Posts Tagged with “launch”

June 17, 2008

June 30th, 2008

Late last week a colleague expressed dismay that we didn’t have either a recorded version or a text version of the brief comments I made from Seoul via Air Mozilla on the release day of Firefox 3. So I took my notes and put them together into something that is close — certainly in spirit — though not exact.


Every once in a while — for those people who are really lucky — we get to experience a moment where everything comes together. A period where dreams and hard work merge together with remarkable results.

This is such a time for Mozilla.

It’s based on hard work and execution of course. The number of people who have done something unexpected in the last few months, something that changes the outcome, is very high. But that’s only part of it. And there are plenty of times in life — most of life for most people, in fact — where people work hard and pour themselves into their effort but don’t experience the lift and buoyancy of sense of validation.

The periods that are so memorable often involve a team of people, and something that makes that group of people cohesive and satisfying. Sometimes these periods involve working on something that seems giant, hard to achieve and meaningful. Often then involve many things coming together in a way almost didn’t seem possible. And they involve a response from the world at large that demonstrates all the work and energy was worth it.

It’s incredibly fortunate to experience this at all. And it’s intensely gratifying to see these things come together for Mozilla.  It’s not just Firefox, it’s the entire Mozilla community. Firefox reflects the Mozilla community, giving us a chance to see how broad and deep the Mozilla world is, and how much can be accomplished. Eight million people — not only aware of a piece of software but acting on that awareness — in a day is astonishing.

The excitement isn’t all about a piece of software. The real activity is about the Internet. It’s about people not just using but also creating the Internet; creating an experience that is fun, safe, and productive. The Internet is a big deal. The ability to participate in creating it is a big deal. It’s rare that such a fundamental resource can be created by voluntary individual participation.

We can see that people sense the opportunity, want to participate, want to build and are more willing to share than might have been expected. We see this in the open source world, we see it in activities like Wikipedia, we see it in the growing range of activities using an “open source” model.

Mozilla has a role to play here. What a great place to be.

Firefox 3 — Tip of the Iceberg

June 17th, 2008

Today Mozilla releases Firefox 3 — fast, smart, safe, fun. Full of new things. Firefox 3 once again demonstrates how a great product makes Internet life better.

Firefox 3 is also the tip of a much bigger iceberg. For one thing, Firefox is the tip of the web itself. Firefox is exciting because the Web is exciting, and because Firefox does such a nice job of making the richness of the Web available to people in elegant, useful ways.

Firefox is the visible tip of an enormous amount of powerful, open-source technology. That technology makes Firefox possible, and it
also makes a range of other products possible. Some of these other products are released by Mozilla, some by other organizations.

Firefox is the tip of an enormous, wildly active community of people who are building a better Internet.

Firefox is the tip of an innovative development process that uses open source techniques in a range of activities extending far beyond code.

Firefox is all of these things. And it’s one unbelievably good browser.

Congratulations and thank-you to everyone who is participating in building Firefox and the Mozilla community.

Launch Day in Seoul

June 16th, 2008

Tomorrow I’ll be mixing OECD events with the Firefox 3 launch day and Mozilla community events. I’ll get up very early to participate in an Air Mozilla event coinciding (almost) with the official Firefox release. Then I’ll go to a local TV station to talk about Mozilla. The only downside is I’ll have to miss some of the interesting roundtables at the OECD Ministerial. That’s disappointing, but reflects how much is going on that is relevant to Mozilla. I’ll go back to the OECD for the lunch and afternoon events. Then in the evening I’ll have the chance to meet up with a significant group of Mozilla contributors. I’m really looking forward to this. The community in Korea has long been wildly creative, active and part of what makes Mozilla Mozilla.  It will be great fun to see Firefox release day from this vantage point.

Thursday I’ll participate in a forum on web standards and the importance of interoperability for a healthy Internet environment. “The Global Web Technology Workshop will be held for the adoption of global web technologies and web standards within the Korean web industry . . . ” This is organized by long-time Mozilla contributor Channy Yun. It should be a great opportunity to meet the broader web community within which Mozilla lives.

It’s a rare treat to combine three great events in one all-too-brief trip. The OECD, the Mozilla community on a Firefox release day, and a community interested in the open web. No doubt I’ll come home buzzing with excitement and stumbling with exhaustion!

Firefox 3 — The “End Game”

May 22nd, 2008

We’re getting very, very close to the release of Firefox 3. It’s an odd time around the Firefox part of the Mozilla project. Most of the Firefox and platform engineers are mostly done. The long, long push to get hundreds of issues triaged and resolved is over. Our first Release Candidate is out. Maybe we’ll do another release candidate, that depends on what we learn over the next short period. And if we do there will be a burst of activity. But the vast bulk of the engineering work is done. These engineers are already defining and working on the next projects, from Firefox to mobile. But there’s also a sense of waiting. Firefox 3 isn’t done until we’ve completed a massive test cycle, and there’s a constant and growing throbbing in the air as we work through the final stages.

Meanwhile, other groups of people are in high gear. The QA team is one. It’s a quiet storm of QA activity right now as we throw every test we’ve got at Firefox 3, looking for any cracks or stress points. It’s a quiet storm only because QA is a well-organized, experienced and highly effective team. Otherwise it would be a wild frenzy. Quite a contrast with the Firefox 1.0 release, where we hand-tested the localized versions up through the day of the launch itself, using an easel size pad of paper covered with a hand-written list of localizations and status updates.

Other engineering teams are hard at work as well. The web development team, for example, making sure sites like are ready to go. The website content teams and localization teams are making sure that the many pages of content are available in the massive number of languages that are part of the Firefox 3 release. This includes both the websites themselves and the “product” pages which are part of Firefox. Build and release is the final stage of the release, so they are also in the thick of things right now.

The marketing team is extraordinarily busy, from community activities to press briefings to creating and distributing all the materials needed to explain Firefox: both new features and the overall pleasure of using Firefox to people who haven’t yet experienced what’s possible with Firefox. It’s a massive undertaking to launch a product with a userbase the size of Firefox. We couldn’t do it without the deep integration of the marketing team with the massive Mozilla community and we’re seeing that at work.

So we’re experiencing extreme levels of activity and performance in giant parts of the Firefox community. That’s combined with an intense sense of pressure building. It’s a little like seeing the first rays of sunshine appear on the horizon, and knowing that blazing ball of summer will appear soon.

Firefox 1.5: Better Than Ever

November 29th, 2005

Mozilla Firefox has changed the web. Firefox 1.5 continues that path. Firefox is changing the web by providing an innovative product that is worthy of people’s trust and by bringing consumers the respect we deserve.

People should be able to enjoy the power of the web without becoming experts in Internet and software technology. Firefox makes this possible. Firefox is easy to install, intuitive to use, and remarkable in its ability to bring people the complexity of the web through a comfortable interface.

People should be able to enjoy the power of the web without feeling abused or that our computers are out of control, and while enjoying serious protection against unwanted intrusions. Once again, Firefox delivers. Firefox provides a world where pop-up windows are almost non-existent. A world where one’s computer doesn’t seem to running wild. A product with multiple layers of defense against unwanted intrusions.

Already millions upon millions upon millions of people have moved to a better world by choosing Firefox as their web browser. Firefox 1.5 provides even more reasons to do so. Firefox 1.5 builds upon the great features in Firefox 1.0, offering even better pop-up protection, security and privacy enhancements and usability improvements. Firefox 1.5 also introduces a new mechanism through which Firefox can both alert people when a security or other update is available and also make it much easier for people to install important updates.

Firefox is exciting because the Web is exciting, and Firefox 1.5 shows the Web at its best. With Firefox 1.0 we inaugurated a set of search plugins to make search functionality even easier for people to use. We’ve heard over and over that people love this feature. With Firefox 1.5 we’re beginning a new search relationship with Yahoo in Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea as part of our strategic goal of helping people access a range of quality services through Firefox. Versions in these languages will have a Firefox start page powered by Yahoo and Yahoo as the first search option. Our search partnership with Google continues in the Americans and Europe. We’ve also added as a search option in the English language, U.S. version. We’ll continue to focus on making critical activities such as search easier for users in the future.

The Mozilla project creates Firefox because an innovative, trustworthy browser is critical to protecting the usefulness and health of the web. Firefox is the result of thousands of people who contribute their time and energy to demanding the best possible browser of ourselves and then making it happen. Some are employed to do this, some are volunteers. Some contribute through code, others by testing, others by encouraging people to try Firefox. Many, including the readers of this post, contribute by following the Mozilla project. Enormous numbers of people take it upon themselves to understand Firefox, to help others understand how easy and worthwhile it is to try Firefox, and to assist the project in innumerable ways. Together we create the product consumers both need and deserve: A product that respects the human beings that use it, harnesses the power of the web and gives people extraordinary choice in their online lives.

Firefox 1.5 is better than ever. With Firefox, the World Wide Web is better than ever. If you haven’t tried Firefox, now is the time: If you know people who haven’t tried Firefox, now is the time to help them to a better web experience:

Enjoy the web. Feel protected. Get Firefox.

Firefox 1.0 Launch Day

January 21st, 2005

Launch day here was quite a day, and I thought I would describe my view of it.

We knew it would be a long day, since the launch was schedule for 1 a.m. Monday night/Tuesday morning. On Monday most of us started rolling into the office about 10 a.m. or so. A number of us had been online from home before, especially those of us in contact with the localization teams in Europe and Asia. Meanwhile, these teams were trying to stay awake long enough to get last minute messages through to the release coordinators in California so that the localized builds could be certified for inclusion in the 1.0 release.

The day in the office started with a flurry of activity around localized builds. The Firefox 1.0 release was the first time we’ve included localized builds in our main CVS tree and included them in our release process. Adding 50 or 60 builds (20 languages, 3 platforms each) to a release is a big deal and Chase spun many sets of localized builds. The last planned spin of all localized builds was at 10 a.m. Monday morning. As the builds arrived, the localization teams around the world began to check in to verify them again, and our Quality Assurance groups went into high gear.

In the meantime, the engineers were always looking for last minute issues. We were confident of the release, but it’s in our nature to keep looking for things to improve until the last minute. Brendan isolated himself in the back of the office and went through crash data, trying to eke out one last problem until finally he gave up. Darin and bryner and dveditz continued their quest through bugs and mail to look for other improvements.

Chris Beard and I huddled on a set of questions, ranging from press inquiries to official and unofficial builds to localization questions to distribution programs. I spent a lot of time working with organizations interested in the Fireflox launch and finishing the blog post about the Firefox end user license agreement. Chris Hoffman monitored all activity, constantly encouraging people. Dbaron tracked the set of things that needed to be done to make the launch happen. These included:

  • Determining the list of localized builds that were ready to be shipped with the English version
  • Getting all builds pushed to the ftp site at the right time
  • Verifying that the download infrastructure was ready (more on this later)
  • Verifying that the 1.0. launch page for the website was ready to go
  • Verifying that the infrastructure for the website was ready to go
  • Verifying that the infrastructure for the start page was ready to go
  • DNS redirect.

Various people spent some time looking at the infrastructire for “” This infrastructure was new and we knew that it would have trouble scaling, so we wanted to most out of the existing infrastructure. Others spent time keeping in touch with the community.

We knew that Mozilla Europe and Mozilla Japan were ready to go. Each had done or coordinated massive amounts of work to have appropriate materials translated into localized websites in multiple languages as part of the launch. Bart Decrem had spent time in Europe with the Mozilla Europe folks and Chris Hofmann had gone to Japan to work with Mozilla Japan in coordinating the international launch. We made sure that Mozilla Europe and Mozilla Japan could be reached from the main page of, and tried to ensure that appropriate localized versions would be offered to people visiting those sites.

During the day people would find interesting tidbits and tell them to the group. Ben and Asa found a few folks who had created countdown clocks. We read aloud various blog posts about waiting for Firefox to encourage people finishing up the last bits of work.

All this formed the background activity. The main focus for much of the day was the QA and build team creating and checking out the localized builds. For each build, a whole set of things need to be worked out. This included:

  • Does the build open?
  • Does the installer work?
  • Are the UI items localized?
  • Are the right fonts used?
  • Are appropriate links localized, allowing users to get to content in their own language?
  • Are the search plugins localized, allowing users to get relevant search contents?
  • Is the start page translated?
  • Is the start page localized (including links, search capability, etc.)?

Our amazing QA team here in the office — Marcia, Sarah, Tracy, Jay and Asa went to work and worked tirelessly. So did Chase, our build and release maven, who created the build infrastructure for the localizations before we’d even given him time to acclimatize to life at the Mozilla Foundation. We made a giant list of all the localizations that might be ready, a list of the localizations for which localized search engines are available, a list of the localization teams who had certified their builds, and a list of any problems the QA team had found.

Periodically one of the QA folks would ask about some potential problem — was it a blocker or not? We have one big open space, so a bunch of us would look up and figure it out. This is particularly helpful in a few cases. For example, about 9 p.m. Asa groaned and announced that the Japanese version seemed to have a serious font problem and he didn’t think we could ship it. Immediate conversation ensued, since the Japanese team had just certified the build as ready. Chase started wondering about the fonts on Asa’s machine, jumped up and went to explore. Sure enough, Chase was right about fonts, the Japanese localization team was right about their build, and the Japanese version was cleared to ship out with the 1.0 release. One spike of tension receded.

As the list of localizations was finalized, other bits began reaching the final stage as well. Ben became more focused about the website push. Dbaron became more focused about the various pieces fitting together. Ben and I finished our blog posts. We also started tracking the start page infrastructure to make sure it was online. Chase began the process of getting the final builds pushed to the ftp site. Pav decided that we need to have BitTorrent available for the launch, so he settled down in a corner and went to work to make this happen. He took some kidding from those who felt that this wouldn’t be needed. Pav wasn’t having any of this, put his head down and dug in. Anyone who knows Pav knows that there’s no point in trying to stop Pav when he gets into this mode, so we left Pav to get BitTorrent going. We noted that the load at was going up. We assumed this was caused by people polling to see if the release was available yet, since we had read blog posts about people doing exactly this. It gave us another clue that yes, people were excited about seeing Firefox 1.0 appear.

About 11:00 pm Pacific Time Steve Garrity woke up to help with the final push. Steve is our lead contact with SilverOrange, the web design firm that has done the visual identity work for Firefox, Thunderbird and our website. Steve lives on the far East Coast of Canada, so our 1 a.m. launch time is 4am for Steve. Steve reports that he managed to wake up, but never got out of bed, and did the final push for the 1.0 launch website lying in bed with his computer in his lap. We were a bit nervous about waking Steve up but this turned out to be unnecessary — Steve came through on his own, as he always has. Even so, it was a mighty relief when messages from Steve began appearing! There were 4 or 5 things that needed to happen with the website for the 1.0 launch (changing the content at to our 1.0 release notice, pointing to localizations and some other info, and so on), and they went off without a hitch.

About 11:40 p.m. Asa looked up and said in a concerned voice: “I timeout when trying to reach Can anyone else get to it?” The answer was no. The website was down. The office grew suddenly tense. Asa hadn’t spoken loudly, but everyone knew anyway. This is often the case — in a network-centric environment with lots of people in one room, you can almost tell when the network is down. Often when I find I don’t have a network connection I simply look up. If I see other people looking around then I know — network issue. I usually ask to be sure, but it’s almost redundant. At that moment Vlad reappeared. He came in the door grinning, noticed the odd silence and said “I though you guys would be celebrating.” “Can’t get to” Vlad’s grin disappeared, he sat down, pulled out his computer and buried his head in it.

Dbaron and bryner went to work, as they always do when a problem like this arises. There’s nothing like this in their job descriptions, but that hasn’t mattered. In a minute or two there was a group clustered around dbaron debugging, and a steady stream of information was coming from dbaron. After a bit he says something about “two heaps” and “immense traffic.” Then he says “It looks like it’s coming from Myk!” Soon we’ve established contact with Myk. Yes, all the activity is coming from him. He’s bringing a second server on line to support the projected load at

Myk has been our toolsmith for many years. We got to know him as a result of his application Forumzilla, and we jumped at the chance to hire him years ago. Since the Mozilla Foundation was launched Myk has taken on the Herculean task of coordinating our systems administration and infrastructure. We’ve had great help from a group of tremendous volunteers, but Myk has been the central point. For someone who didn’t ask for the job, he’s done amazing things.

“Right now?” we ask. “Doesn’t it seem a bit earlier would have been better?” Well yes, of course. But the machine took longer to arrive than expected, and now is when it was ready. Vlad looked up and said “Well, he’s got 8 minutes to get it done. That should be plenty.” And so it was. Being Myk, the job was done in 5 minutes, the work was perfect, there was no hitches, and within a few minutes was back and ready to go.

Someone asked “are we ready?” Chase answered that the release bits were on the site, both in English and the many localizations. We went through the list of all things people were thinking about, orchestrated by dbaron for the network aspects and Ben for the Firefox specific elements. Chofmann’s nearly jumping up and down by now, “Yes, we’re ready, we’re ready, we’ve been ready. Push the bits!”

We decide we’re ready. The last thing to do is to get the revised home page for actually “pushed” to the website, publish the blog and related posts, see the mozillazine news article posted and watch. Pushing new content to takes a few minutes. That’s because content is stored in our CVS repository and so at least part of the website source tree needs to be rebuilt to implement the new content. Normally this happens automatically every 30 or 40 minutes. We don’t want to wait that long, as we start a manual rebuild to get the content pushed sooner. We’re all used to this wait for new content to appear but this time it’s a very focused wait. No one is doing much of anything, we’re all sort of standing around.

And then, voila. “It’s done.” We all race to our laptops and go check out We’ve all seen the content before, we’ve been looking at it for days, checking for problems, tweaking it. But this is the first time we’ve seen the content live on our public website, and we all have to look to make sure it’s really there — Firefox 1.0 is available, the Mozilla community has delivered something exciting, and we’re proud of it.

What did people do next? Did we all jump up and down, run around and have a giant party? No. We watched the network. Yup, that’s what we did. Chofmann managed to get a group to stop long enough to come back and at least acknowledge the glasses of champagne, and even to take one and wander around with it. But always back to watch the network. Is looking OK? Is the http download traffic looking OK? Is the ftp download traffic looking OK? Here we are:

The next day we arrived at work a bit later. We were beginning to get an idea that Firefox 1.0 was getting the reception we had hoped for. (I don’t think we yet had any idea of the reception that Firefox 1.0 has actually achieved, which has been phenomenal.) In a sense it was a bit anticlimactic because I couldn’t touch or feel the response. Our download traffic is handled by a set of mirror sites coordinated by the marvelous folks at Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab ( Other significant university and research participants in our mirror program are Georgia Institute of Technology, Indiana University, the University of Utah, the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany, and the Spanish National Research Network) and the Internet Systems Consortium. There are also a few commercial entities that assist, and we are grateful to all of them. We get logs and such from the mirrors through OSU, but of course that’s a step removed from managing this ourselves and having immediate access to the data.

After a while the anticlimactic feeling faded as we began to get information about the number of downloads and the general reception of Firefox. As best we can figure it, around 1,000,000 people came to download Firefox on the first day alone. That’s an astonishing number, far beyond what we had seen before. As Chris Hofmann put it, the building at the Mozilla Foundation might seem quiet, but the wires were burning up at Oregon State! And indeed the traffic did burn out some machines. By midday it was clear that our some of our mirrors were buckling under the load. For example, we had routed a good chunk of traffic to three jumbo sized load-balancers each fronting multiple machines in a big datacenter, and two of them burned out. (Note to alleviate speculation here: I am not talking about Google.)

Myk and chofmann had given a good deal of thought to this possibility and had two backup plans. The first potential backup was a load-balancing tool that distributed load across a larger set of servers (more about this below), and the second plan was a commercial vendor specializing in high-availability hosting.

Myk suggested we use a load balancing tool written by Mike Morgan of Oregon State. The idea was that in addition to distributing load to the small group of primary mirrors — the powerful ones that get our releases first, host everything we serve, and send us back logs so we can generate download numbers — we also distribute some load to the much larger group of secondary mirrors. The secondary mirrors may be less powerful, take more time to get our releases, not send us logs, and not host everything we serve (many of them host only the latest releases), but they still represent a significant amount of download capacity that could come in handy during periods of high demand.

Myk had evaluated the tool and believed it would improve our delivery capability dramatically. So early afternoon on Tuesday the 9th we implemented it. Sure enough, Myk was right, the tool performed as hoped and our ability to deliver Firefox to interested people improved significantly. Another bout of tension was reduced. Many, many thanks to Mike Morgan for writing the tool, and to Scott Kveton and the mighty team at OSU who helped get much needed equipment up and running in short order.

We didn’t reach perfection of course, the demand was too great. And as we had suspected, the infrastructure for was our weak point, and we had to curtail its operations during the peak activity.

Meanwhile, Bart and Pav were preparing for the AIR MOZILLA web event, a 5 hour live webcast and text chat. The show had interviews and discussions with Mozilla staff, with questions and music. I was so engrossed in the day’s activities I didn’t quite understand why there were suddenly speakers next to my desk, but then the event began and it became clear. We wanted some way to connect with people involved with Firefox and we can’t do by all getting together, so Bart came up with the webcast idea and Pav played host. Bart has spent some time looking at technologies that help with community development, such as the drupal / civicspace technology he connected with the Spread Firefox project, and AIR MOZILLA was another example. Bart orchestrated, Pav interviewed a lot of long time participants for a webcast. We simultaneously hosted a 2-channel IRC session where people could pose questions. Hundreds of people joined the IRC sessions where Asa and Marcia played IRC hosts, gathering questions and passing them on to Bart and Pav and then to various participants. The event was a nice, low-key marker of the tremendous international interest and participation in the project.

By the time the AIR MOZILLA event came to an end serious fatigue had set in, and many of us went home to get a good, long rest. Or at least the start of one. I suspect that many of us didn’t get enough of a good long rest until the holidays at the end of the year.

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