Minotaur mail
client will adopt the ‘Thunderbird’ moniker, the open-source group said.

The new names were needed for Phoenix because of
undisclosed legal issues. Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler, who made the announcement
on his Weblog, said the new names were chosen “after months of discussion
and further months of legal investigation.”

“In addition to securing Firebird, we’ve also got the OK from those
contributing legal resources to use the name ‘Thunderbird’ for a mail
client. Hopefully this will be the end of naming legal issues for a while,”
Dotzler said.

However, Mozilla fans were quick to point out that the ‘Firebird’ name
was already taken by another
open-source project. Dotzler could not be reached for comment on the use of
‘Firebird’ as a relational database offering ANSI SQL-92 features that runs
on Linux, Windows, and a variety of Unix platforms.

The shift in branding comes at a time when the minds behind the Mountain
View, Calif.-based consortium outlined a new roadmap with the suggestion
that Mozilla adopt a new application architecture based on the Gecko Runtime
Environment (GRE) and make Phoenix its standalone default browser.

Longtime Mozilla project leaders Brendan Eich and David Hyatt also
advocated that Mozilla version 1.0 should be replaced with 1.4 as the stable
development path.

The Mozilla project, backed heavily by AOL’s and
Netscape, has struggled to grab market share from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and security-related problems have not helped
matters much.

“It’s clear to us that Mozilla needs a new roadmap, one that charts a
path to an even better future,” Eich and Hyatt said recently. “The 1.0
branch is almost a year old. It’s time to move from 1.0 to 1.4 for
mozilla.org-blessed stable development and product releases, to get all the
stability, performance, and security fixes made on the trunk since 1.0 into
the hands of distributors and users.”

The new plan also includes the adoption of Phoenix’s partner mail
application (Minotaur, now ‘Thunderbird’), a move to ease up the
complication of integrating with different applications.

The Phoenix browser was first rolled out last September with a promise to
strip away the bloat and double the speed in which Web pages are displayed.
It was positioned as a redesign of the Mozilla browser component, similar to
Galeon, K-Meleon and Chimera.

“Phoenix is not your father’s Mozilla browser. It’s a lean and fast
browser that doesn’t skimp on features,” Mozilla said of the new browser,
which was built using the XUL user interface language and designed to be
cross-platform. XUL is an XML-based UI definition language/schema used to
describe the layout/composition of the browser window.

Popular features in Phoenix include a customizable toolbar where users
can re-order the buttons and address bar. Phoenix users can also choose to
show large or small icons or to display buttons and text, instead of having
the application make those choices. The browser’s bookmarks and history
managers also contain a quick search bar for filtering the list of bookmarks
or history items.

Phoenix developers can also configure behaviors for pop-up blocking,
tabbed browsing, and other features to allow users to manipulate the way
content is displayed in the browser.

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