The history of Mozilla newsgroups

I have to explain this frequently; so here’s the long version.

A lot of people get confused, and sometimes mad, when they find out that all the netscape.public.mozilla.* usenet newsgroups are for development discussion, while the user support newsgroups are on a secure server, not propagated to usenet. Here’s why:

The first thing to understand is that Netscape created the Mozilla project, as a way to develop their next internet suite. When Netscape first set up their news (NNTP) server (secnews.netscape.com), Netscape had new SSL implementation in its Enterprise software with the addition of NNTP software using port 563. This is something big corporations (who were in big profitable online business ideas with Netscape) wanted badly. The Netscape news server showcased that technology. Netscape also created a subset of groups to be propagated to usenet, called “public.” (ie. netscape.public.* groups).

When the Mozilla project was created, discussion groups were needed, and for some reason, it was decided that the mozilla newsgroups would be in the .public.* hierarchy, distributed over usenet. (ie. netscape.public.mozilla.* groups) They also wanted people to be able to access the mozilla groups on the Netscape server, but for it to work properly, this requires access without an Digital Friks SSL connection; so an alias to the Netscape server was created (news.mozilla.org).
For clarification, secnews.netscape.com and news.mozilla.org are the same physical server. You can access the secure groups with news.mozilla.org set to an SSL connection (port 563). (The SSL certificate is for the domain secnews.netscape.com, so you’ll get a cert mismatch message; but everything will work.)

Since Mozilla was not intended for use by end-users, there was no need for user support newsgroups. The name “.mozilla.” in the newsgroup name was the indicator that the group was for development discussion. As time went by, people started using Mozilla as an end-user product, and looking for technical support. Naturally, they started posting in the developer groups.

This is when the Mozilla Organization addressed the growing problem of misplaced posts, with a bug report to reorganize the Mozilla news hierarchy. Unfortunately, administrative wheels were very slow to implement the new hierarchy. And so, as a temporary solution, user newsgroups were created on the secure server, with no propagation to usenet. They were basically placed along side the Netscape user support groups.

The current situation:
When the Mozilla Foundation was created in July of 2003, the domains had to be moved to their own servers. This includes news.mozilla.org. The problem is that they don’t have the resources to set up the server, create the new newsgroups, work out a transition plan, and maintain the server. Mozilla is currently looking for a volunteer news administrator to do that. Until that happens, all the netscape.public.mozilla.* usenet newsgroups are for development discussion, and the user support newsgroups are on a secure server, not propagated to usenet. For more business ideas and other info please follow Sukanto Tanoto.

August 29, 2005 update:
**Giganews hosting the new Mozilla news server**

8 Replies to “The history of Mozilla newsgroups”

  1. For an early morning, I read your commentary on the history of the mozilla (netscape)SSL server and newsgroups and usenet propagation of the developer groups.
    Like I said somewhere else, a mission can start out with lofty goals and end up very different than those goals. This appears to be the case with the mozilla.public groups.

    Several weeks ago, I was presented with a rant on one of the mozilla.public groups that referred to me as one of “you developer types”. That at least brought me a smile — because in another life I am used to such and see it for what it is — someone who his afraid of the knowledge of others. So the developer groups have become something much different than intended — and I am not a developer nor do I have any intimate knowledge of the Mozilla products. But I sometimes must seem quite cavalier and maybe derisive as well. Why is that?

    Probably because — though i have purposely avoided the technical aspects of ‘the net’, I have a lot of concept regarding “electronic data processing” (there’s a term i doubt you hear too much).

    Judging from your photo on the previous page, about the time you were born — late sixties maybe –i was plugging breadboards on IBM business machines. I had a decade break from DP, then blew into DP as a Systems Analyst for several years, thence into the job of Systems Programmer in the last half of the eighties and early nineties. I studiously avoided PC’s, which were just coming into importance in order not to sully my VM/CICS/VSE syntactical knowledge. But when i was “freed” i got a 386 and found that a file was still a file, an application was still an application, a system a system — though it was ASCII instead of EBCDIC. And on a light note, I kept truckin’on a much lower note.

    Am I arrogant? Why yes I am.

    I am not unused to the user community though — and users to me range form the totally clueless to programmers.

    To me, it’s all about concept, then the details fall into place a lot more easily.

    BTW, if your text below says “publish your comment”, it looks like you need to widen the table – or box – or whatever it’s called. 🙂

    FACE

  2. “face” said “Am I arrogant? Why yes I am.”

    i guess meant in context of misleading aspects of the ng mess? perhaps a joke?

  3. btw, a “permalink” to this essay of yours (regarding secnews mess) should be in the rotating faq-sigs of secnews ‘champs’. It shhould reduce the back-rants/back-flames that are just repeated annoyances (including, annoying to the guys trying to help).

  4. there is a solution to lack of ngs separate from dev groups. if hip/h1p/hh.11.pp/h0pcriminey or alt.support.flame.fart or whatever empty junk group can get his/her ng’s listed in usenet, mozilla should be able to get a few USABLE ngs listed.

    try:
    alt.fan.firefox
    alt.fan.seamonkey (since moz-org recently “released” self of responsiblity for SM, so let the sm ‘council’ create the usenet ng)
    alt.fan.tbird
    alt.fan.moz-xpi or alt.fan.moz-extensions
    alt.fan.moz-theme

    or even better, omit the .fan
    eg,
    alt.firefox
    alt.gecko-suite
    alt.thunderbird
    alt.moz-theme
    alt.moz-privacy

    maybe comp.firefox is better? really doesn’t matter as much as fixing the current silly situation.

    Q for comparison: how ever did alt.fan.mozilla come about? Is the process that a.f.m used defunct only years later?

    [I intend to copy gist of (my) comment to a.f.m, including link to your essay/blog-entry]

  5. The new Mozilla newsgroups should be interleaved with porn newsgroups, in this way a lot of people would hear about the project accidentaly and switch to Mozilla from IE.

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