I've been bragging on Mozilla as the best currently developed product for Mac OS 8 and 9. Welp, I'm a few months behind anyone in the know, but it looks like Mozilla is no longer being officially developed for Mac OS 8-9. Why not? Apparently because AOL doesn't see any reason to continue to support that platform and would rather concentrate on viable, forward-looking platforms.

This really isn't surprising. I like what AOL is doing with Mozilla/Gecko with AOL 8 on OS X, and I hope doing it helps serve as a testing ground for using Gecko on Windows and ultimately on an AOL-branded version of Linux (if there was ever anyone who wished the OS was commoditized...). It's a good business move. Mozilla on OS 8-9 isn't going to make anyone any real money.

Still, for some reason I was taken back. I think I have an irrational belief in the immortality of open source software. Heck, the source is open! How could it ever die? If somebody, somewhere knows how to type "gcc" we should always have Mozilla, everywhere! (Yes, I realize the build is quite a bit more difficult than that, especially for Mac Classic.) Even more so, I somehow got to thinking that the copyleft movement couldn't be influenced by the capitalist world. GPL'd and other, less restrictive, open-source software, would continue to take a progressively larger bite out of pure capitalist markets.

Yet here it was -- capitalism was trashing a legitimately large open source project, Moz on Mac Classic. It's a strange turnabout that caught me off guard. I often wonder who has time to work on good open source projects -- you know, how does Stallman afford his daily bread? In the case of Mozilla, the people with time are the people who get paid to *make* time, it seems. The worlds most certainly do collide on a two, not one, way street. Without Sun, I doubt Netbeans would take another [giant] step forward. Certainly there are others. I wonder how important Red Hat's bottom line is to the progress of Linux. I would venture "Not very," but it's not as automatic a response as it was before.

At any rate, I do hope somebody strips out Gecko and reframes that for OS 9. I'm not too upset about losing the trappings (Mail, Chatzilla, etc), but there's no reason not to put that source to good use and let Mac OS 9 stalwarts continue to enjoy the evolution of the WWW. If someone doesn't hop on it quickly, however, I'm afraid AOL's decision will have killed one of my favorite open source projects.