Rethinking the Linux Distribution
Subject:   requirements first (2)
Date:   2007-05-21 13:46:50
From:   georgebelotsky
Response to: requirements first (2)

Support for IE (and other browsers, especially Safari) is certainly an important area to cover. Since the article's topic is the future of Linux distributions, however, the focus is on Firefox, X windows and anything that runs under a Free/Open Linux or *BSD system. Of course integration via Java applet (e.g. VNC, NoMachine NX) can be cross-browser.

In addition, Firefox 3.0 will have some very impressive features for SaaS. If a "killer app"
emerges that takes advantage of these facilities, it is not inconceivable to require installation of a free browser to gain improved functionality -- especially in organizations.

Currently, alternatives to the browser seem underdeveloped (if they exist at all). Contrast this with using Python, for example, to replace the shell and friends. Here, the alternative is highly mature, so the migration path away from the older toolset is clearly visible.

Developing an alternative SaaS platform could certainly be an interesting project. It would be very difficult, however, to do better than Firefox, even taking into account the architectural disadvantages of JavaScript/HTTP/HTML/DOM. Most likely, the browser model has not reached its full potential yet, so the most fruitful approach would be to improve its Web application capabilities, while integrating better with the local X-based desktop software.

Of course, if you are aware of any sufficiently capable and mature alternatives to the browser, feel free to discuss them.