Mozilla is a computer term that has had many different uses, though all of them have been related to Netscape Communications Corporation and its related application software. The various uses of Mozilla (all of which can be referred to by using just the term "Mozilla") are listed below in the order when they were first used:


Codename of Netscape Navigator

Main article: Netscape Navigator

The name Mozilla had been used internally for the Netscape Navigator web browser from its beginning. It was a contraction of Mosaic killer, referring to the hope that the project would unseat Mosaic as the web's most popular browser, along with the name of the fictional monster Godzilla.

Mascot of Netscape

Main article: Mozilla (mascot)
Missing image
The Mozilla mascot for Netscape

Mozilla was the mascot of the now disbanded Netscape Communications Corporation. It had a close relationship with the Mozilla codename. Initially, the mascot took various forms, including that of a helmeted astronaut or "spaceman", but the eventual choice of a Godzilla-like lizard was no doubt thought to go well with the Godzilla-like name. It takes the form of a cute green and purple cartoon lizard. It was designed by Dave Titus in 1994.

Mozilla featured prominently on Netscape's website in the company's early years. However, the need to project a more 'professional' image (especially towards corporate clients) led to it being removed. Mozilla continued to be used inside Netscape, though, often featuring on T-shirts given to staff or on artwork adorning the walls of the Netscape campus in Mountain View.

When Netscape acquired the website directory NewHoo in 1998, they rebranded it the Open Directory Project with the nickname "dmoz" (Directory of Mozilla) due to its similarility to the Mozilla project. An image of Mozilla was placed on every page of the site, which remains the case today, despite Netscape's disbanding after its acquisition by AOL.

Part of user agent string of many browsers

Main article: User agent string

When users visit a website (via a user agent like web browser), a text string is generally sent to identify the user agent to the web server. It is known as "user agent string".

At various points in its history, use of the Web has been dominated by one browser to the extent that many websites are designed to work with that particular browser, rather than according to standards from bodies such as the W3C and IETF. Such sites often include "browser sniffing" code, which alters the information sent out depending on the User-Agent string received. This can mean that less popular browsers are not sent complex content, even though they might be able to deal with it correctly, or in extreme cases refused all content. Thus various browsers "cloak" or "spoof" this string, in order to identify themselves as something else to such detection code; often, the browser's real identity is then included later in the string.

The earliest example of this is Internet Explorer's use of a user agent string beginning "Mozilla/<version> (compatible; MSIE <version>...", in order to receive content intended for Netscape Navigator, its main rival at the time of its development. This format of user agent string has since been copied by other user agents, partly because Explorer, in turn, came to dominate.

Mozilla project

Main articles: Mozilla Organization, Mozilla Foundation

"Mozilla" is sometimes used to refer to the open source project that was founded in order to create the next-generation internet suite for Netscape. The Mozilla Organization was founded in 1998 to create the new suite. On 2003-07-15, the organization was formally registered as a not-for-profit organization, and became Mozilla Foundation. The foundation now creates and maintains the Mozilla Firefox browser and Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail application, among other products.

Mozilla Application Suite (the base of Netscape 6-7)

Main article: Mozilla Application Suite
Missing image
Mozilla 1.7.8 displaying Wikipedia's main page

In March 1998, Netscape released most of the code base for its popular Netscape Communicator internet suite under an open source license. The name of the application developed from this was named as Mozilla, as it was used as the codename of the original Netscape Navigator. After a series of lengthy pre-1.0 cycles, Mozilla 1.0 was released on June 5, 2002.

The suite was well known as the open source base of the Netscape suite (versions 6 and 7), and its underlying code base (most notably the Gecko layout engine) became the base of many standalone applications, including the Mozilla Foundation's flagship products Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird. To distinguish the suite from the standalone products, the suite is often marketed as "Mozilla Suite", or more lengthy "Mozilla Application Suite".

A collective name for all Mozilla-based browsers

For simplicity, the word "Mozilla" is often used to refer to all Mozilla-based browsers. For example, when it is said that a website is usable by Mozilla browsers, it means that it is usable by Mozilla Suite, Mozilla Firefox, Camino, etc.

The Mozilla Application Framework

Main articles: Gecko (layout engine), XUL

The term "Mozilla" is also used to refer to the Mozilla Application Framework, a cross-platform application framework for writing applications that will run on multiple operating systems. It consists most notably of the Gecko layout engine, but also the XUL user-interface toolkit, the Necko networking library, and other components. This is the core that all Mozilla-based browsers are built from.

See also

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