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A Mozilla Desktop Environment?


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"A discussion at the mozilla.dev.planning list has given the birth to the idea of a Mozilla Desktop Environment. This sure sounds like a possibility for Mozilla as it already has many of the applications needed; and the company is thoroughly familiar with XUL, which is a more-than-potent language upon which to build a desktop environment. By building a desktop environment Mozilla wouldn't have to worry about drivers (and such) and could choose from a variety of kernels, and still be in the center of attention. Mozilla has to expand some of the applications for this to work, though, like adding local file management with Firefox."

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Actually, this idea has already been done, and done beautifully. It was called OEOne Homebase Desktop. It was a complete desktop environment built on XUL [mozilla.org], and incidentally "XUL desktop environment" is the appropriate name for something like this. "Mozilla" is either the foundation or the former browser suite built on XUL. XUL is the platform.

So, you can see what the OEOne desktop looked like if you search Google images for oeone [google.com] or oeone homebase [google.com]. It was a fully integrated environment, which means mail, calendar, contacts, browser, text processor, image album, music and video player, basically everything you'd need for your basic office/home desktop.

OEOne still appears in the Mozilla Hall of Fame [mozilla.org] as such, even though they renamed themselves Axentra.com at some point. The Homebase desktop still appears in their press releases up to 2002, then it was released as open source as the Penzilla Desktop [sourceforge.net] and abandoned as far as OEOne was concerned. But while it ran it also sponsored a few other developments, such as AbiMoz [mozdev.org], which integrates AbiWord inside Mozilla.

Homebase wasn't a "traditional", "generic" desktop, but more of a specialized environment, aimed specifically at office productivity and entertainment. It had a "home page" which aggregated news, weather, contacts, new mail and whatnot. It would have been ideal for PDA's. I never understood why it was so poorly publicized and why it seems to have missed so many trains.




The above Pictures are of "OEone's Linux Desktop"

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I'm not really impressed. I mean, why reinvent the wheel? I've seen some really nice desktop environments (Edgy Eft w/Beryl, anyone?) But really, it's just more of the same. Now we have several really great desktop environments that are seeming more like each other, every day. Look at Vista and OS X. No reason to get Vista. Now if we would have had a decent Vista release 5 years ago, like we were promised when XP was released, then perhaps I'd have a new "Vista Capable" laptop, instead of a OS X Tiger. Oh, yeah, I can run Vista on my Intel Mac (bootcamp, FTW). I think it's too hard for a (relatively) small startup to create any form of market share with their new desktop environment.

Firefox desktop environment? Well... some things were never meant to be. I like Google's apps. So if and when Goobuntu is released, I might look into it.

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