And the beast shall be made legion… and the followers of Mammon shall tremble.
The Book of Mozilla, 3:31
It’s David vs. Goliath in the wild frontier of 1990’s Silicon Valley as a quirky group of idealistic misfit computer coders sets out to change the world with a revolution they call Mozilla — but the world has other plans.
The Book of Mozilla tells the story of the coders who embedded a series of Easter Eggs that narrates the complete uncensored history of Netscape’s battle with Microsoft. These passionate coders were in the trenches, writing the code that would connect the world, while a war of ideals raged around them. This is their story, in their own words – a dramatic tale of deadlines, geniuses and the philosophical debate that still rages between open source and proprietary software.
The story of Mozilla gives us the framework to dive into this war of ideals. This is still the early days of the internet, and we will go back even further and bring the story to present day, talking to digital pioneers like Rick Gates, Richard Stallman (GNU project, MIT & a philosophical fork), Tim Berners-Lee (and his idea and vision for a world wide web), Linus Torvalds who created the first open source system LINUX, Eric Steven Raymond, author of The Cathedral and The Bazaar, Kim Polese who was pivotal in creating JAVA, Rasmus Lerdop who created PHP, Brian Behlendorf of Apache, Larry Page and Sergey Brin from Google, Michael Widenius of MySQL, Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger co-founders of Wikipedia, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Matt Mullenweg, Mike Little and Michael Valdrighi of WordPress and Chris Beard current CEO of Mozilla.
We hear what open source is, why it’s important, exciting, superior – and we will also hear from people like Bill Gates, Jaron Lanier and Steve Ballmer who disagree. We see the battle wage through the lens of this first browser war, and see play out in our highest courts in the 1998 Unites States Microsoft antitrust case. We see Netscape get crushed and acquired by AOL, but we see the Mozilla cut free and a foundation emerge, that ultimately introduces a new open source browser in Firefox. Along the way we talk to the people listed above, all who were all a critical part of the philosophy and the pieces that needed to be built in order to empower uses to have access to code to they could be free to create, communicate and harness the power of the “bazaar.”
In the film, we also explore the dark side – who became disenchanted along the way and why? What are their disappointments, their celebrations?
And finally, what is the state of open source today? The film asks the question – what would a fully open source world look like? What could our society become if we adopted the open source philosophy globally and across all platforms? Not just in software, but hardware as well. What could this mean to our election process? To our space exploration and medical breakthroughs?
Mozilla still grows, currently a not-for-profit that owns more browser share than Explorer – both however dwarfed by Chrome. And so, The Book of Mozilla is still being written… When you visit its website you begin to understand that it is powered by the people. As is WordPress. What can an all-volunteer grassroots army accomplish when empowered? Who does it threaten, and what are they afraid of?