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An Sneak Peek into the Modzilla Genealogy

Aug 18, 2007
Modzilla is a misnomer of the official name of the Mozilla Application Suite developed by the Mozilla Foundation. It is also the public and original name but got changed recently to SeaMonkey suite. In informal terms, the name found usage in combination with other phrases related to the now-defunct Netscape Communications Corporation and the various application software that were related to it.

The code base for Netscape Communicator Internet suite was given the Netscape Public License, which is a free software or open source license in 1998. The application developed from this was named Mozilla, as per the codename of the original Netscape Navigator, and was released finally on June 5, 2002.

The suite was well known as the free/open source base of the Netscape versions 6 and 7; its underlying code base became the base of many standalone applications. The Gecko layout engine requires a special mention here, since it contributed the most, even in the Mozilla Foundation's flagship products Firefox and Thunderbird. To distinguish the suite from the standalone products, the suite is marketed as "Mozilla Suite or Mozilla Application Suite.

Though the Mozilla Foundation maintains the suite no longer, it has been unofficially replaced by SeaMonkey, developed by the Mozilla community and based on the Mozilla source code.

- Formal usage of the term

The term Modzilla found a formal usage only thrice:

- As the codename for the Netscape Navigator software project:

Modzilla was the internal codename for the Netscape Navigator web browser; the name was derived from Mosaic killer (killer becomes killa in slang), thus (Moz+Illa). The idea behind was the hope that the project would replace Mosaic, the most popular web-browser. A hint was also intended towards the classic fictional monster Godzilla.

- As the former official name of Mozilla Application Suite:

Modzilla enjoyed prominent exposures on Netscape's website at the company's nascent state but was replaced later, to impart to the company a more corporate and professional image. Modzilla; however, continued inside Netscape; this time, through promotional activities.

- As the Netscape Mascot

Modzilla was the mascot of the now-disbanded Netscape Communications Corporation. The mascot started off as a helmeted astronaut but soon transformed to a Godzilla-like lizard to match with its name.

- Modzilla-based browsers

The word is often used to refer to all Mozilla-based browsers for keeping confusion to the minimum. That brings the Camino and Netscape 6 within the category.

- Modzilla application framework

The term Modzilla is also used to refer to the Mozilla Application Framework. This cross-platform application framework, based on the Gecko layout engine is used for writing platform-independent applications. The XUL user-interface toolkit, the Necko networking library, and other components also find appropriate usage in the framework and define the core that all Modzilla-based browsers and applications are built from.

- Modzilla code-base

The source codes for all Mozilla software projects are managed collectively in a single CVS repository. It was originally released under the Netscape Public License, which was later updated to version 1.1 and was renamed as the Mozilla Public License. The Free Software Foundation and others noted that a GPL-licensed module and an MPL-license module cannot be legally linked and thus barred developers from using the MPL. The problem was solved when Mozilla Foundation re-licensed great parts of the code-base in 2003 under the GNU General Public License, GNU Lesser General Public License and the Modzilla Public License.
About the Author
Jay Moncliff owns and operates http://modzilla.safecomputer.org modzilla
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